Amid all the gleeful chortling from the political left about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments, a few other important percentages and figures are being swept aside.
How about 8.1 percent?
That’s the national unemployment rate for August. It’s down from 8.3 percent in July, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, but that’s only because many people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching for jobs.
Here’s another: 26.
That’s the number of states where unemployment actually rose in August. USA Today reports Nevada had the highest unemployment rate, with 12.1 percent, followed by Rhode Island with 10.7 percent, and California with 10.6 percent. For those already imagining the words to President Obama’s Nov. 6 acceptance speech, note that 12 of the 26 with increased unemployment are battleground swing states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
These unemployment numbers remain high, and they’re likely to rise. Why?
That’s the number of layoff notices American Airlines apparently sent to its workers this week ahead of plans to reorganize the business in bankruptcy. While the company said it might only lay off about 4,400 of the 11,000 employees notified, it also acknowledged about 800 other workers were leaving “voluntarily,” according to NBC News.
And then there’s 615.
That’s the number of workers being fired from Siemens Energy, a maker of wind energy equipment. The layoffs announced this week impact plants in Kansas, Iowa and Florida, with nearly half the workforce at the Hutchinson facility facing pink slips ahead of the presidential election. Siemens blamed market conditions, as well as congressional inaction on wind energy tax credits, for the move.
As all these numbers continue to add up, Obama is on the campaign trail, cozying up with celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce, having a few laughs with late-night TV host David Letterman and discussing his “biggest failure.”
Fixing the economy?
“My biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done,” the president told Latino voters Thursday at a Univision News forum (though he also blamed Republicans for the lack of success). “So we’re going to be continuing to work on that.”
Obama’s disconnect on the reality of the economic picture shouldn’t be a huge surprise. After all, his administration projected the president’s 2009 economic stimulus plan would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Though that plan failed, Obama asserted in June “the private sector’s doing fine.”
Sounds like a fine time to change the subject.
Perhaps that’s why the spotlight is trained so desperately on Romney and not the economy.
— Tommy Felts, managing editor