Real Jobs, Real Data
One thing that I’ve learned in life is that figures lie and liars figure. Case in point – the stock market had a big rally today based on what the analysts are calling the “improving jobs picture.”
The good news that they’re talking about is a decrease in new unemployment claims to 368,000 for the latest one week period. At that rate, we could have almost two million more new claimaints on the unemployment rolls over the next twelve months. Now that is really something to cheer about!
At the same time though, the U.S. government announced that planned firings for the month of February increased by 20% over the same month a year ago. How’s that for an improving jobs picture for you. Not only is that statistic moving in the wrong direction but it’s likely to get worse in the future (since government at all levels is by far the single largest employer in the country). Of course, that’s because nearly all of the state and federal bureaucracies are flat broke and in the process of shedding jobs.
President Barack Obama recently said that the U.S. must foster a business climate that encourages job creation. I assume (rather naively perhaps) that that would include sound fiscal and monetary policies like balancing the budget. Of course if we weren’t fighting two wars against terrorism(?) half the way around the world, maybe we would have a better chance of accomplishing that. Funny, I haven’t heard any anti-war protests, though, from the far left since Obama was elected.
Instead of balancing the budget, Obama has opted instead for deficit spending by the trillions (which has all but destroyed the dollar) and bailouts for too-big-to-fail financial institutions. I guess by now encouraging others to create a business-friendly environment which would lead to job creation Obama is finally admitting the obvious. After all, unemployment is still much higher than what Obama promised when he asked for the bailouts. But then, the bailouts were never about saving the economy anyway – only about saving Wall Street.
All of this discussion about unemployment rates belies a critical issue – how to calculate them. You see the government has changed their accounting rules for counting heads. Therefore, any comparison with Great Depression figures is simply invalid. Broader current measures of unemployment come in around 20%. How’s that for a depression…I mean recession. The broader measure of unemployment includes people who have left the employment market for lack of finding a job as well as those who have taken part-time employment because no full time job was available. I wonder how those people are going to fare when gasoline hits $5 a gallon or when food prices double. Will anyone ever tell them that they were lied to all along. As I said, figures lie and liars figure.