Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'Jobless recovery'

Tag Archives: Jobless recovery

Case of the Missing Recovery: Paul Craig Roberts

Case of the Missing Recovery: Paul Craig Roberts 

No Jobs For Americans

Paul Craig Roberts

The alleged recovery took a direct hit from Friday’s payroll jobs report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created 74,000 net new jobs in December.

Wholesale and retail trade accounted for 70,700 of these jobs or 95.5%. It is likely that the December wholesale and retail hires were temporary for the Christmas shopping season, which doesn’t seem to have been very exuberant, especially in light of Macy’s decision to close five stores and lay off 2,500 employees. It is a good bet that these December hires have already been laid off.

A job gain of 74,000, even if it is real, is about half of what is needed to keep the unemployment rate even with population growth. Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate fell from 7.0% to 6.7%. Clearly, this decline in unemployment was not caused by the reported 74,000 jobs gain. The unemployment rate fell, because Americans unable to find jobs ceased looking for employment and, thereby, ceased to be counted as unemployed.

In America the unemployment rate is a deception just like everything else. The rate of American unemployment fell, because people can’t find jobs. The fewer the jobs, the lower the unemployment rate.

I noticed today that the financial media presstitutes were a bit hesitant to hype the drop in the rate of unemployment when there was no jobs growth to account for it. The Wall Street and bank economists did their best to disbelieve the jobs report as did some of the bought-and-paid-for academic economists. Too many interests have a stake in the non-existent recovery declared 4.5 years ago to be able to admit that it is not really there.

I have been examining the monthly jobs reports for a decade or longer. I must say that I am struck by the December report. Normally, a mainstay of jobs gain is the category “education and health services,” with “ambulatory health care services” adding thousands of jobs. In December the net contribution of “education and health services” was zero, with “ambulatory health care services” losing 4,100 jobs and health care losing 6,000 jobs. If memory serves, this is a first. Perhaps it reflects adverse impacts of the ripoff known as Obamacare, possibly the worst piece of domestic legislation passed in decades.

I was also struck by the report that the gain in employment of waitresses and bartenders, normally a large percentage of the job gain, was down to 9,400 jobs, which were offset by declines elsewhere, such as the layoff of local school teachers.

Aren’t Washington’s priorities wonderful? $1,000 billion per year in Quantitative Easing, essentially subsidies for 6 banks “too big to fail,” and nothing for school teachers. It should warm every Republican’s heart.

A tiny bright spot in the payroll jobs report is 9,000 new manufacturing jobs. The US manufacturing workforce has declined so dramatically since jobs offshoring became the policy of American corporations that 9,000 jobs hardly register on the scale. Fabricated metal products, which I think is roofing metal, accounted for 56% of the manufacturing jobs. Roofing metal is not an export. Employment in the production of manufactured products that could be exported, such as “computer and electronic equipment,” and “electronic instruments” declined by 2,400 and 3,500 respectively.

Clearly, this is not a payroll jobs report that provides cover for the looting of the prospects of ordinary Americans by the financial and offshoring elites. One can wonder how the BLS civil servants who produced it can avoid retribution. It will be interesting to see what occurs in the January payroll jobs report.

Spain Youth Unemployment Rises To Record 57.7%, Surpasses Greece | Zero Hedge

Spain Youth Unemployment Rises To Record 57.7%, Surpasses Greece | Zero Hedge.

There has been much speculation recently about some immaculately conceived Spanish economic recovery. And while it has certainly sent the local Ibex stock market soaring, we fail to see any indication of such a recovery, at least in official economic data. The latest example being, of course, today’s European unemployment for November, which at the Euroarea level remained flat at 12.1%, which also is the all time record high following a prior revision. However, what is more troubling is that according to the official European statistics keeper, Spanish unemployment in November was 26.7%: tied for the all time high seen in October and hardly an indicator of some imminent economic renaissance. There is, of course, always December – that month in the New Normal when hiring really picks up.

But where things get really bad is when one looks at Spain’s youth unemployment. At 57.7% in November, nearly two in three Spaniards under 25 had no job, and the nail in the coffin for the “recovery” is that this rate is now well above the latest update from Greece, where the youth unemployment was “only” 54.8% as of September.

And now, buy Spanish bonds and stocks, because “the recovery.”

Source: Eurostat

The Real Numbers Behind America’s Phony Recovery |

The Real Numbers Behind America’s Phony Recovery |.

The Real Numbers Behind America’s Phony Recovery

Wednesday is the big day. Investors are on the edges of their seats, waiting to find out what the Fed will do. Taper? No taper? Or maybe it will taper on the tapering off?

Our guess is the Fed will not commit to a serious program of reducing its support to the bond, equity and housing markets. It’s too dangerous. Ben Bernanke – the man who didn’t see the housing crash coming – won’t want to see the stock market collapse just before he leaves office. He’ll want to go out on a high note…

…and that means guaranteeing more liquidity.

Investors don’t seem worried. On Monday, the Dow rose 130 points. Gold was up $10 an ounce. Most of the reports we read tell us the economy is improving. Unemployment is going down. Meanwhile, manufacturing levels are rising. Compared to Europe, the US is a powerhouse of growth and innovation, they say. Compared to emerging markets, it is a paragon of stability and confidence.

How much do investors love the US? Let us count the ways:

1. GDP per capita is running 7% – ahead of where it was in 2007. Among the world’s major developed economies only Germany can boast of anything close. All the rest are falling behind.

2. The budget deficit – which was running at about 10% of GDP – is now down to just 4% of GDP.

3. Unemployment is going down, too. Heck, just 7 out of 100 Americans are officially jobless. Didn’t Bernanke say he would tighten up when it hit that level?

4. And look at prices. Consumer price inflation is running at just 1% over the last 12 months. No threat from inflation, either.

 

 

Statistical Folderol

But wait …

What if all these things were delusions… statistical folderol… or outright lies? What if the true measures of the economy were feeble and disappointing? What if the US economy was only barely stumbling and staggering along?

Well, dear reader, you surely expect us to tell that the US economy is a hidden disaster… and we won’t disappoint you. GDP? Carmen Reinhart studied the performance of rich economies following a financial crisis. Her paper, “After the Fall,” showed that, six years after a crisis, per capita GDP was typically 1.5 percentage points lower than in the years before the crisis. But in the US, per capita GDP growth is running 2.1% lower than its pre-crisis level – significantly worse than average.

Deficits? Super-low interest rates have helped debtors everywhere. “Never have American companies brought a greater share of their sales to the bottom line,” writes Bill Gross. How did they do that? Largely by taking advantage of the Fed’s interest rate suppression program. But hey, the US government is the world’s biggest debtor. It is the primary beneficiary of the Fed’s miniscule rates.

That’s part of the reason why deficits are low. Let the yield on the 10-year T-bond return to a “normal” 5%, and we’ll see deficits soar again. (Interest payments, under this scenario, would add an additional $360 billion a year to the deficit.) Besides, it’s not only the deficit that counts. It’s also the total level of debt… and particularly the debt financed with funny money from the Fed.

Only twice in US history has the ratio of US Treasurys held at the Fed gone over 10% – once in 1944 and again today. The first time, it was a national emergency: World War II. Now, the Fed is merely fighting to protect a credit bubble.

Inflation? Yes, consumer price inflation is low. But what that shows is that real demand is still in a deleveraging trough. The money multiplier – the ratio of money supply to the monetary base – collapsed in 2008. It has not come back. Neither has the economy.

Unemployment? The rate has been doctored by removing people from the labor pool. The workforce is now smaller – as a percentage of the eligible pool – than at any time since 1978.

Besides, what is important is not the rate, but what people get from employment. On that score, it is a catastrophe. According to a Brookings Institution study, the average man of working age earns 19% less in real (inflation adjusted) terms today than he did during the Carter administration!

 

A Strange Kind of Recovery

What kind of economy is it that reduces a man’s wages over a 43-year period? We don’t know. But it’s not likely to win any prizes. But why, with so many strikes against it, does the US economy still have the bat in its hands?

It’s partly because the Fed has pumped up stock, bond and house prices – not to mention net corporate profit margins (by reducing the interest expenses on corporate debt) and consumer spending (through entitlement programs funded through the Treasury with ultra-low interest rates). So, the averages look pretty good… and they mask the ugliness beneath them.

The rich got richer on the Fed’s EZ money. But the average “capita” is actually poorer. The bottom 90% of the population – people in 9 houses out of 10 – have 10% less income than they had 10 years ago.

This is not a success story. It’s a disaster. And not one that tempts us into an overvalued US stock market.

 

%d bloggers like this: