You would think $1 trillion in spending stimulus and $2.5 trillion of Fed pump-priming would produce an economy a whole lot stronger than 1.9 percent GDP, which was the revised first-quarter number. And you’d think all that government spending would deliver a whole lot more jobs than 69,000 in May.
But it hasn’t happened.
The Keynesian government-spending model has proven a complete failure. It’s the Obama model. And it has produced such an anemic recovery that frankly, at 2 percent growth, we’re back on the front end of a potential recession. If anything goes wrong -- like another blow-up in Europe -- there’s no safety margin to stop a new recession.
And that brings us to the grim May employment report, which generated only 69,000 nonfarm payrolls. It’s the third consecutive subpar tally, replete with downward revisions for the two prior months. It’s a devastating number for the American economy, and a catastrophic number for Obama’s reelection hopes. All momentum on jobs and the economy has evaporated.
Inside the May report, the data is just as bad. The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1 to 8.2 percent. The so called U6 unemployment rate, tracking the marginally employed or completely discouraged, increased to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent. And labor earnings are barely rising at 1.7 percent over the past year, almost in line with the inflation rate. In fact, through April, after-tax, after-inflation income is scarcely rising at 0.6 percent for the past year.
The private workweek also fell in May. So did the manufacturing workweek and aggregate hours worked for all employees. The small-business household survey did rise, but that follows declines in the prior two months.
Barack Obama doesn’t get this, but businesses create jobs. And firms have to be profitable in order to hire. Yet the president is on the campaign trail criticizing Mitt Romney by degrading the importance of profits. Huh?
Without profits businesses can’t expand. And if they don’t expand, they can’t hire. And if they don’t have profitable rates of return, they’re not going to attract new capital for investment.
Which brings us to a couple of important reasons for the virtual freeze in hiring.
First there’s the fiscal tax cliff. If all the Bush tax rates go up, incentives will go down and liquidity will leave the system. You can’t pick up a newspaper these days and not find a story about how the fiscal cliff is elevating uncertainty and slowing U.S. growth. House Speaker
Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.