Friday, March 06, 2015

Unemployment rate drops to 5.5%: 295,000 jobs added in February

jobs-300x225On Friday, the Labor Department reported that U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.5%.

Another Obamanomics triumph with a larger portion of the population not working, yet victory is declared because more people have dropped out of the labor force and the unemployment rate drops.

The economy may have generated 295,000 new jobs, but the labor force also grew by 528,000, so only 56% of those new participants were able to find work. An economy that can only produce jobs for a little more than half of new entrants is nothing to cheer about.

A wise man once advised me to be skeptical of anyone who gives you an average or a percentage as they are either making a mistake or are about to cheat you.

The labor participation rate, still at historical levels, decreased slightly to  62.8% in February from 62.9% in January. We are in a glacial improvement in the economy which few people feel good about, but this is par for the course when the economy has been saddled with so many non-sensical burdens (Obamacare, Dodd/Frank, the global warming schtick).

Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers was were up 2% in February to $24.78. Keep in mind that Wal-Mart kicked off a wage increase cycle when the announced a 24% increase in the minimum they'll pay entry level employees.  That represents a minority of the company's employees, but other companies are already following suit.

The underemployment rate fell to 11% from 11.3% in January. February’s decline is partly related to the reason why the unemployment rate declined to 5.5% from 5.7% in January, as more people dropped out of the labor force in February.

Food service was the single largest category that added jobs in February, at 59,000. Next came professional and business services at 51,000.

Management and consulting added 7,000, computer systems added 5,000, and architectural and engineering added 5,000.

The U.S. economy has added at least 200,000 payroll jobs in each of the last 12 months, including February’s 295,000 gain. Payrolls have grown by 200,000 or more for 12 consecutive months.

Strong job growth would be between 500K and 1M jobs. 200-300K is okay, but we've never gotten that economic bounce we should have had after the restructuring from a recession. Mainly because the economy wasn't allowed to restructure as much as it should have—the result of official cronyism, and too many regulations.

Put together the mix of strong jobs growth, low wage growth, falling productivity and a jobless rate that’s nearing “full employment” and something doesn’t add up  One of these numbers is distorted, or at least less meaningful than it has been historically. The most likely candidate: the unemployment number.

The fact that wages aren’t growing even though productivity is lagging — which, in an expansionary, hiring environment should lead to higher wages as workers become hard to find  – all suggests there’s actually still plenty of slack in the labor market. In other words, those low participation rates matter. Until the disenchanted labor market dropouts come back, the low unemployment rate will continue to require an asterisk next to it.

We seem to be finally coming out of the woods, almost, and I must emphasize almost. We are now growing new jobs at a decent pace, but there is a lot of lost ground to recover, which there is no evidence we will.

Currently, there are over 92 million people not in the workforce. When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 80,529,000 Americans who were not participating in the office, which means that since then, almost 12 million Americans have left the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Thanks to bad policies there are now many millions more who are so discouraged, but newly on welfare, that are not even looking for jobs. Although our private sector is back again strongly, it is now being asked to carry much more baggage and dead weight.

Contrary to what Obama thinks, wealth and more jobs come from more production, and the best method of distribution is through lower prices.

Oil is the perfect example.

I have no doubt that the U.S. is doing better than everyone else, but whatever good news there is (and it’s masking bad data too) is in spite of the administration, not because of them. Just as fracking has been a savior for the U.S. energy supply—again, in spite of the admin, although Obama tried to take credit for it during his last election.

If government would just get out of the way, private industry would produce more and we would all have more.

As we are seeing since some months ago, the payroll reports and jobless rates are improving every month. But they don’t show the sweat and tears of a lot of workers who have more than one part-time job and in the end of the month they have to count more than twice the money they have to pay basic payments and buy food.

A social system that is only good for the employees of the government institutions, big corporations and companies is not a social system. Today America is divided in 2 Americas, the America of the happy people who always smile in front of the TV cameras and the America of the people who are trapped in a dark labyrinth without end.

That’s just one more way Obama has managed to divide America. There is a lot of joy and applause among liberals that the country is moving again, supposedly thanks to Obama while it is really due to its dynamic private enterprise, but that aside, moving again.

What they fail to see and worry about is how much more divided the country has become the last six years. Not only are incomes down for the bottom half, but socially polarization is at a modern high.

Way to go Obama.

Our economy has undergone the slowest recovery in 70 years.  The drop in unemployment since 2009 is almost entirely due to the fact that those not looking for work don’t count as unemployed.

Demographic factors explain less than 1/4 of the smaller labor force. The rest comes from increased school enrollment and more people collecting disability benefits.

Over 6% of U.S. adults are now on Social Security Disability.

The data doesn’t tell the entire picture. While the unemployment rate has dropped below 6%, the total number of employed persons is lower than it has been since the 1970s under the Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

There is a lot of similarity between the Carter presidency and Barack Obama’s. Both believe in higher taxes, a bigger more centralized government, and more regulations on businesses.

That’s why the results are similar and the economy is still questionable.

We have the highest rate of year over year job growth since the year 2000, yet no wage increases and no clamor to snap up college graduates.

The jobs number no longer has the value it once had. That’s because what it consists of has changed from mostly full-time jobs to mostly part-time jobs.

We have a number where full-time and part-time jobs are counted equally. We know this to be faulty from the start.

The U.S. has a big problem: more and more citizens expecting to be supported by less and fewer workers. There will be a limit to how much the U.S. can run up the debt to pay for that.

It would be nice if an adult who was willing and able to work with Congress was in the presidency. But, alas this is the direction that some Americans have chosen for us.

What do we make of this report?

A large number of the jobs created in November are the kinds of seasonal hiring you expect this time of year, heading into the holiday season. These are not solid, long-term, raise-a-family type jobs.

Our very vibrant and normally strong U.S. free-enterprise based economy runs in spite of not because of the economic policies of President Obama.

Government creates nothing of economic value. Government spending is offset 100% by taxes and national debt that are taken from our economy. At its very best, government provides a necessary level of intrusion (drag) on our economy to provide for national defense, law enforcement, interstate commerce, etc.

When an economy goes into recession, astute leaders reduce government intrusion, not increase it.

Tax increases, runaway federal regulation, Obamacare are just a few examples why average American middle class family income has dropped to 1989 levels in less than six years.

For President Obama to now claim credit for our economy, in spite of their actions, and to claim that average Americans are better off is totally absurd.

It took 6 years to regain the lost jobs under the Democrat controlled Congress. But then again, the economic policies of hate and envy put in place by the Obama administration were not designed to improve the economy. They were designed to punish the hardworking and successful so that liberals would not feel so inadequate.

Want proof – let’s review:

• First US sovereign debt downgrade in history.

• Federal spending highest portion of GDP since WW II.

• Lowest homeownership rate (59.7%) since 1965.

• Lowest labor participation rate (58.1%) since 1983.

• Highest long-term unemployment (45.9%) since the 1930’s.

• Slowest job growth following a recession since WW II.

• Highest government dependency (47%) in U.S. history.

• Lowest percentage of taxpayers paying income taxes (49%) in modern era.

• Largest budget deficit (10% of GDP and 40% of federal spending) since WW II.

• Highest number of Americans on Food Stamps in history.

• Lowest percentage of Cabinet appointments with private sector experience (8%).

But the Obama folks have done well at loosing Iraq, allowing ISIS to grow stronger in many countries, helping develop city-killer weapons, insult our allies, create a monster healthcare failure, attack the hard-working and successful, and using the IRS to target political enemies.

There seem to be a lot of liberal progressives having orgasms over the employment figures. I’d like for them to explain how come median incomes have been dropping steadily the last five years.

Simple fact, this “recovery” remains the most pathetic in memory. At no time in a recovery where annual GDP should be over 4% has it been over 2.5% — and often it has been under 2%.

And the monthly job gains have usually been less than needed just to keep up with population.

It will be interesting to see if the American people buy this as a true reflection of economic health.

How many people feel they were forced into early retirement? How many people hold two and maybe even three part-time jobs just to get by? How many college grads ended up living with mom and dad, working part-time in a job well below their qualifications? How do these people feel about their circumstances?

The sense I have is that the Obama administration can put out as many rosy sounding numbers as it wants and minimize or ignore the true picture.

What is really going to matter in 2015, are the real life experiences of people under this administration, how they feel about their experience, who they credit or blame for that experience.

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