December Jobs Report Comes In Way Off Estimates, 300,000+ Leave Labor Force

A surprisingly disappointing jobs report for December.


The past two months of Jobs Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics had shown what seemed to be good news, and perhaps signs that the jobs spigot on the economy was starting to open more than it had been in the past. October, which many had thought would be impacted adversely by the government shutdown, came in at a pre-revision number of 204,000 net jobs created, a number that was revised downward to 200,000, still a respectable number. November’s number came in at a seemingly healthy 203,000 net new jobs. These numbers, as well as previous good numbers going back to the summer and healthy Gross Domestic Product numbers, led many to believe that we’d see strong jobs growth in December, especially given the fact that it is typically a month when retailers and delivery services typically beef up their employment numbers for the Christmas season. The consensus forecast was for roughly 190,000 net new jobs, while the ADP report that came out, and which often diverges significantly from the official BLS numbers, showed 238,000 net new jobs created. As it turned out, though, the first round of numbers out regarding the labor market in December was way off estimates, and not in a good way:

The United States economy created just 74,000 jobs in December, the slowest pace in three years, disappointing both economists and policy makers who had concluded that the labor market was finally gaining some sustained momentum.

Experts had expected the economy would add just under 200,000 positions in December, and the huge shortfall also stood in sharp contrast with the overall pace of job creation in 2012 and 2013. In those years, employers added an average of 182,500 positions a month.

Just last month, the Federal Reserve announced it would begin pulling back on its enormous stimulus program after several months of healthier job gains. But the latest data calls into question whether the central bank’s optimism was premature.

The unemployment rate seemingly improved in December, falling to 6.7 percent from 7 percent in November. But there was a 0.8 percentage-point plunge in the labor participation rate, meaning that people were dropping out of the work force rather than finding new jobs.

Although some sectors, like retailing, posted decent gains, other sectors that had been healthy during 2013 reversed course in December, significantly lowering the overall performance of the job market.

From the BLS Report:

The number of unemployed persons declined by 490,000 to 10.4 million in December, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.9 million and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.3 percent) and whites (5.9 percent) declined in December. The rates for adult women (6.0 percent), teenagers (20.2 percent), blacks (11.9 percent), and Hispanics (8.3 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down by 2.5 percentage points over the year. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs decreased by 365,000 in December to 5.4 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 3.9 million, showed little change; these individuals accounted for 37.7 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 894,000 over the year. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent in December, offsetting a change of the same magnitude in November. In December, the employment-population ratio was unchanged at 58.6 percent. The labor force participation rate declined by 0.8 percentage point over the year, while the employment-population ratio was unchanged. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons emplo-yed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 7.8 million in December. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See table A-8.)


Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up in December (+74,000). In 2013, job growth averaged 182,000 per month, about the same as in 2012 (+183,000 per month). In December, job gains occurred in retail trade and wholesale trade, while employment declined in information. (See table B-1.)


The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in December. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged, at 41.0 hours, and factory overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edgand ed up by 2 cents to $24.17. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 42 cents, or 1.8 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3 cents to $20.35. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October remained at +200,000, and the change for November was revised from +203,000 to +241,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November were 38,000 higher than previously reported.

Some data points worth taking away from these numbers:

  • In total, some 347,000 people left the work force in December. This would include both those who retired either on time or early, and those who simply gave up looking for work. This puts the Labor Force Participation Rate at 62.8%, the lowest it has been since February 1978;
  • There were 2.9 million fewer people in the labor force in December 2013 than there were in December 2012, and 1.4 million more people employed this past December than there were in December 2012;
  • If labor force participation were at the same level it was a year ago, the U-3 Unemployment Rate would be 7.9%, if it were at the same level it was in December 2008, the U-3 Unemployment rate wold be 10.1%; and,
  • As noted in the BLS Report, average months jobs growth in 2013 stands, prior to final revisions to November and December, at 182,000 net new jobs. This is roughly consistent with the average for 2012, which was 183,000 new jobs

Also, just as reference, here’s a chart showing historical movement in the Labor Force Participation Rate:

Labor Force Participation

As you can see, Labor Force Participation and the population of those employed continues to fall. To some degree, obvious, this is due to demographic factors such as the aging of the Baby Boom Generation. However, it’s also fairly obvious that there is a significant part of the population that has simply given up, and that group has apparently ended up either on welfare rolls, on Social Security Disability, or relying on savings or family, which obviously won’t last forever. These people could present a serious social problem in the coming years unless the jobs market turns around enough to bring them back into the labor force. This is also one reason why looking at the U-3 number alone is deceptive, because it will fall both due to jobs growth and because people are leaving the labor force. This month’s drop below to 6.7% seems as though it should be almost completely attributed to the fact that some 347,000 people left the labor force, and that isn’t good news.

As Reuters notes, this was the weakest jobs report in three years, but they blamed it on the weather:

(Reuters) – U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but the setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that cold weather conditions might have had an impact.

Nonfarm payrolls rose only 74,000 last month, the smallest increase since January 2011, and the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 and in part reflected people leaving the labor force.

The step back in hiring is at odds with other employment indicators that have painted an upbeat picture of the jobs market. The data showed that 38,000 more jobs were added in November than previously reported.

Construction employment fell for the first time since May and leisure and hospitality payrolls rose marginally, suggesting that cold weather in some parts of the country had held back hiring. There were also declines in government employment.

The smaller survey of households showed an increase in the number of people who stayed at home because of the bad weather.

Of course, the Household Survey doesn’t really show that. It shows that many people stopped looking for work in December, but it doesn’t specifically note the reasons why the stopped doing so. Indeed, it’s possible that weather may have had something to do with it, but December is quite often a bad month weather wise and that hasn’t necessarily stopped people from looking for work during those time periods. It’s just as plausible that people stayed home because they were getting back signals that there were no jobs out there to apply for, or at least not jobs that made it worthwhile for them economically to invest the time, money, and shoe leather to try to track down. Moreover, as Ed Morrissey points out, these BLS numbers are seasonally adjustedmeaning that factors such as the weather should already be taken into account in the numbers that are being reported. Blaming the weather for as weak a report as this is kind of like blaming the rain for the fact that people didn’t buy Edsels back and in the day.

CNBC, meanwhile, brings up the inevitable issue of what this means for Federal Reserve policy:

Fed policy has been contingent on two factors—a declining unemployment rate and low inflation. The central bank in December voted to cut its monthly quantitative easing program by $10 billion to $75 billion a month. Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that a 7.0 percent unemployment rate would serve as a rough guidepost for cutting the asset purchases, while 6.5 percent would be a benchmark for when to consider raising rates.

The numbers immediately sparked debate over whether the Fed would continue to pare back or reconsider.

“The economy, based on any number of other indicators, has been picking up steam of late which makes today’s number….curious,” Dan Greenhaus, chief market strategist at BTIG. “We aren’t sure how the Fed should react to this number but we think another reduction at the January FOMC meeting is probably unlikely. Investors though have already cast their vote; bad news is bad news.”

The data indeed have been stronger, with ADP reporting private job growth in December at 238,000. Weekly jobless claims have been consistently below 350,000 and Institute for Supply Management indicators also have pointed to stronger hiring.

But the combination of a declining labor force and a structural unemployment issue in which employers are reluctant to add jobs has made the labor dynamic more difficult to decipher, both for the markets and the Fed.

Of course, the other possible lesson for the Fed here is that perhaps they have less influence over the economy than they think they do. Over the last three years or so that Quantitative Easing has been in effect, the best we can say is that monthly jobs growth have averaged approximately 173,000 net jobs created over a period of 36 months. That’s better than nothing, of course, but still far below the level needed to even meet population growth. And all of this while the Fed has kept interest rates near zero — indeed, if you factor inflation into the mix, real interest rates for some Treasury obligations are actually below zero — and that’s all they have to show or it. Well, not really, the one area of the economy that has benefited from Fed policy is the stock market, which has not only fully recovered from the post-2008 crisis crash, but reached record highs for the Dow and S&P 500 and ten-year highs for the NASDAQ. That doesn’t do much to help the average American, of course, and it suggests that the good news out of Wall Street will end as soon as the Fed stops artificially priming the pump there, which it naturally must start doing at some point in the near future.

To be fair, these numbers are likely to be revised in January and February, probably upward. At the same time, though, one cannot dismiss the reality that they are particularly disappointing number in a month that, ordinarily, sees strong jobs growth just because of the Christmas season alone (on that note, it’s possible that November’s number was artificially high because retailers started hiring early to to earlier than usual Christmas sales traffic.) More importantly, the average job growth for the year is not likely to be impacted substantially by any such revisions, and that number is particularly disappointing, as this chart shows:

Jobs Recession


Based on this chart, it will be at least another year before we’re back to where the labor market was before the recession started, and that assumes that the economy doesn’t hit another snag before then. Even at that point, though, it seems unlikely that the economy will be robust enough to sustain a recovery that has now lasted more than four years without much stronger numbers than we’ve seen so far. Hopefully, we’ll see those numbers in 2014 because, otherwise, we may be talking about another slowdown that, even if it doesn’t become a recession, would likely have a huge impact on an already weak jobs market.

Update: Matthew Yglesias adds this:

The particular demographics of labor force participation are difficult to untangle. But we know for a fact that there are more Americans today than there were at the start of 2008. And yet there are fewer jobs.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. edmondo says:

    U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but the setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that cold weather conditions might have had an impact.

    Who could have expected that December would have cold weather?

  2. gVOR08 says:

    As Ben Bernanke pointed out AGAIN recently. We need fiscal stimulus. Monetary stimulus as applied thru Quantitative Easing is a weak tool at best. But given the Republican refusal to do fiscal stimulus, in fact their kamikaze dedication to doing exactly the opposite, what are we to do?

    I hope the Fed reconsiders the taper. Past that, how do we get past a Party that is so dedicated to defeating the President, defeating the LAME DUCK President, that they’ll take the country down with him.

    I’ve said for years that there are no more than a handful of Republicans at the national level that wouldn’t burn the country down if they thought there was a $10,000 donation in it for them. And they’re doing it. Can you show me I’m wrong?

    Also, seasonal adjustments are based on historical data. they are unreliable in unusual conditions.

  3. JKB says:

    @edmondo: Who could have expected that December would have cold weather?

    When your policies are based on the premise of the religion of global warming, then cold weather even in winter is unexpected.

  4. Pinky says:

    Since the numbers are seasonally adjusted, Doug shouldn’t have put a comment in the first paragraph that we’d expect to see a rise in December in retail. That’s already factored into the seasonal adjustment.

  5. JKB says:


    It’s to late for a Democrat allocated stimulus. The statute of limitations won’t run out till after Obama is out of office. That raises the risks to cronies and government bureaucrats alike.

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    Austerity now!

  7. bill says:

    maybe we should just extend unemployment benefits forever- then unemployment will never drop!? next stage is getting on disability…….mmmmmmmmmmmm, free money forever.

  8. edmondo says:

    Whatever happened to that guy who was “focused like a laser beam on jobs”?
    Oh yeah, he’s now selling health insurance door-to-door.

    In eight years we’ve gone from the Alfred E Neumann presidency to the Alex Trebeck presidency. (“For only $6.95 cents a unit…”)

  9. michael reynolds says:

    The economy is growing and has been growing for quite some time now, but we don’t see employment rising at all relative to population. And still we keep hearing we need to grow the economy. The two things have become disconnected to some extent. We’re making a bunch of stuff, providing a bunch of services, just not using people to do it.

    So, again, can we stop pretending technology isn’t having a serious impact? Because when you’re making a lot more stuff with a lot fewer humans you really have to face the fact that someone or something is making all that stuff and providing all those services, and it’s either just amazingly productive employees or it’s machines/apps/robots.

  10. stonetools says:

    I’m with Ezra Klein here:

    These numbers aren’t real:

    Because this is a dreary day for both economic data and the Washington weather, here’s a go at putting a positive spin on these numbers. The rosy case boils down to: They just can’t be real. All the other evidence we have on how the economy is doing is inconsistent with a mere 74,000 newly added jobs, and in fact is more consistent with the 200,000-ish levels of previous months. Manufacturing surveys are reporting strong output. Trade numbers are looking favorable. Business investment appears strong. Indeed, overall GDP growth for the second half of 2013 now looks to have been the strongest in years.

    And jobs numbers frequently become messy and erratic around the holidays, due to the difficulties of seasonal adjustment. The Labor Department adjusts the numbers to account for the routine passing of the seasons, but the combination of a spike in holiday employment around Christmas and winter weather that can disrupt economic activity means that those adjustments can create distortions that tell us nothing about how the economy is really doing. Indeed, the Labor Department specifically identified bad weather as a possible factor in a 13,000 drop in the number of specialty trade contractors.

    I expect these numbers to be revised, shortly. I also agree with economist Justin Wolfers:

    It would be unprecedented to end benefits for the long-term jobless when long-term unemployment remains so widespread

    As to the Fed, I expect Yellin to put off tapering.
    Note that conservatives have no answer to the problem of long term unemployed or how to improve recovery. Absent from Doug’s analysis is talk of renewed fiscal stimulus ( which is what actually works, as opposed to tax cuts(euphemistically called ” tax reform”) which has been shown NOT to work.

    That’s better than nothing, of course, but still far below the level needed to even meet population growth. And all of this while the Fed has kept interest rates near zero — indeed, if you factor inflation into the mix, real interest rates for some Treasury obligations are actually below zero — and that’s all they have to show or it

    I would argue that what the Feds policy has done to is to prevent the economy from going back into recession, which is where Republicans’ deflationary policies would have pushed it. You know, Doug, you might want to read on Milton Friedman on monetary policy. He was one of the fathers of modern libertarianism , but he would have been in full agreement with the Fed’s expansionary monetary policy.

    Friedman understood the power of monetary policy, for both good and ill. He would almost certainly have been aghast that the Fed blew it again in 2008 by its tight money policies that possibly turned a modest downturn into the Great Recession. And he almost certainly would have been appalled at Republicans pushing for tight money — or, heaven help us, a return to the gold standard — with the economy barely growing and inflation low. It is certainly inconvenient for Paul that Friedman — a libertarian, Nobel-laureate economist — would have little use for the senator’s supposedly Hayekian take on the Fed or monetary policy. Although the Bernanke Fed has imperfectly executed its QE programs, they are a big reason why the US is growing and adding jobs — despite President’s Obama’s regulatory onslaught and tax hikes — and the EU (and the inflation hawk ECB) is back in recession. Paul is wrong on Friedman and wrong on the Fed. It’s not even close.

    You might want to crack an economics textbook before commenting on economic matters, Doug. Reading stuff over at ain’t cutting it. Just sayin’.

  11. humanoid.panda says:

    @edmondo: So, not pretending to be a liberal anymore?

  12. humanoid.panda says:


    Who could have expected that December would have cold weather?

    Stupid statisticians, why can’t they be as clever as me?

  13. al-Ameda says:


    Whatever happened to that guy who was “focused like a laser beam on jobs”?

    Who knew that Bush would crash the economy into a near depression in 2007-2008?

  14. Scott says:

    I have no great insight but do have a question:

    Is there any data out there on older folks finally leaving the workforce because of the rise of the stock market? When the crash hit a lot of 60+ people postponed retirement. Could the fact that they can now retire reduce the participation numbers. If so, by how much? And is there a lag in backfilling those position? Or do those positions just disappear because firms can now eliminate them without guilt (or threat of lawsuits)?

  15. David M says:


    I think the older workers retiring can account for some, but not all of the drop in the labor force participation.

  16. Pinky says:


    This table only goes through 2012, but it shows that the labor force participation rate has been declining under age 55 and increasing among those 55 and over. You can see the trend in the 1992-2002 data as well, but it’s much stronger in the past 10 years. Some of it might reflect longer academic spans among the young and greater health among the older. (You’re not going to find 2013 annual data yet because that was just a few days ago.)

  17. C. Clavin says:

    The government ran a $44 billion surplus for December.
    The deficit is coming down faster than at any time in 60 years.
    In fact…the last time it came down this fast was after the depression when deficit hawks insisted on cutting budgets…and we went into a recession…only to be “saved” economically by WW2.
    And while Government employment was unchanged this month…that’s still a net loss because in every other recovery we have added Public Sector jobs. Jobs that create demand…which creates more demand…which creates more demand.

    Can someone…anyone…please show me another economy similar to ours that has showed significant long-term growth while slashing the Public Sector???

    As for technology…which Michael referred to…the problem is not technology and increased production…the problem is that the benefits of that increased production is not going to those doing the production. And thus that money…in the hands of Mitt Romney and rent seekers like him…is not creating any additional demand.

    This has been about demand since the beginning…but too many people…including the author of this post refused to acknowledge that.

  18. Scott says:

    @Pinky: It also shows increasing participation rates projected to 2022.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the next 10 years will bring about an aging labor force that is growing slowly, a declining overall labor force participation rate, and more diversity in the racial and ethnic composition of the labor force.

    I so don’t want to be part of that aging workforce.

  19. edmondo says:


    @edmondo: So, not pretending to be a liberal anymore?

    OMG! If you think Obama is anything close to a liberal we need to talk ASAP.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Correct. Conservatives are desperate to find a structural cause for unemployment. Not because there is one, but because they want an excuse to say there’s nothing we can do.

  21. John425 says:

    Wake up and smell the coffee, Doug. The jobs report has been “surprisingly disappointing” since Obama took office.

  22. stonetools says:

    Some perspective(hat tip-Keith Boykin):

    The U.S. has now had 46 consecutive months of private sector job growth and created more than 8 million new jobs.

    The US has recovered nearly all the jobs lost during Bush recession but the population has expanded so we still need a lot more jobs

    Before Obamacare, 7 million private sector jobs lost. Since Obamacare, 8 million private sector jobs created.

    The U.S. economy created 77,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year.

    The federal government cut 25,000 jobs in 2013.

    Put all that together, and you get a US economy recovering slowly, despite unprecedented attempts to the cut the federal government'[‘ s employment at a time in which federal employment and federal employment should have been increasing” according to Keynesian theory: the only kind of theory found effective as pulling the economy out of a depression.

  23. bandit says:

    Obama supporters returning to their natural habitat – the couch

  24. al-Ameda says:


    Wake up and smell the coffee, Doug. The jobs report has been “surprisingly disappointing” since Obama took office.

    Wake up and smell the catastrophic 2007-2008 Great Recession, the one that caused the vaporization of over 20% of America’s wealth, about $18 Trillion. At the time Obama took office in 2009, the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of over 700,000 per month. Now THAT’S “surprisingly disappointing.”

  25. An Interested Party says:

    I’m curious what anyone thinks a Republican president would have done to make the job situation so much better…

  26. rudderpedals says:

    @An Interested Party: Send cash money to states and households. IOKIYAR

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @An Interested Party: The Republicans would have passed another round of stimulus. It’s ok when they do it.

  28. Peter says:

    @Pinky: While the labor force participation rate has been growing for people in the 55+ age category, it’s still considerably lower than for younger people. Given that an unusually high percentage of the population is in the 55-64 age range, the result of high birth rates in the 1950’s, it’s not altogether surprising that labor force participation is declining.

  29. Peter says:

    I am skeptical of the common belief that many unemployed people are so discouraged that they stop looking and drop out of the labor force. It takes very, very little effort to be considered looking for work and therefore counted as participating in the labor force. If you spend a couple minutes once a week looking through the job listings on Craigslist to see if there’s anything interesting, you are looking for work under the government’s definition. There’s no minimum effort required.

  30. Tyrell says:

    These figures are depressing and do not look good. Let me say from the start that I do not blame this on the President. I have been thinking about this economic problem and I have a few ideas. What is needed is a stimulus package that actually boosts employment while actually doing something. We are not talking about Congress members’ pet projects and highways to nowhere. We are not talking about grants for such memorable things as “why children fall off of tricycles” or $200, 000 to study “twitter”.
    (source: Readers Digest, “That’s Outrageous”). That money could have employed 5-6 workers to sweep parking lots or dust chalkboard erasers if nothing else. Here are some worthwhile Stimulus projects:
    Rebuilding and modernizing the interstate highways and bridges: update with such things as imbedded track lighting in the roads (as is used in Europe), special lanes for future “smart” cars, and heating systems that would melt snow and ice. Energy: give tax deductions for energy saving purchases and fund research projects: the private sector is full of new ideas and inventors. Space program: missions to the moon and other planets would provide jobs for thousands, bring about new developments in technology, and inspire children and young people to study science. In schools today, science fairs, projects, and experiments are a thing of the past. We can’t afford to let other countries by pass us.
    Electric grid: needs rebuilding and updating. This would improve efficiency and protect against a total breakdown. Provide funding for a new car company that would produce only alternative powered cars. I think the last new car company was either Tucker or Delorean. And put the money in the hands of businesses and workers, not members of Congress.
    Here is another idea: take a lot of the redundant, costly, and unnecessary regulations off of business. Many of these are state and county rules, not the federal government. It should not take57 permits and 28 fees to hang a door, or install a sink.
    Once again, let me say that this economic crisis is not the fault of President Obama. But he needs to act quickly and do something. More government handouts will not solve the problem.
    These are my ideas and I would like to hear yours.

  31. bill says:


    Note that conservatives have no answer to the problem of long term unemployed or how to improve recovery.

    one answer is to stop paying “workers” for not “working”, when the teet dries they’ll find work. our artificial economy needs to right itself after years of “stimulus” (mommy, where does stimulus come from?!)

    @An Interested Party: we’ll never know unless that modified delorean comes by again. romney was not known to fail at his promises, unlike our current prez.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    we’ll never know unless that modified delorean comes by again. romney was not known to fail at his promises, unlike our current prez.

    Oh please…as if we would be living in the land of milk and honey if Romney had won the election…well, certainly the 1% would, even more than they already do…

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ bandit

    Obama supporters returning to their natural habitat – the couch

    Why don’t you tell us how much money you make stud? I am guessing more than a few Obama supporters around here could buy you out of petty cash…

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    Once again, let me say that this economic crisis

    You should really spend some time reading legit business and financial publications and get back to us when you are better informed. We are poised for the best year since Bush left the economy broken on the rocks.

  35. anjin-san says:

    I think the last new car company was either Tucker or Delorean.

    Tesla Motors

    I just don’t get the deep seated love of ignorance that conservatives seem to hold…

  36. humanoid.panda says:

    @edmondo: So, mr. liberal, if you were president, and had a congress absolutlely, 100% committed to not passing any stimulus legislation, how would you maintain “a laser focus on jobs”??
    And sorry, cracks about Obama being an insurance salesman cribbed from Rush Limbaugh are pretty good giveaway that even if Obama is not a liberal, a debatable proposition, you are surelyn not one.

  37. superdestroyer says:


    I have always found it amazing that progressives always seem to forget who was in charge of the House and Senate in 2007/2008. To claim that Bush II did it by himself is lying.

  38. Ben Wolf says:

    @bill: When an economy reaches equilibrium during a period of mass unemployment, you can starve workers all you like; the jobs aren’t there for them to find.

  39. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The budget deficit in FY14 (the fifth year of the Obama Administration) is still higher than the budget deficit in any year of the Bush II administration.

    I love how progressive want to forget who has been running the executive branch for the last five years (and the Senate for the last seven years.

  40. superdestroyer says:


    How is passing the Affordable Care Act and removing actuarial principles from health insurance not liberal?

  41. humanoid.panda says:

    @superdestroyer: Anyone who is not a shameless hack knows that the FY 2009 budget, with a deficit of 1.4 trillion, was designed by the Bush administration. Obama’s only contribution to that budget was 200 billion in stimulus funds.

    In any case pretending like the deficits before FY 2009, when federal revenue collapsed and automatic spending skyrocketed, are relevant to discussion of Obama’s fiscal probity is just stupid. The only way to evaluate his (or any president’s) fiscal policies is 1. look at the direction the deficit under his tutelage is taking and 2. figure out exactly what kind of permanent spending he put on the books.
    As far as 1. goes, the deficit was halved from 2009 to 2014, a rapid, almost certainly too rapid, contraction.
    As far as 2. goes, Obama installed two major spending programs.The stimulus,which all “fiscal conservatives” expected to become a permanent feature of American life, had been completely tapered off. The other,the ACA, had been estimated by the CBO to be budget neutral. Even if esitmating such things is usually a fool’s errand, the drastic slowdown in healthcare inflation since indicates that there is a good reason to believe that the estimates might have been pessimistic.

  42. C. Clavin says:

    Do you understand what continuing obligations are?
    Because your comment shows you know nothing about how the economy works.

  43. superdestroyer says:


    To call the FY2009 budget, something that was passed by a Democratic Party controlled House, A Democratic Party controlled Senate, and signed by President Obama in March of 2009 the ” Bush Budget” is not only disingenuous but is something that most progressives would call a lie.

    Also, the budget deficit have gone from totally outrageous to the lower level of ridiculus due to the Republicans controlling the House and their refusal to pass new programs and new spending bills.

    As far as healthcare is concerned, you should have noticed that the number of people employed in healthcare declined in Dec 2013. AS many people have predicted, bending the cost curve really means lowering headcout and laying off healthcare workers. Image the future when there is good career path outside of government for people in the middle class.

  44. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The constitution gives Congress the power the pass a budget and has been ruled by courts and by Congress many times, one Congress cannot make a commitment that another Congress has to honor. The main point of automatic spending is it makes deficit spending easier, it gives people their government at a discount, and it gives idiot politicians an excuse to not be responsible.

  45. Tyrell says:

    @anjin-san: Thanks for the reply. For those who aren’t experiencing an economic crisis, I am happy to hear that. There is an economic crisis for: my neighbor who lost his job in the bank years ago, and gets some work at an car lube place (minimum wage, no benefits), for hundreds of school teachers across the state and locally who lost their jobs (don’t recall this happening in my lifetime) resulting in overcrowded classrooms, and for the hundreds of factory workers locally whose jobs were lost to trade deals and corporations relocating to other countries.

  46. humanoid.panda says:

    @superdestroyer: The main elements of the FY 2009 bill were proposed by Bush. The deficit of that year exploded due to the collapse of the economy, which, unlike many progressives, I agree was not Bush’s fault, but surely not Obama’s either. Also contributing to the budget were automatic economic stabilizers, installed by neither Bush nor Obama, and TARP, a bipartisan production. The only significant element of the deficit that can be fully accrued to Obama is the 200 billion in stimulus funds that were part of that year’s budget. Again, notice I am not blaming anyone for that deficit: in the worst economic year since 1932, theh government should run a massive budgetary deficit. However, pinning the FY 2009 deficit on Obama is simply disengenious.
    As for healthcare costs
    1. I’m glad you are conceding that the ACA is probably going to reduce medical inflation, and therefore deficits and debts
    2. Employment in health services has been rising in every single month since July 2003, with hardly a slowdown noticeable due despite both the recession or the ACA. One month initial estimate is hardly something anyone should hang their analytical hats on. In fact, a much stronger argument can be made that since employment in the health sector keeps rising while health costs inflation are slowing, this implies the ACA is contributing to raising productivity in that sector.
    3. But let us concede your point for a second, and agree that we should expand employment and expenditures in the healthcare sector as a way to maintain private sector employment with middle class wages. If we keep on doing that and maintain the current structure of the healthcare system, or even roll back the ACA, the structural federal deficit will simply explode. As a fiscal conservative, I presume you oppose that outcome. Therefore, the only way forward would be to sharply reduce federal expenditures on Medicare and Medicaid. What do you think will happen to both the middle class (good bye, intergenerational transfers for people with less of 2-3 millions in the bank!) and the healthcare sector (goodbye, stable, timely income stream from uncle Sam!). The ACA (and if it fails, other cost control measures)is simply necessary to maintain the goals you profess to aim for: a stable healthare sector and a manageable federal debt. Otherwise, we will face an implosion of both.

  47. bill says:

    @Ben Wolf: depends on their skills/experience/location – sometimes you must “change” you ways, adapt or perish.
    not like the fattest country on earth is ever starved, c’mon.

  48. Pinky says:


    I just don’t get the deep seated love of ignorance that conservatives seem to hold…

    Speaking of ignorance, a couple of weeks ago we were talking about something that Rachel Maddow said. The transcript of her show from 12/23/13 is now online at . She said the following:

    “1968 opened with the United States escalating the war in Vietnam, the
    Tet offensive.”

    You’d said I probably misunderstood it, and it’s true that I was only half-listening when she said it. But now that it’s verified, you can agree, it’s pretty stupid, right?

  49. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    It sounds to me like Maddow simply misspoke – something that certainly happens when you speak for a living. All of us misspeak, but most of us don’t have video cameras pointed at us when they do it.

    If you can make a case that Maddow is ignorant/uneducated/uninformed beyond what appears to be a minor slip of the tongue, feel free to do so.

    You can alway contact Maddow’s show and ask for clarification, she has a reputation for being responsive, and this seems to be important to you.

    If you can point to any public figure that has never said something on the record that was demonstrably wrong – and this includes public figures who are remarkably bright/educated/informed – go for it. I suspect you will not, and that you will continue to grasp at straws.

  50. Pinky says:
  51. Pinky says:

    Of course if I wanted to argue that she’s not bright, or at minimum so blinded by ideology that she can’t distinguish true from false, I’d point to her assosiation with Rep. Weiner, and her lawyerly explanation of how he could have been hacked.

    Then there was your reply to my original comment: “Feel free to dazzle us with a few of your accomplishments.” It’s basically the same stunt that you pulled on Bandit above: “Why don’t you tell us how much money you make stud?”. We ordinary people aren’t qualified to comment about our betters, I guess. But it doesn’t look defensive at all when you do that. It makes you look almost statesmanlike.

  52. Pinky says:

    Also, her median rating on Politifact checks is between “half true” and “mostly false”.

  53. humanoid.panda says:

    @Pinky: The ideological position of American conservatives is that the world is divided into makers and takers, with conservatives on the side of the makers and liberals on the side of the takers. Given that proposition, I think challenging a conservative regarding how much of a maker he or she is is fair game.

  54. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: Here is for example this, from the de-facto head of the conservative movement:

    ” Ailes said, “Liberals like to share their feelings, and conservatives work, so they don’t vote until later.” Arnon Mishkin, the head of Fox’s decision desk team, told Ailes that the data accounted for a sample skew. It appeared that Romney was going to be trounced. Worse, so-called late-deciders were breaking for Obama.

    After being subjected to decades of this kind of rhetoric, don’t you think liberals have a right to challenge conservatives about how exactly productive and hard working they are?

  55. Ben Wolf says:

    @bill: No, you’re way off base here. If you have ten dogs and seven bones for them to dig up, then three dogs will go without bones. You can take the three and train them to find and dig up bones better/faster, but that will just shuffle the results not alter them. Seven dogs will find bones and three will not. It’s no different with employment. If there is insufficient spending (because my spending is your income and your spending is my income) to create work for everyone who wants a job then it won’t matter how many skills are upgraded or how mobile workers become. There will be fewer jobs than job-seekers.

    The people who were unemployed might find work as they become more competitive but that will just displace the people who are already working.

  56. anjin-san says:

    @ Pinky

    Aside from New Year’s day, I have worked every day this year. I am lucky, I get paid very well, and on days like today, I can work in my sweats while enjoying a fire and watching football. At any rate, I take exception to a pipsqueak like bandit implying that Obama supporters are parked on the couch waiting for the next government check. I also note that that chacterization did not seem to bother you at all, but my responding to it did.

  57. anjin-san says:

    @ superdestroyer

    I have always found it amazing that progressives always seem to forget who was in charge of the House and Senate in 2007/2008.

    Ah. It should be simple for you to list the legislation that Democrats passed in those years that crashed the economy. Just list the bills and explain the cause and effect to us. We will stand by,

  58. Pharoah Narim says:

    Shareholder Capitalism is indeed a b@@@h isn’t she? Unfortunately this is the new normal. This style of economy isn’t capable of providing full employment to a country of 300 million. Its a small country economic model. Who wants to pay workers or build factories when you can get 10-12 percent in the market? Investing is lower risk/higher return than producing.

    One thing I would like to see however is journalist (Im asking alot from a not so bright class I know) highlight that banks no longer have to compete to attract the savings of society in order to satisfy their reserve requirements. They basically get to borrow free money from Uncle Sam and loan at a profit which is why that pay negative returns on savings after to factor in inflation. What a brilliant business model! This is a great travesty because it all but eliminates pent up demand that could occur as American defer consuming in order to sock away money in savings accounts to earn interest. Pent up demand is the kindling that starts booms. Its impossible with negative savings rates due to .01 interest rates on savings and the easy availability of credit cards. Japan is similar to us economically in alot of ways except that they are savers which blunts the blow of tough economic times.

  59. superdestroyer says:


    It is not that the Democrats passed anything that crashed the economy but that given that the Democrats regained control of the legislative process in January 2007 that they did nothing to limit or control to coming crisis. Look at how the Democrats could not have cared less about budget deficits and paying for programs once they regained control.

  60. humanoid.panda says:

    @superdestroyer: In 2007, nothing, sharply cutting deficits least of all, could have stopped the crisis. How exactly does one negate the results of a multi-trillion bubble by cutting the deficit or paying for programs?

  61. anjin-san says:

    @ superdestroyer

    So you are not upset about Bush talking us from surplus to record deficits (which, according to you crashed the economy) but you are upset that the Democrats did not somehow stop the hemorrhage?