Article 43

 

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Summertime Blues 2014

nojob.jpg

Unemployment numbers are not giving a true representation of the job market, according to career experts. “When you receive your UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS you are counted as being unemployed,” he said. When you no longer receive your unemployment benefits you are no longer counted. That doesn’t mean you got a job.”
- WGHP Piedmont, NC, June 12, 2014

...simply recovering to the earlier employment peak says little about THE HEALTH of the U.S. labor market, given population and potential labor-force growth in the more than six intervening years. In this time, the U.S. civilian population increased by nearly 14.5 million people, although the labor force grew by just 1.7 million new jobs, according to BLS data.
Market Watch, June 6, 2014

Another Great Recession level fades as U.S. passes employment peak

By Steve Goldstein
Marketwatch
June 6, 2014

After six years, the U.S. economy has finally recaptured the total number of jobs lost due to the Great Recession.

There are now 138.46 million people working outside the farm sector, according to the Labor Department.

But the recovery to the pre-recession level has been the longest since World War II, according to Minneapolis Fed data. The 1980 recession took 44 months from the peak to recover; this one took 77 months.

Of course, the population is now bigger than it was before the recession, so the state of the jobs market isn’t as healthy as it was before the recession. That’s most obviously captured in the unemployment rate 6.3% now vs. just 5% in December 2007. Plus, there are the people who have given up looking for work altogether or are just periodically doing so.

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We’ve Recovered All The Lost Jobs! Too Bad It Doesn’t Matter

By Mark Gongloff
Huffington Post
June 6, 2014

We have finally recovered all the jobs lost in the Great Recession. That’s good, but not nearly good enough. In fact, we might still be missing 7 million jobs.

The U.S. economy added 217,000 jobs in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics REPORTED on Friday. There are now nearly 138.5 million people on non-farm payrolls—a high that finally tops the previous record of nearly 138.4 million set in January 2008. We’ve finally gotten back all the jobs we lost in the recession—five years after the recession OFFICIALLY ENDED.

We can now retire this chart from CALCULATED RISK BLOGGER Bill McBride, which Business Insider has long called “The Scariest Chart Ever.” It shows how miserably long it has taken us to recover all of the recession’s job losses, and how historically awful the recovery has been:

percent-job-losses-2014-sm.jpg

Unfortunately, we have a ready replacement for the Scariest Chart Ever, which shows the job market is still in a deep, deep hole. It’s from the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on labor issues. The EPI estimates that, in order to keep up with population growth, we should really have 7 million more people working today than we do:

jobs-shortfall-2014-sm.jpg

“We are far, far from healthy labor market conditions,” EPI economist Heidi Shierholz WROTE on the EPI’s Working Economics blog on Thursday.

In other words, the economy and job market have been growing for the past five years, but not nearly fast enough to give everybody a job that needs one. Discouraged after years of not being able to find work, people have slinked off to the sidelines and given up trying to find a job, resulting in millions of people not being counted in the official unemployment numbers. If these people came back, the unemployment rate would be 9.7 percent instead of 6.3 percent:

You could possibly quibble with the EPI’s methodology. In figuring out how many workers are missing from the labor force purely because of discouragement about the economy, the EPI tries to strip out the effect of Baby Boomer retirements. To do this, EPI economists use a 2007 BLS forecast of future retirements, which might no longer be relevant—it’s possible the recession caused a shift in these numbers.

In other words, it’s possible that more people than the EPI realizes have left the labor force, never to return. The Fed has been thinking about this possibility for quite a while.

Still, there is no doubt that at least some of the millions of people missing from the labor force are waiting for new jobs to come along. The job market still has a long way to go to get those people off the sidelines.

SOURCE

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Real Unemployment Rate - May 2014

By Rick Sloan
Union Of Unemployed
June 6, 2014

Our Summary of U.S. Real Unemployment makes the adjustments necessary to determine: first, the number of Real Unemployed Persons and, second, the Real Unemployment Rate. In May 2014:

The number of Real Unemployed Persons decreased by 181,000 to 19.2 million

The Real Unemployment Rate decreased by 0.1% to 12.2%.

Note: In addition to the 19.2 million Real Unemployed Persons at May 31, there were another 4.9 million persons who, while also saying they want jobs, have not looked for work in the past twelve months. Simply because they havent looked, these persons are not included among marginally attached workers; if included, then May’s Real Unemployment Rate of 12.2% increases to 14.8%, a figure still more than twice the official BLS rate of unemployment.

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Where have all the missing American workers gone?

By Tom Raum
Associated Press
June 9, 2014

The unemployment rate has been on a slow downward trajectory since the recession ended nearly five years ago. While the overall jobless level has dropped to non-recession levels, the number of the working-age people with jobs is barely over 6 in 10, hovering at a level reminiscent of the late 1970s.

In May, the U.S. workforce-participation rate the combination of those with jobs and unemployed workers actively seeking them ח was just 62.8 percent, the same as the month before. Job markets have been essentially flat since October.

Where have all the missing workers gone?

A key factor, nearly all agree, is the growing exodus from the job market of Baby Boomers. Born roughly in the post-World War II period from 1946 to 1964, these workers are now at or fast approaching retirement age.

Another reason is that some employment-intensive industries that suffered the most during the Great Recession, especially in manufacturing and construction, have yet to fully rebound.

But perhaps the most significant factor is unemployed workers “who just drop out of the job market after one, two or three years of looking for work and not being successful,” said Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University who studies workplace dynamics and employment trends.

Recent surveys suggest more and more long-time unemployed workers are abandoning the search for another job and leaving the nation’s workforce.

“And they are disproportionately older workers,” Van Horn said. “We have a large number of older (unemployed) workers who are not old enough to retire, yet they are facing discrimination in the workplace and have found it nearly impossible to get another job.”

There’s a flip side to that, though, Van Horn suggests: “As the economy gets stronger, as it continues to grow, eventually some of those discouraged workers will come back into the labor market, and we’ll have a higher labor-participation rate.”

But that hasn’t happened yet.

“We know that the reason unemployment is so high right now is pretty simple: employers haven’t seen demand for their stuff pick up in a way that would require them to bring on more workers, put that factory back on line, get more people to work,” said Heidi Shierholz, chief economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented Washington think-tank.

“It’s going to be this way for a while. We’re in a long slog,” Shierholz said, noting that the recession of 2007-2009 was the harshest downturn since the 1930s Great Depression.

“We really are in a recovery. Things are getting better,” Shierholz added. “It is agonizingly slow. But we are going in the right direction.”

It may be quite a while before the jobless rate falls back to 5 percent and below, long the informal standard pegged by economists as a typical employment level for non-recession times.

But 5 percent may no longer be the norm.

In February 2011, economists at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank suggested that around 6 percent might be a more appropriate unemployment rate as the “new normal.” But some analysts suggested even that target may be unrealistically low.

“Our economy is leaving our unemployed folks further and further behind,” said Robert A. Funk, CEO and Chairman of Express Employment Professional, an Oklahoma City-based service which tries to line people up with jobs and help client companies find suitable employees.

“But if people quit looking for work at a rate like this, it makes our job much, much more difficult,” said Funk, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.

And while economists note high levels of unemployment among older working-age people, joblessness is disproportionately high among younger workers as well.

Generation Opportunity, a U.S. nonpartisan youth advocacy organization which keeps close track of job levels for younger adults, reported even higher effective unemployment rates for those under 30.

“School is out for summer, and more than four out of five recent grads don’t have jobs. My generation deserves better than an economy in which a 15.4 percent effective unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is considered a good month,” said Patrice Lee, director of outreach for the organization.

Even though the overall unemployment rate has been essentially flat since last October and is holding at high levels with 3.4 million Americans counted among the ranks of long-term unemployed, it’s been five months since federal emergency unemployment benefits expired, leaving the burden up to the individual states.

The unemployment rate is now back to where it was before the Great Recession. It was 6.3 percent in May, same as the month before.

Still, the share of Americans who are employed is stalled below 59 percent, well below the 63.3 percent peak in March 2007 and 64.7 percent of April 2000, said William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO. “That difference represents the multi-million job gap needed,” Spriggs said.

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The Terrible News Economists Are Trying to Hide About American Jobs
Official job market numbers obfuscate an important reality.

By Jim Hightower
Alternet
June 18, 2014

Have you noticed “the powers that be” employ an entirely different standard for measuring the health of America’s job market than they use for the stock market?

They’re currently telling us that, “The job market is improving.” What do they mean? Simply that the economy is generating an increase in the number of jobs available for workers. But when they say, “The stock market is improving,” they don’t mean that the number of stocks available to investors is on the rise. Instead, they’re measuring the price, the value of the stocks. And isn’t value what really counts in both cases? Quality over quantity.

Employment rose by 217,000 jobs in the month of May, according to the latest jobs report—and that brought us up to 8.7 million. That is how many new jobs the American economy has generated since the “Great Recession” officially ended in 2009—and it also happens to be the number of jobs that were lost because of that recession. You can break out the champagne, for the American economy is back, baby—all of the lost jobs have been recovered!

You say you don’t feel “recovered”? Well, it’s true that the U.S. population has kept growing since the crash, so about 15 million more working-age people have entered the job market, meaning America still has millions more people looking for work than it has jobs. And it’s true that long-term unemployment is a growing crisis, especially for middle-aged job seekers who’ve gone one, two or more years without even getting an interview, much less an offer—so they’ve dropped out of the market and are not counted as unemployed. Also, there are millions of young people who are squeezed out of this so-called recovery—the effective unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year-olds is above 15 percent, more than double the national rate of 6.3 percent.

But take heart, people, for economists are telling us that full employment may be right around the corner. Is that because Congress is finally going to pass a national jobs program to get America working again? Or could it be that corporate chieftains are going to bring home some of the trillions of dollars they’ve stashed in offshore tax havens to invest in new products and other job-creating initiatives here in the USA?

No, no—don’t be silly. Economists are upbeat because they’ve decided to redefine “full” employment by—hocus pocus!—simply declaring that having 6 percent of our people out of work is acceptable as the new normal. And you thought American ingenuity was dead.

Now, let’s move on to the value of those jobs that have economists doing a happy dance. As a worker, you don’t merely want to know that 217,000 new jobs are on the market; you want to know what they’re worth—do they pay living wages, do they come with benefits, are they just part-time and temporary, do they include union rights, what are the working conditions, etc.? In other words, are these jobs ... or scams?

So, it’s interesting that the recent news of job market “improvement” doesn’t mention that of the 10 occupation categories projecting the greatest growth in the next eight years, only one pays a middle-class wage. Four pay barely above poverty level and five pay beneath it, including fast-food workers, retail sales staff, health aids and janitors. The job expected to have the highest number of openings is “personal care aide”—taking care of aging baby boomers in their houses or in nursing homes. The median salary of an aid is under $20,000. They enjoy no benefits, and about 40 percent of them must rely on food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet, plus many are in the “shadow economy,” vulnerable to being cheated on the already miserly wages.

To measure the job market by quantity—with no regard for quality—is to devalue workers themselves. Creating 217,000 new jobs is not a sign of economic health if each worker needs two or three of those jobs to patch together a barebones living—and millions more are left with no work at all.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.” (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly “Hightower Lowdown,” co-edited by Phillip Frazer.

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Posted by Elvis on 06/07/14 •
Section Dying America
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