The new monthly jobs numbers are out and the United States added a paltry 80,000 jobs in June. That’s nowhere near the 100,000 to 125,000 per month we need to create to keep pace with economic need. So it’s not good for any side.
But pay attention in the news and you’ll see Republicans bragging, happy to have one more arrow in their quiver to fire at President Obama.
According to a recent poll, a plurality of Americans — and a majority of independent and moderate voters — believe that Republicans are actively sabotaging the United States economy in order to hurt President Obama’s re-election prospects in the fall. So don’t chock my sentiments up to liberal talking points. The American people believe that Republicans want our economy and working families to suffer so that their party can succeed.
Though President Obama poorly chose his words and timing when he said last month that the private sector is “doing fine”, the fact is that private sector job growth remains steady — not robust by any stretch of the imagination, but consistent with what we might hope in an economic recovery coming out of the hole we’ve been in. As of June, America created 4.3 million private sector jobs in 27 straight months. That’s nothing to sneeze at. BUT the fact is that public sector jobs have been slashed at record levels. In this chart, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein looks at the rates of public sector employment during the last four major recessions in America. Note how much lower is is now:
Klein computed that if you restored the 600,000 public sector jobs cut by Republicans in the last four years, the unemployment rate today would be 7.8% instead of 8.2% it actually is. And if the country had added public sector jobs in the last four years at the same rate as when George W. Bush was president, the unemployment rate would fall to 7.3%.
Notably, June jobs numbers were just adjusted to clarify that while only 100,000 net jobs were created, 176,000 private sector jobs were generated. The lesser net jobs growth is mainly the result of public sector layoffs.
Republicans like to pretend that firefighters, police and teachers aren’t hardworking, middle class Americans who contribute to our communities and our economy but rather blood-sucking leeches taking advantage of the public teet. But even the Wall Street Journal agrees the biggest impediment to businesses hiring in America today is a lack of customer demand. And public sector workers don’t just put out wildfires, keep our streets safe and educate our children for the economy of the future. They also buy stuff and spur demand. Killing 600,000 public sector jobs hurts the economy.
Of course, it’s distinctly possible that Republicans believe that trickle-down economic policies that give more and more money and power to big business and the super-rich while starving public sector jobs and small businesses actually will rescue our economy, despite the overwhelming evidence that those policies got us into this mess in the first place. More likely, it seems to me, is that Republicans realize full well their attacks on public sector jobs and their stonewalling on every jobs proposal the President puts forward (including tax cuts!) are very deliberate and self-aware actions to tank the economy with the hopes that President Obama will suffer politically. The fact that our economy not to mention hundreds of thousands of hard working Americans and the small businesses that rely on them are also suffering doesn’t seem to trouble Republicans in Washington one bit.