Frequent Fox News guest Peter Morici claimed that President Obama's “most effective jobs program” has been convincing job seekers to stop looking for work or settle for part-time work. But the president's policies have created millions of jobs, and economists have found that there are other reasons besides the economy that the labor participation rate has declined.
After the release of the January 4 unemployment report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Morici used a FoxNews.com op-ed to attack Obama's economic record. He wrote that if the labor force participation rate was the same today as in the Great Depression, the unemployment rate would stand at 9.7 percent. Morici also claimed:
“Convincing millions of Americans they don't want a job or compelling desperate workers to settle for part time work has been the Obama administration's most effective jobs program.”
In fact, prominent economists have found that the labor participation rate is “right about where it should be.” The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explained that the rate is not necessarily driven by economic conditions:
Economists say the story is considerably more complicated. For one thing, the trend predates President Obama. And while part of the story is clearly that the labor force is shrinking because the bad economy is driving workers out, another significant factor is that baby boomers are beginning to retire early -- a trend that has worrying implications for future growth.
But a number of economists are arguing that the recession is distracting people from the real story -- long-run demographic trends that have nothing to do with the current economy. Baby boomers are starting to retire en masse, which means that there are fewer eligible American workers.
Demographics have always played a big role in the rise and fall of the labor force. Between 1960 and 2000, the labor force in the United States surged from 59 percent to a peak of 67.3 percent. That was largely due to the fact that more women were entering the labor force while improvements in health and information technology allowed Americans to work more years.
Morici was also wrong to claim that keeping people out of the workforce “has been the Obama administration's most effective jobs program.”
Since the end of the recession, the economy has continued to add jobs. The December jobs report showed that public and private employers together added 1.84 million jobs to their payrolls since December 2011, and the jobless rate during that time decreased from 8.5 percent to 7.8 percent. CNN reported that the economy had recovered up to 4.4 million jobs since 2010. Economists agree that the president's policies have boosted employment and GDP.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the “stimulus created equivalent of up to 4.7 million jobs in 2010, up to 3.6 million in 2011.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that unemployment has been lower since 2009 than it would have been because of the president's stimulus program. They used this graphic to show the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
Obama laid out many other programs economists esimated would grow the economy and increase jobs in his first term, including the American Jobs Act, while Republicans engaged in historic levels of obstructionism to block the president's initiatives.