Despite the Federal Reserve's extraordinary printing and the U.S. Government's extraordinary spending measures during the last twelve months, it looks like the only job categories with growth potential are printing press operator, ditch diggers, ditch fillers, whatever they call the guys handing out trillions in government largesse, Treasury Department comedians tickling Chinese funny bones by saying they favor a strong U.S. dollar and people installing Stimulus signs at highway projects.
The signs are about taking credit. An acquaintance fairly high up in the Electrician's Union told me about a big infrastructure construction project in Philadelphia's Germantown section that has been underway for two years and is already nearly completed. A representative of the Federal Government recently entered the construction trailer and announced that the work was now a Federal stimulus project. A big sign then was put up at the site to prove it. Two years from now, expect Obama's re-election campaign to claim this project as one of his stimulus accomplishments.
Unemployment on the Rise
Employment in the U.S. peaked in November, 2007 at 146.6 million people. As of December 2009, only 137.8 million Americans were employed -- a loss of 8.8 million jobs in 25 months. Using the official (U3) measurement, the unemployment rate is 10%. Using the broader, more realistic (U6) measurement, the rate is 16.3%. If you add in discouraged workers who were defined out of the calculation during the Clinton Administration, the rate has reached 22%.
That's on a par with the 25% unemployment rate during the Great Depression. The current employment-to-population ratio of 58.2% is down to levels last seen before women entered the workforce en masse during the 1970s. And the economy continues to lose more than 200,000 jobs per month. That can't go on forever. Recessions always end. But what are the industries that will lead us out of this horrific downturn and provide the jobs of the future?
Where the Jobs Are