Wednesday, December 10, 2014

321,000

As if you could forget, it's that time of year again.

No, I'm not referring to Christmas. I'm referring to the annual November jobs report, which nearly every year portrays a robust economy firing on all cylinders like a V8 under full throttle.

It's economist's version of a baby animal story; as full of fluff as Good Morning America.

This year, the Department of Labor reported that 321,000 jobs were created in the United States of America. By almost any measure, that's a lot of jobs.

Except in a country with 320 million people saddled with a moribund economy which continues to seek an order of protection from the Great Recession of 2008.

What the Department of Labor's report fails to tell us it that approximately 320,000 of those jobs are either seasonal, part-time, or both.

In other words, it's Christmas, stupid!

Yet the media continues to gush, swarming over the news like kids at a free cotton candy store. As it did last November and the November before that. 

And why not? Consumer confidence is a critical measure of the economy, and if people feel things are looking up they'll be more willing to open up those wallets and spend, spend, spend.

And that means more advertising revenue and more tax revenue for the selfsame media and government who told you everything is just great. 

I think I smell a great big win-win! Yay!

A convenient side-effect of this news is that when jobs are created the unemployment rate goes down. But you should know that the government has a very generous definition of 'employed'. 

It has almost nothing to do with the notion of being self-supporting that 'employed' implies.

For instance, the government considers me employed. This despite the fact I can't afford an apartment within several zip codes of where I work and am unable to find enough hours in the week to accommodate the number of crappy jobs I'd need to support myself.

The government also considers a single mom employed as a Wal-Mart cashier employed, even though she's part-time and dependent on multiple government programs for her survival--and that of her kids. 

It considers busboys, convenience store cashiers and CNAs employed in spite of hours worked and dollars earned. In other words, the Department of Labor job report is like your resume. It's formatted to present the best-possible picture, not necessarily the most-honest one.

I'm not against good news. I'm against spin and massaging the facts and painting a picture which says everything is okay when it isn't.

The fact remains that 320,000 temporary jobs aren't going to change anything. Except a politician's resume.


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