Last night, Vice President Biden spoke about an incident where his father had to leave home to find a new job, but reassured his young son that everything was going to be fine. “For the rest of our lives, my sister and my brothers — for the rest of our lives, my dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck,” Biden said. “It is about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be OK,’ and mean it and know it’s true.”
I think Biden is right — jobs are about self-worth, pride, and much more than a paycheck. That is why today’s very bleak jobs report numbers are such a devastating blow for President Obama. Only 96,000 new non-farm jobs were created in August, and the already poor jobs numbers for June and July were revised downward. Even worse, 368,000 people who had been looking for a job stopped looking, and the total number of people in the workforce dropped to its lowest level in 31 years. The unemployment rate fell slightly, to 8.1 percent, but only because of the huge number of people who have stopped looking for a job.
Consider: 368,000 people — more than enough to fill Ohio Stadium three times — have just stopped looking for work. Those people won’t know the dignity, respect, and sense of community that a job can bring, and they won’t be able to confidently reassure their worried young children that everything will be okay.
Last night, President Obama and Vice President Biden sought to reassure us that things will get better through their efforts. This latest jobs report makes those efforts to reassure seem empty and baseless — to those unfortunate folks who have given up, and to the rest of us who have been praying for an economic rebound. If anything, the devastating and depressing jobs report says that things are going from bad to worse.