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Are The “Takers” Taking Over America?


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“America is dying. Lazy, uneducated moochers and parasites have infested this nation, and they are rapidly becoming the majority.” -- Mr. Darryl Rivard of Prosper (Collin County) Texas at a townhall meeting on illegal immigration.
 
Mr. Rivard’s tough words would no doubt be chastised by the politically correct folks in Manhattan’s 10065 zip code, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the oh so polite salons in Washington, DC’s Georgetown, but it is impossible to argue with the fact that under President Obama more and more Americans, to say nothing of the illegal aliens streaming across our southern border, are looking to the taxpayers for their livelihoods.
 
The most recent figures from the Department of Agriculture put the number receiving food stamps (SNAP benefits) at 46,247,450 as of April 2014. That’s down from the nearly 47.8 million who were getting benefits in December 2012 — a record. But, according to Factcheck.org, the most recent number is still more than 14 percent of the entire U.S. population, and is an increase of some 44 percent since the month Obama first took office.
 
While the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.1 percent, the labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the civilian non-institutional population who participated in the labor force by either having a job during the month or actively seeking one, is now at a near record low of 62.8 percent.  You would have to go back to 1978 to see an overall number this low. What’s more, for some key subsets, such as Americans ages 25 to 29 it has hit the lowest level recorded since 1982, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started tracking such data.
 
This means that there were over 92,000,000 Americans 16 and older who not only did not have a job, but did not actively seek one in the last four weeks.
 
And the number of people coming into the workforce -- by either landing a job or starting a search for work -- plunged to 5.84 million in April; the fewest since November 2008, according to figures from the Labor Department reported by Bloomberg’s Victoria Stilwell. The 14 percent decrease from the prior month’s 6.79 million was the biggest since 1995.
 
Those leaving the labor force, which includes retirees, people who choose to take care of family members and those pessimistic about finding employment, totaled 6.66 million, little changed from the 6.42 million averaged over the prior 12 months.
 
And in the analysis of Keith Hall, PhD a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University this spells trouble.
 
“The bad news is our historically low labor force participation.  The rate in June was unchanged at 62.8 percent and continues to be at its lowest level in more than 35 years. This critical job market measure is failing to bounce back from the recession and represents a major concern.
 
“And while job gains slightly lowered the unemployment rate from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent, we should be mindful that the unemployment rate remains artificially low due to weak labor force participation.
 
But are those who retired, those who chose to take care of family members and those pessimistic about finding employment the only people left the workforce?
 
Not according to Keith Hall.
 
Dr. Hall says the labor force participation rate for the prime working-age population — those between 25 and 54 years old — has been declining in the U.S. since 1997. One of the big reasons is a rise in the disability rate, which hit a record 5.2 percent in 2013. (emphasis ours)
 
Since the start of the Great Recession, the withdrawal rate due to disability has accelerated, says Hall. In fact, 90 percent of the labor force decline for those who were in their prime working ages for the entire six-year span was from disability. Most of this — three quarters — was from those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
 
Overall, writes Dr. Hall, the number of Americans removed from the labor force because of a reported disability is at a record 14 million — up from about 11 million just six years ago. (When Obama became President we note for the record)
 
The average labor force participation rate of prime-aged men in 1980 was 94.3 percent according to Michael R. Strain a resident scholar at AEI. The rate last month? Just 88 percent. Only 83 prime-aged men out of every 100 have a job today.
 
Relative to 1980, this represents a staggering decline says Strain.
 
And it is a decline that has happened every month during the Obama presidency, meaning, as Kyle Becker put it so well for the IJReview, “On everything from subsidies for Obamacare to food stamps to Medicare and Medicaid all the way down the line, the bill keeps getting bigger, and the percentage of Americans willing and able to pay it keeps getting smaller.”
 
No wonder America’s economic growth is declining says Becker.  When the labor force participation rate declines, it’s like a vice that squeezes America’s finances. There’s also a huge difference with the fictional “Obama recovery” and Reagan’s market-based recovery.
 
Under President Reagan, the unemployment rate, economic growth and labor participation rates improved, while under President Obama, superficial improvements in the unemployment rate have come about at the expense of the labor force participation rate and economic growth.
 
In other words, concludes IJReview’s Becker, the unemployment rate is almost meaningless to tell the real story: President Obama is growing the already massive welfare state, while millions of Americans are no longer providing the means to support it.
 
Tough as it sounds, when you look at the Obama numbers, Mr. Rivard may very well be right.
 
For more detail on these issues see Dr. Keith Hall’s articles on the Mercatus website and Kyle Becker’s “Every Month Under President Obama, One Thing Has Always Gone Down And This Chart Shows It” on IJReview.

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