Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 3, 2010


November Unemployment

Once again this month, the employment report, weak as it is, hides even worse weakness in the labor market. Despite the banner headline of 39,000 new jobs, the number of Americans actually employed declined from 139.061 million to 138.888 million, a decline in employment of 173,000. And, of course, 39,000 new jobs isn’t really helpful anyway, when you consider that last month, the labor force increased by 122,000. We need to be creating 122k+ jobs a month just to keep even with population growth.

The real unemployment rate continues to rise, according to my personally devised measure of employment (Population numbers are in thousands):

NOVEMBER 2010

Civilian Non-Institutional Adult Population: 238,715
Average Labor Force Participation Rate: 66.2%
Proper Labor Force Size: 158,029
Actually employed: 138,888

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 13.8%

Compare and contrast that with April of this year:

APRIL 2010

Civilian Non-Institutional Adult Population: 237,329
Average Labor Force Participation Rate: 66.2%
Proper Labor Force Size: 157,112
Actually employed: 139,455

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 12.7%

Since April, the number of Americans actually employed has declined from 139.455 million to 138.888 million, a drop of 567,000 employed.


Unemployment rises to 9.8% – yeah, you read that right, rises …

Of course that’s the "official" number – as we’ve been pointing out for some time, the real number is well into double digits. But it again points out that markets are not at all happy with the business environment and consumers simply aren’t consuming at a level to push hiring even if it was settled.

In a significant setback to the recovery and market expectations, the United States economy added just 39,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, the Department of Labor reported Friday. November’s numbers were far below the consensus forecast of close to 150,000 jobs added and an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent.

The increases tallied are mostly seasonal temporary work, meaning private companies aren’t creating many jobs at all (again, the economy has to generate around 125,000 new jobs a month just to stay even):

Private companies, which have been hiring since the beginning of the year, added 50,000 jobs in November. Most of those increases came from temporary help, where 40,000 jobs were added, and in health care, with an additional 19,000 jobs.

Retail jobs declined by 28,000 in November, while manufacturing, which had showed some strength earlier in the year, lost 13,000 jobs.

Government jobs dropped by 11,000 in the month.

Outlook? Bleak. Meanwhile the tax fight continues in the Congress. If you’re wondering why the business climate remains so unsettled, it is thinking like this which is typical of the majority party there:

Yeah, that’s right – this yahoo is claiming that small businessmen don’t ever make any decisions based on tax considerations. So they won’t mind a tax hike in the least.

How in the world does anyone take someone like that seriously? However, understanding that his thinking is most likely not uncommon there, it isn’t at all hard to imagine why Congress seems clueless as to how to stimulate the economy, is it?

~McQ


DADT

I think it should be obvious – even to Sen. McCain – that DADT is going to be repealed at some point whether anyone likes it or not.  That repeal can be a purposeful one, implemented in a way in which the military can decide on a timeline and methodology by which to do so, or it can be by a court order that will end it immediately and not allow the military any control of the transition.

The Pentagon’s DADT study was recently published and it essentially concluded that most troops really don’t care about gays serving openly. That sentiment mirrors what most of the country feels as well.  The Pentagon report concluded that the threat to the force of repeal is “low”.

As I’ve said for years, when the dominant culture concludes sexual orientation isn’t relevant to job performance, that would eventually filter into the military.  If the Pentagon’s study is to be believed, that’s happened.

I’m reminded of one NCO who essentially boiled down the issue in a way that best reflects my feelings.  I’m paraphrasing, but he said that in the military there are two types of soldiers – those that are squared away and those that are dirt bags.  If a soldier is squared away he wants him, and he doesn’t really give a rip what his sexual orientation might be.  If he’s a dirt bag he wants him gone, and again that means straight or gay.

The top leadership in the military seems prepared to make the change.   The majority of the military, as reflected in the study’s numbers, seem prepared to make the change.  The experience of other nations, to include Israel, seem to indicate little risk in its implementation.

One of the things both sides have trotted out at various times in an effort to score political points when considering military issues  is  we should “listen to the generals”.  In this case I think that’s exactly right.  Repeal it and let them implement what is necessary to make the transition as painless as possible.  Refusing to do so leaves only the courts as an alternative.  And the courts aren’t going to give a rip about “transitions” or “time lines”, etc.  They’re going to order it stopped now.

John McCain said he was “open” to abiding by what the Pentagon study concluded.  That was apparently when he believed it would conclude something completely different than it did.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re making official something that has been the military’s dirty little secret for centuries.  That is we who have held command in the military have always pretty much done precisely what the NCO I paraphrased above said.  If you’ve been in the military for anytime at all, you’ve been in units in which gay soldiers served.  You knew it.  Everyone else knew it.  They knew you knew.  But as long as they showed up every day, in proper uniform, did their job to the utmost of their ability – i.e. “soldiered” – no one cared.

That should be the only standard by which we judge our soldiers, and we should make it the sole standard as soon as possible.

~McQ

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