Oil Spill Cleanup, Census Can't Hide Obama's Jobs Problem

The president’s standard pattern, one embraced by his fellow Democrats, has been to point fingers at other people like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as though he were still in campaign mode.

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By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The jobs figures released Friday are not good news for President Barack Obama.

Despite the massive amounts of government spending that the White House said would stimulate the U.S. economy, only about 41,000 of the new jobs created were in the private sector. The vast majority of the new jobs, about 95 percent, were jobs in the government sector, many of which are tied to the ongoing U.S. census.

Clearly the stimulus is not working, at least not as advertised. The economy is still struggling as Obama fails to show any kind of real leadership beyond being the first one in line to shovel federal tax dollars out the door toward so-called shovel ready projects.

Economist Larry Lindsey, who crunched the jobs numbers even further, argues they are even bleaker than they may seem.

Lindsey's analysis of the data indicates that as many as one-fifth of all the new private sector jobs may only be the result of the need for massive clean up operations in the Gulf of Mexico following the blowout of BP’s offshore oil rig.

“Employment in support of activities for the mining industry was up three percent (in April 2010), or 8,000 workers on top of a 5,000 gain” the previous month, making it “safe to assume,” the former Federal Reserve governor wrote, “that much of these jobs are being created to clean up the mess.”

[See photos of the Gulf oil spill disaster.]

This is not, as Lindsey suggests, the kind of economic activity that “makes one cheery” about the U.S. economy’s long term prospects. It is also not an endorsement of Obama’s approach thus far to either problem--the continual high unemployment rate or the oil spill. Instead the president’s standard pattern, one embraced by his fellow Democrats, has been to point fingers at other people like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as though he were still in campaign mode. But they are not president any more--he is, and he needs to start showing some leadership, leadership that does not involve being the first one to point out why these problems are somebody else’s fault.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the Gulf oil spill.
  • See which members of Congress get the most money from the oil and gas industry.
  • See photos of the Gulf oil spill disaster.