‘Tis the Season to Be Weary…of Jobless Numbers

If Black Friday was last week, “gray Friday” is today. The news is that unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent in November, from 9 percent the mo

nth before. Sounds promising. What happened? Could it reflect the gainful seasonal employment of department store Santas? Not exactly.

While 120,000 jobs were added last month, 315,000 people gave up looking for work.

Now the labor force participation rate (LFPR) is 64 percent, so far the second lowest monthly rate in 2011 and more than 3 percentage points lower than it was 10 years ago. The declining LFPR does not bode well for a government reluctant to reform entitlement programs. Social Security and Medicare depend heavily on payroll taxes to continue their obligations to seniors. With fewer people working, fewer tax revenues are coming in to pay Social Security and Medicare benefits.

This is why the new job numbers are not clear cut. However, the gray area is glossed over. Lawmakers and the administration will undoubtedly claim credit for reducing the unemployment rate by nearly one-half percentage point. And mind you, it won’t be long before the credit-taking starts, attributing the drop to a two-year old stimulus package, shovel-ready jobs, green jobs programs, the payroll tax cut, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Fed, etc. You name it, someone will claim it.

Meanwhile, 315,000 people would like to work but have given up looking. If 315,000 people could find jobs earning an annual wage of $26,000 (the median wage for all individuals in 2009), the total income earned over a year would be almost $8.2 billion. Social Security and Medicare tax revenues from those gainfully employed people would total $1.2 billion, assuming the current payroll tax holiday for employees expires at the end of the year.

Now what is it again we are cheering about?

Comments (17)

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  1. Joe Barnett says:

    Bad news, not to mention that many people in part-time and temporary jobs would like fulltime employment, as you have pointed out.

  2. Arnie Ree says:

    I seem to know so many of those unemployed and gave-up-looking folks. This is the worst hiring downturn I’ve seen in my life…

  3. Richard Rider says:

    If you want to increase unemployment, extend the unemployment “insurance” payout weeks. Works like a charm.

  4. Jersey Boll says:

    As it was reported on national radio on Dec 10, 2011, “Soon we will start hearing a string on better economic news, (courtesy of the Obama administration)” And sure enough Jan 6 we hear unemployment is down to 8.5%. Did the O people create all those jobs, or, as some say, because 2 million jobs were lost and those people aren’t counted as looking for work, the percentage of people looking is less as a percentage of jobs available. Someone’s theory that could be…
    Regarding taxes: And the subject of VAT with Repub implication – without rescinding any other tax. Now, here’s a tax ANY and ALL Dems. love! Pelosi said in ’09 “that a VAT is on the table.” So, with eventual gov’t-run health care – GUARANTEED – and a Euro-style VAT to suck more money out of the economy(?) we’ll be a bona fide Euro-style nation. Then another of Obama’s goals – to make Americans live as America MADE Europeans live! THE CLOWARD_PIVEN STRATEGY. Beyond his wildest dreams WE PERMITTED it in just 4 years! Let’s see…Why does O “deserve” another term? If there are Republican fongerprints on any VAT ppppproposal, WHY SHOULD ANY OF THEM BE ELECTED?

  5. Sultan says:

    From Warren Buffet, There is class warfare. It is being waged by the rich, my class, and we are wnniing. That’s most of the problem. The 2% have given themselves over 50% of the national income and pay at the 18% tax rate, thanks to the Bush tax cuts. Last year the top 200 CEOs got a 25% pay raise and averaged $23 million in pay. They had to lay off a lot of workers to get that loot. Those layed off workers are now broke and can’t buy anything so long is this continues there will be no end to the Recession.These CEOs are just employees, not owners of the companies they are looting. They spend most of their time scheming to get more pay and almost no time developing their businesses. They sit on Boards of Directors that (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) exist primarily to approve each other’s pay raises. They have no recession and no worries so long as Progressives do not organize and wipe them out.A Progressive alternative to the Tea Party is our best chance to save this country before it collapses under the wait of its 2% criminal class. Job creators ? Yeah, jobs in China. Here they are the Job Destroyers. I will vomit the next time a Republican substitutes the term job creators for billionaires. It is 1984-speak.What I would like to happen Let’s go after the 2% and all their Congressional stooges. Defeat the stooges in the elections and tax the hell out of the Job Destroyers. Go for a top tax bracket of 75% (the Eisenhower rate) with an alternative minimum tax of 50%. End all deductions except for the mortgage interest deduction on just one house and cap that. End all corporate loopholes and subsidies especially for the energy companies coal, oil, gas, nuke, wind and solar. No exceptions. Not even for wind and solar. They can survive on their merits.Most important, get tougher and meaner than the Tea Party. Take no prisoners. Take big donations only if there are no strings attached. Tell the lobbiests to beat it.

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