Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ye old jobs report

"Sure there are jobs out there. But what kind of jobs? The kind you can raise a family on? Buy a house with?"

Well, the December jobs report is out, and it is a doozy. According to the report (if the government does not revise it downward next month, as they often do), the economy picked up almost 300,000 jobs last month. Is this a champagne bottle popper? Not so fast. 

First off, like many of the economists have mentioned in the past, not all jobs are created equal. Some are seasonal, some are temporary, some are part time, and some are barely above minimum wage. And a few of the jobs created were for jobs you could actually live on. 

So how is the economy doing? The workforce participation rate remains historically low. In December it was 62.2%. In addition, I don't have the numbers yet for 2015, but in 2014 the average annual income for a family was $53,657. And that was down from $54,462 the year before. And both years were lower than it was in 2007.

Get the picture? Yes, there are jobs out there. It is hard to go by a merchant or a fast food place without seeing a "help wanted" sign. But are these the type of jobs you can raise a family on? Buy a decent house with? A decent car? Not hardly.

When I read the business section of the paper, it is rare to see a company moving into town which offers quality jobs to those who are qualified. What I do see more often than not, are companies "culling the herd". In other words - layoffs. And the job market continues to change. Many of the lower tier jobs are being replaced by technology. I just saw that the other day when I was having lunch at Panera's. Kiosks are being set up to take orders. 

What can the government do to create jobs? Nothing. That is unless you are working directly for the federal government. What they can do for us is "plow the field". Remove as many obstacles as possible. Make the business environment in this country conducive to growth. Low taxes, few regulations would be a good start. Sooner or later a company will want to manufacture the latest and greatest gizmo, and will be looking for the best place to do it. We need to show China and India that we are not out of the game. Not as yet. 

One final word on "ye old jobs report". That report, as well as the U3 unemployment rate, are not worth the paper they are written on. Totally worthless and meaningless. We need a rising tide in this country which will lift all boats. For that we will first need a re-tooled government. And we have the chance to do that this November. Remember that. 

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