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Yesterday in this post, I predicted today's Jobs Report from the BLS would show a far smaller increase in jobs for May than was being predicted by the 'economists' interviewed by the various media organizations. The 'experts' were predicting 170k private sector jobs with 150k increase overall. My prediction was for 42.5K jobs overall. Guess who was closer to being correct? (via Reuters):
The U.S. economy may be in for a prolonged period of soft growth as employers hired the fewest number of workers in eight months in May and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent.This is not the first time I have been more accurate than the "experts". How is it possible for someone like me to be more accurate in predicting the numbers than the so-called expert economists? Well, I'll take a WAG and say it might be because I'm not trying to force reality into a pre-conceived computer model designed to reinforce an ideological position based as much on wishful thinking as anything else. Plus, I am actually living the life of the long term un and underemployed.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 54,000 last month, the Labor Department said, fewer than the most pessimistic forecast in the Reuters survey and just over a third of what economists had expected.
The private sector, which has shouldered the burden of job creation added just 83,000 jobs, the least since last June, while government payrolls dropped 29,000.
Adding to the gloomy labor market picture, about 39,000 fewer jobs were created in March and April than previously estimated.
Payrolls had been expected to rise 150,000, with private employment gaining 175,000.
It isn't going to get better. The Beltway conventional wisdom has deemed the deficit as the ultimate problem these days, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary (exemplified by this "opinion" piece in today's Washington Post from the Catfood Commission chairs, extolling the "Gang of Six."
Today's LA Times has this that points out the reality for those of us who are among the long term un and underemployed though:
Jobs are slowly coming back, but that's small comfort to more than 13 million Americans who remain unemployed. For every current job opening, four people are still looking for a job. Many others have given up even trying to find work.My bold. We are silent in that we do not have the resources to hire battalions of lobbyists to offer
The American economy is trapped in a vicious cycle. Those who are unemployed can't afford to buy much more than bare necessities, while people who are working are getting skimpier paychecks. This means consumers don't have much purchasing power, which has made companies reluctant to hire more employees or raise the wages of those they have. (Big companies are enjoying high profits these days, but the profits are coming largely from their foreign sales.)
You'd think the American public would be demanding government action: a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, a second stimulus to make up for the shortfall in purchasing power, stronger safety nets. But we're not hearing much clamor for any of this. One reason is that those who remain unemployed have little or no political clout.
McClatchy yesterday posted this in what is basically a "get used to it" view:
That's but the latest disquieting note in a quickly developing trend; all kinds of other economic indicators are also pointing to a slowdown. This week alone data on manufacturing, car sales, home prices and unemployment claims all pointed to a weakening economy. But how weak, and for how long? Forecasters aren't sure.Since I am not an economist, I have no qualms in predicting a "return to recession." In fact, for 25M to 30M of us who are long term un and underemployed and the further millions who are upside down in mortgages and victims of financial fraud, we have never left recession. It is only places like Wall St, financial institutions, and corporate boardrooms that have not had the continuing impact from the economy. Because of the bailout, these groups have not had to deal with the pain they caused the rest of us.
On top of that, Washington is unlikely to do anything more to spur the economy. There's little appetite in Congress for more government spending; in fact, all the momentum there is toward cutting spending in the name of debt reduction.
Few economists predict a return to recession, yet many are increasingly concerned that the slowdown may be growing worse.
Via CNN this morning, we see that the Governor of Georgia's solution to unemployment is to turn the unemployed into farm workers:
Deal is looking for ways to fill a farm worker gap after some areas lost more than 50% of their laborers, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association said. Many workers left Georgia after the governor signed an Arizona-inspired immigration law allowing local police to identify and detain illegal immigrants, the group said.Yeah, that's the ticket, turn the desperate worker into cheap labor for farmers who lost their access to cheap labor when the state passes anti-immigrant laws. Having done farm labor when I was in high school a few summers, I'm pretty sure that at my age of a few days short of 59, I would not last more than a couple of days in the fields but that might be the point. Just go ahead and work people until they drop so they won't be a drain on society by aging.
One piece of news, while not necessarily good news, is at least news of a schadenfreude nature came from today's LA Times. It seems the State Controller for California has determined that if there is not a balanced budget passed by June 15, he has to dock the legislators' pay:
Chiang, the state's chief accountant, said a ballot measure passed in November requires him to dock legislators' pay unless they approve a balanced spending plan by the June 15 deadline specified in the California Constitution.Now if we could only force the DeeCee folks to lose pay when they concentrate on things like the deficit to the exclusion of employment (or the size of Weiner's weiner). Oh yeah, for those who think the balanced budget for California and my view of the Catfoodies and the Gang of Six are in conflict? The US government can do things that the state of California cannot by virtue of being the maker of money.
His interpretation of the measure differs from that of lawyers in the state Senate, who recently said that a budget bill lawmakers passed in March — which left the state with a nearly $11-billion shortfall — met the conditions to keep salaries flowing. But Chiang issues the checks.
Legislative leaders expressed support for the controller's decision, despite earlier hedging and statements from their staff that lawmakers were entitled to collect their pay regardless of whether any further action was taken on the budget.
And because I can: