Friday, August 6, 2010

Running Out Of Adjectives for the Economy

I've always had a pretty good vocabulary. I read above grade level pretty much from the beginning. In high school, we had to learn vocabulary words every week, increasing from fifteen to fifty words a week and I usually did well on the tests. I didn't score all that well on the SAT (though I did on the ACT) so I chalk the SAT score up to a bit of cultural bias (as a proud son of the South, sometimes the word usage might not have been as pristine as the educators who write the tests might have wanted.)

But I am running out of ways to describe the levels of idiocy associated with the economy and jobs situation today. From the reports themselves to the "surprise" expressed by the pundits to the "analysis" done by reporters there are so many mis-statements, specious reasonings, and outright cluelessness that I'm beyond dumbfounded.

First off was this article from Wednesday, 8/4, on ADP's monthly report of private sector jobs combined with a report from Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc on planned job cuts from both private and public sources. ADP reported 42K jobs created for July while Challenger, Gray's report showed an equal number of planned cuts for July.

Then came yesterday's (Thursday, 8/5) Initial Jobless Claims report from the Department of Labor, which left pundits "surprised" once again:

Initial jobless claims climbed by 19,000 to 479,000 in the week ended July 31, the most since April and exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits dropped, while those getting extended payments rose.

Now comes today's (Friday, 8/6) July Jobs Report from the Department of Labor showing private employers adding 71K jobs in July but public sector shedding over 200k jobs:
Over all, the nation lost 131,000 jobs in July, according to the Department of Labor’s monthly statistical snapshot of hiring, down from a revised number in June.

Private employers added 71,000 jobs last month, easily overtaken by the 143,000 cut as the Census winds down, and about half the number that economists say is needed to simply accommodate population growth. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.5 percent.

The Department drastically revised its number for June down to a loss of 221,000 jobs. The agency originally reported that 125,000 jobs were lost in June. Private sector hiring in June, originally reported at 83,000, was revised downward to 31,000.

The "good news" is that the official "Unemployment Rate" stayed at 9.5%. The bad news is more than a million folks gave up looking for work.
Friday's July employment report listed 1.19 million discouraged workers, compared with 796,000 a year earlier. The Labor Department defines discouraged workers as those who did not actively look for work in the prior four weeks because they could not find work, lacked training or faced discrimination.

Those discouraged workers are part of the reason why the percentage of people actively in the labor force has fallen so dramatically in the past three months.

The labor force participation rate dropped to 64.6 percent in July, matching the lowest level since 1985 and down 0.6 percentage point in the last three months alone.

This "analysis" though really goes off the rails a bit further in the article with this:
Ironically, the dropouts are keeping the unemployment number below the psychologically significant 10 percent mark, so it could be a blessing in disguise.

Yeah, people leave the work force precisely so that there can be a "psychological" boost to keep the number below 10%. So let me add a few links to a couple of other economic related stories I've found today.

First off, from McClatchy:
WASHINGTON — With a wounded economy and high unemployment, more than 1,000 people came to a one-day free health clinic in the nation's capital Wednesday to get the basic care they can't afford or are otherwise denied because they have no insurance.

More than three-quarters of those attending, don't have insurance because they are recently unemployed, work for small businesses, earn hourly wages, or must work multiple part-time jobs with no insurance, said the event's medical director Dr. Bobby Kapur. According to the National Association of Free Clinics, about 83 percent of the patients who go to free clinics are employed but don't have health insurance.

Note that this was in Washington, DC, where the Unemployment rate is far below the national number.

This is online today from the NY Times and scheduled for Saturday's print edition about the various lengths the states are going to save money.
Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

Did someone say something about a bath tub drowning?

And because I can:

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