Hope and Change……and Unemployed:
The recent unemployment numbers have undermined confidence that we might be nearing the bottom of the recession. What we can see on the surface is disconcerting enough, but the inside numbers are just as bad.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate for job losses for June is 467,000, which means 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. The cumulative job losses over the last six months have been greater than for any other half year period since World War II, including the military demobilization after the war. The job losses are also now equal to the net job gains over the previous nine years, making this the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous expansion.
Here are 10 reasons we are in even more trouble than the 9.5% unemployment rate indicates:
- - June’s total assumed 185,000 people at work who probably were not. The government could not identify them; it made an assumption about trends. But many of the mythical jobs are in industries that have absolutely no job creation, e.g., finance. When the official numbers are adjusted over the next several months, June will look worse.
- - More companies are asking employees to take unpaid leave. These people don’t count on the unemployment roll.
- - No fewer than 1.4 million people wanted or were available for work in the last 12 months but were not counted. Why? Because they hadn’t searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.
- - The number of workers taking part-time jobs due to the slack economy, a kind of stealth underemployment, has doubled in this recession to about nine million, or 5.8% of the work force. Add those whose hours have been cut to those who cannot find a full-time job and the total unemployed rises to 16.5%, putting the number of involuntarily idle in the range of 25 million.
- - The average work week for rank-and-file employees in the private sector, roughly 80% of the work force, slipped to 33 hours. That’s 48 minutes a week less than before the recession began, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data 45 years ago. Full-time workers are being downgraded to part time as businesses slash labor costs to remain above water, and factories are operating at only 65% of capacity. If Americans were still clocking those extra 48 minutes a week now, the same aggregate amount of work would get done with 3.3 million fewer employees, which means that if it were not for the shorter work week the jobless rate would be 11.7%, not 9.5% (which far exceeds the 8% rate projected by the Obama administration).
- - The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948. The number of long-term unemployed (i.e., for 27 weeks or more) has now jumped to 4.4 million, an all-time high.
- - The average worker saw no wage gains in June, with average compensation running flat at $18.53 an hour.
- - The goods producing sector is losing the most jobs — 223,000 in the last report alone.
- - The prospects for job creation are equally distressing. The likelihood is that when economic activity picks up, employers will first choose to increase hours for existing workers and bring part-time workers back to full time. Many unemployed workers looking for jobs once the recovery begins will discover that jobs as good as the ones they lost are almost impossible to find because many layoffs have been permanent. Instead of shrinking operations, companies have shut down whole business units or made sweeping structural changes in the way they conduct business. General Motors and Chrysler, closed hundreds of dealerships and reduced brands. Citigroup and Bank of America cut tens of thousands of positions and exited many parts of the world of finance.
Job losses may last well into 2010 to hit an unemployment peak close to 11%. That unemployment rate may be sustained for an extended period.
So much for “The One” fixing the economy. Oh, right; he misread it. Looks like this Blogging gig get might be my only job for a long time to come. The Left is now spinning saying it will never recover.
Here’s ol’ Floppy ears talking about it: