by Jim Quinn
I spent most of Obama’s presidency obliterating the jobs recovery narrative every month, as millions supposedly left the workforce because their financial situation was so wonderful. The bullshit shoveled by the BLS was nothing but manipulated misinformation then and it is still bullshit now. Just because the president is now Trump, doesn’t make the false narrative about a strong jobs recovery now valid. After a disappointing December jobs report, the cackling and tooting of horns might die down a little, but the propaganda peddlers will somehow spin it as a positive. Buy Stocks!!!!
Candidate Trump railed against the fake data put out by the BLS. He railed about the ridiculously low interest rates manufactured by the Fed. He declared the stock market was a bubble ready to burst. That was over 5,000 points ago. As expected, now that he is el presidente, Trump embraces the fake data, low interest rates and the most overvalued stock market in history. He tweets about the great economy and stock market every day. GDP has risen at a scintillating 2.5% pace in 2017. This is up from 2% in the prior two years, driven by people going further into debt to survive or buy shit they don’t need.
The narrative being propagated by the corporate MSM was this was the best holiday retail season in years. Americans were back to spending like drunken sailors. Trump is making America great again, so why not spend money we don’t have using that little piece of plastic. Those future tax savings will more than pay the bill. Except for a couple nagging questions.
Why did Sears and Macy’s just announce massive new store closures? Why do they, along with JC Penney and dozens of other retailers, continue to report hundreds of millions in losses? Why did 2017 see over 7,000 store closures and a record number of retail bankruptcies? Why would 20,000 retail jobs disappear in December, the biggest retail month of the year? Why did the country add 203,000 retail jobs in 2016 but lose 67,000 jobs in 2017 if the consumer is back baby? Something doesn’t smell right about the economic boom narrative.
If the unemployment rate was really 4.1% there would be tremendous upward pressure on wages as companies competed for a dwindling number of workers. The ball would be in the worker’s court. Wages have gone up by a pitiful 2.5% in the last year. Meanwhile, even the lying BLS has inflation running at 2.2% in the last year. That means real wages are up a pathetic 0.3%. And if we admit we are living in the real world where inflation is really running at 5%, then real wages have fallen 2.5% in the last year. Does this happen when the employment market is strong? Wage growth has been stagnant in the 2% to 2.5% range since the economic crisis.
How is it that Trump tries to take credit for the jobs added since election day? He wasn’t the president. He had implemented nothing to influence the job market. Let’s face it, presidents have virtually no impact on the jobs market, especially when they have passed nothing legislatively to impact the market. Companies do not hire because they love the new president. They hire either to grow business or because it has already grown. Obama was elected in the midst of an economic meltdown. The horrific job losses from November 2008 until Obama took office were nitwit Bush’s. The same applies now. Trump gets to take credit for everything since February. Not before.
So let’s see how we’ve done since February.
- The working age population rose by 1.8 million, while employed Americans rose by 1.5 million, but as usual the unemployment rate somehow fell from 4.7% to 4.1%.
- As long time readers know, according to the drones at the BLS, it fell because another 1.3 million able bodied working age Americans decided to leave the labor force of their own free will. There are now 95.5 million, or 37.3%, of the entire working age population – not working. An all-time high.
- The participation rate and employment to population ratio continue to hover at or near 40 year lows. This is surely a sign of a booming jobs market.
- According to the Household Survey, only 104,000 jobs were added in December, while 96,000 left the labor force. Does that sound as robust as our Orange Moses has proclaimed from the mountaintop?
- Any honest assessment of our true unemployment rate would put it north of 15%.
- It seems 100,000 of the jobs added in December were part-time jobs. For the maff challenged, that means a total of 4,000 full-time jobs were added. And the cherry on top is the fact 50,000 of the jobs added were self-employment – you know – trading bitcoin and selling crap on eBay.
- And now the really great news. The number of multiple job holders went up by an astounding 305,000. Think about that for a minute. When over 7.6 million people have to work multiple jobs and the number is accelerating, does that paint a positive picture of our economy and the supposedly strong jobs market?
So all the talk of a Trump economic miracle is overblown. During Obama’s last year in office the economy was generating 130,000 new jobs per month and since Trump has been in office we’ve been adding 150,000 per month on average. The jobs are still part-time shit paying jobs. Nothing has changed. Even though Trump was going to declare war on China and Mexico when it came to trade, the trade deficit has grown by over 10% since he’s been in office to over $550 billion. The manufacturing jobs are not coming back. And now even the lousy retail jobs are disappearing.
The BLS will report more of this swill next month and when another 500,000 Americans decide to kick their feet up and live the good life, the unemployment rate will drop to 3.8%. It can’t be long until 0% unemployment with 150,000 million American not working. So it goes.