Still looking for “green shoots”

If job losses were really slowing, one would expect them to stop at some point. Of course, this is not really the case. Based on dubious Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the proportion of the civilian, non-institutionalized population which is employed has been dropping on a trend that looks close to a straight line since August 2008. The portion of the population counted as part of the labor market continued to drop, though at a reduced rate from previous months, but still muting the rise in unemployment. Average working hours rose a bit.

The proportion of the population employed, having dropped below 1984 levels with the June numbers, is now at 59.15 percent. The 2000 peak was 64.40 percent. The portion of the population (a broader base than the BLS uses to calculate the unemployment rate) the BLS counts as unemployed is 6.32 percent, the highest proportion I see in the numbers, which I have from 1970 forward. The previous peaks were in 1982 at 6.20 percent and in June 2009 at 6.25 percent.

Whether you choose to believe the government, mainstream media spin, me, or the even gloomier Shadow Government Statistics, the fact remains that people are going to continue to have a hard time spending money and they will continue to have a hard time paying their bills. The accounts I’ve seen claim that 70 percent of U.S. gross domestic product is based on consumer spending. So apart from the cheer on Wall Street, this recovery is bogus.

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