Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jobs Recovery Not Turning Any Corners In Dec. 2011

Mainstream financial reporting still makes me laugh.  Popular analysis of headline numbers is designed to brighten our moods and keep consumers spending during Christmas shopping sprees.  CNBC wants us to think jobless claims are dropping unexpectedly.  The "dropping" and "unexpectedly" memes are two different but related phenomena.  Claims probably dropped because seasonal hires in retail and logistics can no longer file claims for jobless benefits.  This is only unexpected to observers who've never worked in retail or logistics during the Christmas holidays.

Working as an extra sales clerk in a department store or pallet mover in a warehouse is a low-skill, low-pay opportunity that rarely leads to permanent improvement.  I once worked as an assistant school custodian over Christmas break in 1989 during my junior year in high school.  It was easy money for moving school desks and raking leaves at a local elementary school.  The job does not belong on my resume and I had no ambition to move up the ladder to be a janitor.  My holiday sojourn may or may not have been counted in the nation's employment statistics for 1989 but it wouldn't have mattered either way.

The end of the holiday shopping season will probably see jobless claims return to pre-November levels, once the numbers are reported around March 2012.  Meanwhile, real unemployment as measured on Shadow Government Statistics remains around 22%.  I'm eyeballing John Williams' charts because I don't have a subscription.  His headline numbers are superior reflections of economic reality.  Don't expect permanent improvement in this jobless non-recovery; Europe's banking system has yet to fully implode and take us all down once again.