I’m always interested in jobs and the job market. This is because I need a good job like every one else in this country whose last name isn’t part of a multi-conglomerate or law firm or associated with Hollywood or some other national past time. It’s also because I’m a teacher in a business department and that’s frequently the basis of judgment on our programs, funding, and enrollment by others. It’s also because I’m an economist and I know that we live in a country that’s 70% dependent on consumer income for its economy and about 67% percent of those households are dependent on wages and salaries for their shopping sprees. So, here’s a headline for you from the Detroit Free Press that will probably give you the same kind of willies that I got when giving it a read: Walmart offers job training via DPS. Yup, that’s via the Detroit Public Schools. Evidently we’re now preparing students for those jobs of the future.
“The training program was kicked off today at assemblies held at Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men and at Western International High.
The Detroit Public Schools have teamed up with Walmart Stores to provide job training and entry-level, afterschool jobs to students at four high schools.
Detroit International Academy for Women and Henry Ford High will also participate.
Students will get 11 weeks of job-readiness training during the school day and 10 high school credits for the class and work experience.”
Sean Vann, principal at Douglass, said 30 students at that school will get jobs at Walmart. He said the program will allow students an opportunity to earn money and to be exposed to people from different cultures – since all of the stores are in the suburbs.
The irony of attending a school named Henry Ford High and preparing for a job at Walmart in the once great industrial city of our country is not lost me. I’m also wondering exactly what kind of “culture” the program exposes its students to since my experience in the surburbs with burbies is their strong desire for a distinct lack of culture. Maybe their planning on a course in customer service that includes ways to not intimidate Stepford wives when you do not look exactly like one of them. Your guess has got to be better than mine. Perhaps they need to learn how to recognize one concrete cement block store from another. Maybe an introduction to bland and boring food found a chain restaurants in those ubiquitous shopping centers in every burb?
This is truly depressing if the best we can offer a group of young people in a major urban city is a future at Walmart. I remember the threat at my high school was you’d get stuck pushing papers at Mutual of Omaha if you didn’t go to college. I’d just like to say, this isn’t a joke, but it sure feels like it should be. What ever happened to training nonuniversity-bound kids to repair automobiles or work with computers?
Is this what our economy has come to these days?
The U.S. economy still shrank in second quarter 2009 but at a much lower pace than was anticipated. That’s a pretty good indicator that the bottom or trough of The Great Recession may be near. Here’s the precise release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2009, (that is, from the first quarter to the second), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 6.4 percent.
While the many recent indicators show the recession is loosing some of its downward momentum, there are few economists ready to sing Happy Days are Here Again. The NYT’s coverage of the statistical release continues to bring up some of the same concerns we’ve discussed here before.
The economy’s long, churning decline leveled off significantly in the second quarter, as stock markets started to recover, corporate profits bounced back, housing markets stabilized and the rampant pace of job losses tapered off. Declines in business investment leveled off, and the economy was aided by big increases in government spending at the federal, state and local levels.
“We’re in a deep hole, and now we’ve got to dig ourselves out of it, which is a very difficult task,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, said.
But consumer spending fell by 1.2 percent as Americans put more than 5 percent of their disposable income into savings. Economists are concerned that consumer spending, which makes up 70 percent of the economy, will not rebound as long as employers keep cutting jobs and trimming wages.
(kinda graphic video, you’ve been warned)
The economy just won’t drink the koolaid and behave. I wonder if that old Mission Accomplished banner is still lying around the White House basement ? After all, white house economics adviser Christina Romer, via the FT says she’s “upbeat on economy.” So, who do I believe: the Obama administration or my lying economist eyes?
The US economy will feel a substantial boost from the Obama administration’s emergency spending package over the next few months,says Christina Romer, a senior White House official, who has warned against tightening monetary and fiscal policy before recovery is well established.
Ms Romer, chairman of the US president’s council of economic advisers, told the Financial Times in an interview she was “more optimistic” that the economy was close to stabilisation.
But while hopeful that America could yet experience a V-shaped recovery, she said it was much too soon to begin tightening policy: “We do not want to repeat the mistake Japan made in the 1990s, when the moment things started to improve they tightened policy.”
Meanwhile, David Axelrod, a senior White House adviser, told NBC Television yesterday the administration would be open to further stimulus if needed. “Let’s see in the fall where we are, but right now we believe what we have done is adequate to the task. If more is needed, we’ll have that discussion.”
Ms Romer’s comments come as opposition Republicans step up their attacks on the $787bn fiscal stimulus, pointing out that it has not prevented unemployment from hitting a quarter-century high of 9.4 per cent.
Ms Romer said stimulus spending was “going to ramp up strongly through the summer and the fall”.
“We always knew we were not going to get all that much fiscal impact during the first five to six months. The big impact starts to hit from about now onwards,” she said.
Calculated Risk must not see what Christine sees in the numbers. If you still are in the dark as to how exactly bad the employment situation is, go check out their graphs. You can also follow my lying eyes over to the Washington Post where the headline and Neil Irwin’s headline: 467K Jobs Cut in June; Jobless Rate at 26-Year High. Come on guys!!! Drink koolaid or DIE!!!!
Employers kept slashing jobs at a furious pace in June as the unemployment rate edged ever closer to double-digit levels, undermining signs of progress in the economy, and making clear that the job market remains in terrible shape.
Wages, meanwhile, were little changed, with average weekly pay for non-managerial workers falling to $609.37, from $609.51. With many people losing their jobs, and those who remain at work making less money, American consumers will be hard-pressed to increase their spending later in the year, despite higher confidence and rising wealth through the stock market.
So, I know the job market always lags the economy, but please Christina, look at the last paragraph. Let’s go to the NY Times. Here’s their nifty little graphic and here’s some of their reality-based commentary.
The losses for June brought the tally of jobs shed since the beginning of the recession to 6.5 million — a figure equivalent to the net job gains over the previous nine years.
“This is the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all jobs growth from the previous business cycle,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said in a research note. She called this fact “a devastating benchmark for the workers of this country and a testament to both the enormity of the current crisis and to the extreme weakness of jobs growth from 2000 to 2007.”
Let me just say, that when 70% of the GDP of a country depends on household spending, none of this is good news. But hey, the koolaid club just keeps on spinning right here in the same NY Times article.
“We’re seeing a kind of leveling off here,” Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis said in an interview. “We would have done much worse had we not put the recovery plan in place.”
Early this year, the administration projected that the unemployment rate would peak near 8 percent with the stimulus in place. With joblessness already well above that target, some economists are arguing for another dose of government spending — a call Ms. Solis dismissed as premature. Much of the spending is still in the pipeline and trickling out slowly into the economy, particularly in construction projects that require government permits and planning, she said.
In offering the slow pace of stimulus spending as a partial explanation for higher unemployment, Ms. Solis effectively echoed the criticism that some leveled at the spending package when it was devised: that many of the projects would take too long to have their intended effect.
But Ms. Solis expressed assurances that the program was proceeding according to the administration’s plans.
“We’re making progress,” she said.
What are they on over there? Look at the Calculated Risk Graphs. (Ones that I’ve put up here before but are still being updated in a progressively negative direction.) Those graphs put this downturn into the perspective of all the last downturns since World War 2. Even a petulant clown with fear of numbers can’t miss the trend! This isn’t progress unless you call minusculely less down progress! I’m not seeing any turning points!
The next move has to be for them to declare victory in the rose garden or send us all koolaid with our unemployment checks. Do they really think we are all this dumb?
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