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Itís About Jobs
Finance
Commentary on the News
Monday, July 12, 2010
Ed DeShields

It is difficult to imagine the personal anguish that some 9 million Americans feel when pick up their unemployment checks this week.  As the news tries to spin the monthly job report, it is clear that a few more private sector jobs are not enough.  We need 225,000 every month for 3 years to re-employ the 8 million workers who lost their jobs.  Additionally, we need another 125,000 a month just to keep up with population growth.  Instead we’re still losing.

It will most likely take many more years to replace those jobs lost during the Great Recession.  If the economy has a chance at recovery it’s going to take job growth (if the debt bomb doesn’t destroy our economy first).  During the boom economy of the 1990’s, the Clinton administration created about 12 million jobs, largely due to a massive run-up in housing prices.  Jobs were created as consumers used the equity in their homes as piggy banks and spent wildly.  The Bush administration didn’t fare so well.  Only three million jobs were created as the bubble stretched to the bursting point.  That’s enough to keep the job/population balance in check, but the housing bubble popped and you know the rest of that story.

One way to look at unemployment is to look at the percentage of the total population that has a job. That number has been rising, more or less, for almost 50 years as the economy grew and more women moved into the work place. However, there has been a large drop suddenly.  Almost 5% of working people in the US have lost their jobs in the last year.

In a recent survey eight percent of businesses say they plan to reduce employment further (that’s up) while 10% say they plan to hire (that’s down).  So the business community is saying they aren’t hiring, if at all.  That’s not going to fare well for the economic picture or for the 9 million distressed souls standing in the unemployment line. 

Our economic picture is about jobs and job numbers aren’t going to grow if our economic engine doesn’t have the fuel to move forward.   The engines of growth are loans from banks but loan growth has slowed down recently, again.  The other engine is the money supply.  And it too, has been falling over the last quarter as the stimulus money begins to fade.  This doesn’t bode well for our economic picture in the months ahead.   There are so many challenges before us. 

Beginning next year the Bush tax cuts will expire and with it many more jobs.  And, as one reporter recently exclaimed in discussing the debt crisis – “God help us”.   It’s anyone’s guess what happens from here.  We very well could experience a slow and tenative recovery only to face a debt trap from which there is no easy escape.

One final note.  I will be traveling the country in the next two months on a speaking tour.  My wife and daughter will be joining me on the first leg of our western tour which begins this morning in California and tag along for two weeks as we motor home the country.  It’s hard work, but we will steal a few days to see the country via the road while we talk to several thousand folks about their feelings on the economy.  It will be interesting to hear how others are coping with the Great Recession and see how they view the future before us  -- from their point-of-view on the street.   I hope to communicate this with you in the next few weeks.         

About Ed DeShields

Last week: Three Feet of Ice



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