The American economy continues to limp along in the aftermath of the pandemic, despite all of President Joe Biden’s promises for growth.
Biden’s predictions for the American economy have continued to fall short and there is still significant unemployment. Unfortunately, it’s minorities who have suffered the most.
Biden has made promises in the past, particularly to black voters, but is now failing to deliver.
“You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” Biden promised to black voters when he was running for office, NPR reported.
But this has clearly not been case, as black communities economically suffer due to Biden’s policies.
Michael Austin is a free-market economist who works with Project 21, a black leadership network run through the National Center for Public Policy Research. He spoke with The Western Journal recently about the current state of the economy and how the Biden administration’s policies have actually hurt, rather than helped, the labor force and minorities.
In December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the total unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. But overall only 199,000 jobs were created. This was less than half of the 400,000 jobs that economists predicted, according to Reuters.
Minority populations are the ones getting hit the hardest with unemployment.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for African-American men was 7.1 percent in January. Unemployment for African-American women was at 5.8 percent.
Austin pointed out that while these unemployment numbers are disappointing, it’s also important to look not just at how many are unemployed, but also what the labor force participation is.
Across the board, labor participation has declined. Among the white population, there was only a 61.7 percent participation rate in December. Asian participation was 64.6 percent. Black participation was 60.8 percent, while Hispanic participation was 66 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This lack of labor participation does not indicate that there are not enough jobs, but rather that people are simply unwilling to work, for a variety of reasons.
“[W]hat I really think is the biggest problem isn’t the slow job growth; [it] is the fact that there are so many Americans who have just stopped looking for work,” Austin said.
Austin said that job openings are about 50 percent higher than they were before the pandemic. As 2021 wound down, several reports came out showing that employers had job openings, but were left scrambling to find workers.
Reuters reported back in September that the measure of labor demand actually reached the highest levels seen in nearly 20 years.
Austin pointed to a number of policies that are encouraging Americans to actually not work.
“So when we talk about policies, I think we have to look at almost the entire plethora of what the Biden administration has put in place, because ultimately what it has led to is so many Americans feeling like they don’t need to get up and work, which has led to so many disastrous effects, not only in the labor market, but in the economy as a whole,” Austin said.
The unwillingness to work is clear in the quitting rates that were seen throughout 2021.
In November there was a record amount of people quitting their jobs, CNBC News reported. The quits level surged to 4.53 million for the month. This era has been christened the “Great Resignation.”
Austin pointed out that it makes sense that people are quitting, since they can stay home and still benefit.
“You have all these, let’s say, mothers, and all these mothers, all these parents, that had to decide whether they were going to stay home and supervise their children or go to work. And lo and behold, I’m not surprised so many women, including African-American women, decided that they’re going to stay home and continue to watch their kids. And the more that they are able to go through this process, the more comfortable they are able to go through with it,” Austin said.
The decline in the workforce should come as no surprise, considering the policies coming from the Biden administration.
Austin zeroed in on the American Rescue Plan in particular as a major policy that is encouraging workers to stay home.
Though Biden said it would create 7 million jobs, as the Washington Post reported, it more importantly handed out checks to Americans for COVID relief. This simply served as one more push for many American workers to stay at home but still benefit.
Studies also show that, despite costing $1.9 trillion, the American Rescue Plan did not create jobs.
The American Enterprise Institute queried in December just what had happened to the millions of jobs promised.
“That is, the legislation has yet to create the first of the millions of new jobs supporters promised it would,” AEI scholar Matt Weidinger wrote. “So does the White House regard the current jobs situation as ‘dire?’ Of course not.”
Austin further added that in the broader spectrum of the economy, the slow job growth means that only about 84 percent of the jobs have been recovered that were lost due to the pandemic. Again, this comes back to the issue of Americans being de-incentivized to work.
While the American Rescue Plan has a major role in that, there are plenty of other policies too that are driving job growth downward.
Austin pointed to policies and messaging about vaccine mandates. There have also been expanded unemployment benefits, “which effectively pay more Americans to stay home instead of working,” he said. The child tax credit, as well-intentioned as it is, “is another program that, of course, encourages people who are not working to continue to not work,” Austin added.
“So there’s just a whole plethora of different policies that are all designed not to encourage people to work, but to make people comfortable. But that creates so many other negative effects like inflation and low job growth that it’s unfortunately going to be difficult for the economy to recover,” Austin said.
While Austin believes that there are a lot of policy issues to blame for this, he also pointed to the fact that much of the American population is simply fine with not working and receiving compensation for it. The problem is that this could damage the economy deeply.
“I think that the whole mindset — where you think it’s OK for government to continuously send checks to Americans … That’s almost like thinking you can drive across the country without getting an oil change,” Austin said.
“The reality is is that the economy, almost like a car, is going to break down. It’s going to overheat if you don’t take care of it. And so I think without limiting government spending, the American economy is at risk of uncontrolled inflation,” he added.
This is why Austin thinks a lot of the spending and relief bills currently making their way through Congress should be chucked altogether.
If things continue the way they are now, we are headed toward a huge economic downturn.
“[T]he amount of taxpayer funds that we are just spending out the wazoo without really any checks or controls — it’s going to lead to a massive spike in inflation,” Austin said. “And then, coupled with the fact that so many Americans are not working, it can lead to stagflation in our economy and really a huge economic downturn.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.