This morning's jobs report was pretty good. 242,000 jobs were added, outstripping expectations, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9% (the lowest in eight years), and numbers from December and January were revised up.
But a number missing from media reports is the real big story here: between 2012 and 2015, incomes grew at a higher rate than inflation, and people at the bottom of the economic ladder benefited the most. Data shows that real income (i.e. adjusted for inflation) of income earners at the 10th percentile (i.e. workers who make less than 90% of the country) grew the most, by 1.3%, and the incomes of the top 10% grew the least, by 0.2%.
Sure, one-and-a-half percent is not much in the way of income growth, but it damn well is a step in the right direction both coming from a near-depression a little over a half a decade ago, and towards addressing income inequality.
The other big number that is hiding out is the measure that includes labor underutilization - i.e. people who are working part time because they cannot find full time work - known as U6, dropped 0.2 points to 9.7% in February, just a half point above pre-Great Recession average. In total, part time work for economic reason now accounts for 3.7% of the labor force, dropping a full 2 points from recession high. Even more impressive, the percentage of the workforce who have been unemployed (and looking for work) for more than 6 months - the long term unemployed - has dropped from 3.6% to 1.3%, nearly even with its pre-recession average.
Anytime anyone complains about "the real unemployment" - Bernie and GOP-speak for U-6, remind them this: President Obama has cut U-6 in almost half, and he's cut the rate of long term unemployment by two-thirds.
Economic growth is robust, jobs are growing at a better-than-expected pace as we continue America's longest era of private sector job growth by far, and income is growing the most for those who need it most. By a reference point, FDR's recovery from the Great Depression was stalled a similar point in his presidency, as the economy fell back into recession from mid 1937 to 1938, and in that period, the unemployment rate (U-3, not U-6) rose from 14% to 19%.
I know we have said this before, but it bears repeating: the progress President Obama has accomplished against the backdrop of the second worst economic catastrophe in American history and unprecedented political obstructionism is not just impressive, it is nearly miraculous.
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