# News What exactly is the employment situation in the US?

1. Aug 30, 2005

### Staff: Mentor

The discussion has always been mixed with others, so lets make this thread just about the employment situation in the US. A large part of the recent debates have focused on the viability of unemployment statistics and whether or not they accurately reflect the employment situation in the US. I will concede, right from the start, that unemployment stats alone do not tell the whole story. But be that as it may, I think the other pertinent data supports the position that the employment situation is both "good" (relative to the past) and improving.

To start, some stats:

-The official unemployment rate for the US in July was 5.0% (SOURCE)
-Jobless claims are down since last year (same source)
-Job creation is up since last year (same source)
-Adjusted for inflation, the incomes for the lower three fifths of the population have decreased slightly and the upper two fifths have increased slightly (none by more than .1% between 2002 and 2003 (2004 numbers are not out). (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h03ar.html [Broken])
-All fifths (and the top 1%) are below where they were in 1999, inflation adjusted.

Now, something claimed by others (and I'll let them substantiate it) is that the number of people in the workforce, but not employed is rising. The data, imo, is contrived: ie, not real. Others have admitted the difficulty in finding that stat, but I have speculated some reasons why the workforce would not rise as fast as the population. So, some new data for that speculation:

-The workforce participation rate of people aged 65 and older has been declining relatively steadily for the past 120 years. (SOURCE)

This is a key stat that I'd conjectured about before, but have since found: Because, as time passes, less people work as the get older, the labor force will not grow as fast as the population.

Also, something that has not yet had much of an effect, and we haven't discussed much, the baby boom generation is approaching retirement. Whatever the situation today, the coming decade will see labor foce growth drop, possibly creating a labor shortage.

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2. Aug 30, 2005

### Staff: Mentor

Just a little more... We discussed the labor force growth discrepancy before, and http://immigration.about.com/cs/economicslabor/a/laborforcegrowt_2.htm [Broken] is some information that says the discrepancy may be explained by fact that the number of people working under contract, off the books, or self-employed is growing.

Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
3. Sep 1, 2005

### ray b

and the numbers of people in poverty
and workers WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE are both UP
as per studys printed in my local newspaper in the last few days

sure job numbers are up as many people are working two or more jobs
just to keep there debts down
many can only find part-time work
or jobs paying LESS then a few years ago
the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer
and the former middle class is shrinking
your boy BuSh2 has been a disaster for the working classes

4. Sep 1, 2005

### hypatia

Michigan's jobless rate, which at 7 percent tops the nation, and is expected to go higher next year. We also have a large group of working poor, the working uninsured, with many living from paycheck to paycheck.
I can't begin to compare us to the national average, I don't foresee a rise in any jobs market here.

5. Sep 1, 2005

### Pengwuino

Those were some nice talking points off a democrat blog/democrat handbook ray_b. How bout some real information to back up your (false) facts? Didn't we already discuss how % are the only thing that matters. Hell I might as well say over 200 million people have health insurance, big woop, look at the percentages. Average wages are up. No data to say people are taking on two jobs has ever been brought up. Rest of course, no data, just rhetoric.

Its funny how this forum can have such long winded discussions to disprove all this crap yet people will still come in and run off the talking points like clockwork.

6. Sep 1, 2005

### Manchot

Pengwuino, for one who complains about not backing up opinions with data, you certainly like to do it a lot. Actually, employer health insurance rates have been dropping like a rock for years. You don't notice because Medicaid and Medicare have been picking up the slack, and causing the percentage of uninsured to only increase http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/005647.html [Broken] I especially like the productivity/adjusted income graph. A 15% increase in productivity has corresponded with a 4% drop in income. Does that make sense to you? Why don't you take a look at the other graph? I guess it shows kick-down, er, I mean trickle-down, economics in action.

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7. Sep 1, 2005

### Pengwuino

There have been like 20 threads on this. Go take al ook.

8. Sep 2, 2005

### Manchot

First sentence: off topic. Disregarded.
Second sentence: They don't contradict, as you can clearly see in the following two quotes:

Also, I noticed that you neglected to quote the whole insurance block of the census press release. Perhaps you were trying to hide the fact that though the number of uninsured hasn't changed, employer-based coverage has dropped as Medicaid/care has risen, as I reported?

9. Sep 2, 2005

### Pengwuino

Neglected to quote the whoel insurance block? Why not just ask why I didnt quote the entire income by region block or earnings by industry? I'm not here to quote things Im not questioning.

I can see the various declines/increases. What are the figures for 02 and 01?

10. Sep 2, 2005

### SOS2008

Since you are not employed, and supposedly a student (who is learning what I cannot see), may I ask what the heck do you know, and where in the heck is the evidence for your claims, the evidence that is always lacking!!!!

11. Sep 2, 2005

### Art

Actually you said % is the only thing that matters. Most would disagree. If you took a flight from California to London and landed .001% short of your targeted destination it may not sound a lot but it sure would spoil your holiday. :rofl: As you can see sometimes absolutes are far more relevant than percentages.

12. Sep 2, 2005

### Skyhunter

"There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics."

Obviously you are picking data that supports your conclusions and ignoring facts that dispute it. Not very scientific.

Hmm that sounds familiar...who else recently did this?

Oh, now I remember "Don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud!." :surprised

13. Sep 2, 2005

### Manchot

Oh, so you're not questioning the fact that though actual insurance rates are stable, employer insurance rates are dropping? Good. So, do you think that it is good that more people have to rely on Medicare/caid, or bad? Please explain.

Between 2000 and 2001, real median income decreased 2.2% (page 7). Between 2001 and 2002, it dropped by http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/001371.html [Broken]. Both of these figures are reflected in the aforementioned graph. So, are you going to make a point? While you're at it, can you address the fact that though productivity has increased by a significant margin, median income has decreased? One would think that they'd be related pretty linearly, unless one group of people managed to keep the fruits of the productivity increase.

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14. Sep 2, 2005

### edward

(emphasis mine)

What I am having a problem with is stated above. A majority of recently created jobs are going to aliens who are working in the underground economy.
Those who are employed at: under contract, off the books, self employed jobs, are living for the most part at or below the poverty level.

Of course there are jobs being created, but it is a revovling door of jobs. Just down the street from my house I noticed a sign on a telephone pole. It was posted there by a man offering to do yard work.
When I checked into it, that man offering to do yard work was a man who had lost his job 6 months ago when IBM downsized a local facility.

Sure, he technically has a job. But his situation is all to common, not the exception. I do not see where jobs of that nature can ever be construed as a "healthy" economy.

To use an old axiom: This country is only as strong as it's weakest link, and it appears that the weakest link is our work force. Underground and off the books jobs have replaced a strong, skilled, productive work force.

This, to me is a great threat to national security which seems to go unseen.

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15. Sep 2, 2005

### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
Woa, there, edward. What you quote only said immigrants, it didn't say anything about illegal immigrants. Unless you're referring to something from another part of the site that you didn't quote, aren't you being a little xenophobic?

16. Sep 2, 2005

### Manchot

Regardless of edward's alleged xenophobia (which is irrelevant and off-topic), the point he makes still stands: a lot of the jobs created have been "revolving door" jobs, with high turnover rates. Between 2003 and 2004, the average turnover rate increased by 1%. (Figures run from September to August, so Sept. 2004 - August 2005 figures are not yet available.) Keep in mind that this is all voluntary turnover, giving a very clear indication that the job market is less desirable than it used to be.

Last edited: Sep 2, 2005
17. Sep 2, 2005

### Manchot

Actually, I was wrong about that last statistic. It shows that the percentage of the job market which changed jobs increased by 1%. In fact, if you do the math, you'll find that the average voluntary turnover rate increased by 5.2%. I'd say that that's extremely significant, wouldn't the rest of you?

18. Sep 2, 2005

### edward

Actually at this point I am more than a little xenophobic :tongue2:

But they are a fairly large part of the economy and their employment status must be included in the overall picture.

19. Sep 3, 2005

### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
Okay, but do you see what I was asking? The part of the article you quoted said that new immigrants accounted for a large portion of the newly created jobs. You then went on to say that you have a problem with this, but then said that aliens were receiving underground jobs. That wasn't what the article said, at least not the part you quoted. The part you quoted was talking about legal immigrants, and I would guess that they must have payroll jobs, given that they are being included in the statistics. I just want to know if you unintentionally misread the article or if you're referring to something else in it that you didn't quote.

20. Sep 3, 2005

### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
It's hard to see how that's an entirely negative thing. Having at least some sector of the job market consist of jobs with very high turnover rates provides a cushion for people that become temporarily unemployed, as it ensures that there will always be jobs available as people quit. I'd rather wait tables at the local restaurant while I look for a new job than rely on unemployment benefits.

21. Sep 3, 2005

### Manchot

You've hit on what I was getting at. The point is that people who are overqualified for these jobs are working in them temporarily rather than being unemployed. Therefore, the unemployment rate is becoming less and less of a good indicator of the economy. The fact that it is at 5% pretty much means nothing if fewer people are working at jobs that they are qualified for. If you assume that the increase in turnover roughly corresponds with the number of people who were underemployed, then that would mean that the "effective" unemployment is at least 6%. Of course, that only considers one year. If you go back a few more, I'm sure you'll find that the effective unemployment is higher.

On a side note, if you have a M.S. in engineering, and you're forced to work at McDonald's, would you consider that to be better or worse than receiving unemployment benefits? If you don't get a temp job, you can at least focus on getting a (real) job. I agree with you that it's not entirely negative, but it's still pretty bad.

22. Sep 13, 2005

### SOS2008

Currently I'm watching a program on PBS (Wide Angle) about out-sourcing of American jobs, with focus on India. In review of a call center company, even though employees may be asked to work 80 hour weeks, people are leaving their current jobs as doctors, food scientists, etc. to make more money serving American clients in this way. So it is not necessarily creating jobs for the unemployed there--but rather attracting people away from other professions--and we are talking about doctors, etc. It has created such a boom that people walk around with three job offers in their hands.

Meanwhile, what is going on in the American job market? In summary, it is pointed out the we should out-source certain production and services. But some jobs should be kept here. The problem is differentiation is not being made by the multinationals--they aren't concerned with this. Should we leave things to the natural movements of the market (capitalism)?

Edit: Here is a link to the transcripts: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/india2/transcript.html

Last edited: Sep 13, 2005
23. Sep 14, 2005

### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
Honestly, the only indicator I've ever really put much stock in is GDP per capita. Although you cannot use it to make forecasts as you can with other indicators, it's the only number that's really going to give you any kind of holistic feel for how the economy as a whole is doing. Granted, it leaves open the possibility that a small number of people are doing wonderfully while the rest struggle, but you did only say an indicator of the economy itself, which doesn't necessarily require universal prosperity to do well. That's a bit of a separate matter, part of which is addressed below. Just to note the significance of the stat, though, being employed in any capacity is always better than not being employed, unless you're independently wealthy and don't need to work.

I hadn't seen this before. Sorry about that, but I'll respond. I think we're getting into a bit of ambiguity here. When I say that I don't see "this" as a bad thing, the pronoun "this" is standing in for high-turnover jobs. As I said, having these jobs out there is a good thing because it ensures that there will always be a cushion of some sort. I'm not really referring to McDonald's, either, which, let's face it, is about the lowest of the low you can get in terms of employment. There are, however, plenty of people waiting tables at busier and more expensive places that are pulling in over 50K a year. Heck, my girlfriend's brother pulls in several hundred each weekend working only ten hours as a busser; he isn't even a server. And bartenders make even more than the servers do. Obviously, these are "best-case scenario" interim-type jobs, but there are also temp agencies that can place you in offices, usually starting at around $12/hour or so, which isn't bad and will usually get you more than unemployment would have. That won't necessarily be the case if you were an engineer making big bucks, but how many people are engineers making big bucks? Frankly, if you're that prosperous to begin with, you should have enough saved up to buffer again a bout of temporary unemployment, without having to resort to either waiting tables or collecting unemployment. I'm more concerned about people who lose their jobs and don't have any kind of significant savings to fall back on while they search for another job. It's a good thing for these people that there are these high-turnover, "buffer" jobs available to ease the interim period for them. Granted, these opportunities exist more in heavily populated areas, but at least they are there. It's better than if they were not. 24. Sep 14, 2005 ### Astronuc Staff Emeritus Unemployment is likely to go up as http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050915/ap_on_bi_ge/airlines_bankruptcy_14 [Broken] today! They maybe laying off more people, cutting flights, selling aircraft (which Delta has done - unloading their 767's). Pilots have already given about$1 billion in salary/benefit reductions.

Also, in question are the pensions of the airline employees - not the managers though - just the rank and file employees. The government may be forced to cover it. More debt/deficits.

Now watch how management comes out of this. Management usually thinks of itself before creditors, investors and employees. :grumpy:

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25. Sep 15, 2005

### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
That's something I'd be more concerned about. Laid-off pilots and mechanics and such can find work elsewhere, but taking away a man's retirement just isn't right. It pisses me off that you can make a promise to a worker like that; that a man can work for forty years on the understanding that he will be taken care of at the end of it all, only to have that snatched from under his feet.