Good economic news
dominated the press last week. The November 8 New
York Times headline:
"3 Months of Job Growth Best in 3 Years."
The unemployment rate
dropped to 6%. Secretary of Labor
Elaine Chao announced that during the third quarter,
287,000 new jobs were created.
President Bush, quick to
make hay, claimed that job increases proved that his
controversial tax cuts worked. During a North Carolina
fund raising trip,
Bush said: "The economy's growing. New jobs are
being created. There's an opportunity. And I hope you
But if you dissect the
employment numbers, do you get as rosy a picture? Two
reports compiled by the international outplacement
specialist firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc.
decidedly less optimistic—conclusions.
The recent statistics do
not stand up well under scrutiny. The Challenger, Gray
and Christmas November 7th report titled
"Low Paying Jobs Dominate U.S. Report" indicate that
the rebound is not as strong as the numbers suggest.
John A. Challenger, chief executive officer, said
"We will need to see the
unemployment rate drop for several consecutive months to
be able to say that job conditions are improving. Many
analysts forecast the same 6.0 percent unemployment rate
continuing into 2004."
Furthermore, added Challenger,
"It will take 100,000 to
150,000 jobs created each month just to keep pace with
population growth. An additional 125,000 to 150,000 new
jobs each month is what will be necessary to pull us out
of the current severe hiring slump."
The report detailed that:
creation was the heaviest in
lower pay scales. Retail, temporary help service
firms, and food and drinking establishments were some of
the top job creators. Weekly earnings in each average
$366, $318, and $225, respectively. All are 30 percent
to 57 percent below the national average of $521 per
week for all industries. [Joenote
to VDARE.COM readers:
lots of illegal you-know-what in this category making
the negative impact on Americans in the job market even
biggest winners: older workers. Of the 441,000 Americans
who found jobs, 77 percent or 340,000 were 55 or older.
The second largest gain was among those 45 to 54 years
old. Employment among 35- to 44-year-olds, the largest
segment of the labor force, fell by 104,000.
- Manufacturing still hemorrhaged jobs. Manufacturing lost
another 24,000 jobs, making it the 37th consecutive
month in which jobs were lost. Since January 2001, 2.6
million manufacturing jobs have
- More workers were forced into part-time jobs. 1.4
million workers said they were only able to find part
time work, up 27 percent from 1.1 million a year ago.
jobs are better than one. To make ends meet, 7.5 million
Americans worked two or more jobs in October, up from
7.3 million a year ago. The number for which the
primary and secondary jobs were both part time increased
six percent from 1.7 million to 1.8 million.
- More troubled teens left the labor force. A slight drop
in teen (16-19) unemployment from 17.8 percent in
September to 17.1 percent in October, was due mostly to
the fact that another 55,000 teenagers abandoned the
labor force entirely, refusing to even seek employment.
More than 500,000 teens have left the job market over
the last 12 months. [Joenote
Too bad most of those teenagers can't compete for
construction crews now held by
- Long-time joblessness persisted. Nearly 1 out of 4
unemployed Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks
or more. The largest percentage—47 percent—of those
experiencing prolonged joblessness are white collar
workers in management, professional and related
occupations as well as sales and office occupations.
- Participation rate remains at 12-year low with 34
percent of the population neither working nor looking
In an earlier November 3
report titled "One Million Cuts for Third Consecutive
Year," Challenger, Gray and Christmas wrote
that in October 2003:
- Job cuts jumped 125 percent over September
(76,506) as employers announced plans to eliminate
171,874 jobs. It was the highest monthly figure since
October 2002, when 176,010 job cuts were announced.
- For the third consecutive year, planned
job cuts have surpassed 1,000,000, reaching 1,043,954
announced cuts last month,
According to Challenger,
"While perhaps shocking
to some, the October spike follows a trend of heavy
year-end downsizing that has occurred since we began
tracking job cuts in 1993. In 2001 and 2002, October
was the largest job-cut month in the fourth quarter."
"With factors like
outsourcing and consolidation working against job
creation, any job market rebound we see in the near
future will be relatively small. It is not helping job
seekers that productivity continues to climb, which
makes it easier for companies to further delay hiring
plans, which we anticipate will happen."
Challenger fails to mention the effect of
L-1 visas; more bad news for
The November report further stated that in a new poll
of human resources executives conducted by Challenger,
78 percent did not expect any significant hiring upturn
until the second quarter of 2004. Notably, 11 percent of
those polled said that there would be no hiring rebound
at all in 2004.
"In this market, job seekers are going to have to
create opportunities for themselves. It may mean
changing industries or looking for positions
out of town," Challenger
Your choice is who to believe—John Challenger or the
Bush administration—already in full re-election mode?
Traditionally, candidates for political office are
not very good sources of information—especially when the
news is bad.
To find out what's
really going on, we need to look at impartial analysts
to clue us in.
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the