OK. I opined yesterday about members of Congress being on vacation now until after Labor Day even as the nation still faces high unemployment and an economy that may be heading back into recession.
And I realize that in many ways this is a matter of perception. Members of Congress and their staffs merit some time off and if they are running for re-election, they have to be available and visible in their home districts and states. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are now on a forced vacation: no job and few prospects.
Here’s an interesting perspective from Mort Zuckerman in USNews, “Job Numbers Go From Grim to Ghastly“:
Washington, Wall Street, and the business world were astounded and dismayed by the dismal employment statistics recently put forth by the government. We need 125,000 jobs every month just to account for people entering the workforce, but the numbers show only 18,000 more jobs in June and 25,000 in May. And the June numbers included the assumption that 131,000 net jobs were created by newly formed companies, a generous assumption that has proved to be consistently overstated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the past three years. Equally concerning is that the underlying employment numbers are even worse than Washington’s gloss.
Almost ignored by the press is the fact that full-time employment dropped by 435,000 in the last month and, over the past three months, it is down by a combined total of 868,000 jobs. There has been a 3 percent increase in the number of people working part time, but full-time employment has been down 0.5 percent for the full year. In fact, all of the net job increases since President Obama came into office were part-time employees and not full-time employees, a critical distinction. All of this is in the context of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policy in the history of this country.
This is scarily abnormal. We are 24 months into a recovery. Normally we’d be enjoying about 180,000 more jobs a month. We have only a tenth of that. We have lost over 8.5 million jobs in the Great Recession, and only 1.5 million have returned; contrast that to a normal recovery, where all job losses have been recovered two years into a recovery. The total ranks of the unemployed jumped 173,000 and crossed over the 14 million mark for the first time this year.
And here’s Lila Shapiro on The Huffington Post, “Layoffs Surge As Recovery Shows Little Sign of Momentum“:
The early days of the recession were characterized by massive layoffs across industries, and while economists caution that the labor market isn’t there yet, a surge of private sector layoffs in July may indicate that the American recovery is stalling out.
This week has been a worrisome one for economists who monitor the health of the U.S. economy, with mounting signs all pointing in the same direction: For the average American worker, a rebound will not be soon forthcoming. In fact, things seem to be moving in the other direction.
GDP growth is weak; new hiring is not keeping pace with population growth, according to fresh data; and growth in manufacturing — which once lead the recovery — has practically ground to a halt. But most worrisome of all the signs, perhaps, is the return of mass layoffs.
For the past three months, American companies have been cutting their workforce in increasing numbers, according to a new report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consultancy group in Chicago. In July, the number of planned job cuts surged to a 16-month high of 66,414 — a 60 percent increase from June.
“We’re beginning to see patterns that are disconcerting, and the really troubling part is this: Nothing is happening in the economy which is going to boost job growth,” said Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.
The pattern, if it continues, could spell serious trouble for the American labor market.
Gee. Really? Serious trouble to say the least.
And I recognize that there is only so much that government at any level can do to create and sustain jobs, but if I were an elected official these days I would be giving the issue of job growth some thought while on vacation.
Wouldn’t want to risk becoming one of the unemployed in 2012.