Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Too Few Jobs for Population Growth

Almost three years ago in 2010 the New York Times wrote "It will take at least eight more years to create the 8 million positions lost during the recession. And that does not even allow for population growth."

As of 2011, 18 million Americans had at some point received federally funded extended unemployment benefits (up to 99 weeks, hence the term "the 99ers").

Now in 2013, according to the government's own statistics, it still, might take another 8 years to get the reported U-3 unemployment rate down to pre-recession levels.

But in truth, I suspect that the real unemployment rate will be a permanent economic condition --- at least until a great many of my fellow Baby Boomers have become deceased...maybe by 2040.

October 2009 - Unemployment 15.2%, 15.9 million unemployed

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 8.7 million jobs were lost between the start of the recession in December of 2007 and early in 2010 --- just several months before the reported U-3 unemployment rate had "officially" peaked at 10.2 percent.

That was when 15.7 million Americans were reported as unemployed (Currently the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate as 7.7 percent with only 12 million unemployed).

The "net" new jobs created since that time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about 5.4 million --- which is just shy of the 6 million young Americans who have graduated from high school and college since then --- so job growth has not kept pace with natural population growth.

But we are on pace to create 8 million jobs in 8 years....but still, what happened to the 8.7 million people who were originally laid off?

All the numbers show a very dismal picture. The reported U-6 unemployment rate is at 14.3 percent with 22.3 million Americans out of work. Of those, 4.8 million have been unemployed for 6 months or longer (40.2% of those reported unemployed). But because the government no longer tracks the unemployed after one year*, it doesn't include millions of others who have been out of work.

* Since 1994 the long-term unemployed ("discouraged workers" who have been jobless for more than one year) have been excluded from all government data. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics did report in October 2010 that 4.5 million Americans were unemployed for one year or longer (and made up 31 percent of all those who were reported unemployed).

Coincidentally, also in 2010, millions of Americans who were laid off in late 2008 and early 2009 had exhausted all 99 weeks of their unemployment benefits. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims they don't use this data to calculate the unemployment rate --- they use a household survey. At their website they explain:

"Some people think that to get these figures on unemployment the Government uses the number of persons filing claims for unemployment insurance...but some people are still jobless when their benefits run out, and many more are not eligible at all or delay or never apply for benefits. So, quite clearly, UI information cannot be used as a source for complete information on the number of unemployed. The number of unemployed persons in the United States and the national unemployment rate are produced from data collected in the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of over 60,000 households."

If you have ever been contacted by the government for this survey, please contact me. I have as yet, over the past 4 years, found ONE PERSON who has ever been contacted for this survey. I once calculated that there were 8 million "99ers" who were not counted at all by the U.S. government (they were swept under the rug).

Last month 236,000 jobs were created nationally. That was much ballyhooed by the administration, but at that rate it will take 8 more years to get back to full employment.

In Las Vegas where I live, the unemployment rate is still 10.2% -- which is what the national average was back in October of 2009 --- when Las Vegas was once at 15.1%. Although, casino owners such as Sheldon Aldelson have done phenomenally well since the recession. (Current rates for other U.S. metropolitan areas can be found here.)

A fellow 99er informs me: "In New Jersey, where the state's unemployment rate is at 9.5%, we have 442,737 people unemployed, while only 2,600 jobs were created in the last month. At that rate it will take over 14 years to get everyone back to work."

But of all those jobs created in the private sector, more and more of them are part-time jobs. Compared with December 2007, when the recession officially began, there are 5.8 million fewer Americans working full time. In that same period, there has been an increase of 2.8 million working part time. Do the math.

Today in March 2013 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 8 million Americans work part-time. And on top of that, going forward ObamaCare could create even more part-time jobs for employers who want to dodge healthcare plans.

If you include both part-time workers (who want full-time work) and people who have gave up looking for jobs (but want to work), that puts the U-6 unemployment rate at 14.3 percent.

But millions of unemployed Americans are no longer counted in the U-6 rate anymore. The government had once categorized them as "discourage workers" and claimed they had given up looking for work; so after one year, they are no longer even included in any of unemployment numbers, not even in the U-6 rate.

As you can see from the chart below from ShadowStats.Com, the actual number of people who are unemployed in the U.S. is much higher than the "politically reported" U-3 rate...and it's actually getting higher, which the government's "participation rate" only confirms.

In 1983 the U.S. population was almost 234 million, now in 2013 it's over 315 million. The labor force participation rate (the percent of the U.S. population that is employed) is at a 30 year low. This excludes those that are not counted in the participation rate --- such as those who are receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, those in mental heath facilities or interned in hospitals, and those who are incarcerated in our prison system. And it also excludes "discouraged workers".

And besides just population growth, job growth hasn't been keeping up with corporate outsourcing either. And H-1B VISAs and J-1 guestworker programs haven't helped either.

Our leaders (both Democrats and Republicans) have been cheering on the new labor force in Asia because the corporations that donate money to them are making record profits with foreign labor.

Four years ago in the middle of the Great Recession, representatives of many of the nation’s most powerful corporations attended the 2009 Strategic Outsourcing Conference to talk about how to send more American jobs overseas.

Conference organizers had polled the more than 70 senior executives who had attended the conference about the behavior of their companies in response to the recession. The majority said their companies increased outsourcing.

And another question that was asked of the executives found that the top reason for companies to outsource American jobs was to “reduce operating costs” (and not because Americans lacked job skills).

Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that “U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million.”

Furthermore, a Wall Street Journal analysis showed, “Thirty-five big U.S.-based
multinational companies added jobs much faster than other U.S. employers in the past two years, but nearly three-fourths of those jobs were overseas.”

According to a report on outsourcing by Working America, “Manufacturing employment collapsed from a high of 19.5 million workers in June 1979 to 11.5 workers in December 2009, a drop of 8 million workers over 30 years. Just imagine what the unemployment rate (and the labor participation rate) would be like today with those 8 millions jobs.

Manufacturing plants have also declined sharply in the last decade, shrinking by more than 51,000 plants, or 12.5 percent, between 1998 and 2008. These stable, middle-class jobs have been the driving force of the U.S. economy for decades and theses losses have done
considerable damage to communities across the country.

Large corporations such as Apple, which conducts all of its manufacturing on foreign shores, and Nike, which subcontracts all of its footwear production to independently owned and operated foreign companies, lead the trend.

Private equity firms (such as Bain Capital and the like) have increased the pressure to cut costs by any means necessary, leading to more overseas outsourcing.

Labor costs are the main driver of corporations sending jobs overseas, but foreign countries’ costs are increasing compared to the United States.

According to a 2012 survey from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated labor cost savings as one of the three most important drivers leading to overseas outsourcing. The Duke survey found that “only 4 percent of large companies had future plans for relocating jobs back to the United States.”

No matter how you look at it, things are still very bad, especially for the "50 and over" crowd (the Baby Boomers) who were laid off during the recession and are still unemployed.

Maybe one day the U.S. might be the next emerging market, and then U.S. companies might start hiring U.S. citizens again --- if they can ever eliminate the U.S. federal minimum wage.

* Also posted at the Daily Kos

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