A Half Million

In the month of November payrolls were trimmed by more than a half million jobs:

WASHINGTON – Skittish employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years, catapulting the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent, dramatic proof the country is careening deeper into recession.

The new figures, released by the Labor Department Friday, showed the crucial employment market deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid clip, and handed Americans some more grim news right before the holidays.

As companies throttled back hiring, the unemployment rate bolted from 6.5 percent in October to 6.7 percent last month, a 15-year high.

Job losses were widespread, hitting factories, construction companies, financial firms, retailers, leisure and hospitality, and others industries. The few places where gains were logged included the government, education and health services.

That means that there are well over a million jobs fewer today than there were at this time last year.

Anyone who thinks that increasing jobs in government, education, and health services is the key to a sound economic future for the United States is dreaming. All three of those are financed by tax dollars and, well, the taxes need to be paid by somebody.

The thing that I find most concerning about the dramatic reductions in payrolls is that relatively few jobs have been added over the last eight years. 125,000 or so jobs need to be added every month just to keep up with the natural increase. At the rate that jobs have been added since the slowdown that began in 2000 it could be many years before those who’ve lost their jobs find employment again.

Don’t look to the late 1990’s as a model. That wasn’t (just) a case of prudent fiscal policy on the part of the government. It was a unique confluence of fiscal prudence (a great rarity in Washington), years of capital investment finally paying off in the form of the Internet and related technologies, and the sharp brief increase in capital spending spurred by companies replacing equipment to deal with the Year 2000 problem.

What we’ve had for the last eight years is the new normal. This is very new territory for the United States and, frankly, I’m deeply concerned.

2 comments… add one

Leave a Comment