Unemployment ticks down in October

Long lines at Chicago Job fair last June.

Long lines at Chicago Job fair last June.

The BLS figures are in today–employment ticked down by a tenth of a percent last month to 5.8%. Total jobs added was approximately 214,000. There were also upward adjustments on previous months’ hiring. Huzzah.

Would such a report have been enough to help Obama and the Democrats in last week’s elections had it come out a week or so earlier (before First Tuesday)? Hard to say. Americans say they’re still worried about the economy and the direction of the country, and all of that equals distrust in the President. The fact that the alternative is the party that signed off on many of the things that crashed the economy in 2008 is a function of having a tweedle-dee/tweedle-dum political system where voting both parties out isn’t an option. I addressed this in my last post,  and that’s a discussion for another time.

Here’s my take on the unemployment news. I think I’m in the ‘good news’ stats for last month because I took a job (huzzah). I am enthusiastic, the job is what I’ve been looking to do as a job over the years, and I like and respect the organization I work for. My colleagues are good, hard-working people and I have much to learn from them. I am being vague because I don’t want anyone to take away from this that the job is a disappointment. However… it ain’t full time. It’s decidedly part time. It might be closer to full time at some point (as I get new assignments), but it isn’t now. So how does this job fit in with all those new jobs logged by the BLS? Somebody taking such a job is going to have to have another part-time job going to hope to cover the bills. Does that add up to Two jobs on the big old tote board at the Commerce department?

And on the distaff side, I looked into retail (not big box) employment recently. As many of you have figured out, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. There’s a fight for $15 an hour for fast food workers. And what is retail paying at one of the most profitable outlets in a national chain’s store? Eight dollars an hour. And they’d pay less if they could, but NYC just mandated $8 an hour as the minimum wage. There’s a de Blasio proposal to raise the minimum to $13 an hour in any business operating in a building that’s received $1 M in city and state subsidies, but that probably won’t touch the folks at the job we’re talking about. BTW, fulltime workers at said store are probably being subsidized by the city and state with SNAP and other benefits (housing vouchers, etc.). And even the state thinks that a fulltime salary of $8 an hour is untenable–UI currently pays a maximum of $420 a week, or about $12 per hour for a 35 hour week.

Last thought– the pro-administrati0n punditry has been waxing complimentary about Obama’s last six years. But there has been an unprecedented meltdown of jobs in journalism over the past decade, and recent news has gotten worse. How many of the punditocracy have to file for UI before the rest of them get that this is still a lousy economy?

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