Five Things You Won’t Hear at the State of the Union

Barack Obama will deliver his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night.

When he does, the nation’s high 7.9 percent unemployment rate will be virtually unchanged from the 7.8 percent rate the day he gave his first State of the Union address in 2009. The unemployment rate for Hispanics, 9.6 percent, is even higher.

During a recession, the President’s prime directive is to promote policies that will facilitate economic growth. He failed.

— David Laska

It doesn’t help matters that Obama’s Inaugural Address eschewed any mention of jobs or economic growth in favor of a litany of liberal social issues.

Now, the President’s speechwriters and spin team are frantically trying to create an economic agenda out of nothing.

Americans need to hear the difficult truth from the President: at the halfway mark of the Obama presidency, the economy is still very weak, and isn’t getting better any time soon.

But they won’t. So here are five things you won’t hear at the State of the Union, that you should:

1. The nation is still on the verge of economic disaster. The American economy actually shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012. One more quarter of negative economic growth will officially put the nation in a double-dip recession.

It’s worth noting that growth in the 3rd quarter of 2012 was 3.1 percent, a huge leap from 1.3 percent in the second quarter and 2 percent in the first – just in time for Obama’s reelection.

But it looks like that quarter was just an economic sugar high.

2. We’re already seeing signs of an economy far from recovery. Retail sales in December, the most important shopping month of the year, were a total flop. Holiday-related sales rose just 0.7 percent from Oct. 28 to Dec. 24, compared with a 2 percent rise the year before.

And according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan report, consumer confidence is at its lowest point since December 2011.

3. U.S. labor force participation has collapsed, which means that the health of the job market as measured by the unemployment rate is severely overstated. Over five million Americans left the workforce during the recession, and they haven’t returned. If the labor force participation rate were at its January 2009 level, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 10.7 percent.

4. The number of Americans working as a share of the population, perhaps the broadest measure of the health of the U.S. labor market, remains in a depression. It plunged from 63 percent to 58 percent during the Great Recession and has yet to recover. That figure had been above 60 percent since 1985, but has flat-lined at about 58.5 percent since 2010.

5. The Obama administration’s prediction that the stimulus package would keep unemployment below 8 percent has been widely discussed and rightfully panned. But here’s a figure that hasn’t gotten as much attention: when Congressional Democrats voted to spend nearly a trillion dollars to “stimulate” the economy, the administration predicted that by January 2013 unemployment in America would have stabilized at 5 percent. Compare that with the adjusted 10.7 percent unemployment rate above to get an idea of just how much of a catastrophic failure the stimulus package was.

But you won’t hear any of this from the President, of course. Instead, on Tuesday night, you can expect to hear about how the economy’s woes just aren’t Obama’s fault, how he inherited a disaster and his economic stimulus package brought us back from the brink, and how intransigent Republicans are standing in the way of moving the country and our economy forward.

But in his fifth year in office, those excuses are wearing exceedingly thin.

During a recession, the President’s prime directive is to promote policies that will facilitate economic growth. He failed. And he owes us the truth.