Compare the facts on employment and unemployment

Published 7:41 am Tuesday, October 13, 2015

As the adage goes, “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” Consider the facts.

President Barak Obama is quoted as saying, “Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.”  Governor McAuliffe announced that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage point in August to 4.5 percent. If these statements are true, why do we all know people in search of jobs?

However, according to Senator Bernie Sanders — Democrat candidate for president, “The reality is that real unemployment is not 5.5 percent. It is 11 percent.  Including those people who have given up looking for work and are working part time.”

While Sanders is closer to right, he underestimates those who are working part time or marginal jobs. One is listed as “employed” if they only work a couple of hours a week.

While it is true that those drawing unemployment are at the lowest point since 2008, the President and Governor ignore the fact that more have drawn the maximum unemployment benefits allowed by law and are still sitting on the sideline without jobs. At least Senator Sanders understands that there are a huge number of people in that category.

Sadly, because he supported Obamacare, he underestimated the impact that legislation has had on the economy. Some employees who once worked 40 hour work weeks are working 30 hours or less. Therefore, they statistically have a job but are suffering.

Currently, 138 million people receive some payroll check; 10 million fewer than in 2008. At the same time, the nation’s population has risen by 17 million people. This is a major gap which is growing.  If the economy was healthy it would be shrinking. Visualize that you are one of a group that is trying to free a vehicle stuck in the mud.

As you continue to push, you see others not only stop pushing but instead jump into the vehicle making the job that much tougher. Is that going to motivate you to push harder or give up?

Some believe we can make up for shorter hours by raising the minimum wage. That sounds nice but instead of increasing jobs, history has proven that it does the opposite. Rather than creating jobs, businesses use technology to eliminate employees who cost more than they produce. For years gas stations had attendants who pumped gas. Higher minimum wages led to self-service pumps. In the last ten years it has become cheaper to reduce the number of cashiers by allowing customers to pay at the pump. Currently some convenience stores are making sandwiches with touchpad orders, eliminating the need for a cashier to take one’s order. Higher minimum wages will hasten fast food restaurants to do the same.

Who does this hurt most? The most marginal employees, those with little or no work experience. Currently, if one digs into the unemployment figures, it is young people who have the lowest levels of employment. Currently teen unemployment is 16 percent, three times the overall unemployment rate. If one never gains the experience needed to be a good employee, how can they improve their station in life?

The solutions coming from this White House are not working and will not work. Our next President must understand that government manipulation of the economy is not the solution we need. Trust your own eyes.


Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Senate. His email address is