The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports today no jobs were created in August. Zero. Nada.
Well, not quite. The strike at Verizon reduced the labor force by 45,000. Minnesota government employees returned to work, adding 22,000. So in reality, America added 23,000 jobs. Almost zero.
In reality, worse than zero. We need 125,000 a month merely to keep up with population growth. So the hole continues to deepen.
Since this Depression began at the end of 2007, America’s potential labor force – working-age people who want jobs – has grown by over 7 million. But since then the number of Americans with jobs has shrunk by more than 300,000.
If this doesn’t prompt President Obama to unveil a bold jobs plan next Thursday, I don’t know what will.
The problem is on the demand side. Consumers (whose spending is 70 percent of the economy) can’t boost the economy on their own. They’re still too burdened by debt, especially on homes that are worth less than their mortgages. Their jobs are disappearing, their pay is dropping, their medical bills are soaring.
And businesses won’t hire without more sales.
So we’re in a vicious cycle.
Republicans continue to claim businesses aren’t hiring because they’re uncertain about regulatory costs. Or they can’t find the skilled workers they need.
Baloney. If these were the reasons businesses weren’t hiring – and demand were growing – you’d expect companies to make more use of their current employees. The length of the average workweek would be increasing.
But the length of the average workweek has been dropping. In August it declined for the third month in a row, to 34.2 hours. That’s back to where it was at the start of the year – barely longer than what it was at its shortest point two years ago (33.7 hours in June 2009).
It’s demand, stupid.
So what does a ...