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Job recovery? or "statistics don't lie, people do"

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#1
So, today, I pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal to read (this is only an excerpt under "fair use" - full article available at Wall Street Journal )
[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Jobless Rate Falls Further [/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Hiring Springs Back, But Data Mask a Troubling Rise in People Dropping Out of the Labor Force[/FONT]
By SUDEEP REDDY And SARA MURRAY


Brisk hiring in February pushed the U.S. unemployment rate below 9% for the first time in nearly two years—a development that reflects a broadening recovery but also underscores how much ground the economy has yet to regain.

The U.S. unemployment rate slipped to 8.9% in February, the lowest rate in nearly two years. WSJ's Sudeep Reddy and Phil Izzo report the private sector added 222,000 jobs. Also, January's employment figures were revised upward to 63,000 jobs added.

Employers rebounded from a harsh winter to add 192,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in February as the unemployment rate fell one notch to 8.9%, the lowest level since April 2009, the Labor Department reported Friday. Broad-based private-sector gains in manufacturing and service industries more than offset accelerating layoffs by state and local governments, while stable wages suggested subdued inflation pressures.

At the same time, though, one key gauge of the labor market's health—the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of adults who have jobs or are seeking them—remained stuck at its lowest point since the mid-1980s.

A low participation rate both saps the economy's long-term growth potential and can obscure deeper problems in the labor market. If, for example, labor force participation today were at the same level as before the recession, the jobless rate would have been 11.5% in February.

Meanwhile, employers must contend with the implications of the rising price of oil, which hit a 2.5-year high, closing at $104.42 a barrel Friday.
"It's a recovery but it's still a very muted recovery," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm. "To get to a strong recovery, you'd want to be adding 300,000 to payrolls a month. We're clearly a long, long way from that."
The two paragraphs I emphasized in red are troubling to me - it indicates many adults have been so discouraged by poor results in job hunting that they have stopped looking for full time employment. Many of them, of course, are older workers who would have normally stayed in the work force, but have accepted early Social Security (age 62.) Some are spouses who have elected to let the other spouse be the sole bread winner in the family. Some are folks who have "gone off the official books" by becoming temporary workers or independent contractors.

In any event, the net result of all those "discouraged adults" is that net family incomes have been reduced; many families have fallen below the poverty line. Anecdotal evidence to support this thesis is readily available by looking at local food banks and welfare agencies (public and private) who are overwhelmed with clients (last month, my local food bank distributed more food than in the entire year of 2005.)

From time to time, I serve as a volunteer chef at my local PADS (public action to distribute shelter) and our average client base per night has doubled in the last two years. In addition, we are seeing a subtle change in the client base in that they are no longer the "hard core homeless and unemployed," but are former middle-class, home owners who have lost homes and cars and are dependent on charity to survive.
the question:

Despite a so-called "economic recovery," are you still seeing a lot of folks out of work and very little new hires of full-time workers at your own company or at suppliers and customers? Any tales to the contrary - that is, good news?
 
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Marc

Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
Admin
#2
There is no, and will be no, "recovery" for many years, if ever, especially in the US. The downward spiral will continue, jobs in the US will continue to disappear (especially jobs which pay a "living wage" that a family can survive on). Add in the US is devastating it's educational system (and making it too expensive for most to attend college), and that the rate at which jobs are added dwarfs the number of jobs necessary to keep up with "new" people coming into the work force. The stock market has "recovered", but only because the Fed is "printing money" (QE1 and QE2). This is not to mention that the stock market is now essentially electronic trading by use of quant formulas. In short, the stock market doesn't reflect the state of the US economy any more and is essentially a useless indicator. When QE2 ("quantitative easing") stops there may be a QE3 but sooner or later it has to stop because the currency can only be debased so far. At some point it becomes essentially useless. The only saving grace at this point is that, as of now, many other countries are also devaluing their currency for many of the same reasons as the US. There is a reason China pegs the Yuan to the US dollar.

Inflation - Real Inflation - Look to food and energy costs. The government's published CPI index is useless. It is meant to make things look good. Look to the current situation in Egypt. What's happening in the middle east and northern Africa is all about no jobs and significant inflation in food and energy costs. It's not about religion (not that religion will not come into play in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to name a couple of countries). If gasoline and other petroleum products (e.g.: home heating oil) continue to increase in cost, and they will, just as will food prices, you will eventually see the US in the same scenario. Not tomorrow and not next year, but it will come. All the while the congress critters will continue to focus on abortion and other religious issues (where are the tea party people as the government pushes programs like this?), not to mention "security", reducing taxes on the rich and corporations, and increasing taxes on the middle class and the poor.

For some fun reading, see: Wikipedia reference-linkInflation_in_the_Weimar_Republic There are a lot of recent examples of the same if one has been paying attention and reads a bit (look at some South American countries over the last 20+ years, for example).

The current situation is unlike anything ever seen but it doesn't take much math to know where things are going. It also doesn't take a genius to see that the US has become a nation addicted to war and is willing to destroy it's educational system, what basic social net programs which still exist will be totally gutted, the "middle class" will continue to shrink into oblivion, and anything that gets in the way of the widening gap between the rich and the poor will be destroyed (taxes for the rich and corporations will continue to drop and taxes on the middle class and the poor will continue to rise) in order to continue the downward spiral. US$ Trillions for the war machine, US$ trillions for "security" theater, but alas the schools and public services (remember libraries?) are starved. Add to that, the politicians are now dependent upon corporations for their election money (advertising does work - people will vote against their best interest) as opposed to being beholden to their constituents, and politics now is (sorry tea party people) focused upon imposing government restrictions not on businesses, but rather on intruding in people's lives in an effort to force into law religious beliefs of certain groups. Despite the fact that there are serious issues which politicians are supposed to be elected to "solve", the theater continues, to wit: OH Anti-Choice Activists Will Present ‘Youngest’ Witness ‘Ever’ To Testify For Abortion Bill: A Fetus.

But the people who read the WSJ will do OK just as will those that are of a mind to read Forbes (at least since Malcolm died some years back and the kid took over) - They are the people with money. They are that upper 10% we hear so much about. They are the ones who believe they need tax breaks. I could put in a few words here about greed and no concern for the fate of the US, but that's all evident.

There are jobs for those in certain age groups which really want one. The military is always accepting new recruits. Few people in the US military make much money, but they do have plenty of job openings.

The Answer: Belief in an "Economic Recovery" in the US within the next 10 to 20 years = I believe in the tooth fairy :notme:

Wikipedia reference-linkBoiling_frog Syndrome - Many will not wake up until it is too late.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#3
Interesting! I had expected to focus this thread on the whole "domestic jobs" thing, but the macro economy is certainly germane to explain how the statistics of so-called economic recovery are skewed because "people" change the elements we have depended upon in the past. Truly, the stock market is more representative of large institutions and arbitragers making gigantic buys and sells through programmed electronic trading than it is representative of individual stockholders buying and selling because they have an underlying belief in the value or nonvalue of the companies whose stock they trade. Given that, it is easy to see that the statistics of recovery are not truly representative of the true economy.

Given that, though, can we address the down-to-earth question of what is really happening to those hundreds of thousands of people who are no longer considered "looking for full time employment? "

  1. Do some of us fall into that category?
  2. If yes, are we making anything similar in income to what we lost?
  3. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel, or are we truly in a never-ending downward spiral?
  4. Is there something we individuals can do en masse to turn the situation around?
  5. If yes, how do we organize into a voting bloc that can elect representatives to actually enact the changes that will be beneficial to the grass roots people instead of the "elite 10%?"
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#5
My organization is hiring, but we shed more than we are gaining, or intend to gain. Rather, it's about how we reshape ourselves to do what we do so we can compete with an overseas plant with at least twice the workforce.

For the privilege of keeping my job, I took on the Document Admin's job, reworked the process so it could be run part time, and this year am taking on a 5th management system to audit under pressure from my manager. :eek: He feels under pressure to produce cost savings (consultants for this audit would have cost $15K) to "prove" our value to the organization.

The recovery looks like that. Companies are going to expect people to continue working at the same crisis management rate as we did during the crisis. The heroic is to become commonplace. And the new management comes in and expects us, even in support positions, to cite what revenue we have saved the company. (How about the sales from every customer who requires a TS cert? or 14001? or 18001? or 17025?) :mad:

What they will find is record turnover as the people they claim to value (but don't feel valued, we feel whipped) finally decide they've had enough and can risk a job change. The HR costs (which too often don't get counted until after they've reached the point of pain and management reacts) will explode, and all that tribal knowledge will flood to competitors. (was that a threat?)

Meanwhile, there are, as of last May, over 3 million available jobs. Many of these jobs go unfilled, it's claimed, because people aren't willing to take a lower salary but we are also looking at employers who refuse to hire the unemployed. This recovery is traveling a road littered with the bodies of people wearing a big scarlet letter "U."

Yes, we're in a recovery but no, it's not looking all that good.

Sorry about the rant.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#6
My organization is hiring, but we shed more than we are gaining, or intend to gain. Rather, it's about how we reshape ourselves to do what we do so we can compete with an overseas plant with at least twice the workforce.

For the privilege of keeping my job, I took on the Document Admin's job, reworked the process so it could be run part time, and this year am taking on a 5th management system to audit under pressure from my manager. :eek: He feels under pressure to produce cost savings (consultants for this audit would have cost $15K) to "prove" our value to the organization.

The recovery looks like that. Companies are going to expect people to continue working at the same crisis management rate as we did during the crisis. The heroic is to become commonplace. And the new management comes in and expects us, even in support positions, to cite what revenue we have saved the company. (How about the sales from every customer who requires a TS cert? or 14001? or 18001? or 17025?) :mad:

What they will find is record turnover as the people they claim to value (but don't feel valued, we feel whipped) finally decide they've had enough and can risk a job change. The HR costs (which too often don't get counted until after they've reached the point of pain and management reacts) will explode, and all that tribal knowled that employersge will flood to competitors. (was that a threat?)

Meanwhile, there are, as of last May, over 3 million available jobs. Many of these jobs go unfilled, it's claimed, because people aren't willing to take a lower salary but we are also looking at employers who refuse to hire the unemployed. This recovery is traveling a road littered with the bodies of people wearing a big scarlet letter "U."

Yes, we're in a recovery but no, it's not looking all that good.

Sorry about the rant.
Addressing the point "employers who refuse to hire the unemployed."
It is definitely true (an ugly truth;)) that employers and their recruiters discriminate against the unemployed. We addressed this back last June. There are ways to get around that - primarily being that you can't answer an ad and get lumped in with a bunch of other candidates, most of whom may be employed. You have to approach the company directly, essentially creating an opening, not trying to fill one where the powers that be have already made up their minds on the attributes they want. Our job forum has those tips to help make that type of approach.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#7
Addressing the point "employers who refuse to hire the unemployed."
It is definitely true (an ugly truth;)) that employers and their recruiters discriminate against the unemployed. We addressed this back last June. There are ways to get around that - primarily being that you can't answer an ad and get lumped in with a bunch of other candidates, most of whom may be employed. You have to approach the company directly, essentially creating an opening, not trying to fill one where the powers that be have already made up their minds on the attributes they want. Our job forum has those tips to help make that type of approach.
This is especially true nowadays, where (I have seen and discussed in classes while earning my Masters certificate in HR) organizations set out unrealistic expectations. Yesterday I listened to a radio article about how hard it is to find computer programmers these days. One young lady wryly observed that jobs were advertised with qualifications including 10 years of programming experience in a programming language that hasn't been around for 10 years. I have held back from responding to internal ads for jobs because the ad reads like they are seeking a mythical being. I believe I can give them what they need, but I'm not who they think they need. The guys who have decided they need this new Zeus don't know me and I believe they aren't likely to show much flexibility. So, I bide my time. I believe chances are good they'll get a narrow selection of candidates, thus reducing their power of choice, or they'll get people who've padded their resumes. Possibly both.

Soon my class will be over, and I can check off the next box (SSBB certification). Come the end of the year I'll direct my energy to the ASQ chapter. I'll offer to present topics and start networking again to the extent I'd need for people to ask me versus my asking them.

:topic: Meanwhile, our 14001 registration auditor (who was shifting to a regional management position at the time) has asked me to join them as a TS 16949 auditor. I'd need a period of training and feel I am not quite ready to make a leap (I need to talk with her some more first) but I surely feel ready to do it as a second job and it holds possibilities in the future because it could open doors to consulting for TS and corporate social responsibility.

So my question is about conflict of interest. Does anyone here have experience with this kind of situation? We don't use this group for certifying to TS and I can assume I need to stay away from auditing all competitors.
 
Last edited:

Marc

Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
Admin
#8
I suggest you jump at the TS auditor opportunity. If a registrar is asking you, they have to "recommend" you which is hard to get a registrar to do.

Ask Howard - He knows the process.

Downside: Travel
 
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