Regardless of how the numbers are spun this month, it is necessary that we look at the state of the economy and the labor market in particular. It is then up to you to determine if the attempt to centralize all economic activity in the hands of the government is good or bad.
Job growth remains weak compared to previous recessions
During the economic expansion of the 1990s, the economy added at least 250,000 jobs per month 47 times. During the current expansion, which has now lasted roughly half as long, we have seen only 13 months of job growth greater than 250,000, which includes abnormal hiring involved with conducting the decennial census.
Long-term unemployment still remains high
The sad fact is that, while down sharply from its post-recession peak, the number of long-term unemployed people today is still almost equivalent to its highest pre-recession level on record. There are still 2.5 million Americans who have been unemployed for half a year or longer and are still actively searching for work. Twenty-nine percent of all unemployed now fall into the category of long-term unemployed. The average length of time someone has spent unemployed is about seven months, nearly double what it was right before the recession.
Many Americans who want jobs remain uncounted
In April 2015, the headline unemployment rate—otherwise known as U-3—held steady at 5.4 percent, its lowest rate since the end of the Great Recession. It is important to remember that there are much broader measures of unemployment that paint a clearer picture of the employment situation. Perhaps the most comprehensive unemployment measure, called U-6, includes those who have recently looked for work but are not currently looking and those working part time but who would prefer full-time work. U-6 is always higher than U-3, but it has gotten a lot higher since the recession, and the gap has hardly changed over the past year.
The labor-force participation rate also highlights these missing workers. When the economy is doing well, more people typically enter the labor market because there are more jobs available. One should expect the labor-force participation rate to be increasing in the aftermath of the recession. It hasn’t been. Instead, it has declined steadily since the recession’s end and is as low today as it was in the late 1970s, when women entering the workforce became the norm. Even with the recent economic gains, labor-force participation is still stuck where it was at the end of 2013.
Americans are still waiting for a raise
Due to the slack caused by slow employment growth, real wage growth remains essentially stagnant. Employment levels have grown at a rate of only 8 percent in this recovery, well below the historical average of 14.5 percent. Even broader measures of unemployment show that employment levels have considerable room for improvement. While employment growth remains sluggish at best, it continues to outpace the dismal rate of wage growth.
You be the judge as to whether or not centralized commerce is right or wrong.