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Ear to the Ground

Don’t Laud the Jobless Drop

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Posted on Dec 3, 2011
AP / Alex Brandon

President Obama speaks at Scranton High School in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

November’s dip in the official unemployment rate is nothing to clap about. Scrutiny of the details reveals that the new figure of 8.6 percent is due mostly to 315,000 Americans dropping out of the search for work, and most of the newly created positions were low-paying ones. That includes temporary jobs created to support the spike in commerce that comes with the holiday season.

You can rest assured, however, that those facts won’t stop a spin-savvy Obama administration from taking credit for a job well done as the 2012 campaign season kicks off.

Interestingly, The New York Times offered two different takes on the new numbers. “Somehow the American economy appears to be getting better,” the author of an optimistic article began, before suggesting that the European debt crisis, instability in the Middle East and the slowdown of Chinese industry were greater concerns than domestic joblessness, and that November’s decline was a “welcome relief.”

Elsewhere, the paper’s editors were less sanguine. —ARK

The New York Times:

Most of the decline in November’s unemployment rate was not because jobless people found new work. Rather, it is because 315,000 people dropped out of the work force, a reflection of extraordinarily weak demand by employers for new workers. It is also a sign of socioeconomic decline, of wasted resources and untapped potential, the human equivalent of boarded-up Main Streets and shuttered factories.

The job growth numbers also come with caveats. More jobs were created than economists expected, but with the job market so weak for so long, that is a low bar. It would take nearly 11 million new jobs to replace the ones that were lost during the recession and to keep up with the growth in the working-age population in the last four years. To fill that gap would require 275,000 new jobs a month for the next five years. That’s not in the cards. Even with the better-than-expected job growth in the past three months, the economy added only 143,000 jobs on average.

And most of those new jobs are low-end ones. In November, for example, big job-growth areas included retail sales, bartending and temporary services. Teachers and other public employees continued to lose jobs, and job growth in construction and manufacturing were basically flat. Indeed, work — once the pathway to a rising standard of living — has become for many a route to downward mobility. Motoko Rich reported in The Times recently on new research showing that most people who lost their jobs in recent years now make less and have not maintained their lifestyles, with many experiencing what they describe as drastic — and probably irreversible — declines in income.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, December 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

We can be gloomy realists the rest of the year, let’s take a break for the Holidays.
Here, have a half-full cup of eggnog.

While the 8.6% rate is no cause for dancing in the streets, at least we can say it’s heading in the right direction. 
Have another eggnog.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers were encouraging.  Feeling any better?  Another eggnog?

Here’s my favorite stat you probably haven’t seen yet: a net 7 percent of small business owners plan to create new jobs over the next three months, the highest reading in 38 months.
One more eggnog?

Why, yes, there was a little Yule Spirit added, thanks for noticing…

And by the way, in keeping with the season, a little prayer wouldn’t hurt.

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By surfnow, December 5, 2011 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

I don’t “laud” anything that happens under this phony Democrat in Rethug clothing - he’s as bad as Clinton. And no,sorry, repealing DADT is not a major accomplishment.

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screamingpalm's avatar

By screamingpalm, December 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

My wife just got fired last week for calling in sick with the flu. A few days later we saw her position listed on craig’s list for a few dollars/hour less. The last time I worked, I was fired while on FMLA trying to get in for a sleep study. This country sorely needs another Frances Perkins.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, December 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

To me it is inconceivable that the Americans will be swayed by numbers such as these. Obviously, there are no jobs.

If you happen to be less than middle class this is not news. Remember Greenspan and his comment of “job insecurity” that he claimed would be “good” for America. This outrageous position while felt for many years (amid much unrecognized howling) by the lower classes has now arrived for the middle classes.

Certainly I could make the case that Greenspan had a point. The problem is, WHICH Americans was it “good” for. By now, everyone knows…... the one percent. Well, make that the .01%.

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By Steve E, December 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

Obama campaign slogan, ” Dems Have No Other Choice”.

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By Rodney, December 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Republicans watch the unemployment swell to
12% after they eliminate 1 million federal jobs.When
you elect people who want to destroy government, that
is exactly what you get a destroyed government. We
see what Republicans have done in Ohio, Wisconsin,
Florida and New Jersey. They don’t think Romney will
come through with a big enough wrecking ball. So now
they want Newt. They cant wait to get another
confederate back in the White House. Get rid of the
janitors and let the black kids clean up their own
schools. Actually many of the janitors are their
parents. We can then put the janitors back into the
fields to replace the illegal immigrants. Hey while
we are at it let’s bring back Jim Crow and
segregation like Rand Paul suggested. The Republicans
have come to take their country back. Back to 1860!

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Blueokie's avatar

By Blueokie, December 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment

Maybe Obamanation can discourage a few hundred thousand more people into giving up in the next few months so that the unemployment rate will drop even lower.  Then he could maybe convince enough sheeple of the great job he’s doing and use his Wall Street money to get re-elected.

“Supporting the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil” - Gandhi

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