The jobs numbers for December are out and they are the most dismal fuckin thing that we’ve ever seen.
It was not a Merry Christmas for many people out there, it appears, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the hacks at the Wall Street Journal, who as per usual are running interference for the Economic Masters.
See, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. added 145,000 jobs in December. Sounds like a big number, right?
That number is jack shit compared to what needs to be happening on a month-to-month basis, especially at the end of the year (read: The Holiday Season Rush).
For nearest comparison, November 2019 saw around 256,000 jobs being added (revised down by 10,000 after the fact – 13th paragraph down after “Establishment Survey Data“), which is just about correct for the off-season. However, the problem with that figure was that it was inflated by 50,000 jobs that weren’t “added” to the economy, but came back online thanks to the strike at General Motors coming to an end. Meaning that November 2019 actually saw only around 206,000 jobs added, which is again lower than expected in the regular season and lower than needed in the holiday rush.
For yearly comparisons, the BLS offers these numbers (check them your own damn selves if you don’t believe). For Dec. 2015, a much better 292,000 jobs; for Dec. 2010, a dismal 103,000; and likewise for Dec. 2005, 108,000; for Dec. 2000, 105,000; and for Dec. 1995, 132,000.
“But Publius, numbers go up?” you wonder in confusion.
I respond gently, “Yes, numbers go up, child, but so do population and the amount of people who are working multiple jobs.” See, in Dec. 1995, here’s what the BLS had to say about multiple job-holders:
The number of workers who held more than one job in December was 7.7 million (not seasonally adjusted). These multiple jobholders comprised 6.2 percent of all employed persons, about the same as a year earlier.
Now, compare that to last month, which says that 8 million people were working more than one job, comprising 5.1 percent of all employed persons. So while the percentage of employed persons working multiple jobs has gone down, because the working population went up by roughly 25 million that translates to more adults having to work extra.
According to the C-Average students at the Wall Street Journal, that’s no biggie. You’re gonna love this shit. See, WSJ leads by noting that this steadiness is great, Great, GREAT! and proceeds to follow-up by telling us that unemployment held steady at 3.5 percent and workforce participation is steady as well!
Then, a whole SIX PARAGRAPHS LATER, by the time most readers have statistically moved onto the next headline, the WSJ writers throw this at us:
The share of Americans working or seeking work held steady in December. The so-called labor-force participation rate was 63.2%. The rate had slowly edged higher in recent years, but remains well below levels before the recession, reflecting changing demographics and the fact some Americans have given up seeking work.
They’ve given up seeking work… Which means they’re no longer participating in the workforce that requires them to A) Independently contract; B) Work multiple jobs; C) Accept historically less than they’re worth; or alternatively, D) Seek unemployment if they’re not.
See, since the population has grown and fewer people are participating in the workforce, that would naturally lend itself to a higher unemployment rate. But since the Trump Administration (and most administrations, ‘natch) like to trot out unemployment rates as a sign of the great economic times, people who don’t know better are left with a good feeling.
It’s like when you eat some garbage food or go out and get wasted. You’re going to feel good right away, but a little while after you’ve eaten, or when you wake up hungover, you start to feel the effects. That’s what the highly-massaged “jobs reports” from WSJ and the like are meant to do: Make you feel good enough to stop questioning how we got here in the first place. It’s the equivalent of a Vitamin B-12 I-V solution directly into your dehydrated body.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all the fault of the Trump Administration (or any administration, really) although realistically the current Trade Wars and immigration bans have not helped things (neither have automation or Amazon, but that’s outside the scope of any administration’s reach, for now). Presidential administrations are as much to blame for the economy as they seek to take credit for it.
Additionally, while your cubicle neighbor might go off on how the stock markets have NEVER BEEN HIGHER!, high stock market indices are not the only indication of a healthy economy. In fact, high stock market indices only mean that the people who regularly play the stock market are winning. And like Charlie Sheen, the winning only continues until the inevitable crash.
For those of you with
409Ks, 401Ks, you’ll be left with a huge loss if you don’t properly manage things in advance of looming recessionary periods. It has happened before, and it will happen again. Protip, check in on your retirement account of choice regularly to see what your portfolio does after the economy has done something. You will begin to see patterns after a while and can use those patterns to your advantage to offset future losses.
After all, what goes up, must come down.
Again, what’s this have to do with my critique of the jobs numbers? Because it’s about growth, stupid, and this is one of those times when it would have paid for you to listen in high school math class. Goddamnitsomuch.
Economists typically don’t agree on anything, but do note that the range for national economic stability lies within the 2.5-3.5 percent range. But, when your population goes up and your potential workforce increases in size, the number represented by that percentage (we’ll call it 3 percent) has to go up as well.
And for a population of 330 million Americans, of whom about 158 million is considered non-institutionalized and workforce-capable (between the ages of 18 and 66 who are not otherwise on long-term disability leave) that translates to annual job growth which should equal 4.764 million jobs per year, or 397,000 jobs every month.
And we’re settling for 145,000 this past December, which should be the busiest time of year for retail (Big Box, boutique, mom & pop), hospitality (restaurant, bar, and hotel), transportation (trucking and taxis) and package delivery/supply chain management (think UPS and FedEX).
It’s also important to keep in mind that the 397,000 jobs number would be for the situation where people weren’t retiring later in life, businesses weren’t closing their doors faster than normal, and we existed in a situation where each job represented one person, instead of certain people representing multiple jobs. So what that means is the 397,000 jobs figure should be even higher to reflect the reality we inhabit.
And yet, we’re letting Wall Street Journal, et al, try to make us celebrate 145,000 jobs.
Remember that number next time some fuckin dumbshit stupid asshole tells you how great the economy is doing. Then tell them that Mean Old Publius told them to Fuck Right Off With That Shit.