Saturday, November 7, 2015

Latest Jobs Report Crushed The Estimates Or Did It?

This job report, like all its predecessors, is utter nonsense! Economist Paul Craig Roberts deconstructed it with the deftness of a knife slicing through warm butter:

He observed: (1) 145,000 of the presumed 271,000 jobs were added by the birth-death model, which as he puts it "provides an estimate of the net amount of unreported jobs lost to business closings and the unreported jobs created by new business openings" & which presumes a normally functioning economy (whatever that is). The mistake is to overestimate the number of jobs created by new businesses & to underestimate the number of jobs lost through business closings. Eliminate this assumption, & we are left with 126,000 jobs, not 271,000.

(2) Of those, what kinds of jobs were they? According to the BLS itself none were in manufacturing or similar productive activity. They were in low-paying domestic services, retail sales, personal services, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, temp help, & similar products of the post-NAFTA era: many of them part-time. You will not retain a first world economy with such jobs, which do not generate sufficient income to support a household of four unless both parents are each working, probably at two jobs each. Many people are staying afloat only by allowing themselves to go massively into debt (witness college / university students many of whom will be debt slaves for the rest of their lives).

(3) The problem with announcing a 5% unemployment rate is that it only counts as unemployed those who are (a) not working; & (b) have sought work in the past four weeks. It does not count "discouraged workers." The BLS itself has other measures of unemployment that will count as unemployed those who have sought work in the past six months; that number is in two digits. If you base the figure on the labor participation rate (at its lowest since the 1970s recession & almost down to projected Great Depression levels), the actual unemployment rate is around 23%, Roberts notes.

A few "disclaimers" are in order. Roberts was Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan, then was a co-editor at the Wall Street Journal, & is the author or co-author of many books on economics & public policy, if these count as credentials. But in 2004 he penned (with Chuck Schumer) the landmark heresy "Second Thoughts on Free Trade" (NYT) which got him kicked out of the economics community, for which the "benefits" of "free trade" are articles of religious faith. He's continued as best he could to tell the truth about the post-NAFTA decline of the U.S. economy & the fall of what was the largest financially independent middle class in history, even though this means publishing on his own website & in alternative media, & often being dismissed as a "conspiracy theorist" (i.e., a person who does not trust government numbers any further than he can throw them).

We'll see if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates based on these ludicrous job numbers & precipitates the next step in the long term decline of the U.S. economy (economists will call it a recession, naturally). Or will it be QE4, to keep the present bubble on Wall Street afloat at least past the Nov 2016 election?