A Record 100 Million Americans Not Working

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report for December counted 74,000 jobs created last month. That was less than half the 200,000 new jobs expected.

Nevertheless, the BLS reported those 74,000 new jobs as reducing at least what it calls the U3 unemployment rate by three tenths of a percentage point, from 7.0% to 6.7%. That was because 347,000 workers fled the work force altogether last month, and so were no longer counted as unemployed.

Those 347,000 workers leaving the workforce altogether were almost 5 times (4.689) the 74,000 new jobs created. But the BLS, and the New York Times, still count that as headline unemployment plummeting on net to 6.7% from 7.0%. In fact, all of the decline in the U3 headline unemployment rate since President Obama entered office has been due to workers leaving the work force, and therefore no longer counted as unemployed, rather than to new jobs created.

Those 347,000 for December, 2013, however, are still out there not working, and suffering. Indeed, they joined a near record of more than 102 million Americans not working in December, all still out there and suffering without jobs. Those 102 million Americans are the human face of an employment-population ratio stuck at a pitiful 58.6%. In fact, more than 100 million Americans were not working in Obama’s workers’ paradise for all of 2013 and 2012….

By Peter Ferrara – Forbes –

Corporations Taking USA Back to the 19th Century

[T]he growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism from some who contend that workers get what they’re worth in the market.

A Forbes Magazine contributor, for example, writes that jobs exist only “when both employer and employee are happy with the deal being made.” So if the new jobs are low-paying and irregular, too bad.

Much the same argument was voiced in the late 19th century over alleged “freedom of contract.” Any deal between employees and workers was assumed to be fine if both sides voluntarily agreed to it.

It was an era when many workers were “happy” to toil 12-hour days in sweat shops for lack of any better alternative.

It was also a time of great wealth for a few and squalor for many. And of corruption, as the lackeys of robber barons deposited sacks of cash on the desks of pliant legislators.

Finally, after decades of labor strife and political tumult, the 20th century brought an understanding that capitalism requires minimum standards of decency and fairness — workplace safety, a minimum wage, maximum hours (and time-and-a-half for overtime), and a ban on child labor.

We also learned that capitalism needs a fair balance of power between big corporations and workers.

We achieved that through antitrust laws that reduced the capacity of giant corporations to impose their will, and labor laws that allowed workers to organize and bargain collectively.

But now we seem to be heading back to 19th century.

Corporations are shifting full-time work onto temps, free-lancers, and contract workers who fall outside the labor protections established decades ago.

The nation’s biggest corporations and Wall Street banks are larger and more potent than ever.

And labor union membership has shrunk to fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers.

So it’s not surprising we’re once again hearing that workers are worth no more than what they can get in the market.

But as we should have learned a century ago, markets don’t exist in nature. They’re created by human beings. The real question is how they’re organized and for whose benefit.

In the late 19th century they were organized for the benefit of a few at the top.

But by the middle of the 20th century they were organized for the vast majority.

During the 30 years after the end of World War II, as the economy doubled in size, so did the wages of most Americans — along with improved hours and working conditions.

Yet since around 1980, even though the economy has doubled once again (the Great Recession notwithstanding), the wages most Americans have stagnated. And their benefits and working conditions have deteriorated.

This isn’t because most Americans are worth less. In fact, worker productivity is higher than ever.

It’s because big corporations, Wall Street, and some enormously rich individuals have gained political power to organize the market in ways that have enhanced their wealth while leaving most Americans behind….

By Robert Reich – Op Ed News –

Fuzzy Math in Unemployment Statistics

The Department of Labor announced that 252,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy in December. The Obama Administration is trying to pander to voters by touting a recent decline in government unemployment figures, but the official unemployment figure is dishonest because it excludes from the count the million unemployed Americans who have given up looking for a job. You don’t count as “unemployed” unless you are actively looking for a job.

Prospects are especially dismal for those who have been out of work for a half-year or more. A shocking 31.9 percent of the unemployed, about 2.8 million, have been out of work for 27 or more weeks, and that figure remained virtually unchanged last month despite rosy claims by the Obama Administration.

You would never know that by listening to spokesmen for the Obama Administration. Obama’s administration claims that unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent. In fact, the more accurate U-6 unemployment rate was twice as high, 11.2 percent for December.

Once someone is out of work for an extended period of time, it becomes nearly impossible to get a decent job. Studies show that after eight months of being out of work, the likelihood of being called back for an interview declines to less than 50 percent.

This is what allows Obama to prevaricate about so-called falling unemployment rates. The more people who drop out of the workforce entirely, the lower is the official unemployment rate.

Why is the real rate of unemployment so high, why are wages stagnant, and why don’t Democrats or Republicans address this fundamental jobs issue instead of misleading the public about the figures and relying on more taxpayer programs and benefits?

The sorry answer is that Republicans and Democrats in Congress are following the Chamber of Commerce game plan: bring in more cheap labor to keep wages low. Economics 101 still teaches that the law of supply and demand works and a large supply of labor keeps wages low.

Obama facilitates this game plan by illegally admitting illegal aliens, and some Republicans want to expand guest worker visas at all levels (the well-educated by H-1B visas, the low-paid by calling them “guest workers,” or farm workers).

By Phyllis Schlafly – Eagle Forum –

As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.

Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.

Economists long argued that, just as buggy-makers gave way to car factories, technology would create as many jobs as it destroyed. Now many are not so sure.

….there is deep uncertainty about how the pattern will play out now, as two trends are interacting. Artificial intelligence has become vastly more sophisticated in a short time, with machines now able to learn, not just follow programmed instructions, and to respond to human language and movement.

At the same time, the American work force has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past — and at a slower rate than in many other countries. Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 are among the most skilled in the world, according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Younger Americans are closer to average among the residents of rich countries, and below average by some measures.

Clearly, many workers feel threatened by technology. In a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who were not working, 37 percent of those who said they wanted a job said technology was a reason they did not have one. Even more — 46 percent — cited “lack of education or skills necessary for the jobs available.”

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER – New York Times –

Obamacare gives employers $3,000 incentive to hire illegals over native-born Americans

Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk in Obamacare.

President Obama’s amnesty, which lasts for three years, declares up to five million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits….

By Stephen Dinan – Washington Times –