Tag Archives: labor force

June Unemployment = Cold Porridge

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly employment situation for June this morning and a mixed top line almost hides some really scary internals.

The headline numbers were that June added 223k jobs which, by government counting standards, dropped the unemployment rate to 5.3%.

Black unemployment still leads all other demographics at 9.5%.

Some important revisions to the April and May numbers were announced as well. April was reduced from +221,000 to +187,000 jobs and May revised down from +280,000 to +254,000 – a 60k job reduction in total.

With the revisions in place, and supposing that June takes a similar 30k reduction, June appears to show a drop from May and only a slight increase from May.

The jobs increases came mainly in the areas of healthcare, retail and professional services with smaller gains in transportation and warehousing. But 71,000 jobs were lost in the mining sector mainly due to petroleum price-driven reduction in drilling rig counts and continued losses in coal mining due to over-regulation.

The remaining internals show an incredible weak jobs market where no wage inflation is likely any time soon.

People of working age that actually had jobs in June dropped by 432,000 people which dropped the labor force participation rate to 62.6% – the worst showing since October of 1977 (remember 1977?) This drop is not a one-time-off thing – May saw the labor force drop by almost the same amount. The reduction is illustrative of a jobs market that is not keeping up with graduation rates and those coming of age to work.

An area of concern is youth employment stayed at 18.1% despite the overall unemployment rate decrease. Are more adults taking jobs traditionally held by teenage workers?

A look at underemployment reveals another concern. The number remains steady at 6.5 million. That’s almost 7 million people that have taken part-time work that would rather have a full-time job. This likely continues to provide pressure on the underskilled and youth workforce.

The remainder of the drop in the labor force is likely due to those just giving up on finding work. Boomers will just retire and take their social security. Younger workers have been flocking to disability if they can get it.

While the headline numbers fit the “Goldie-locks” – not too bad, not too good – scenario, the internals look like pure, cold porridge.

Election Aftermath – I’ve Just Decided To Not Have Children

Shortly after the announcement was made that Ohio went to Obama, a friend tweeted this:

If I had to point to something that worries me most about our current economy and cultural climate, it would be the sentiment expressed in this tweet. I talk about value systems regularly, in every venue of conversation that I have available to me. I believe that the only things that will change the course this country is on are a dedicated effort to move our political and popular culture away from the ideas that spawned entitelment and dependency.

Tim is not alone in his reservation to bring children into the world. His decision is a rational and thoughtful one. But, it is one with devastating effects to our economy and value system. In 2011, the US birth rate hit a record low, and the economy was the most cited probable reason for the drop, according to a recent ABC article. Additionally, our labor force participation recently hit a 31 year low, and our current economy has nothing in place that promises a quick return to significantly higher rates. With the increase in retirees, the continuing easing of means testing to receive entitlement and disability benefits, and the steady decline in birth rates and employment, the number of people working to support these systems has reached levels that make the programs unsustainable by traditional funding.

Economy aside, the value system that made America a prosperous and charitable nation has all but vanished. Today’s children are assaulted from all sides with information and experiences that shape their world views and future parenting decisions. They are no longer taught that hard work means probable success. They are no longer taught that providing for your family is an unyielding responsibility. They are no longer taught thrift and savings to meet goals. Instant gratification and a safety net of epic proportions have all but removed failure and adversity from most children’s lives.

It is no easy suggestion that our entire culture needs to change and no easy task to see that change happen on a grand scale, but I cannot fathom that the US would again be the beacon of light and opportunity that it once was without a move away from instant gratification and entitlement mentalities. Parents, future parents, this falls on you. Make the time to parent, become aware of, and control, the influences in your children’s lives, and accept that the people your children become is largely your responsibility. You know, be the change.

To do these things, we have to have children. I do not suggest that you have children “for the greater good”, but I would hope that you don’t decide to not have them because of the greater bad. Tim is a friend of mine. It wasn’t his tweet that inspired this post, but the way my heart broke when I heard him say the same to me on the phone. He is the kind of friend who I would like to see become a parent, should he want to do so.

Economy relies on families, it should not destroy the potential of creating them.