Friday, October 5, 2012

Employment Update: September 2012

September results for the employment situation were, at best, mixed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (link) revised the August numbers upward, almost doubling the result, from 96,000 jobs gained to 182,000. The gain in September, however, was 114,000 jobs, which is at best so-so. Will they double that number too in October? We shall see. Herewith the graphic:

It looks like 2012 might under-perform 2011 if things continue at this pace. As of September of 2011, the economy that year had gained 1.434 million jobs. As of September this year, the gains have been 1.334 million, a 100,000 shortfall over the year before. If I annualize 2012 results, the data project a total gain of 1.779 million for 2012—over against 1.906 million for last year.

Alas! The economy has a mind of its own—and, IMHO, as they say these days, what happens at the political level—or what might be done there in the way of action, so called—has nothing to do with the behavior of the great beast. To think that an administration, whether painted red or blue, will change things by specific policies is equivalent to praying to the Great Pumpkin for rain in a drought. Nonetheless, as in any decent Theater of the Absurd, the anemic number surfacing today will be used in a full-throated way to celebrate what is regarded as a change in Mitt Romney’s momentum.

Tracking this series, as I’ve now done for years, is most interesting. Is there a fundamental change visible here, or is this just a severely long drought in public confidence? Consumer confidence is up, after all. A fundamental change, if present, would have to have an objective cause. The best candidate is that our economy is able to produce the necessities with fewer and fewer people. And as employment seeps away—and public employment shrinks with relentless tax cutting at all levels—fewer and fewer people are able to get jobs. And in such a situation, they will still continue to buy necessities, but the flim-flam that makes for economic growth is left on the shelves. Are tanning salons emptying? One wonders.
IMHO for you illiterati means “in my humble opinion.”

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