Economist Heidi Shierholz: “There’s never been a pool of missing workers this large”

Economics isn’t my area of expertise, but I can read, and the top story at Huffpo right now is pretty disturbing. Author Lila Shapiro spoke to some economists, including Heidi Shierholz, about the December jobs report, which came out today.

Although the unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent in December, bringing the total number of officially unemployed Americans to 14.5 million, only 103,000 jobs were added in December according to the Labor Department’s BLS report — a number significantly lower than expected. (The Wall Street Journal reported that many Wall Street analysts were predicting “at or above 200,000” new jobs.)

The news gets worse: less than half of the drop in unemployment rate can be attributed to new job creation — the other half came from 260,000 Americans who have dropped out of the labor force altogether.

This brings the percentage of Americans who are either employed or actively looking for work down to 64.3 percent, what economist Heidi Shierholz calls “a stunning new low for the recession.”


“We have now added jobs every single month for a year,” Schierholz said. “So you would think that there would be labor force growth, these missing workers starting to come back in. Not only is that not happening, it’s actually starting to go in the other direction. There’s never been a pool of missing workers this large. It’s not clear to me when they’ll come back.”

That can’t be good, no matter what the White House and CNN try to get us to swallow.

At the Wall Street Journal the reaction to the jobs report doesn’t make things sound much better. One headline reads: Markets Whipsawed After Jobs Report. Here’s the gist:

Investors hoped that the jobs report would confirm expectations that a robust recovery was finally filtering through to long-stagnated labor markets. But after traders positioned aggressively this week on lofty expectations of a strong payrolls figure, the disappointing data had a relatively muted impact.


The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy created 103,000 new positions last month, far below market consensus expectations for a 150,000 gain. In November, the economy added 39,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell sharply to 9.4% from 9.7%.

Sustainable job creation has been elusive in an economy that is still recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. As a result of the troubled job market, analysts think the Federal Reserve is likely to continue full steam ahead with its controversial $600 billion plan to reinflate the economy.

Dakinikat can give us her expert take on this, but as a layperson, I think it’s obvious that the country is on the wrong track and some one needs to light a fire under the President and his incompetent economic advisers.


16 Comments on “Economist Heidi Shierholz: “There’s never been a pool of missing workers this large””

  1. fiscalliberal says:

    Despite the polls via the mainstream media, I do not think the public is fooled either. We just do not seem to have the leadershio in the government to step up to the plate and do what is necessary, My mother in law, a staunch Republican lived on a northern Wisconsin farm and she talked about how when Rosevelt talked on the Radio there was hope, I think that was because of programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and WPA projects. Hoover was a good man with wrong ideas. We have people in government with no relevant idea’s.

    They are trying to prop up a corrupt financial system, The new Financial Reform is alreaday starting to be defunded. From Pro Publica a comment about how Rating Agencies will not be regulated due to lack of funding:

    “One thing on hold [7]: Creating the “Office of Credit Ratings” to oversee the powerful firms.

    This office could wield enormous influence. You see, Dodd-Frank tabled many of the most important ratings agencies controversies, pending studies [8] of the issues. If the S.E.C actually produces the zillions of reports it’s supposed to over the next several years, every employee should be awarded an honorary Ph. D.

    But since the S.E.C. can’t afford to create the office in the first place, we’ll probably still be waiting by the time the next crisis hits. Meanwhile, the agencies’ rubber stamp factories are humming, much to the delight of those on Wall Street with very short memories or very deep pockets”

    Obama is another Bush

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, our “leaders” don’t even know how to lead, much less where to find original ideas. I keeping wishing someone could force Obama to learn about what Roosevelt did. Maybe he could watch a documentary if he can’t concentrate enough to read a book. Obama obviously knows nothing about economics and doesn’t have the inclination to learn anything either.

  2. Teresa says:

    I wonder what the “employed or actively looking for work” percentage was during the Great Depression…I’m sure it was lower because fewer women worked, but I wonder just how much lower…

  3. Boo Radly says:

    OT – Boston – love your new pic, that is you right? Pretty and brilliant!

    On topic – we are so f’d.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yeah BB, that is great to see you! Now I can put the voice to the face to the author…cool.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hey, I like your new avatar too!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Thanks BB, I thought I would put my face up there and give it some personality.

        OT, I am working on a post about children who commit violent crime, and if there is an increase of these incidents, or if throughout US history there have been lots of other “Bad Seeds” out there. It is looking like an interesting post. With the recent shooting in Omaha, and that 10 year old who murdered his mother…makes you wonder if this is a sign of the times, or just the availability of news and media to report on it.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Community college and public university enrollments are way up. There’s even waiting lines at a lot of them. I’m thinking people may be living on student loans at the moment. It’s based on anecdotal evidence and nothing firm, but I’d like to see the volume of student loans the last two years and compare it to, say, 5 years ago. I think there’s a lot of young people in college just because there’s no place else to go right now … not because they want to or should be there.

  5. Seriously says:

    Do those underperforming figures include seasonal temp jobs too, or are those a separate category? 64.3%? Damn.

    • dakinikat says:

      Depends … you have to find the numbers that are seasonally adjusted. Some of the ones they released weren’t seasonally adjusted. Some were. Mixed bag.

  6. Fannie says:

    Thing are looking so good here at Skydancing. Thanks for the changes, I like.

    What I don’t like, is everytime I read an article, I can’t believe a damn thing they say, up is down, out is in, and it’s all bs. Mercy, I am grateful to come here and get a sense of the weather all about us.

    Glad the Scott sisters are out of Ms. and on their way to Florida. They said it would take 45 days processing them out, that was a good lie, cause it took less than a week. I was looking for to the Mimi series about the Kennedy Clan, now that’s cancelled.

    Just like the numbers they are feeding us on the jobs and economy, I’ve had my belly full…..then there’s congress, they can’t seem to find the fat to cut, and all they do is the twist.

    Ah, it’s a nice to do skydancing.