John and Jane Doe thought things were going good … until they read Jason Lewis FACEBOOK reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address … and then heard Ted Cruz express the same concerns during the GOP Presidential Candidates debate.
Heck, it was almost like Jason Lewis, a Republican candidate vying to replace John Kline in Congress, had coached Ted Cruz.
The Lewis-Cruz worry — John and Jane Doe are not working.
Turns out that Jane had talked to relatives in Ames Iowa and John had talked to an old military buddy in Fargo North Dakota … both had heard the same thing — unemployment in those communities was 1.9%. They thought things were going good … after all, the BLS had reported that during November the national unemployment rate was 4.8% which was down from 5.5% a year earlier. There were 322 of the 387 metropolitan areas with lower unemployment rates compared to a year earlier … heck, there are 31 U.S. metropolitan areas—from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Provo, Utah—with unemployment rates at or below 3%.
Yeah, that should be good news unless you listen to candidates Lewis and Cruz.
But maybe we should listen to John and Jane Doe.
John had met Jane in high school … she went to a Catholic private school while he went to the local public school. Jane’s parents sent her to college as she wanted to become an artist … John, facing the Viet Nam draft opted to enlist in the Navy. Distance didn’t stop the romance and during a Christmastime leave, they eloped. Jane gave up on college and moved to be with her husband. Soon, they were blessed with a child and considering the long deployments, Jane returned to Minnesota where her parents and in-laws resided. Times were challenging … John saw the end of American involvement in Viet Nam but also the 1973 oil crisis causing a rise in unemployment, so he re-enlisted … soon he realized that a military pension was not that many years away. As the children moved onto school age, Jane got a job to help with family expenses. After a twenty-year military career, John rejoined the family and got a job at the Post Office. It’s a happy time … the kids are now parents, and Jane and John are grandparents. Better yet for Jane, she has “retired” leaving her time to return to her art projects and spend time as an “unofficial babysitter”. John stuck it out in the Post Office during its 2012 “early-retirement incentive program” until he got his 20 years in … and now he is part of the more than 200,000 former-postal employees enjoying “retirement”.
Or, so they thought … see they thought they were “retired” but in the eyes of Jason Lewis and Ted Cruz, they are part of the “problem” because they are not included in “the civilian labor force participation rate.”
From Jason Lewis :
“Despite what the President contends, our State of the Union is not good. Just a few days ago the BLS (Dept. of Labor) released the December civilian labor force participation rate. As you can see from the graph, only 62.6% of the civilian labor force is working–a statistic not seen since the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years.”
That was not lost on Ted Cruz who was asked whether America’s economy is as strong as President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, Senator Ted Cruz said, “We have the lowest percentage of Americans working today of any year since 1977.”
Yeah, rather than acknowledge good news, the “leading conservative voice in Minnesota” and winner of the “US National Debating Championship” know that to win, you must reframe the question to your advantage … thus while Minnesota employment is good, focus on the participation rate.
OK … so how does Minnesota compare … let’s take it at the end of the “malaise of the Jimmy Carter years ”
… December, 1980
1,992,224 Minnesotans working or a 65.8% civilian participation rate
With 122,594 unemployed for a 5.8% unemployment rate.
… November, 2015 (the last report)
2,900,370 Minnesotans working or a 67.4% civilian participation rate
With 106,592 unemployed for a 3.5 % unemployment rate.
Yep, a million more Minnesotans working, a higher participation rate and a lower unemployment rate.
Yet, Lewis and Cruz are correct … because John and Jane Doe are not working.
Last month, 59.5% of Americans age 16 and older were employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s higher than it was in 1977, when it ranged from 57% to 58.7%.
However, the overall percentage of adults who are working isn’t the best measure, since the number of retirees is growing as the nation ages.
As US News and World Reports explains :
“In a nutshell, the baby boomers have aged and are now finally retiring en masse. After bulging into the workplace in the 1970s, women are no longer the force in the labor market they once were. Younger people are opting to educate themselves rather than work. And a less-than-friendly tone toward immigrants is shrinking the supply for some high-skilled jobs.”
Yep, Lewis and Cruz are correct … because John and Jane Doe are not working … they are the problem.
Or is that a distortion ?
So let’s look at the share of prime working age adults (age 25 to 54) who are employed. 77.4% of these Americans were employed in December, compared to between 71% and 72.8% in 1977.
So, another measure that should make people happy with the Obama presidency … but we will never hear it from candidates Lewis and Cruz … instead we will hear Jason Lewis urge “spending reductions from an unsustainable $4 trillion dollar federal budget” … leaving John and Jane Doe to wonder about their Social Security … but heck, they wouldn’t need Social Security as Ted Cruz has announced his desire to “increase the retirement age” (is 75 too early for retirement?)
No doubt Jason Lewis and Ted Cruz make a formidable debate team, but the 2016 election will be decided by seniors, soon-to-be-seniors, and working families … we just gotta hope that they are not mislead on debate points.