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Columns

November 21, 2013

October jobless report; Disney-style fantasy?

A Wall Street friend told me he thinks the October Bureau of Labor Statistics report’s deceptions are so great Disneyland must have written it.

According to the BLS employers’ survey, the one you read in your daily newspaper, in October the economy produced 204,000 jobs. Some analysts audaciously labeled the report “better than expected.”

But the household survey found that in October total employment fell by 735,000, which caused a spike in the official unemployment rate from 7.2 to 7.3 percent. The 735,000 jobs lost caused the labor force participation rate to fall by 0.4 percent to 62.8, the lowest since 1978; the employment-population ratio declined by 0.3 percent to 58.3 percent. Last month, a whopping 932,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force.

This explosive increase in discouraged workers is the third-highest in American history. If the current trend of United States’ workers who drop out continues at the existing rate, by 2017 more Americans will be on the labor market’s sidelines than participating in it. Shadow Stats, which studies flawed government economic statistics, pegs U-6 unemployment including Americans no longer looking for a job at 23.6 percent.

A closer look at the 204,000 new jobs tells a frightening tale. Well-paying, middle class jobs in manufacturing, construction, and finance have mostly vanished. Health care and education sectors have increased modestly while leisure, hospitality and retail have expanded. Unfortunately, the area that reflects the strongest job growth —leisure, hospitality and retail — is often part-time and pays the least.

Government’s real goal is not just to create jobs but to generate jobs that compensate well and therefore have high monetary value. Without the wealth that good jobs lead to, spending stagnates and the economy dips slowly but inevitably into recession.

One of the biggest factors in rising American unemployment is also the most overlooked. Federal immigration policy, operating on autopilot and disregarding the precipitous decline in the labor participation rate, has added about 1 million legal workers every year for two decades.

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