Feb. 7. The jobs picture is confusing. The number of new jobs created in January was a lot less than predicted, but somehow there seem to be a lot more people working. The economists had expected 180,000 jobs to be created, but the labor department said there was a gain of only 113,000. Federal jobs even fell by 12,000.
When the federal jobs report came out the stock market then went up a bunch.
The reason was there were other parts of the job report that were quite good. E-pop, the most accurate employment rate (employed was a percent of the population) went up from 58.6 to 58.8. Another rate called the “participation rate” went up by a similar amount. The number of workers who said they were working part-time because of lack of full time work dropped 500,000. The result was a whopping increase of 600,000 people who were employed. How? Who knows.
Back to the negatives. Paul Krugman writing in the New York Times mentions that the level of long-term unemployment is far above average. He writes, “long-term unemployed — those out of work for 27 weeks or more — have usually been between 10 and 20 percent of total unemployment. Today the number is 35.8 percent. “ Half the long-term unemployed (the LTU) are non-Hispanic whites. The LTU have a special problem, employer prejudice, the belief that these people must have something wrong with them because they’re out of work so long.
Many of these people were given a kick in the teeth when Obama and the Congress agreed to immediately end extended unemployment benefits to 1.3 million workers immediately with more to be dropped down the road. The current breed of politicians are good at this. Franklin Delano Roosevelt hired millions of federal workers to fight the Great Depression. The current breed let go 500,000 federal workers. On a state level after some increases during the end of the Great Recession the number of teachers employed by local governments has gone down by 250,000.
There’s also the matter of the new way to take advantage of white collar workers, call them “interns” and don’t pay them. I remember being appalled by the Will Smith movie “Pursuit of Happyness”. The movie, “based on a true story”, was all about Smith being an unpaid intern for six months along with 20 or so others. The prize was that one person would get the job as a stock broker. All the others got squat. Here’s a 2/16 New York Times article about people who go from one intern job to another.