Americans still face long-term unemployment, low wages

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 19, 2016

The latest jobs report delivered more bad news about the Obama Economy: Only 160,000 jobs were created during the month of April, the lowest gain in months. Even more telling is that the percentage of working-age Americans in the labor force continues near record lows.
Long-term unemployment, in particular, has become a troubling new normal. A quarter of America’s unemployed workers have been without work for 27 weeks or more. Millions more have given up on the job search altogether or settled for part-time work in lieu of a full-time job.
Higher Health Premiums, Less Take-Home Pay
In other words, after seven years, the Obama Economy continues to have a negative impact on Americans’ lives and future prosperity. Forty percent of Americans reported in a recent YouGov/Huffington Post poll that their financial situation has gotten worse during the Obama Administration. Nearly as many said that the President has made things worse for the economy.
It is easy to understand why Americans are discouraged: Based on inflation-adjusted figures from the Census Bureau, middle-class families are earning 6.5 percent less than they did before the recession. Alongside stagnant wages and less take-home pay have come rising expenses – health-care premiums, among them. More sharp increases in health-insurance premiums are expected next year, putting an even greater burden on already strained budgets.
Despite a weak economy and high unemployment, the Obama Administration has routinely proposed that Americans should send even more money to Washington. Just the various tax hikes in Obamacare are estimated to amount to $800 billion over the next decade.
Job-Killing Regulations
Our country has weathered recessions before, but the sluggishness of this recovery is unusual when compared to post-recession growth over the last five decades. During past recoveries, economic growth has averaged 3.7 percent. Under the Obama Administration, annual growth has never reached 3 percent. Rather than indicating a strong turnaround, the economy’s 0.5 percent growth during the first quarter of this year barely escaped recession.
Given a lackluster economy, America’s job creators, including small businesses, are understandably left with little confidence about whether they should hire more workers and invest in the future. The Obama Administration’s onslaught of new regulations has only made this uncertainty worse. According to the American Action Forum, regulatory costs in 2016 have already topped $63 billion. News reports indicate that the Administration is not done yet, with dozens more regulations expected this year. They would join some 400 major regulations – those with more than $100 million in annual economic impact – that have been issued during President Obama’s time in office.
Real solutions are needed for an economic recovery that will last and, more importantly, that Americans will feel in their daily lives. Since the start of the recession nearly a decade ago, too many Americans have felt left behind. We have seen what does not work, and we can ill-afford to have more of the same policies during the next Administration.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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