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No Jobs Recovery

Friday, 02 April 2010 20:18
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

he US economy added 162,000 jobs in March. Great news until you look more closely. In March, the federal government began hiring census takers big time. These are six-month temp jobs, and they tell us nothing about underlying trends in the labor market. It's hard to gauge precisely how many were hired - probably between 100,000 and 140,000, although some estimates put the hiring as low as 48,000. Almost a million census workers will need to be hired over the next few months. Subtract these, and today's job numbers are good but nothing to write home about.

There are some positive signs. Manufacturing payrolls expanded a bit, heath care employers added 27,000 jobs, and about 40,000 private-sector temp jobs were added. But payrolls continue to be slashed in financial services and the information industry.

Two big things to bear in mind:

First, government spending on last year's giant stimulus is still near its peak, and the Fed continues to hold down interest rates. Without these props, it's far from clear we'd have any job growth at all.

Second, since the start of the Great Recession, the economy has lost 8.4 million jobs and failed to create another 2.7 million needed just to keep up with population growth. That means we're more than 11 million in the hole right now. And that hole keeps deepening every month we fail to add at least 150,000 new jobs, again reflecting population growth.

A census-taking job is better than no job, but it's no substitute for the real thing.

Bottom line: This is no jobs recovery.

Open Article On Originating Site

CORRECTION: In my March 30 posting, "Fraud on the Street," I stated that a whistle-blower who'd alerted Ernst & Young to fraud had been fired by Ernst & Young. It's actually worse than that. The whistle blower was from Lehman Brothers itself, and he was fired by Lehman when he tried to blow the whistle. Apologies to Ernst & Young. Even bigger condemnation of Lehman.

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," and his most recent book, "Supercapitalism." His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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+4 # Guest 2010-04-03 02:20
Perhaps this will force a change in the way we reckon GDP. Perhaps at last, since the figures won't show the government in a good light if they continue to add up the traditional expansionary figures - more employment, greater industrial and manufacturing output, - the official statisticians will start to think of adding in some of those other factors, such as well-being, happiness, environmental health, the contribution of home-makers and so on. What do you think?
+2 # Guest 2010-04-04 09:42
...started in WWII of all places, as a Taylor-esque Scientific Management scheme to greater motivate American workers to outproduce Germans and Japanese, so that their sons and husbands would stop getting killed over there- "peace through strength"
It worked brilliantly of course [as did Google 6 decades later, another scientific mgt. scheme]. And America has traditionally dominated this benchmark game ever since WWII days, as if the whole world was playing and keeping score by American football. Sounds outrageous? Well, that's the world we live in... GDP worship consumerism; 'both' parties, the MSM, and monied politicians of all stripes salute and sign off on it unthinkingly.
I think Hazel's right. The time for 'unthinking' (as George W. Bush might've said) has come to an end.

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.”
- J.M. Keynes, 1936
+5 # Guest 2010-04-03 07:58
With all this unemployment, where is all the traffic coming from? I have never seen so many cars on the road as recently. Ar these all job seekers driving from one interview to the next? Or are they all killing time and money and gasoline because they have nothing else to do?
+2 # Guest 2010-04-03 10:13
Excellent analysis, I just posted a tweet. I am seeing job growth taking place with businesses succeeding in growing green revenues. Sustainability is more than green energy, it is emerging as a new economic driver fueled by consumers seeking to align value with values. My book, The Secret Green Sauce at profiles best practices of actual businesses growing green revenues, and creating jobs.
0 # Guest 2010-04-03 10:29
I'm so tired of the White House saying that we are leveling out, in this depression, and the economy is improving. Reich is always a good dose of reality for those who believe everything this president says, is truthful. Obama can say anything he wants, and so many people are taken in by his charm and rhetoric.
+1 # Guest 2010-04-04 09:52
'Government statistics are true'- says government.
And I wouldn't sit around waiting for one government to suddenly call another one out over cooking the books... It just doesn't happen, folks. Maybe its all the head of state immunities... or that they, for the most part, consider themselves to be a better class of folks (at the international level) than us unenlightened taxpayers (saps).
+2 # Guest 2010-04-03 10:39
Well, of course one month's data does not a job recovery make. And maybe census jobs are the main reason for the spike in March. But it's one tiny glimpse of hope, like a stubborn flower in a vacant lot. That eleven million jobs hole that Mr. Reich refers to didn't happen overnight and won't get filled overnight either. Leadership is doing the hard things first, like taking on healthcare. Jobs is the next domestic priority, I'm pretty sure, and if it takes a year to reverse that, so be it.
+8 # Guest 2010-04-03 12:43
Over-population adds massive problems to every aspect of life on this planet, including the inability to have jobs as more and more people mean the need for more and more jobs.

We keep refusing to see that the human species has bred too much. At 7.5 billion and rising, we will reach the stated population goals of many religious groups, and we will all suffer even more for it.

Expect more wars, fewer resources, a carrot for dinner if you are lucky, and, in the future, your descendants won't likely be able to afford even one child, much less two, and they will be embroiled in wars and long work hours as they fight over dwindling resources.

How sad that so many, both religious and not religious, are willing to destroy a planet and the people on it, rather than choosing to have fewer kids such that we and generations who follow us can live better.

Humans are, in so many ways, a smart animal, but we are also an insanely selfish and stupid species.
0 # Guest 2010-04-05 16:44
Julie, I agree with you 1000% and I have said this for years. Unless we reverse population growth we are moving furniture on a sinking ship no matter how much oil we find or conservation we use - our growth is unsustainable! The other thing that is killing job creation is free trade and outsourcing. As long as businesses can shut down here and import the same or less effective product from Asia, or outsource service jobs, there will be no meaningful job recovery EVER!
+6 # Guest 2010-04-03 14:21
Professor Reich:

Excellent analysis. Yes, the basic structures of the market that resulted in 8 years of "jobless recoveries" is just producing more of the same. There has been no change; thus, no change in results. Americans have yet to figure out that the value of any economic system must be to the general welfare of the society that supports it. Unfortunately, America has totally bought trickle down economics. But now it is "gusher out" economics, as jobs are gushering out to countries where standards of living are low, pay is low, and sweatshop industries (even software sweatshops) thrive. Only way to counter this is to revive collective bargaining, tax the wealthy, sur-tax the outsourcers, and use the RECLAIMED revenue toward building competitive energy, transportation, R&D, and health and education infrastructures . Now THAT would be change. But Americans are too brainwashed to ever do that. Sooo... set up another round.
+1 # Guest 2010-04-04 10:30
Yes, of course, you have the fortitude of common sense. But there's one small problem with your prescription- NATIONALISM.

And we're all supposed to know that that's a big no-no. What could be less corporate media politically correct (p.c.) these days than the people of a particular geographic territory insisting that the government start acting as THEIR AGENT, not the agent of global capital from G*d knows where or who? Who tells us that such a scenario would be bad? The globaloney corporate media cartel.

Haven't you seen "Inglorious Basterds", and its (perhaps tongue in cheek) assumption that there's nothing worse in this world than a national socialist, or 'nazi'? Don't you know that, in words of Brad Pitt's character, "The nazis ain't GOT no humanity!"?

Now, if you could re-work your suggestions in a way that, say, doesn't sound so nationalistic or socialistic... then you might have something to talk about with the globalist PTB of this world.
+4 # Guest 2010-04-03 21:40
I agree that the job recovery is ephemeral at best, illusive indeed and probably nonexistant. Rather than cherry picking the stats to paint a prefered picture (to the extent thats' possible), how about the government just come out with the blunt truth. Here would be a good sample: The economy is in shambles because we have a military budget exceeding that of every nation on earth combined against marginal and unlikely actual threat. Our jobs have been shipped overseas to such a great extent that they aren't coming back by and large. The wealthy elites have been grossly undertaxed and over payed since the begining of the Reagon Administration. The labor and economic market is entirely predatory and if it does improve greatly, the overwhelming majority of that improvement will register with the very top of the economic heap. So real recovery isn't going to happen and the powers that be don't intend it to happen. Rather, we will learn to give thanks for our gruel and then shut up, or else.
+2 # Guest 2010-04-04 10:39
Eloquent analysis of our current state of economic affairs, Mr. Fletcher... all part of the 100 year globalist paradigm. But not the last sentence- I don't think so.

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”
- Abraham Lincoln
+1 # Guest 2010-04-04 12:35
Quoting Gesus Chr*st:
Eloquent analysis of our current state of economic affairs, Mr. Fletcher... all part of the 100 year globalist paradigm. But not the last sentence- I don't think so.

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”
- Abraham Lincoln

Well Gesus Chr*st, I sure hope you are right! I guess I was being a tad cynical in the last sentence.
+2 # Guest 2010-04-04 10:32
I agree with most all points Reich makes, but what is the point of the 'no jobs recovery' article? Should we continue to feel helpless and dejected? Just give up & "give thanks for our gruel"? I would like to see suggestions for a better path.
+2 # Guest 2010-04-04 10:39
Dr. Reich,
I respect your opinions and agree with most all of them, but I am wondering why the 'no job recovery' message doesn't have any suggested actions. Are we to remain helpless and fearful?

I heard the President be very measured in his statements. I did not get up false hope. This article gives me no hope at all. Should I just climb into bed and pull the covers over my head?
+2 # Guest 2010-04-04 12:45
Quoting Nicky Neau:
I heard the President be very measured in his statements. I did not get up false hope. This article gives me no hope at all. Should I just climb into bed and pull the covers over my head?

Unfortunately Ms. Neau, telling the truth does not always inspire hope as taking a clear eye to tragedy will always paint a grim picture. I take the article as a portrayal of truth and will not burden it with the task of recommending a course of action. Too much action is recommended at times without an honest view of the issues.

Suggestions for a better path are in abundance but oddly, get very little air time. I share your angst but truly believe there are answers and by now, I think the truth is becoming abundantly clear to most people. This is important. This sets the stage on which meaningful action can happen.

Hang in there. Growth and improvement though painful will come. Believe. Prepare. Brace yourself.

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