After Seven Recovery Summers…

The last recession officially ended, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, in June 2009. By now, September 2015, we should be in the middle, or perhaps the later stages, of an economic boom, having enjoyed years of strong economic growth, job creation and rising private sector incomes. Instead, our economy has never exited the recovery stage, and we have just concluded the seventh “recovery summer” of the Obama administration. The Obama economy has been, in a word, lousy, and its lousiness is most evident in the fact that full-time jobs have been so scarce that tens of millions have quit looking, and many millions have classified themselves as permanently and totally disabled, one of the less painful ways of exiting the labor market.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released another disappointing–unexpectedly disappointing!–jobs report. In September, the economy added only 142,000 jobs (full and part-time), as opposed to the 200,000 economists had anticipated. Jobs numbers for July and August were also revised downward. Average hourly private sector earnings declined slightly. Most significantly, the labor force participation rate declined again, to its lowest level in 38 years.

The Obama administration always has an excuse for its terrible economic performance–the weather, conditions in China, whatever. (The best you can say for Obama is that he hasn’t yet blamed his failures on “wreckers and saboteurs.”) But the truth is that the administration’s consistent failure to produce results, now extending for nearly seven years, is largely the result of the Democrats’ liberal policies, most notably the hyper-regulation that seeks to concentrate all power in the government.

For most Americans, the reality is even harsher than official numbers suggest. Forgetting seasonal adjustment, the BLS data show that the number of Americans aged 16 and over with jobs declined by nearly 250,000 in September. Breaking that down, foreign-born workers gained 14,000 jobs–a tiny number, but at least a positive one–while American-born workers lost another 262,000 jobs. Once again, all net job gains went to immigrants.

Polls show that a strong plurality of Americans believe that immigrants, legal and illegal, are taking many jobs that otherwise would have gone to the native-born. They are correct. The combination of a chronically weak economy and unprecedented levels of immigration is toxic, and will be the most potent political issue in the 2016 cycle where a candidate is willing to raise it.