Friday, May 3, 2013

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs

Seth Mason Charleston SC blog 21Readers of this blog know that Washington's employment data should be scrutinized. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is notorious for crushing down the labor force participation rate in order to make it appear that the unemployment rate is falling, and the agency's survey methodology is fundamentally-flawed, according to a former BLS leader. But, even if you take the government's word on unemployment as the "Gospel truth", a 50,000-150,000 monthly net increase in jobs--as Uncle Sam has been reporting for years--is woefully insufficient. At this rate of increase--with the unemployment rate dropping by a tenth of a percent each month--, it would take until 2017 to get back to the lower end of the "full employment" range. And that's IF the economy has no additional difficulties and WITH the help of a crushed-down labor participation rate. And that's IF you consider 5% unemployment and 10% underemployment "full employment".

But the raw jobs numbers don't tell the full story anyway. Who cares if 50,000 or 150,000 or even 1,000,000 jobs are created each month if the jobs are menial in nature? And make no mistake: we've been seeing for years little but a monthly increase in low-wage, low-skill jobs. The April jobs report showed more of the same.

The overwhelming majority of jobs created last month were in leisure and hospitality (waiters, bartenders, hotel employees, etc.) and temp jobs. Industries that actually produce something, whether it be information or physical goods, actually lost jobs:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Jobs By Industry


There was a net decrease in jobs for Americans of prime working age, i.e. there was a net decrease in "career" jobs. But there was a net increase in jobs for Americans of prime restaurant worker and Walmart greeter ages:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Jobs By Age Group


In fact, the number of jobs for Americans of prime working age (i.e. career age) has been flat since the economy collapsed:

April Employment Increase: Nothing But Menial Jobs - Retirees Remaining In The Workforce


So what's this I hear about a positive jobs report?

Seth Mason, Charleston SC

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