Monday, December 7, 2009

How's It Workin' Out?

Last Friday, as happens every first Friday of the month, the employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were released. Since the numbers showed the unemployment rate dropping slightly from 10.2% to 10.0% the legacy media gave a mighty "Huzzah for Lord Obama, mm mmm mm!" These were the same cheerleaders who gasped and moaned when unemployment ticked up from 4.4% to 4.5% during the prior administration. While we're happy that only 11,000 net jobs were estimated to be lost in November, it would take about 5 years of uninterrupted 250,000 PLUS jobs per month just to get the country back to the average rate during the Bush presidency-- that's how many jobs have been shed in the past 18 months or so.
Unpacking the BLS data (hey, you can have fun with stats too, kids-- just click that link!) shows that the rate ticked down due mainly to the fact that a large number of people who have looked for work in the past 12 months gave up trying in November. So, if the idea of economic recovery is to have more people sitting at home hoping for pocket change we're well on our way.
Cast your eyes to page 23 of the report for this bit of information: in the 12 months from Dec 2008 through Nov 2009 the print publishing business (Internet not included) lost over 86,000 jobs. That's in just one year. I'm not dancing on the grave of the print media business. I'm just pointing out a simple fact that in one year newspapers, books, and magazines shed 86,000 employees. While the administration says the worst is over know this: if that industry lost jobs at an annual rate like they did in November there would be a half million more media jobs gone by this time next year.
That likely won't happen because there aren't many more jobs to cut. Which brings me to the following points: 1) if job losses are slowing it's largely due to the fact that there aren't many employees left to shed. 2) if people have given up on finding a job then 3) you need a policy to prompt capital formation and spur job creation. You don't need a half day job forum dog and pony show followed by speeches castigating the private sector. The current policies in DC aren't the solution, they're the problem. Higher taxes, bigger government, and more onerous regulation and red tape chill employers and keep them from hiring. Add in that the most populous state in the union actively pursues policies that drive jobs away and it's a disaster.
A disaster that is made worse by the fact that it doesn't have to happen.