View From Lodi, CA: Experts Say Bush`s "New Jobs" Mostly Low-Paying
November 14, 2003, 04:00 AM
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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 seize it."

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. reach different—and 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 that

"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:

  • Job 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 greater.]

  • The 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 disappeared.

  • 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.

  • Two 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 #2: Too bad most of those teenagers can`t compete for jobs on construction crews now held by illegal you-know-who]

  • 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 for work.

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."

Challenger continued,

"With factors like technology, 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."

[Joenote #3: Challenger fails to mention the effect of H-1B and L-1 visas; more bad news for American workers.]

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 concluded.

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 Lodi News-Sentinel.