Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Job losses in January

Posted by alifinmath on February 2, 2008

Most readers of this blog will know that Labor Dept. figures on unemployment are effectively garbage, which makes their announcement of 17,000 job losses in January all the more cause for anxiety. The US economy needs to add 200-250 thousand jobs each month just to keep the level of unemployment at the same level — and we’re not even talking of the quality of the jobs or the pay (most of Clinton’s much-trumpeted 22m new jobs were low-skill, low-pay service-sector jobs). No-one is hiring right now and most private operations are retrenching and preparing for a long siege ahead. There may be a time when even despised McJobs become prized possessions: I remember that in the early ’90s, when McDonald’s was expanding in the UK, it was announced on the British evening news that 3,000 new jobs would be created by McD’s. After all, 15,000 people did apply for 300 jobs at Walmart’s new store in Illinois.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m such a pessimist. Maybe it’s because I’m not a politician. One of a politician’s functions is to be an intermediary between people’s hopes and dreams and the hard facts of life in a world of want. Hence words and phrases like “opportunity,” “the audacity of hope,”  “realising our dreams,” etc. roll effortlessly of the tongue of any seasoned politician.

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