Friday, May 07, 2010

How Do You Add Jobs and Have Unemployment Rise?

The unemployment rate in this country rose from 9.7% to 9.9% last month in spite of a rise in hiring. Now I ain't the sharpest pencil in the box but just how in the hell do you manage that feat of magic? Almost a quarter of the number of the jobs reported in the hiring numbers are directly attributable to the hiring of census workers, 66,000 of the 290,000 new job hires.

Analysts are citing all kinds of twisted logic for how this apparent disparity can exist, but the predominant theory is that more people began looking for work again which accounted for the increase in the unemployment rate. Why haven't these people been counted all along in the unemployment figures? Just how is it that this so called underemployment figure is arrived at anyway?
In a sign the labor market remains weak, a broader measure of unemployment continued to edge up. The so-called underemployment rate, which includes those who have quit job hunting as well as those working part time because they can't find full-time work, rose to 17.1% in April from 16.9% the previous month. In January, the underemployment rate stood at 16.5%.
What I do know is what is happening in my little corner of the world, and that is simply that after a year of layoffs, businesses have adapted to and learned to work with their current levels of staffing. There is also widespread fear in the private sector of daring to achieve too much, lest they become the next target of the anti-capitalist crowd or Congress critters. The economy is simply stagnant. Incentives have been removed, and in fact, punishment is the norm now. Businesses don't know what the next round of legislation is going to portend for them and which new mandates they are going to be forced to comply with.

The work force is being stretched to the breaking point. Longer hours and increased levels of productivity, while good for businesses in their attempts to remain solvent, is leaving a trail of broken people in their wake. I don't blame the heads of businesses for doing what they do to remain in business, waiting for the day when the economy truly does turn around and they can do some real hiring, and I don't blame those who have managed to hold onto a job for working themselves to the breaking point. They do have families and responsibilities that they must meet also.

What I do blame is a government, who while criticizing the private sector for building institutions that they label as being "too big to fail", have created their own little fiefdom that they view as too big to fail. Hopefully in November the American people will show those in Washington that they aren't too big to fail after all and hand out our own pink slips.

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