It’s still a harsh economy

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By John Barnhart

    We still have a tough economy, and it has nothing to do with the sequester. Unemployment is still hanging in at 7.8 percent, down only slightly from where it was last fall. What makes the drop even more paltry is that it was helped, according to government reports, because 100,000 people dropped out of the labor force. No longer looking for work, they aren’t counted in this figure. According to other government statistics, labor-force participation is now lower than it has been for 30 years. You can see this figure for yourself by going to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site, an official federal government Web site. The page with this statistic is at http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet.
    There’s another page on the Bureau of Labor that may be of interest to you is at http://www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm.  It’s titled “Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization for States, 2012 Annual Averages.” One of the things you will notice is that unemployment last year is much higher than the figures you saw listed as the official unemployment rate.
    Last year the average official unemployment rate was 8.1 percent. This figure does not include “discouraged workers.” Add discouraged workers in and last year’s average unemployment rate goes to 8.6 percent.
    Another group not included in the official rate are “marginally attached workers.” Add them in and last year’s average unemployment rate goes to 9.5 percent.
    Finally, “total employed part time for economic reasons” are not included in the official unemployment rate. These are people who are working part-time jobs because they can’t find full-time jobs. Add them in and last year’s unemployment rate goes to 14.5 percent.
    Thanks to ObamaCare, the ranks of those who can’t find full-time jobs is going to get higher. Furthermore, those who currently have jobs that fall short of being full time could find their hours cut, all thanks to what President Barack Obama did to us three years ago.
    Companies with at least 50 “full-time equivalent” workers fall under ObamaCare’s mandate that they either provide health insurance that meets the law’s requirements for all workers who work more than 30 hours per week or pay a $2,000 penalty for every uncovered worker beyond 30 employees. This means that a business with 49 employees, that doesn’t offer insurance, is going to think long and hard before it hires that 50th full-time worker because doing so could be very expensive.
    Businesses that employ a lot of part-time workers are also going to be cutting back their part-timers’ hours. That’s because ObamaCare doesn’t require employers to provide health insurance coverage for employees who work less than 30 hours per week. The law is going to encourage employers, who don’t provide insurance, to cap their part-timers’ hours at 29 hours per week to keep that $2,000-per-worker penalty from kicking in.
    According to Department of Labor statistics, there are currently 8 million people stuck in part-time jobs because they can’t find full-time work. That number is higher than it was at this time last year and it’s going to get worse. You can also expect a lot of part-time workers, who work 35 hours per week to see their hours cut by six per week, substantially reducing the size of paychecks that are already small as most of the people affected are going to be low skill workers getting a low wage to begin with.
    We certainly still have a hard economy, and ObamaCare is just one of the things that President Obama and his followers have done to make matters worse.