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Jobs by the numbers

Published 9:26pm Saturday, October 22, 2011

By Congressman Randy Forbes

The latest labor report released for the month September reiterates two facts that Americans already know: The economic recovery has stalled, and current economic policies have failed. We hear regularly that the unemployment rate is high; it has become a frequent message that rolls across the news ticker on our televisions or shows up as a headline in the local newspaper. But what does this mean at the individual level?

I want to share with you a snapshot of the jobs situation in America. These numbers are staggering. But they aren’t just statistics and figures. Behind each number is a face and a story. Behind each number may be an individual with a college degree who cannot find good, honest work. Or a family who may be struggling to pay their electric bill each month because they cannot afford to cut their grocery budget any more. Behind each number is a business owner who may be forced to consider laying off yet another employee or face the potential of closing the doors.

Here is a look at jobs in America by the numbers:

9.1%: The unemployment rate for the month of September—the same rate as August and the second highest monthly level in 2011. Only 2 out of the last 29 months have seen unemployment below 9 percent (February and March 2011). From March 2009 (the month after the failed $1.2 trillion “stimulus” was signed) through September 2011, unemployment has averaged 9.4 percent. Prior to President Obama taking office, unemployment had not been above 9 percent in 28 years.

32: The number of consecutive months the unemployment rate has been at or above 8 percent—the level the current Administration said unemployment would never reach if the “stimulus” were approved. Prior to the enactment of the “stimulus,” unemployment had not been above 8 percent for this long since the Great Depression.

13,992,000: The number of unemployed Americans looking for work in the month of September, an increase of 25,000 from August and the second-highest number of unemployed workers of any month in 2011. The number of unemployed eclipsed 13 million for the first time in history two months after President Obama took office and has remained above 13 million for 30 straight months.

2,229,000: The number of net jobs the economy has shed from February 2009 — when the “stimulus” was signed into law — through September 2011. On average, the economy has lost 69,656 jobs each month during that span.

15.1%: The official poverty rate in 2010 according to the Census Bureau—up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate and the highest poverty rate since 1993.

-$3,378: Inflation adjusted median household income dropped by -$3,378 per U.S. family, falling to its lowest level since 1996. Household income has fallen by 6.4 percent since 2007.

46,200,000: In 2010, 46.2 million Americans were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. The number of Americans in poverty in 2010 is the largest number in the 52 years in which poverty estimates have been published by the Census Bureau.

45,344,946 : The number of Americans receiving food stamps as of June 2011, the third month in history with more than 45 million food stamp recipients. Today, 14 percent of Americans receive food stamps, an increase of 40 percent since President Obama took office.

40.5: The average number of weeks it takes for job seekers to find a job—the longest average time that Americans have been unemployed since the statistic was first recorded in 1948.

1,327,000: The number of job seekers that are new to the workforce and have yet to find a job. The number of new workers who cannot find a job has been above 1 million for two years.

24.6%: The unemployment rate among job seekers between the ages of 16 and 19. Youth unemployment has been above 24 percent for 27 months, the longest streak since the Great Depression.

6.5%: The level at which the Obama administration claimed unemployment would be today if the “stimulus” were signed into law.

$1,172,000,000,000: The total cost of the “stimulus.” CBO estimates the cost of the bill will reach $825 billion and interest on the debt for the bill will be at least $347 billion.

The government has tried its hand at job creation by pouring money on the problem, picking winners and losers in the industry, and imposing stifling regulations. It has not worked. And American families and businesses are the ones getting burned. Individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies will be the entities to create jobs, not the government. However, government can create an environment that fosters job creation and encourages small business owners and entrepreneurs.

We have a lot of work to do.

I have created a Strategy to Help Job Creators to begin to tackle this situation. If you have not done so already, take a moment to read through my plan online at www.forbes.house.gov and then tell me how you think it stacks up. Over 2,000 people have already taken the survey. Make sure your voice is heard.

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