Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer warned Thursday that despite a slow recovery, America is “now approaching, not quite, but European levels of unemployment” and that the rate won’t change anytime soon.
Krauthammer appeared on Fox News’ “Special Report” with fellow conservative columnist George Will and Democratic strategist Kristen Powers to discuss the economic malaise that continues to plague the United States. Despite positive economic metrics and an ostensibly-declining unemployment rate, the Will and Krauthammer agreed that the indicators hide the real extent of the problems dragging down the American economy.
“The recession began in December 2007,” Will said. “Since then, we’ve added 13 million more Americans in the country and have 1.3 million fewer jobs. We’ve lowered the unemployment rate largely — not entirely, but largely — because the workforce participation rate has gone down as more and more workers have been discouraged and are no longer counted anymore. If the workforce participation rate were as high as it was when the recession began the unemployment rate would be 11.3 percent. We wouldn’t be calling it a poor recovery, because we wouldn’t be calling it a recovery at all.”
Powers tried to find a silver lining, despite the depressive effects of sequestration and Congressional dysfunction. “Looking forward at this year, I think there are a lot of things to be optimistic about,” she claimed. “I think there are a lot of good indicators that the economy is about to take off.”
Krauthammer didn’t dispute that an economic recovery is occurring, but cautioned that it won’t be the same even once it recovers fully. “Here you have a flat-line recovery,” he said. “It’ll be a sustained, but it’ll be a slow recovery. I don’t think it’s going to slip back.”
He also warned that the chief difference between the old economy and the new will be persistent unemployment. “What we’re experiencing also with this high unemployment rate is ‘the new normal,'” he warned. “We are now approaching, not quite, but European levels of chronic unemployment. These are people who are not going to return, and in Europe they are merely sustained on the dole for decades.
“That’s never happened here,” he concluded. “But I think as a result of the slow recovery with these people left behind, that’s going to be our ‘new normal.’ And that’s why there’ll be a sense of things not having recovered correctly or in any way fully.”
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