Friday, January 17, 2014

2014: Still we ask, “Where are the jobs?”

“It is economic and political malpractice when the real jobless rate is at about 13%, when the labor participation rate is at three-decade lows and when another 370,000 workers dropped out of the workforce last month.”

--Brent Budowsky, Democratic pundit, in The Hill

The truth from a Democrat! But will we see any change?

Last month, the U.S. added just 74,000 jobs --the smallest gain in three years. Unemployment did drop to 6.7%, falling below 7% for the first time in 60 months. But as Bodowsky said, 347,000 Americans stopped looking for work, so for the second time in three months, the civilian-participation rate sagged to a 35-year low of 62.8% (see graphs from "Zero Hedge’s" Tyler Durden).

Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all time high 91.8 million.
Shockingly, the labor force actually lost 535,000 workers in 2013 (Hedge’s graph), even as the economy added 2.2 million jobs. The U.S. has created at least 2 million jobs for three straight years, yet the unemployment rate by historical standards remains stubbornly high.

December’s minimal job gains were concentrated in the retail industry, where companies added 55,000 workers to handle the Christmas rush. But these jobs not only don’t offer pay or benefits, many are temporary. In fact, the December increase in temp jobs was the largest in 22 months.

December worker earnings hardly moved, with average hourly wages rising 2 cents to $24.17, making the the past 12 months’ increase just 1.8%, while the average workweek length actually fell one-tenth to 34.4 hours.

Meanwhile, Wall Street rolls along as if nothing’s wrong. The S&P 500 hit an all-time high Wednesday, closing at 1,848. Our New FOX Index of Wall Street health sailed back that day to an unbelievable +2,445 (see chart), just 57 points below the Index all-time high reached on a very slow December 31, 2013. The new Fox Index captures movement into stock market “outer space” first reached last May, the escape velocity attained by soaring past old-time market theoretical limits of a Dow of 15,000, an S&P 500 of 1,600, and a NASDAQ of 3,500, for a total of 20,100. (A Dow 16,482 + S&P 1,848 + NASDAQ 4,215 = 22,545 yielded Wednesday’s +2,445 “outer space” high.)

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