It seems that President Trump was dealt a favorable hand with Obama leaving him an exceptionally low unemployment rate. With numbers as low as 4.4% or 4.5%, Obama’s statistics are drastically lower than those of his predecessors. Ironically, when surveys were conducted during the peak of Obama’s supposed “bountiful labor market”, your average American reported feeling like the economy and the job market were doing poorly. How is this possible? The truth is, these numbers hide many downfalls of the Obama administration.
Donald Trump Jr. had a lot to say on this matter. In an interview, he states,
“When you talk about underemployment which Obamacare has destroyed, people that are working 30 hours a week instead of 40 hours a week so companies don’t have to put them on Obamacare. When you talk about people that just aren’t even registered because they don’t count them anymore. They have been out of work for so long. They’d love to work if they could but they can’t that doesn’t count.”
Here he tackles two of the most problematic and overlooked factors that caused the American economy to feel precarious when the numbers tell a vastly different story. These are underemployment and discouraged workers.
To start, the Affordable Care Act involuntarily (yet predictably) caused an increase in part time workers. The ACA required that medium companies with 50 to 99 full-time workers have health coverage plans in place for employees in 2016 where a full-time employee was someone who worked more than 30 hours a week. The simple solution? Hire tons of part time employees.
All of the sudden it became difficult to find a job with enough hours to live comfortably. People resorted to working multiple part time jobs with different employers to acquire enough hours to sustain themselves. The fact of the matter is companies did hire more workers and unemployment technically went down. Instead of 10 full-time workers, a company could hire 20 part time workers. On paper, it seems that 10 more people got jobs, but in reality, these people are underemployed.
On top of dealing with underemployment, many people received wage cuts. The cost to insure a staff of employees is not cheap. While healthcare is, of course, something people benefit from, companies were often left no choice but to take that money out of people’s paychecks. Alternatively, businesses could swallow the fine for not insuring employees, because in some cases that were even more economically beneficial. This begs the question, could the job market really be so successful if companies were willing to accept a government fine rather than abide by Obamacare?
As said by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” While factually true, Obama’s numbers hide some frightening truths that the Democrats are quick to overlook. Whether or not Trump’s figures improve remains to be seen, but it is important to remember that things aren’t always as they appear. Low unemployment rates are not synonymous with economic growth.