This year's Labor Day celebration wasn't a happy one for approximately 23 million people who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
Friday we'll get the employment numbers for the month of August, and they are not expected to create many smiling faces either.
At 8.3% unemployment and with an expected new jobs created number of roughly 125,000 for the month, we're not making any progress whatsoever.
Five Questions About Today's Job Market has the forecast details:
"Q: How are America’s workers doing?
Not good. Over the past decade, over the ups and downs of the economy, taking
inflation into account, the compensation of the typical worker — wages and
benefits — basically haven’t risen at all. And, more recently, even though the
economy has been growing for more than two years, workers still haven’t
recovered from the deep recession. The Labor Department recently said that 6.1 million
workers in 2009-2011 have lost jobs that they’d had for at least three
years. Of those, 45% hadn’t found work as of January 2012. And of those who
had found full-time jobs, half had settled for lower wages, a third for wages
20% or more below their old ones.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said
Friday that unemployment is still two percentage points higher than normal —
that works out to 3 million workers. “The stagnation of the labor market in
particular is a grave concern not only because of the enormous suffering and
waste of human talent it entails, but also because persistently high levels of
unemployment will wreak structural damage on our economy that could last for
many years,” he
said at the Fed’s Jackson Hole, Wyo., conference.
Q: What will we learn when the government gives its snapshot of the
August job market?
The report for July was a bit encouraging: 163,000 jobs were added. On
Friday, the Labor Department revises that number, and tells us how many jobs
were added in August. If the July number holds and the August tally comes close
to July, that would suggest the pace of hiring is finally picking up.
Unfortunately, the analysts who predict these numbers — with varying accuracy —
don’t expect that. They say manufacturing probably didn’t add as many jobs in
August as it did in July, that state and local governments are still paring
payments and that the sectors where hiring has been strong — like health care —
aren't growing fast enough to pick up the slack.
Q: Things ARE getting better, though. The U.S. economy is creating
Yes, better but not good. Here’s one way to look at it. Back in December 2007
when the recession began, there were about two jobless workers for every job
opening. When the economy touched bottom in mid-2009, there were more than six
unemployed for every job. At last count, the BLS says there were 3.4 jobless for
every opening. The economy is growing and employers are hiring, but not enough
to bring unemployment down from the still very high 8.3%.
Q: How much of this elevated unemployment is because the unemployed
just don’t have the skills that employers are looking for right
Some. One does hear manufacturers and others complain that they can’t fill
openings — at least not at the wages they’re offering. A recent Brookings
Institution city-by-city look at job openings found that openings tended to
demand more education than the local population has — and that unemployment was
higher in metro areas where that gap was larger.
But the bulk of the evidence is a lot of the unemployment really is the
old-fashioned kind: the kind that would go away if the economy was growing at a
stronger pace. Mr. Bernanke said as much at the Jackson Hole conference and so
did Ed Lazear, a Stanford University labor economist who was one of George
W. Bush’s economic advisers.
by New York Federal Reserve economists suggest that at most, one-third of
the increase in unemployment can be pinned on this so-called skills
Q: To the extent that there is hiring, what kind of jobs ARE being
As we reported in July, before, during and after the recession, demand
for one sort of worker has been persistently stronger: personal-servce jobs
that involve assisting or caring for other people — from waiters to home-health
These are jobs that aren’t easily automated or outsourced abroad. There’s not
yet a robot that can cut hair or hold the hand of an elderly woman with
Alzheimer’s or do all the chores that flight attendants do. Demand of the most
skilled and educated — from engineers to specialized factory workers — has been
relatively strong. Globalization and technology have eroded demand for routine
middle-skill, middle-wage jobs: In factories, assembly jobs have been eliminated
by automation or moved overseas; in offices, tasks once done by humans are done
by computers and voice-response software.
But there’s been a lot of hiring for these personal service jobs. For
instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, 545,000 jobs have been added in
the past two years in what it quaintly calls “food services and drinking
places.” That is about 30% of the net increase in employment (1.84 million)
between July 2010 and July 2012."
Thus, it looks like more of the same when the employment report for August is issued Friday morning. And in future months as well.
The President's answer to our economic ills seems to be raising taxes on the rich. I wish he'd explain how doing that will help create jobs for the American people.
I also wish he'd explain why building the Keystone XL pipeline and aggressively drilling for oil wouldn't create any jobs for the American people.
Finally, perhaps the President can tell us why Mitt Romney's proposal to reduce taxes by 20% across the board and allow us to keep more MOM is a bad idea for economic growth.
But my "sure bet" is that he won't attempt to answer any of these questions.
Instead he'll just tell us that he's doing everything possible to help save the middle class. Really?