Show me the jobs, good jobs

August 8, 2013
By: Vicki Bell

We keep hearing/reading that the U.S. job picture is improving. An article published today on, “Jobless claims point to healing employment market,” said “the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly last week but was still near its lowest level since before the 2007-09 recession, a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy.

“The four-week average of new claims … fell to its lowest since November 2007, just before the United States fell into a calamitous recession.

“Now it appears that a long cycle of aggressive layoffs—which had fueled a surge in unemployment and helped shape two presidential elections—is over.

"'The overall economy and the labor market are improving at a moderate pace,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Sterne Agee & Leach in Chicago."

Blah, blah, blah …

If you continue to read past the video fronted by the misleading (in my opinion) image of a factory worker, you’ll read that “while layoffs are roughly half their level in early 2009, the recovery in job creation has been more lackluster. Employers added just 162,000 workers to their payrolls in July.”

And where are these newly created jobs?

If you guessed somewhere other than manufacturing, you are correct.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment report for July 2013 showed that “manufacturing employment was essentially unchanged in July and has changed little, on net, over the past 12 months. Within the industry, employment in motor vehicles and parts rose by 9,000 in July.”

Meanwhile, retail trade, food services and drinking places (BLS terminology), financial activities, and wholesale trade jobs grew.

“Retail trade added 47,000 jobs in July and has added 352,000 over the past 12 months. In July, job growth occurred in general merchandise stores (+9,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+6,000), building material and garden supply stores (+6,000), and health and personal care stores (+5,000).

“Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places increased by 38,000 in July and by 381,000 over the year.”

Many of these jobs are part-time with relatively low wages and few, if any, benefits.

If you’d like to read more statistics and analyses about job creation and unemployment, here are some of the latest from Gallup and Wall Street Cheat Sheet.

What all of this means in terms of U.S. worker confidence depends on which poll and/or media giant is delivering the “news.”

Bloomberg chose the headline “Consumers in U.S. Gain Confidence as Firings Recede,” while Fox went with “Amid Weak Jobs Numbers, U.S. Workers Losing Confidence” to describe and assess the current situation.

They have their opinions, you have yours, and I have mine. Most of us arrive at these from our very personal experiences and subjective perspectives and those of the people who inhabit our immediate worlds. While I have a good job and am very grateful that I do, I have family, friends, and acquaintances who aren’t as fortunate. They have struggled since the recession began and continue to do so now that it’s ended. They have families to feed, clothe, and house, and no job opportunities on the horizon—at least none that would afford them an adequate income and healthcare. Based on the latest employment statistics, I don’t expect their prospects to improve any time soon. While their chances of landing such a position probably are much better than winning the lottery, sometimes the job quest seems just as elusive.

When I see these bright, talented individuals securing good jobs, then I’ll believe that the situation is improving. Until then, I’m hanging with the Fox camp on this issue. I would love to feel otherwise, and if and when that
happens—when I really believe that the job situation truly is improving—I’ll be more than happy to let you know.

So which camp are you in? Bloomberg or Fox?

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209