Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wall Street Journal: Pumps and Dumps Jobs Report

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had a big positive title for their article on the latest jobs report: Job Gains Show Staying Power. They say that "the U.S. job market chalked up solid progress in June." (Oh really? I've been hearing that lately from a lot of other news organizations as well.)

The WSJ reported, "Hiring gains in sectors were broad-based, powered by leisure and hospitality, retail and health care. Temporary-help services, often seen as a hiring bellwether, added positions." (Temp jobs are now seen as a trend in hiring? To me, that's not too encouraging.)

The Wall Street Journal goes on to admit report that "many of the jobs added were service ones such as store clerks and restaurant waiters." (Oh, yes! Those low-wage part-time jobs are definitively a positive hiring bellwether.)

Then the article went on to say how the Fed has been buying $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bonds -- and talking about interest rates and the stock market. (Just average stuff that the "man on the street" concerns himself with night and day on a daily basis.)

Then the WSJ boasted of Proto Labs Inc., which also has operations in Europe and Japan. The CEO said that they were "setting records for orders and revenue." Proto Labs has 649 employees world-wide and is looking to fill 32 openings. (That should fix the job market...32 job openings...world-wide.)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that "average hourly earnings" climbed 10 cents to $24.01. However, that may have more to do with overtime pay than real wage increases. (And why not report "median" hourly wages, rather than the meaningless "average" hourly wages? That's parsing numbers in a very misleading way because it doesn't represent actual income distribution.)

Peter Cappelli, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (and director of its Center for Human Resources) says the Labor Department distinguishes regular pay from overtime only for manufacturing jobs. "I don't see a lot of wage pressure yet on the economy. No one's talking about raising wages." (A-ha!!!)

But the Wall Street Journal reports Job Gains Show Staying Power. Haven't we've been hearing similar headlines over the past 5 years? Some people call this pumping the market (or pump and dump). Putting a positive spin on bad economic news to drive up stock prices.

Mike Starich, president of Orion International Consulting Group LLC, which places former members of the military in jobs, says companies are cautious, but they continue to hire strategically. (Strategically? As in primarily hiring part-time and/or temporary help? Or by hiring foreigners with H-1B visas? This is "good" news for the job market? This "shows staying power"?)

Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, said "Factors that likely hindered employment growth during the first half of 2013 included the sequester and tax increases in January" and that "a lot of the headwinds facing employers are now known. I don't think that they will put off their hiring intentions much longer." (More pump and dump. That was for the first half of 2013 --- what were all these "headwinds" all throughout 2010, 2011 and 2012? He is total bull$hiter.)

The WSJ reports that J.B. Brown, president of the Bremen Castings, says "We're not as busy as we were." Bremen is a family-owned high-tech foundry and machine shop that makes metal parts for agricultural machinery, heavy trucks, railroad equipment, lawn mowers and other purposes.

Bremen Castings boasts on their website that they are a non-union machine shop. Their website doesn't specify which job openings might be available (if any at all) but only asks what position you want. Also, as with most employers these days, their on-line application also asks for legal permission to access ALL your personal history.

Bremen Castings' workforce numbers 262, compared with a peak of 310 last August. Their CEO said, "We are down people because it has been a little slow". (A-ha!!!)

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Bremen Castings' CEO also said that he [without the quotes, making it an official quote] "is actively seeking management and technical workers, because it is hard to find and retain both." (I wonder if this is true. And if so, why.)

For employee appreciation, Bremen Castings offers free ice cream (I used to get a turkey from my boss at Christmas).

Bremen Castings' on-line application also clearly states in bold caps: ANY EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS ORGANIZATION IS OF AN "AT WILL" NATURE, WHICH MEANS THAT THE COMPANY MAY DISCHARGE AN EMPLOYEE AT ANY TIME WITH OR WITHOUT CAUSE." (But the CEO also says it is hard to find and retain good help. Hmmmmmmmm...)

He also said, "We have plenty of ads out there now. We're always looking for good people. We'll snap them up." (Where are their ads? Please leave a link in the comments section.)

I've noticed for several years now how the WSJ has put positive spin on bad news, and plays down bad behavior by large corporations and their CEOs. I wonder if this has anything to do with Fox News and WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch.

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