UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 8, 2009

UNDERSTANDING THE EMPLOYMENT FIGURES

Robert Reich - The economy is getting worse more slowly. That's just about the only clear reading that's coming from the economic reports, including this morning's important one on employment. The pace of job losses slowed -- payrolls fell by 247,000, after a 443,000 loss in June, and the official jobless rate dropped from 9.5 to 9.4 percent.

Be careful with these figures, though. They don't include the increasing numbers of people working part-time who'd rather have full-time jobs. Nor do they include a large number who have given up looking for work. They don't reflect the many millions who have found new jobs that pay less than the old ones they lost. And they don't include one of the shortest typical workweeks on record, for those who still have full-time jobs. . . Nor, for that matter, do the numbers reflect the 130,000 people who are coming into the labor force each month ready and willing to work, who can't find jobs.

If all these people are included, my estimate is that one out of five Americans who would otherwise be working full time are now underemployed. We are still experiencing the biggest decline of any post-World War II economic slump.

The overall economy continues to contract but more slowly than before. Consumers are not buying, exports are still dropping, and business investment is still in the doldrums, so the only clear reason is that the stimulus is beginning to kick in. Yet -- here's another important thing to watch -- job losses continue to outpace that contraction. In other words, employers are using this downdraft to lay off more workers, proportionately, than they have since the Great Depression. . .

So let's be grateful that the economy is getting worse more slowly than it was. But don't be lured into thinking we're ever going back to where we were. Most of the jobs that have been lost are never coming back. . .

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reich seems like one of the most articulate and sensible politicos out there. So, essentially he is saying that we now have a 20%, give or take, unemployment rate. Hmmm. Given that there are no great things on the horizon, it's on its way to 25% and beyond. But that's not a problem for the plutocrats. Actually, it is something of a Godsend. While they inflate the money supply to stuff their pockets with cash (e.g AIG) they keep prices from inflating by suppressing demand (large unemployment insures this). What great leadership we have!

August 9, 2009 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depression or recession? A recession is when you don't have a job; a depression is when I don't have a job.

August 25, 2009 7:43 AM  

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