Job Fair In The Faith Dome
September 2, 2011 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Hope and despair at a job fair. 'The hopefuls began lining up along Vermont Avenue hours before the church doors opened for the job fair at 9 a.m. Men in pressed slacks and sports jackets, women with high heels peeking from their purses and flip-flops on their feet for standing. A few folks were pushing babies in strollers; one guy was holding the front wheel of the bicycle he had ridden there from Inglewood. Almost everyone in line was black; all of them clutching briefcases, clipboards or binders, with resumes they hoped to exchange for business cards from would-be employers.'

'I weaved through a queue that stretched for blocks, asking how they felt and why they had come. One woman seemed to sum it up best: "To fill out applications, leave our resumes and let them know we're hungry."

Hungry in a literal way, for some — those who have been out of work so long, they need food banks and donated clothes to get by.

But I sensed a different kind of hunger in the crowd too — a need for reassurance that, as a preacher would promise from the pulpit that morning, "You are not going to stay down!"'

'The job fair felt like a combination church revival and political summit. The night before, more than 1,000 people tried to crowd into the sanctuary for a Town Hall session with 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights standard Jesse Jackson.'

'Inside the Faith Dome, job trainer Carrie Marks gave the group a quickie primer: "Focus on 'hard skills,' what you know. I have. I can. I am. Think of it as a 30-second commercial to let them know what you bring to the job." I saw people taking notes around me.

The church people handled it differently. "Today's your day for victory," Pastor Fred Price Jr. told the crowd. "You're gonna get a job today."

His sister took the stage, and called for prayer. "We want you to be employed when you leave these grounds!"'

'Across the street was a row of three others: Iglesia Palabra Viva, First Community Baptist, and Romona's Gospel and Exhibit Theater. And on the corner, Community Centers Inc., promising "Miracles Happen Here."'

The US economy added no net new jobs in August, according to the key non-farm payrolls figures from the Department of Labor.

'The unemployment rate remained unchanged from July at 9.1%.

In addition, the figures for the previous two months were revised down to show weaker jobs growth.'

'It is the first time since 1945 that there has been a zero payrolls figure.'
posted by VikingSword (77 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not so much Hope and Change as Hope for Spare Change, I guess...
posted by hincandenza at 11:24 AM on September 2, 2011


My heart goes out to them. I wish them the best of luck.
posted by Mooski at 11:26 AM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]




Well, pending further definition of what "long-term discouraged workers" are, I'd wager it's nowhere near 22%. I mean, I've had shitty jobs for a long time, but I still had a job.
posted by chundo at 11:40 AM on September 2, 2011


T.D Strange; that site provides very little information about their methodology - apparently you need a subscription to get more information.
posted by odinsdream at 11:43 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The job fair felt like a combination church revival and political summit.

That's a really great sign! Nothing goes great together like desperate people, fundamentalism and politics!
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on September 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Nothing goes great together like desperate people, fundamentalism and politics!

President Perry can lead us in a prayer for jobs.
posted by Trurl at 11:50 AM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can get the source data at BLS. You're looking for U-6.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:51 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, pending further definition of what "long-term discouraged workers" are, I'd wager it's nowhere near 22%. I mean, I've had shitty jobs for a long time, but I still had a job.

If I remember my talking head jargon correctly, this is people who have been out of work and have given up on looking for work. They may still be collecting unemployment, or may not, but because they are no longer actively looking for a job, they are not counted as "unemployed" in government statistics. They're still classified as "workers" because they are physically able to work (versus someone who does not look for work due to a crippling injury, say).
posted by curious nu at 11:53 AM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I don't know their alternate. They're probably adding in the disabled.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:55 AM on September 2, 2011


That's a really great sign! Nothing goes great together like desperate people, fundamentalism and politics!

That's right. Nothing but bad things have happened when poor African-Americans have organized around politically active churches.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:57 AM on September 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


Well once we kick out all the undocumented immigrants they'll be plenty of gardening, share cropping, and chicken plucking jobs for everybody!
posted by Max Power at 11:59 AM on September 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


There but for the grace of...
posted by X-Himy at 12:00 PM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can anyone clarify the

'It is the first time since 1945 that there has been a zero payrolls figure.'

thing? I heard it on the radio and it sounds to me like it's intended to convey "worst economy since 1945". Weren't things worse in 2008, when all those people were losing their jobs?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:02 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been in the work force since '76 and I have never seen it this bad. I thought America was fucked back in the late 80's but little did I know that it was only foreplay.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:03 PM on September 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


I was laid off from my first job after (after working there for almost six years) during the 1981 Recession. Things were bad then, or so I thought at the time. It took me a year and a half to find another job (thank goodness there was a program in place at the time to extend unemployment benefits for six months) and when I did it was one at a much lower salary and with more daily office duties than my previous one. But at least it included Blue Cross. I remember during the job hunting process sitting down for an interview and noticing a big red "156" written at the top of my resume. "Is that some sort of score?" I inquired politely, thinking I'd really aced something or other. "No, it means yours was the 156th application we had for this job," the interviewer replied. Talk about your heart sinking down to your toes.

Anyway, at that time I was really feeling desperate and frightened and I wasn't out of a job anywhere near as long as a lot of the folks who attended this job fair. My heart goes out to them....sure they're hungry, but it's hard to eat (even from a food bank) when your heart is in your stomach.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:28 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been in the work force since '76 and I have never seen it this bad. I thought America was fucked back in the late 80's but little did I know that it was only foreplay.

The invisible hand reaches around...
posted by hal9k at 12:29 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, benito.strauss, it sounds more like a statistical oddity, than any kind of meaningful watershed. The number's been up, and it's been down, and I guess it's pretty rare that it doesn't change at all, but so what? It's like saying, omg, this is the first time since 1945 that the unemployment rate was divisible by the square of its cosine!!!*

*Yep, no idea what that means.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:33 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Corporate Profits have skyrocketed. Many have been shedding jobs like crazy since the 3rd quarter of 2008 and have not had to hire since while making obscene profits. All Hail the 'Lean' US workplace! The economy will not rebound if people have no money to spend to buy the goods and services from companies that just had massive layoffs. It is a sort of 'social contract' that has been around since the time of Henry Ford and it isn't working right now.
posted by UseyurBrain at 12:34 PM on September 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


President Perry can lead us in a prayer for jobs.

There's a semi-popular theme passed-around among elements of the fringier elements of the left that maintains that Wallstreet/big-business/etc. powers have conspired to keep unemployment artificially high, in a unified effort to sink Obama.

It would be "interesting", though, if employment magically rebounds a mere couple of month following a Republican victory.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:36 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


in a unified effort to sink Obama

Please. Obama is extremely Wall Street friendly.
posted by MillMan at 12:38 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not so much Hope and Change as Hope for Spare Change, I guess...

Funny, I do not recall the Congressional Republicans running on that platform.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:39 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]




I thought all the Wall street money was going to Romney. That leftist conspiracy doesn't sound entirely crazy to me. Mildly wack-a-doodle, yes, but not inconceivable.
posted by Go Banana at 12:45 PM on September 2, 2011


UseyurBrain: "Corporate Profits have skyrocketed. Many have been shedding jobs like crazy since the 3rd quarter of 2008 and have not had to hire since while making obscene profits."

It's hard to make so much money when you have to pay all those people!
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:47 PM on September 2, 2011


I keep hoping the conservation corps will come back in some form on a federal level, and hopefully raising the age limit.
posted by curious nu at 12:47 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Related: Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich is doing an "I Am A" over at Reddit.

[–]robertbreich[S] 297 points298 points299 points 1 hour ago

I'd start by legalizing marijuana.

[+]robertbreich[S] 232 points233 points234 points 1 hour ago (13 children)
[–]robertbreich[S] 232 points233 points234 points 1 hour ago

My son, Sam, tells me this will be big with "trees" (whatever that means).

Sure, his son. He certainly knows Reddit.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:51 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Employing people is un-American.
posted by The Whelk at 12:55 PM on September 2, 2011


MillMan: "Please. Obama is extremely Wall Street friendly."

But is Wall Street Obama friendly? I'm guessing not.
posted by octothorpe at 12:57 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wall Street Obama is the single most boring action figure in the entire Obama line. Although the burlap-sacks-with-dollar-signs-on-them accessory is pretty cute.
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Voices of the Jobless.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:11 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Long ago, infrastructure in this country was terrible. Everybody knew it and could see that if we spent money to build railroads and highways and bridges and interstates and sewers and electric utilities and all that stuff we would, as a nation, be better off. And so we spent the money and we were better off.

And, long ago, it was clear to those in power that people will, if sufficiently impoverished, do whatever it takes, including starting a violent uprising, to eat and have some reasonable shelter. And so the wealthy agreed to pay taxes and provide things like Social Security and unemployment benefits and job training and public education and all that stuff.

And you can tell similar stories about things like food and drug regulation, occupational safety, and lots of other things.

But now it seems as though the fixes have been in place for so long that people have forgotten what happens when they aren't there. The connection has been lost. People think of public infrastructure as something that just exists, like gravity, and don't understand that you have to pay to maintain it and that bad things happen when you don't. After a century or more, people have forgotten when happens when drugs and food safety are unregulated and so those regulations are seen as pure "big government waste" instead of something that enables a steady market to exist. And so it is with employment. Unemployment numbers are not just some abstract indicator of economic health. Those are actual people who will, if times get bad enough, riot and loot and whatever else in order to eat.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:15 PM on September 2, 2011 [54 favorites]


Black unemployment surged to 16.7% in August, its highest level since 1984, while the unemployment rate for whites fell slightly to 8%, the Labor Department reported.....Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972.
posted by yeloson at 1:27 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


But is Wall Street Obama friendly? I'm guessing not.

Well I am nominaly part of Wall Street. I say nominally because I'm really not. But I get off at the Wall Street train station and write software to visualize financial statements and in the past I was one of the guys who actully hit the button to submit SEC filings for our clients, but that was only because I wrote the program to do it. I am pretty pro-obama, so much so that I have gotten some angry memails for supporting him.

The rank and file of Wall Street are New Yorkers, and even Republican New Yorkers are pretty damn liberal. Obama isn't exactly leading the pitchfork brigade, so there really isn't much appeal to supporting Perry or Bachmann. Romney might be a different story though, That dude is like Jack Donaghy, I'm surprised he doesn't do all his appearances wearing a tux and holding a scotch, even if he couldn't drink it.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:30 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972.

Yes. However dire the unemployment situation is, it's that much worse for African Americans. This has been an epidemic that no political leaders are seriously addressing. And then we read stories about various pathologies in various communities - I'm amazed it's not a hundred times worse. At this point even Obama is starting to have political blowback from black voters. What will it take to start addressing the structural problems with our economy?
posted by VikingSword at 1:35 PM on September 2, 2011


Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972.

A hell of a lot longer than that, truth be told. That sentence is crying out for a well placed "at least". Small word decisions make a world of difference.
posted by absalom at 1:45 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


But don't worry because Michele Bachmann has a solution! Just do away with the minimum wage!:
George Stephanopoulos asked Bachmann to back up a proposal she floated in 2005, when she said taking "away the minimum wage ... could potentially wipe out unemployment because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."Bachmann didn't exactly defend that idea, but she didn't back away from it either, telling Stephanopoulos: "What I'm saying is that I think we need to look at all regulations. Whatever ones are inhibiting job growth."

Asked if "the minimum wage is one of them," Bachmann was noncommittal, repeating that "all regulations" ought to be on the chopping block.
Since the tax cuts didn't magically create jobs we will now be hearing all about how the poor, honest companies would love to hire people but the mean, interfering government has put all these loathsome regulations in their way. If only we would allow them to poison our water, pollute our air, kill and maim their workers, and taint our food with any foul shit they happen to have handy, we will all get jobs! Think of it! Jobs for everyone (everyone not too lazy to work for $5.00 an hour.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:55 PM on September 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


I can tell you that "real" unemployment is at least 1% higher than official statistics, because slightly more than 1% of the US population is behind bars.

If you also count the number of people who are dropping out of the "official" economy (don't care anymore, couch surfing, homeless) and dropping into the gray or black markets, the actual unemployment rate would be quite a bit higher. How high, I can't even guess.

Think of the "official" unemployment rate as being roughly the rate of white middle-class unemployed. The rate of people "in polite company" who are looking for a job. Once you step back and see that America is filled with a vast sea of cash-n-carry underclass faces (most of them brown and black) you begin to notice the gravity of the situation.
posted by Avenger at 1:58 PM on September 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I can tell you that "real" unemployment is at least 1% higher than official statistics, because slightly more than 1% of the US population is behind bars.

It's more complicated than that. In certain states, prisoners have jobs, although they are paid well below minimum wage -- the rest accounts room and board -- and the money is only spent within the prison's internal economy.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Avenger, the unemployment rate was never meant to include people who are incarcerated or otherwise unavailable to the job market. It would be a very useless statistic if that were the case. Unemployment is a measure of the percentage of the labor force that can't find a job, not "everyone who doesn't have a job". If you go there, then you may as well have to figure out ways to include all the other people who aren't employed by choice or circumstance -- 12 year olds, or homemakers, or retirees.

Absent 40 years of 'improvment' to how the government calculates the unemployment rate, unemployment may stand at a staggering 22%.

T.D., while there is some value to knowing the U-6 rate, discouraged workers were never included in U-3. Since U-6 expands the definition to the "marginally attached" workers (e.g. people picking up odd jobs here and there, but not really looking for a job per se), it's not clear what got "defined out of existence". In fact, what BLS did was change how it reported these series under the rubric "alternative measures of labor underutilization".
Additionally, although I can't find a cite right now, I believe this was largely done to conform US figures with OECD methodology.

It's been a peeve of mine for some time that people pick up on U-6 every now and then and call it the "real" unemployment rate. This rate is always, by definition, higher than the reported rate, even in good times. It's primarily useful when talking about ways in which to deal with the problem of the types of workers included in that rate. It doesn't actually tell you that much about the active job market, though.
posted by dhartung at 2:11 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't worry, I'm sure that Obama's decision to block EPA regulations on smog will really get the job market moving!

Less snidely, this is getting seriously bad. I know economies go up and down, but we see the GDP going up, they tell us we're not in a recession anymore because of that, and they talk about a "jobless recovery", which seems like an oxymoron to me.

I've long suspected that as automation improves we'd see a growing class of pretty much permanently unemployed people, and I wonder if we're seeing a foretaste of that here. Not that automation has displaced the jobs, we aren't there yet, but outsourcing, improved worker efficiency, etc have.

What do you do when even 10% of your population is unemployed and is likely to remain unemployed for life? It's pretty evident that the Capitalist/Work-Ethic mentality won't hold up for long in that sort of environment.
posted by sotonohito at 2:12 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is the ground that true fear grows, and is eventually taken advantage of. When one has nothing to lose, watch out!

That said, we need a Renaissance in America in K12, and post-secondary educational institutions about how to make oneself valuable in a modern economy. we had also better start thinking about how to construct social ecologies that are able to absorb ever-increasing numbers of people who don't have an official "job". Technology is replacing many jobs; we are going to need less workers in the future.relative to work that needs to get done.

Until we fix these things, get the money out of politics, and get some real leadership that doesn't feed on fear (GOP) and false promise (Democrats) the tinder is going to keep drying out. the demagogues are busy, as we speak, lighting their matches.

Just blaming the government, the wealthy, and politicians is just blowing off steam at this point. That's OK, to a point, but we have got to renew our social, educational, occupational, political, environmental, and economic infrastructures. We are losing time. The 2012 election, and the rhetoric that I'm seeing on both sides, addresses very little of this, and I'm worried, because structural dislocations only get worse with time, and more difficult to repair, especially relative to other groups that don't have the legacy costs that we have to deal with.

We really, really need courageous leadership that doesn't play by money and "last politician standing" rules.

Man, I feel for the people in that employment line; these are human beings who are caged inside constraints that in many ways have invisible bars, because we have failed to educate and innovate - instead, pissing away the great advantage we had after WWII.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:21 PM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]



What do you do when even 10% of your population is unemployed and is likely to remain unemployed for life?

Here is the question I've been asking, what do you do when unemployment remains high, health insurance is tied to employment, and medicare and medicaid is cut? You let people die, I guess.

I have an example living right across the street from me, a woman who developed an expensive health problem and lost her job with the city because her insurance premiums were too high. So now she is on her husband's insurance-- with a $10,000 deductible. But his company keeps laying people off. Every round of lay-offs they hold their breath. Will this be it? Without her monthly plasma treatments she will be in a wheelchair and then she will die. And-- by the by-- the medical center where she gets her treatments refuses to treat anyone, even make them an appointment, without proof of insurance.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


I have an example living right across the street from me, a woman who developed an expensive health problem and lost her job with the city because her insurance premiums were too high.

Can you get your local press involved? Or, how about picketing the medical center and NAMING the person who runs it in the picket signs. Out the people who are masked by their corporate shells. Show how some people in power, living the good life, are doing so by limiting opportunity and care for others.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:03 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here is the question I've been asking, what do you do when unemployment remains high, health insurance is tied to employment, and medicare and medicaid is cut? You let people die, I guess.

Welcome to the global south.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:30 PM on September 2, 2011


Not so much Hope and Change as Hope for Spare Change, I guess...

"Howz tha hope and change thing werking out fer everyone"

maybe we should let the bankers just finish us off right Hincandenza
posted by clavdivs at 3:51 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The unemployment statistics don't count people like me, who got laid off from their career jobs in 2009 and now, in 2011, have taken $9 an hour part time jobs and are happy to get them. Am I employed? I don't know, you tell me. I had managed my life to the point where, in my mid 40s, I could get by (thanks to a couple of inheritances) on my white collar nonprofit salary, which was still quite small compared to my peers but was, with care, enough. Then I got laid off and my salary, which became unemployment, got cut in half. Not to worry, I thought! I'll get through this! I have a nice pillow, thanks to those abovementioned inheritances. Then no job came through and the unemployment ran out and I went to work for $8 an hour at a big box store. This same big box store paid $10 an hour three years ago, by the way, and that's something I haven't seen addressed anywhere, the way that wages have fallen dramatically since 08. Everyone here pays less now than they used to. All jobs are cheaper, now. I left the big box store and I landed another retail job, albeit one with promise, for $9 an hour (they used to pay $10 an hour too, but why bother, now, when you get 200 resumes for every minimum wage opening?)

So, OK. Now my son, who has made some poor choices, is in the job market. He's 19 and essentially uneducated - we could talk for a long time, here, about learning disabilities and the new American education system and money and class, but we won't - and there are no jobs for him. In no small part, this is because every miserable scut job that used to hire 19 year olds now has their pick of. . . . me. Many, many people like me, mid 40s, over educated, full resumes and desperate as hell for a part time $9 an hour job. Why would you give that job running a register or moving crates to a dubious 19 year old when you could take a 30 or 40 or 50 something with multiple degrees? You know they're going to show up on time.

This is the reality now. I heard a thing on I think Marketplace a few months back, where they were interviewing a couple of guys who had been unemployed since the crash and now, lo, had jobs. Marketplace was excited that they had jobs except there was kind of a problem because, see, they had been bank manager, white collar kind of guys, pulling down 60K or thereabouts and now they were making $10 an hour doing overnight data entry. Is that a job? You tell me. I don't think it is, so much. It doesn't pay your bills, you know. Even in my small city living wage is calculated at $12 an hour but nobody, nobody pays that. And $10 an hour is just quiet, slow death - of your marriage, your mortgage, your life. But hey, you know, they're not counted on unemployment, because they're working, and neither am I, because I am, and neither is my son, because he's never had the kind of job where you get unemployment. I know a lot of people like that, too, carpenters and servers and sous chefs and they're just - standing still. Hoping. And waiting for the day that they move under a bridge or into a boxcar. Or into riot.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:21 PM on September 2, 2011 [83 favorites]


Well, pending further definition of what "long-term discouraged workers" are, I'd wager it's nowhere near 22%. I mean, I've had shitty jobs for a long time, but I still had a job.

Whether you considered yourself employed or not is besides the point. This isn't about whether the definition of unemployment best fits the standards of U-3 or U-6. It's about a shifting standard that misleads when we make comparisons with the past. John Williams' work (www.shadowstats.com) is referenced in this article, which briefly describes the differences between how the government measures unemployment, inflation, and GDP, now and fifty years ago.

Hard numbers: The economy is worse than you know
posted by BigSky at 5:30 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Columnist: Registering Poor To Vote Like Handing Out Burglary Tools To Criminals
Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor, Vadum writes. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money. It's about raw so-called social justice. It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Most conservative criticism of voter registration drives aimed at poor and minority communities has been under the guise of worries about voter fraud. Vadum's column is notable because he isn't just pretending to be worried about the nearly non-existent threat of in-person voter fraud — he just doesn't think poor people should be voting.



[H]e adds: Of course those who are legally qualified to vote should be allowed to vote but our tax dollars shouldn't be used to underwrite the destruction of the republic.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:39 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]




It would have been really swell if the human race wasn't ruled by industrialists and we didn't have to demean ourselves in this way. I've never had it as bad as these folk, but I've had my lifetime ration of standing in lines at Centrelink, and god, if there's anything that completely obliterates any "get up and go" enthusiasm a person may have once had, it's a line at Centrelink.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:48 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


two americas...
posted by jcworth at 7:36 PM on September 2, 2011


It was previously ruled by agrarian feudalists and the kind of "predatory capitalists" known as Roman imperatores, medieval Crusaders, and Spanish conquistadors, so I hope you're not implying that that was any better.
posted by bad grammar at 7:44 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, look, I've been without power since Monday and drinking since 1800 hours. So have your grains of salt lined up.

The S&P downgrade, the jobless numbers, Perry on the ascendency? Here's the take of the guy who ran intelligence for S&P until it was clear that it was that or perjury (NDA long since expired, and I'm getting the fuck out of the States in October anyway).

Here's the deal: the actual asset holders in the States, the people who actually own refineries and manufacturing facilities, the people with real PP&E, they have real assets. They also have a certain set of values (economic, political and often social). The people who hold notional assets (e.g., Wall Street) hold financial assets, that is to say, what they own isn't, generally speaking a real something, something you can touch or burn to the ground. Wall Street, for all its many, many faults is largely agnostic regarding labor, environmental and social justice; if there's a delta within reason, they will make money off of it.

Over the last two decades, the actually PP&E owners have essentially disintermediated the money on the Street via private equity (mostly, their own).

This group, the Koch's of the world, will let it all fucking burn, every bit of it. When jobs are permanently scarce, when the dollar crashes, they get to run roughshod over any kind of labor protection and, in the case of the dollar burning since they sell more overseas, they get a nice boost in price per unit plus less taxes due to depreciation of their fixed assets.

So let's not all be surprised at this state of things. This has been in the works since the first neoliberal think tanks post Kennedy. This has been the plan all along; the boys on the Street just always thought they were one step ahead of those stupid fucks out in the fly over states. In the end they were wrong, 'cause those fucks saved up enough of their own money to make their own "street," and until the American people are willing to take up the pitchforks and torches, and enough Guardsmen are with them, ain't nothing going to change.

This level of unemployment and the implications for the environment, civil rights and the whole kit and caboodle are the new normal. What we can do now is adapt as best our individual means afford us.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


There but for the grace of...

The Bush Administration?

"After a century or more, people have forgotten when happens when drugs and food safety are unregulated and so those regulations are seen as pure "big government waste"


And fortunately, with local police seen more and more as "big government," we're still armed.

"we have got to renew our social, educational, occupational, political, environmental, and economic infrastructures."

QFT

"I know a lot of people like that, too, carpenters and servers and sous chefs and they're just - standing still..."

Damnit man, I'm sorry to hear all that. I know all sorts of people going through this. I see a lot of this among veterans (13.3 percent unemployment for returning vets).
Some guys coming out, hyperqualified to do just about anything in their job field can't get jobs. There are corpsman (one served on a SEAL team) having trouble getting jobs in the medical field. 'Oh, you're an expert in gunshot wounds, blunt force trauma and stabilizing injuries quickly? Well, we certainly don't need those skills in an urban trauma center. Run along now.'

Corporate profits are way up and wages are stagnant. More people have to eat f'ing beans and gov't cheese because "US companies have no confidence" (and hey, you just can't have too many goddamn boats).

Just kills me how divorced from reality things have become. LastOfHisKind is right, people think asphalt grows from the soil and sewage purifies itself and they can go on and pull any kind of political bullshit, remain ideological purists and there's no real world effect.

Of course, if you're insulated from real world effects it doesn't much matter whether that's by design or happenstance.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:43 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The unemployment statistics don't count people like me, who got laid off from their career jobs in 2009 and now, in 2011, have taken $9 an hour part time jobs and are happy to get them.

To be sure, as a part-timer looking for full-time work, you would be counted under U-6.

This isn't about whether the definition of unemployment best fits the standards of U-3 or U-6. It's about a shifting standard that misleads when we make comparisons with the past.

And yet, I don't know that this matters. It certainly doesn't matter much to the average joe whether the U-3 rate is 8.9 or 9.1. I don't think the average joe even knows about U-6 let alone that it no longer counts certain types of discouraged workers. These are figures that mainly come into play when they hover around a certain round number, like 10.0, or when someone is trying to make a lazy point about the lack of attention to jobs by Congress or the President or somebody else. See! The "real" unemployment rate is much higher! But that's a stupid point, because U-6 is always much higher -- it is a much broader definition of "unemployed", in good times or bad. Is the important comparison between U-3 today and U-6 today -- or is the important comparison between U-3 yesterday and U-3 today, or U-6 yesterday and U-6 today? I would argue the latter is a much more significant measure of almost anything and much more telling if you want to make an actual substantive point.

Yes, the government produces reams of data and statistics every single day, and if you're in charge of something you're going to cherry pick the parts of that harvest that make you look the best. But as far as I can tell, the people who make most of the real decisions about things use the same damn dataset every time it comes out.

So that's my problem with Williams and Phillips's gloss on Williams.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on September 2, 2011


oh, i don't know - here's the thing - my company has just hired quite a few people - and one of them got fired after a few days for casually mentioning in the break room that he'd like to beat up one of the operators

another has already been advised that 30 to 35 minute breaks in a shop that allows 15 minutes isn't such a great thing for job security

the game is this - you keep your mouth shut for 60 calendar days, run the guantlet of unreasonable and uncaring people (not all of us - i try to be kind and helpful) you work with, do what you're told without arguing and you're in the union and have quite a bit more freedom and leeway to tell these people where to step off when they're being bastards

yet in a social environment where jobs are damn near impossible to find and employers are winnowing through hundreds of applications to find a few "qualified purple squirrels" they adjudge are perfect for the job, some of those who manage to get in are shockingly careless and negligent about how they conduct themselves

and i wonder - has the awful social and economic circumstances we live in dispirited and turnd off people to the point where they just don't give a fuck anymore? - i mean, if people are treated and regarded as slaves, don't they eventually adopt all the passive/aggressive tactics that slaves used to survive with the least amount of personal effort?

i work my ass off - and i see fewer and fewer people around me willing to do that - and instead of getting all self-righteous about it and decrying those slackers, i wonder if i'm the crazy one for doing what i do - for me, there's a high sense of personal satisfaction in knowing i did my damnedest to make things work, to make a difference - but i fully understand why most of the people i work with don't feel that way and i can't blame them

it's not like they're doing anything that isn't modelled for them by the somewhat lazy and incompetent people that are managing them

what i fear is that we've forgotten how to work in this country - and when work is so damned poorly rewarded for most people, why should people act as anything but half-motivated, passive/aggressive slaves?

and when i see something like all these people lining up for job fairs - i see people being conditioned to act as helpless supplicants to the powers that be, with the likelihood that many of them will also work as helpless supplicants

not only do we not seem to "do" things anymore, it seems that things are set up to discourage people from even wanting to

what the hell is happening to us?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:10 PM on September 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


From the comments on ob1quixote's link-- and this is sadly not unrepresentative of the entire thread:
From when the Constitution was written until about 1850, only white male property owners could vote. After 1870, former slaves could vote. Then in 1920 we had woman suffrage. In the 1960s, it became illegal to require voters to be literate. The motor voter law was passed in 1995. In 2008 it became de facto legal for Black Panthers to intimidate voters at the polls. Is anyone noticing a trend here? When the country started, voting was restricted to citizens who had a financial stake in small government. Now anyone with a pulse can vote.
Holy goddamn, America, what's happened to you?
posted by jokeefe at 10:18 PM on September 2, 2011


Someone writing a at The Big Picture (about the biggest market/economy blog around) thinks it's the final crisis of capitalism as predicted by Karl Marx. I kinda doubt it, but if we do have another couple years of this it might be so.
posted by sfenders at 5:06 AM on September 3, 2011


what i fear is that we've forgotten how to work in this country - and when work is so damned poorly rewarded for most people, why should people act as anything but half-motivated, passive/aggressive slaves?

I think these sorts of personal anecdotes regarding work attitudes are a little careless and are easy to cherry pick during times like this. Not that the situation isn't serious. Near 10% unemployment for an extended period, coupled with a highly dysfunctional government, downright scary sometimes. Not as bad as the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, to be fair, not by a long shot. Things are better now than during the Dust Bowl. Much better than the Long Depression of the 19th century. Although things could get worse ...

But, anecdotally ... you ever watch Laurel and Hardy? Nearly their whole schtick was they were completely incompetent as workers. Most of their films were made during the Great Depression and into the pre-war era, not a good economy by any means. In fact that was the last recession which involved the financial sector, which are typically the worst economic crises and last the longest. We're dealing with that again today, and they seem to come along fairly regularly, once every 60-70 years or so. So, when you see people like that at work, think of Laurel and Hardy. Go back even further and you find the Little Tramp character created by Charlie Chaplin, another incompetent worker and hapless romantic of another era. Or try the Three Stooges. Lucille Ball, who couldn't even get the chocolates into the box on the assembly line and ended up stuffing them in her mouth in a feeble attempt to hide her poor menial work skills. The Honeymooners - the protagonist was a bus driver who was perpetually dissatisfied with his job. He was always trying to cook up a get rich quick scheme to escape his dreary existence in Brooklyn, but who wasn't willing to put in the hard work to be a successful entrepreneur. He was just kinda lazy about it and wanted a way out. The list goes on ... Incompetence in life and in vocation and indifference to a job well done has always been with us. Sometimes it's the only thing we can laugh at, our own shortcomings. Or the next guy. After all, as Mel Brooks once said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."
posted by krinklyfig at 6:08 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


They should buy One Year Greek Bonds, which are yielding 72%. Or is that too risky?
posted by wallstreet1929 at 6:16 AM on September 3, 2011


Someone writing a at The Big Picture (about the biggest market/economy blog around) thinks it's the final crisis of capitalism as predicted by Karl Marx. I kinda doubt it, but if we do have another couple years of this it might be so.

No, it's been far worse in the past. Go back to the Gilded Age, and there you see problems bad enough that wealthy people instituted social welfare because they feared for their own safety. Social unrest was far worse when union organizers were shot without remorse. It's bad today, but it's a bit melodramatic to say it's worse than a century ago, when many unskilled jobs involved actual indentured servitude and unrepentant and very real threats of violence from the management.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:19 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course it's been worse; we're collectively better off than a century ago, or at pretty much any other time before that. Things aren't so bad right now, for sure. The question is for how long they keep getting better. We're a lot closer to hitting some of the fairly hard global limits to growth. The Gilded Age was near the beginning of the modern industrial economy, now we're nearer its eventual end. How near I do not know, wouldn't surprise me if things keep running just fine for another fifty years. But there's not as much room for expansion as there was back then, the pressure is building up. When we eventually do reach the point where global growth can't continue, I have a suspicion that Marxist ideas might just make a comeback in popularity as an attempt to explain whatever results.

Not that timeless scenes from a "job fair" (I've been there, in decades past) or one month's US employment number say much about it, but it's an interesting thought for labor day.
posted by sfenders at 7:32 AM on September 3, 2011


But that's a stupid point, because U-6 is always much higher -- it is a much broader definition of "unemployed", in good times or bad. Is the important comparison between U-3 today and U-6 today -- or is the important comparison between U-3 yesterday and U-3 today, or U-6 yesterday and U-6 today?

There's no one "important comparison"; that's missing the point. Most people never look at the distinction between U-3 and U-6. When they hear a news report that mentions unemployment 30+ years ago and then later hear today's unemployment numbers, they don't check to make sure the numbers were calculated in the same fashion. No doubt, the economists can make genuine comparisons, but this is very confusing if not misleading to the guy on the street who has a vague sense of a typical number for unemployment or inflation.
posted by BigSky at 7:33 AM on September 3, 2011


But there's not as much room for expansion as there was back then, the pressure is building up. When we eventually do reach the point where global growth can't continue, I have a suspicion that Marxist ideas might just make a comeback in popularity as an attempt to explain whatever results.

We've already reached that point. Corporations are seeing their highest profits ever on the back of the lowest employment rates ever. There's no growth left in revenue because their middle class customer bases have just had their coup de grâce after 30 years of relentless assault and there's nothing left to give because layoffs on top of hiring freezes are cutting not fat, not muscle but bone.

There are two questions now to be answered:
1) How long till China stops playing nice and claims its now inevitable status as a superpower equal to or greater than the United States
2) When this does inevitably happen whether the United States will go quietly into the night or whether it will go kicking and screaming.

Either way, enjoy the Pax Sinica when it arrives. It'll be with us for a good 60-80 years or so.
posted by Talez at 9:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


no no it won't. To projet that peower is a ways off unlessa war is started and china does not wont that. The real question is what happens when we stop playing nice.
posted by clavdivs at 10:42 AM on September 3, 2011


Broken Windows, Ozone, and Jobs
posted by homunculus at 10:44 AM on September 3, 2011


Either way, enjoy the Pax Sinica when it arrives. It'll be with us for a good 60-80 years or so.

I don't want your reasoning here but explain in a few sentences why this would be good?
(my spongy keyboard and I thank you)
posted by clavdivs at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2011


And those people that do have jobs are having to put in 60+ hour weeks, losing their health and their families.

Wow, if only there were some unemployed people available to shoulder some of the excess work!

France is, by law, much more serious about the 40 hour week - your company needs 70 hours of a work done a week, you hire MORE THAN ONE person. The policy came under a lot of criticism during the bubble boom, for dragging the economy, but I wonder if it might not be paying off right now when things are rough?

Which touches on another thing; laws and regulations that save your ass in the bad times but are unpleasant during the good times are:
1. The most important, the most prosperous, and most successful kind to have.
2. The most likely to be dismantled in a market-political environment like the USA, and not be there when you need them.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're not in a recession any more here in France, not since 2009. France: GDP growth chart, and Germany and France pull out of the recession, from August 2009.

And yes, it is likely the 35-hour legal workweek had a lot to do with it (not 40 – if you work 40, you get RTT days, réduction du temps de travail, to make up for it). There are several other laws as well, making it basically impossible to work more than 60 hours a week unless you're hiding it.

Oh and, unions are numerous and strong. You don't even have to be a member to request support from them.

I say all this not as a critique, but because I'm an American who is dearly worried for all the responsible, hard-working people I know and love in the USA and whose livelihoods and lives are at risk in large part because countries like France are demonized, mischaracterized, and painted as impossible in any number of ways, rather than saying, "hm, we could maybe take that and adapt it for us."
posted by fraula at 12:59 PM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's no one "important comparison"; that's missing the point. Most people never look at the distinction between U-3 and U-6. When they hear a news report that mentions unemployment 30+ years ago and then later hear today's unemployment numbers, they don't check to make sure the numbers were calculated in the same fashion. No doubt, the economists can make genuine comparisons, but this is very confusing if not misleading to the guy on the street who has a vague sense of a typical number for unemployment or inflation.

Well, people keep making THAT U-3 to U-6 comparison, so they obviously think it's an important one.

But as I just noted, U-3's calculation has not changed vis-a-vis 1981. The calculation change, such as it was, affected U-6 only, as long-term discouraged workers were NEVER included in the U-3 rate as reported by the BLS or as promulgated in news media. I think your "guy on the street" would be hard pressed to cite an actual figure from 1981.

Instead, what I'm saying is taking a page from the Great Communicator, who in his 1980 campaign grasped that unemployment rates or technical definitions of recession were unintelligible to the ordinary person, and used the definition (variants exist) "a recession is when your neighbor is out of work, and a depression is when YOU are out of work".

I also disbelieve the trope that the guy on the street has a sense of a typical figure for inflation. Just about everybody remembers that inflation is a bad thing that is associated with hard times, but a little bit of inflation (1-2%) is actually normal and below the Federal Reserve's own target. The recession has everyone thinking inflation is right around the corner, but inflation would actually be (and already is, arguably) a co-indicator of recovery (and increased economic activity). Since GDP growth is going to be limited by an undersupply of demand, inflation is barely a worry for serious economists. But that's not what the "guy on the street" is saying at all.
posted by dhartung at 1:20 PM on September 3, 2011


We're not in a recession any more here in France, not since 2009

Technically, neither has the US, although we might be slipping back into one. A flat employment growth rate is not good, and our GDP growth has been hovering just above 1% for a while now.

Anyway, I agree, France has it right about the dignity of work. The only complaint I hear from French people is how some of the strikes shut down the public transportation system occasionally, but nobody wants to give it up just to make the busses run all the time. I am not at all certain we could get there in the US, with the pervasive attitude that you just have to work as hard as you can to succeed, rather than to work to make conditions better for employees. A couple more years of this kind of economy might change that attitude. Maybe we'll even get to the point where the word "socialism" would no longer be used pejoratively.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2011


sfenders: I was surprised to see Talking Points Memo hyping that up. The columnist works for WorldNet Daily, the online version of the newspaper Human Events, which has produced the crazy for eons. I worked at a library for a bit in the '90s, and it was sent to us. I was always amazed by how cheap and tabloid-ey the headlines for Human Events were, practically campy. Human Events defined "off the charts."

(Of course, I read at Wikipedia that Reagan loved it, while his advisers tried to keep it out of his hands. Why? Because it was low class.)
posted by raysmj at 5:27 PM on September 3, 2011


The Bureau of Labor Statistics' web site has the actual table that they're pulling that number out of -
(Tn thousands)
Goods-Producing
 Year                            Total          Total            Mining        Construc-       Manufac-
 and             Total          private         goods              and           tion           turing
 month                                        producing          logging
2011
   July(p)..... 131,132        109,153          18,087             798           5,529          11,760
   August(p)... 131,132        109,170          18,084             803           5,524          11,757
(p = preliminary)
(Service sector jobs went from 113,045 to 113,048 from July -> August)

The big deal seems to be more that of a projected 70,000, zero were actually added. IANALabor specialist but presumably the 70,000 projection comes from someone that actually is.

How much effort goes into that, and how much does politics factor into their projection? The resolution of the debt ceiling matter definitely affected their projection, and the games of brinkmanship in politics of late would not have made me optimistic about any number I put out. (Though, looking at it, 70,000 more is about the same as from June -> July, so maybe ~70,000 is someone hedging their bets.)
posted by fragmede at 5:31 AM on September 4, 2011


I don't want your reasoning here but explain in a few sentences why this would be good?

It's not good or bad. In Commonwealth English using "a good" when you're talking about time means "at least".
posted by Talez at 7:36 AM on September 5, 2011


I have an example living right across the street from me, a woman who developed an expensive health problem and lost her job with the city because her insurance premiums were too high. So now she is on her husband's insurance-- with a $10,000 deductible. But his company keeps laying people off. Every round of lay-offs they hold their breath. Will this be it? Without her monthly plasma treatments she will be in a wheelchair and then she will die. And-- by the by-- the medical center where she gets her treatments refuses to treat anyone, even make them an appointment, without proof of insurance.

I just learned that her husband did indeed get fired from his IT job. He was then rehired with a 10% wage cut and no benefits. They are now paying $1200 a month for COBRA coverage. There was a two week period when she was not covered and she did have to cancel her appointment with her neurologist and her plasma treatment. They are able to continue because they have savings, but they are lucky because they don't have kids.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:09 AM on September 5, 2011




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