Washington officials are famous for forecasting sunny skies when they can look through a window and clearly see it's raining. But even highly-degreed spin doctors inside the Beltway will have a hard time making the June jobless report look anything but anemic.
Even May's report, revised in hindsight, looks only half as good as the federal government said last month.
Overall, the United States wrapped up June with only 18,000 more jobs on the books than it had at the end of May. And May wasn't anything to brag about, especially after the numbers were re-crunched to show that it only saw a net of 25,000 added jobs, down from the already weak 54,000 that federal number-crunchers reported last month.
Part of this is being caused by something many Americans say they are for -- smaller government. In the past eight months, the public sector -- federal, state and local governments -- have cut 238,000 jobs, with 39,000 of those coming last month.
Meanwhile, private employers have scaled back hiring appreciably.
After adding an average of 215,000 jobs a month from February to April, the numbers dropped sharply. In June, only 57,000 jobs were added by American businesses.
The math simply doesn't work as far as growing jobs. America needs to add 125,000 a month just to hold steady with population growth, and we need a quarter-million a month if we want to knock a dent in jobless rate. The White House says that about 2 million new jobs have been created in the past 16 months, which sounds good until the administration notes that the U.S. economy lost four times that many during the Great Recession that economists say ended two years ago.
And all that adds up to more than 14 million Americans who are actively -- and so far futilely -- seeking work, a 9.2 percent unemployment rate that doesn't include the hidden jobless people -- those who have just given up on finding work and who no longer count toward the employment pool.
Everyone seems to have an answer for how to fix this, arguing that their political solutions are the best medicine for this economic morose. But most of the "fixes" -- a new tax here, a spending cut there -- appear to be more ideologically driven than curative.
The problem is there are too many shade-tree mechanics in Washington trying to tweak an engine that needs an overhaul. Right now, the U.S. government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends. And -- as many Americans discovered during the recession -- you can't maintain your accustomed lifestyle forever by financing half your expenses with a credit card.
The loss of public sector jobs isn't as troubling as the lackadaisical hiring on the part of private companies. Public employees' pay -- well, 60 percent of their pay, anyway -- comes from taxpayers, including businesses that could be using that money to hire workers for private jobs.
What Washington needs to figure out in short order is that it is hindering the economy by jockeying for political position rather than working for the good of the nation. One big reason why American businesses are refusing to play the game is they're not sure what the rules are. No one wants to walk up to the plate to find that the umpire has suddenly decided you only get two outs in the inning instead of the three you were expecting.
The call should be create an environment in which people can apply for and get good-paying jobs, not to preserve or take away a political party's dominance in government. For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans are footing the bill for the entire nation.
The taxpayers who are shouldering this burden need to add to our ranks, and quickly.