default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Joe Guzzardi: Statistics make economy look better than it actually is

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:00 am

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April jobs report showed mixed results. When analyzed from a California-specific perspective, the BLS and other economic data continue negative.

I gathered much of the beneath-the-surface jobs information from blogs and non-partisan Washington, D.C. think tanks that specialize in critically analyzing current employment statistics. Anyone who’s been reading these sources knows that conditions in the job market are worsening, not improving.

From the big picture, let’s look at the positive: Employers added 288,000 jobs in April, more than the 218,000 economists expected. The official unemployment rate declined from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent.

Beyond those two facts, the picture turns bleak. The unemployment rate dropped because the number of people working or seeking work declined and they’re are not included in the BLS calculation. Tellingly, the labor force participation rate registered 62.8 percent, down from March’s 63.2 percent, while the employment-population ratio remained steady at 58.9 percent.

Overall, the nation is in the deep doldrums. During the first quarter of 2014, the economy inched microscopically higher at a sorry annualized 0.1 percent. More than 3.7 million Americans have been out of work more than six months, and 3.6 million make the minimum wage.

The reasons for the prolonged slump are many. First, supplemental BLS research found that during 2013, in 20 percent of America’s 80.4 million families, no one worked — a total of 16.1 million people. BLS defines a family as a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. Unemployed, according to BLS, refers to a person who is available for work, doesn’t have a job but has actively looked for one in the last four weeks.

Second, those who have gotten a job over the last few months earn little. The National Law Project identified low-paying health care, food services and retail as the fastest-growing areas for jobs. Since 2010, lower-wage industries accounted for 44 percent of all employment. Going back six years further, the U.S. has added 1.85 million jobs in low-wage industries, but mid-wage and higher-wage industries have lost nearly 1 million positions each.

Third, the Wall Street Journal exposed how miserable employment prospects are for young Americans. Only 40 percent of recent college graduates find jobs that justify their years of education and their hefty tuition debt. They can’t afford house down payments or even, in many cases, rent.

Consequently, 2.3 million young California adults live with their parents, more than at any time in recent history.

And it’s not just young adults (ages 18 to 26) who are moving back with Mom and Dad because they can’t come up with rent money. According to Steve P. Wallace, UCLA Professor of Public Health, for the seven-year period between 2005 and 2013, the number of Californians aged 54 to 64 who lived in their parents’ homes skyrocketed 67.6 percent to about 194,000. The increase in the 54 to 64 demographic is almost exclusively tied to financial hardship and not other reasons like needing to care for aging parents.

That so many Californians are quasi-homeless is consistent with the fact that between 2008 and 2012, the Golden State lost 855,200 private-sector jobs, going from 12.6 million in January 2008 to 11.8 million in 2012, a decline of 6.8 percent. California’s U-6 unemployment rate, which includes those without a job but still looking, those working part time and those who have given up the search, is 16.7 percent versus the official 8.6 percent.

For Wall Street’s benefit, the White House spins the monthly BLS reports in the most positive way. Only those committed to seeing the complete picture search deeper. The first step toward a jobs recovery would include more honest reporting that tells the full story, and doesn’t just cherry pick the good news.

Before Joe Guzzardi moved to Lodi, he worked as a Wall Street banker. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Christina Welch posted at 8:57 pm on Thu, May 15, 2014.

    Christina Welch Posts: 378

    "The first step toward a jobs recovery would include more honest reporting that tells the full story, and doesn’t just cherry pick the good news." Agreed.

    And what would be the next step, then? I would like to see a follow-up to this article with some of Joe's suggestions for stimulating job creation and growth. I think that would be an interesting read.



Recent Comments

Posted 8 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Tom Kettleman, the turkey, found dead

Yes deep frying is excellent. Doesn't take forever. Bird comes out nicely done, juicy (not oily like you would think). Just remember whe…


Posted 8 hours ago by Mike Adams.

Posted 10 hours ago by Doug Chaney.

article: JoAnne Mounce endorses Wendel Kiser, Al…

A majority of the rest of the candidates sadly appear to be a roster of the good ol' boys.


Posted 11 hours ago by Eric Barrow.

article: Tom Kettleman, the turkey, found dead

Without getting to picky Tom was a wild turkey that's why he wasn't white. Domestic turkeys are bred to have white feathers. Otherwise yes …


Posted 11 hours ago by John Slaughterback.

article: JoAnne Mounce endorses Wendel Kiser, Al…

Alan Nakanishi and Wendel Kiser are the two best choices, if we hope to receive any representation for the people of Lodi.



Popular Stories


What would you like to see in Lodi's parks?

Lodi's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is hosting a public workshop at 7 p.m. at Hutchins Street Square to find out how it can better meet the needs of the community. What would you like to see in Lodi's parks?

Total Votes: 217


Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists