Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Raining Jobs, Hallelujah!

Is it really raining jobs?

No, it's not raining jobs. This post is for the family members
of the long-term unemployed who only believes it's raining jobs.

There are many people, whose own family members won't believe them, when they try to explain to them why they can't find a job. After all, their family members may have been constantly hearing on the news that there are plenty of jobs out there, if only they would go out there and look for one. But some in the media have been saying this for the past 5 years, and still, there are not enough jobs.

"Sure," they might say, "It might not be the type of job you want, and it might not pay all that well, but at least you'll have a job that pays you something. Take any job," they'll tell you, "Take two jobs if you need to." --- as though jobs were plentiful and growing wild on trees, not realizing that the labor market is currently over-saturated because too many jobs have already been offshored over the past three decades, and so, are no longer as abundant as they once were.

*Sigh* They just don't seem to understand (or believe) that there aren't enough jobs of any kind to go around, let alone enough jobs to get two. Of course, there are always exceptions, as there are 7 million Americans who do have multiple jobs; but those 2nd jobs are also jobs that the unemployed (with no jobs at all) can only hope to apply for.

But all in all, if you are long-term unemployed, it's most likely that (for many) your own family has been misinformed by the media, and now, even they have turned against you. The very people who SHOULD believe you, don't --- so why should a total stranger believe you when you try to explain to them how difficult it is to find a job these days? Especially with so many politicians on TV telling everyone how the unemployed have been "gaming the system" to get "free stuff" in their attempt to sway public opinion to cut government spending.

Some people might offer anecdotal evidence to prove you wrong, that there are lots of jobs available; but then again, there are always exceptions to the rule in a few geographical locations throughout the country (but most people living in L.A. can't just pack their bags and move to NYC to apply for a job opening McDonald's either.) So generally speaking, the labor market is much worse than many people believe --- and the mainstream media will sometimes convolute the truth in this aspect regarding the labor market.

Flippant, off-the-wall remarks, made without much thought, inner circumspection or due diligent research, especially if it's reported as "fact", when instead, is blatantly misleading, can substantially harm many people; and more so if it's the media that's making these off-the-cuff remarks, because they have so much influence in shaping public opinion.

The Great Recession didn't affect many people in any significant way, unless they were a homeowner and became underwater on their mortgage, or were near retirement and saw their 401k tank, or were laid off from their job.

In other words, while although millions could have been left totally devastated (maybe for the rest of their lives) in the aftermath of the recession; but for millions of others, they were more-or-less left untouched, at least, insofar as it had affected their day-to-day lives. It was usually their next-door neighbor, or the guy down the street, or someone across town, who lost their job --- but their own household wasn't affected in any significant way at all, and they and their family had survived the Great Recession unscathed --- and just went about their normal everyday activities.

It's early in the morning. You're in the kitchen having breakfast and watching cable news. You just heard that the labor market was improving. Then you finished your cup of coffee and left the house to go to work.

Even for a homeowner, who didn't go crazy by borrowing against their home equity, and had no plans to sell their house anyway, had just continued living in their home as they always have. They weren't affected all that much (actually, because home values had declined, their property tax assessments were lower, so their monthly mortgage payments may have been reduced a little as well.)

So for millions of people, if they were not laid off from their job, then they most likely survived OK, maybe with barely a scratch. So they just went about their daily lives.

You're in your car on the freeway, driving to work, when you turn on the radio. You hear on the news that there were less jobless claims this week than there were the week before, and that the stock market was roaring. The economy is recovering.

But if someone lost their job (regardless of whether or not they were a homeowner), and especially if they were an older worker (say, over 50), and moreover, if they only had a high school education (and had no particularly prized or rare skills), they were the ones who most likely faced the most difficulty in surviving in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

But for most people, they just went about their daily lives: going to work, getting their kids off to school, paying the monthly bills, going to the movies and shopping at the local mall. They were too busy, and didn't have the time or the inkling to follow the in-depth and day-to-day labor statistics, or attempt to decipher the economist's ongoing analysis of the economy. Their "news", regarding the job market and the unemployment rate, was most likely obtained from occasionally scanning the local newspaper's headlines, or gleaned from watching TV news, or from quick sound bites on the radio while driving to work.

For example: Yesterday, a talking head on CNN reported that the Dow Jones closed at over 16,000 points, marking the 40th record-high for the stock market this year. The TV reporter had accredited the upswing in the financial markets, in part, due to two reasons:

  • positive corporate earnings reports,
  • and an improved labor market (because jobless claims were slightly down)

Now, as a casual observer, who only occasionally watched cable TV news, and if one kept hearing the mainstream media telling them that the "labor market was improving" (which the media often does), then they too might wonder why their son or daughter, Uncle John, their next-door neighbor, or the guy down the street, or their best friend, had been unemployed for so long.

So the media has influenced them into believing that the labor market wasn't nearly so bad, not as they may have previously thought beforehand. Therefore, the media may have also influenced them into being against extending unemployment benefits and food stamps for all those "lazy slackers" --- especially if they had thought that the job market had been roaring back, and it was now raining jobs. They may have been led to believe that, because jobless claims were down (from the previous week) and because corporations were as profitable as ever, that there were plenty of available jobs (when in fact, there were not). After all, they still had their job, and for them, everything was the same as it was before the Great Recession.

So how could an unemployed person's family members know any better? Wasn't the mainstream "news" to be believed? If the media constantly repeats something over and over again, then it must be true, right?

You're on your way home from a very hard day at work. You're boss is always giving you more and more work to do, which just makes your job even more of a grind. Now you're stuck in traffic, when it's over 100 degrees outside, and your A/C just stopped working. You turned on the radio and heard on the news about some surfer dude on a beach in California. He'd been bragging about not working and being on food stamps...and on your dime no less.

The Department of Labor recently reported that there were 21,000 less initial unemployment claims from the previous week --- but that was not necessarily because 21,000 more jobs were created, but also because people's unemployment benefits had expired. And many (if not most) of them had exhausted all their benefits without ever finding another job. But just by listening to the news on CNN yesterday, many people wouldn't know this, because the reporter on CNN had blurted out that we had an "improved labor market".

As a regular citizen, by just going to work every day as usual, and by going about their other regular daily routines, they wouldn't know any better --- after all, those talking heads on the cable TV news shows should know what they're talking about, right? Otherwise, they wouldn't be working in those high-paying cable TV news jobs to begin with, right? And they wouldn't be saying all those things if they weren't true, right?

So as a casual observer of cable TV news (or an occasional listener of talk radio shows), if they had heard that 21,000 less people had filed an unemployment claim, unless they're told otherwise, they might think that 21,000 new jobs were created --- especially if CNN just told them we had an "improved labor market" --- when in reality, counting all those whose unemployment benefits have expired (and are now classified as "discouraged workers"), we currently have about 20 million people who still need a full-time job. So, hypothetically, if only one person had found a job last week, could CNN have accurately reported that little bit of news as an "improved labor market"?

And not only have we been told that we have had an "improved labor market", we've also been told that millions of people are "dropping out of the labor force" and are "no longer looking for work". As a causal observer, most people might think that there were a lot of "lazy slackers" out there --- because, after all, they're too busy just trying to get by themselves, so they don't have the time to due diligently research the economy --- that's why they depend on the "smart" and "informative" people in the media to give them accurate information.

So, if a great many Americans, who were not directly affected by the Great Recession by a job loss themselves, and only had a passing understanding of the labor market, and believed that for the last 5 years, that because corporations have had continuous profits, and that we also had an "improving labor market" (and that millions of jobs were being created), how can they NOT be expected to also believe that their own family member was equally guilty as the rest of those "takers" for being too lazy to find a job?

And their family members might also feel compelled to call their congressperson to complain about those "generous" unemployment benefits and other "free stuff" (like food stamps) that are being given away to all those "lazy slackers" --- those bums who have been plainly REFUSING to look for a job --- any job at all. And especially if hard-working Americans like themselves have been busting their asses every single day, toiling at a dirty and labor intensive minimum wage job --- they might become even more angry.

Your wife is in the kitchen doing dishes. You just finished dinner, and now you're settling in to your easy-chair to watch Fox News. Bill O'Reilly is on and he's telling you that there is a big scam going on in Social Security. Millions of people are leaving their jobs to go on disability --- and he's telling you how easy it is to file a claim...and you're paying for all this.

So, if you are 50 years old or older, with only a GED for an education, and you have been unemployed for the past 5 years, it's no wonder that your family might think you're a lazy bum...because, after all, that's what they've been told by all those "well-informed" and "smart" and "honest" and well-dressed respectable news people on the TV (and what's been told by all those "knowledgeable" politicians that the media always has on as guests on their shows.)

When talking heads go on TV and report that "millions are leaving their jobs to go on disability" or tell their audience that we have an "improved labor market", or claim that it's very "easy" to get on the government dole, or that many are "gaming the system", the media is helping in shaping public policy (and provoking public outcry) by influencing public opinion AGAINST the poor, the disabled and the jobless. So it's no wonder that hard-working people WITH jobs often turn against those less fortunate people who are WITHOUT jobs --- even if it's their own family members.

So, if the lame stream media was wrong with their misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the facts, or their reporting was deliberately false about the "improving labor market", then what other misinformation have they been reporting to your family?

It's late at night and you just woke up from a nap on your easy chair. Your wife has already gone to bed. The TV is still on. The locals news is telling you, "Anyone who's unemployed today, is either a drug addict or a lazy wino. There are plenty of good jobs out there, if only they would get off the couch and go look for one..."

The un-reported (and under-reported) facts about the so-called "improving labor market".

Before we can understand why the mainstream media reports what they report, and how they report it, we first have to consider what the media (as corporations) does is in their best interests, and what's in the best interests of their corporate advertisers (besides just using yellow journalism and sensationalism to capture audience ratings) --- because only 6 corporations now controls 90% of all the media in America.

So it's in their best interest to report what benefits them, and not necessarily what is 100% the truth or what is 100% factual. We also see the ideological spin coming from various news sources as to which political party they favor. Not to mention their friendly ties to government politicians --- the ones they're supposed to be watching, not partying with --- like they do every year at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

But because this post is primarily about "jobs", we'll discuss the un-reported (and under-reported) facts about unemployment and the labor market.

To begin with, it's not raining jobs. There are more people out of work today than there were in October 2009, when the post-recession unemployment rate had peaked --- when it was then-reported at 10.2% with 15.7 million Americans out of work. Even though the "official" unemployment rate is lower today than is was in 2009, there are more people unemployed today than there was then. And there are almost twice as many people unemployed today than there were at the height of the Great Depression.

Currently, there are about 19.93 million unemployed Americans, not 11.3 million, who need a full-time job today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 3.3 million jobs openings for 11.3 million unemployed Americans. But when looking at the broader measure of unemployment (using the U-6 rate), there is only one job opening listed for every 6 people out of work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the "official" unemployment rate as 7.3% today, but the U-6 rate is 13.8% --- but that doesn't include all those who "dropped out of the labor force". There's also an Alt U-6 rate (that includes many more "discourage workers") which is currently at 15.2%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics used to report a U-7 rate, and currently the U-7 rate is at 16.2% (the highest it's been since the last year of the Great Depression in 1941). And there's also Shadow Stats, showing the unemployment rate as 23% --- or about 1 out of every 5 working-aged people, who once, would have normally been a part of the labor force.

We are still negative jobs from the Great Recession --- 7.8 million jobs created vs. 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession, but that's not counting the jobs that were lost since then. We've also had about 18 million high school graduates trying to enter the "improving labor market" since the economy collapsed in 2008 --- about 3 million a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 48.8 percent of the 3.2 million youth who graduated from high school last year were "in the labor force" (more here)

In other words, we don't have an "improving labor market" --- just the opposite. The current rate of REAL unemployment (meaning the number of those who are long-term unemployed) will keep growing for some time to come, but they won't be included in the numbers being reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and then parroted by the media). As a matter-of-fact, going forward, we could have permanently high unemployment for years to come.

So in other words, no, it's not raining jobs --- and jobs aren't growing on trees either.

Editor's Note: "Other than for brief periods of time throughout my work history over the last 40 years, I have always managed to find a job --- that is, until I was laid off in 2008. But times have changed, and I'm older now too. It used to be that, yes, if one REALLY wanted a job, and if one REALLY looked hard enough, most of the time someone could eventually find work. But that was then, and this is now. Since I was laid off, I've had more than enough free time to research the labor market --- I no longer just occasionally scan the local newspaper's headlines, or glean my information from watching cable TV news, or get my information from sound bites off the radio. Now, if only the media could be more forthright about what they haphazardly report to others, those who are too busy living normal lives and still working to spend as much as I do on the plight of the unemployed." ~ Bud Meyers, 2013

My Related Posts:

I greatly admire Ali Velshi, but I've often complained when corporate shills like Stephen Moore appeared as a guest on his show. But now that Ali has left CNN to join Al Jazeera America, maybe he won't be as beholden to his corporate sponsors as I once perceived him to be. I wish him well.

This, from Ali Velshi: The solution to what’s wrong with American cable news:

"Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to changing viewer tastes and habits. After 12 years at CNN, I needed to better understand why doing more of the obvious isn’t helping to grow an audience, even for long-standing brands. Cable news audiences are increasingly fickle, and fewer and fewer of them are tuning in."

1 comment:

  1. Australia Business News --- I looked, there are no jobs. Where I live, they are still laying off. Maybe "Down Under" is different. All my life it used be different here too. There USED to be jobs for those who would look for them, but no more. Did you ever here of the Great Recession? Well, we are still suffering in the aftermath.