Obama, Democrats Will Feel the Squeeze on Poor Jobs Report

Jobs growth appears limited to temporary positions with the U.S. census.

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By Brandon Greife, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Graduation season is wrapping up. Millions of college graduates have walked across the stage to accept their diploma, shaken hands with their dean, and sat through endless rounds of pictures with mom and dad. In good years many of those graduates trade their robes and mortarboard for a suit and a briefcase. As May’s job numbers show, this is not one of those good years.

According to the May report, released by the Labor Department, job creation by private companies grew at the slowest pace of the year. This contrasted sharply with the hopeful tone President Obama took on Wednesday saying, “[w]e expect to see strong jobs growth in Friday’s report … This economy is getting stronger by the day.”

In reality the jobs growth appears limited to temporary positions with the U.S. Census. The government report said that of the 431,000 jobs added, 411,000 of them were the direct result of the once-in-a-decade census.

20,000 private sector jobs is not the kind of growth we need to get back on track. As the Economic Policy Institute argues:

In order to fully fill in the gap in the labor market in the next two years (by November 2011), employment would have to increase by an average of 581,000 jobs every month between now and then.

Liberal economist Paul Krugman offers up a more modest goal--to return to full employment in five years, rather than two. Even that would take creating 10.7 million jobs. He argues that “[e]ven if we add 300,000 jobs a month, we’re looking at a prolonged period of suffering.”

300,000! The private sector didn’t even accomplish 1/10 of that goal last month.

In other words, it’s a tough time to be starting a career. Unless of course, your idea of a dream job is knocking on doors to collect information for the Census Bureau. If it is not, you’re likely sitting at home drafting cover letters, sending out resumes, and waiting on a response that begins with something other than “unfortunately.” The fact is an entire generation is in jeopardy. They are facing pressure from above, in the form of laid off workers looking for jobs, and below, as new batches of graduates flood the job market. Young adults are simply being squeezed right out of the job market.

Democrats should also be feeling the squeeze. Many incumbents understand that their poll numbers are likely to parallel the success of the economy. More job report flops like May and the uproar over a do-nothing Congress will build. Point to better unemployment numbers and signs of job creation and the anti-incumbent ruckus will subside. Oddly, many Democrats seem to be leaving the economy to chance. Rather than focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs” they have decided to lie low in the wake of tough votes on healthcare reform and a national debt that recently topped $13 trillion.

Young adults are also lying low. Not by choice, but because many of us have little else to do. We need a Washington ready to take charge. To admit that creating a mere 20,000 private sector jobs was a disappointment and laying out a plan to create more. Instead, President Obama said “[t]his report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.”

Unfortunately, Mr. President, the 666 jobs created each day in May isn’t going to cut it. Not when even the most liberal of economists are demanding 10,000. Last month graduates walked across the stage to collect their diploma; if these job numbers don’t improve young adults will soon be handing Democrats their walking papers.