Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Jobs Obama is Leaving Behind

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The Jobs Obama is Leaving Behind

Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on the Department of the Interior's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget proposal. When pressed by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) about the de facto offshore drilling moratorium the Obama Administration has inflicted on his district, Sec. Salazar responded: "When you look at the production within the Gulf of Mexico, even in the midst of the national crisis of the Deepwater Horizon, the production has remained at an all-time high." This is an audaciously out of touch statement. According to the Energy Information Administration, the Obama offshore drilling moratorium will cause a 13-percent fall in domestic offshore oil production this year, which translates to a loss of about 220,000 barrels of oil a day. That means lower GDP growth for the nation, higher gas prices for all Americans, lower tax revenues for the federal government, and most importantly, fewer jobs for Americans living in the Gulf region.

Today, the Labor Department released its monthly jobs report showing that the U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in February and unemployment fell to 8.9 percent. While it is always great news that more Americans are finding jobs, the reality is that the economy could be doing much better. Since the Obama recovery began 20 months ago, the national unemployment rate has fallen only half a point, from 9.4 percent in July 2009 to 8.9 percent today. Contrast those anemic results with the robust job growth that occurred during the Reagan recovery in the '80s. By the 20-month mark of the Reagan recovery, unemployment had dropped from 10.8 percent to 7.5 percent – a 3.3-point drop.

So why was the Reagan recovery so strong and why is the Obama recovery so weak? Just look at the best job markets in 2010 according to Gallup: "More than half of the 10 best job markets in 2010 were in energy- and commodity-producing states." And what has President Obama done to help this job growth spread? Nothing. In fact, his cancellation of drilling permits across the West and his offshore drilling slowdown have undoubtedly slowed job creation in this sector. So what have been the hot job markets in the Obama Recovery? Gallup explains: "Reflecting the growth of the federal government, the District of Columbia was not only the second-best job market but also the second-most improved job market in 2010." The Department of Labor Statistics confirms Gallup's analysis: Since President Barack Obama was sworn into office, the private sector workforce has shrunk by 2.6 percent while shedding 2.9 million jobs, but the federal workforce (excluding Census and Postal workers) has grown by 7 percent while adding more than 144,000 jobs.

In his first Inaugural Address, President Reagan said: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. … In the days ahead, I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity." President Obama, however, sees a growing federal government as the cornerstone of his economic vision. As the nation's unemployment continues to hover around 9 percent, we'll see which vision the American people prefer.

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