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Trick or Treat Jobs Report

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Trick or Treat Jobs Report

Beneath the surface rot explains reality.

by Stephen Lendman

Friday's headline number belies dire economic reality. Main Street's in protracted Depression. Nearly 25 million Americans are jobless. 

Real unemployment approaches 23%. On November 6, Americans vote. Neither candidate proposed ways to create jobs. Obama's done more to destroy them than create them. More on that below.

Hours worked and income gains were missing in Friday's report. Average weekly hours for production and nonsupervisory workers declined 0.3%. Weekly manufacturing hours dropped by the same amount. So did average weekly earnings.

Aggregate weekly hours represents total labor input. It edged up a meager 0.1% for private sectors workers. At the same time, it fell that amount for production and nonsupervisory ones. Doing so shows weakness, not strength.

Unemployment duration rose to 40.2 weeks. It represents a 10-month high. Moreover, recently laid off workers are hard-pressed to find jobs. Hardest hit are African Americans, Latinos and 20 - 24 year olds. 

Sandy's impact is also adverse. Expect income and spending to suffer. So will job creation. Most affected homeowners have no flood insurance. During hard times, their ability to rebuild and recoup is hampered.

One economist assessed conditions this way. Don't mistake headline jobs figures for economic health. Productivity, top and bottom line erosion signify decline, not growth.

Economist Jack Rasmus analyzes monthly jobs figures. He questions BLS data accuracy. He told Progressive Radio News Hour listeners that something is very wrong with the numbers.

Each fall and winter, well above trend job gains are reported. In contrast, every spring/early summer gains "collapse. There is indeed something going on with the jobs numbers, though it's not falsification," says Rasmus.

At the same time, employers are replacing full-time workers with part-time/temp ones. They're paid less with lower benefits. In addition, fictitious new business formations exaggerate job creation.

Something indeed is wrong with BLS reports. With elections days away, Friday's was very suspect. Later downward revisions may erase November 2 gains. 

Moreover, Rasmus and other independent economists expect protracted hard times. Layoff notices are increasing. Throughout 2012, business investment declined precipitously. 

Q III equipment and software numbers collapsed to zero. Business spending on buildings declined 4.4%. These figures represent  rapid deceleration. Nothing ahead looks promising. So-called evidence that housing is recovering is illusory.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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