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The U.S. economy added only 88,000 jobs in March, according to the monthly Labor Department report issued this morning (April 5). That's down from an upwardly revised 268,000 in February. Economists had expected 190,000 in March. The 88,000 is the fewest in ten months, as once again, government jobs declined. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.6% from 7.7% in February, but that was mainly because fewer people are in the labor force. The participation rate, which measures how many healthy people of working age have a job, fell to 63.3%, the lowest since 1979, when women were less likely to be employed.

According to the New York Times, the National Employment Law Project, a liberal group, calculated that the majority of jobs lost during the weak economic period have been middle-range jobs, while the majority of jobs gained have been low-paying ones.

Later, there will be a report on how young adults did job-wise in March. They have been doing worse than the general population.

The bottom line is that the economic rebound many economists have been talking may not be as strong as touted.

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Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 6:47 a.m.

YOUNG ADULT UNEMPLOYMENT 11.7%. Generation Opportunity, an organization representing people age 18-29, says that March unemployment for those in that age group is 11.7%. The unemployment rate for African-Americans 18 to 29 is 20.1%, Hispanics in that group 12.6%, and women 10%. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 5, 2013 @ 7:34 a.m.

While this is "better" news than a decline in the number of jobs, I would not call it a "rebound" or "recovery." The number of new entrants into the labor force is bigger than the 88,000 added, and that means that true unemployment grew. Main Street is still waiting for a recovery, and it hasn't started yet.


Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 12:02 p.m.

Visduh: Yes, there is no recovery on Main Street. That pleases Wall Street, because as long as unemployment remains high and the economy weak, Bernanke will continue to print money, and that will jack up the stock market. (Cash is dead money and bonds moribund money.) Stock market wealth is heavily concentrated in the richest 10%. So Bernanke, who claims he wants to help the wee folk, is actually only running up stocks to help the rich folks. And don't kid yourself: he knows it, and is grinning all the way to the bank. The Federal Reserve does not represent the people. It represents the banks. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi April 5, 2013 @ 7:59 a.m.

One word: robots. What we have not outsourced physically, we have insourced digitally. If sending factory jobs to China and elsewhere is not enough, we have imported H-1B labor for over 25 years. There's also millions of vocations, such as construction jobs, that have been disrupted by undocumented workers.

But I feel most of what is happening is that companies are employing new technologies instead of humans. Robotics, artificial intelligence and other automated technologies have made corporations more productive while reducing the need for human capital. Why else do companies today report record profits, have hoards of billions in cash and yet continue to issue lay off notices?


Visduh April 5, 2013 @ 8:21 a.m.

I cannot disagree with you. But I'd rather the corporations sit on their piles of cash than have them out on the acquisition trail, overpaying for the other corporations they would buy up. Now, if we can convince those managers to start paying dividends or increase their dividends, we'll start to get somewhere. I hear that many corporations are reconsidering the shipment of jobs to China. Once the technology is there, it is out the door and every competitor has it in the matter of weeks or months. So, some are actually bringing the manufacturing back to the US. The more the better.


Ponzi April 5, 2013 @ 8:31 a.m.

The factory's that return to U.S. soil are highly automated and require few employees. It's true also that automation is now killing jobs in China. Foxconn, the company that Apple subcontracts iphone assembly to, is deploying over one million robots in the next few years. They may even build a factory in the U.S., but it will be for logistics, not a job creator.

The problem with corporations having hoards of cash, and not sharing it with shareholders, isn't irresponsible acquisitions, it's having that much working capital doing nothing and offering no gain for investors. If a company has that much cash they don't know what to do with, whether it be R&D or bolting on new partners that compliment their business, then it is cash earning nothing. That's what happened to Apple and why their stock got a 40% haircut this year.


Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 12:14 p.m.

Ponzi: Numerous studies have shown that acquisitions are the worst way to grow. You are right: excess cash should go back to shareholders or, if appropriate, into R&D. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 12:11 p.m.

Visduh: Agreed. When companies have fistfuls of money and begin making acquisitions, bad things usually happen. That excess cash should go back to shareholders in the form of higher dividends. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 12:09 p.m.

Ponzi: Oh yes. Corporate profits are extremely high. One reason is the one you cite: automation. But another reason is with interest rates so low, companies can borrow at extremely low rates and buy back their stock, thus artificially running up earnings per share and the stock price. The high stock market is a function of: 1. Easy money/startlingly low interest rates; 2. Financial engineering; 3. Outsourcing jobs to low- and slave-wage nations; 4. Slashing pay and benefits of domestic workers while making them work harder; 5. Automation. American corporations are destroying their own market -- the middle class. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi April 5, 2013 @ 1:57 p.m.

Not sure if this is a true story, but I'll share it.

It was a conversation between the Auto Labor Union Chief and Ford CEO. The Ford CEO was pointing to a row of robots and asked the Union Chief "How will you get them to pay the union dues?" In return, the Chief asked "How will you get them to buy your cars?"


Don Bauder April 5, 2013 @ 5:22 p.m.

Ponzi: It may be apocryphal, but it packs poignancy. It is a perfect description of one of the forces walloping this economy. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh April 5, 2013 @ 7:32 p.m.

Apocryphal or not, I heard that story at least fifty years ago. Some truisms never change, and it is one of them.


Don Bauder April 6, 2013 @ 7:01 a.m.

Visduh: The union chief's riposte would have been relevant -- and prescient -- 50 years ago. It goes to the heart of the matter. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder April 9, 2013 @ 8:18 a.m.

Ponzi: The outsourcing of jobs to low- and slave-wage nations, the slashing of payroll and employee compensation and fringes, the forcing of employees to work harder for less, financial engineering such as stock buybacks, and the Federal Reserve-engineered incredibly low interest rates all contribute to corporate profits. Think about it: the U.S. economy has been weak for years, Europe and Japan are in recessions. So demand just can't be there. It's cost-cutting plus financial finagling that generate corporate profits. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard April 6, 2013 @ 7:55 p.m.

We should remember that 100 years ago, manufacturing jobs were not well paid, but workers fought and won better pay. The service sector, and other low paid workers need to win better pay to restore demand to the economy. A higher minimum wage would be a good start, along with a return to the payroll tax cuts that ended on the first of the year. Since one auto worker can assemble over one hundred cars in a year, as one example, there's no way manufacturing jobs can create enough demand for product, these workers will always make more than they buy. Hotel workers, restaurant workers and other low paid jobs need the buying power to get manufacturing up and going again.


Don Bauder April 7, 2013 @ 1:11 a.m.

Psycholizard: So true. Hotel and restaurant workers, who make less thn $25,000 a year -- in some cases a good deal less than that -- need higher wages for the sake of economic balance and advancement. That's why hotel workers are staging a hunger strike in Mission Valley this weekend. Best, Don Bauder


nokomisjeff April 7, 2013 @ 11:30 a.m.

If a higher minimum wage is a good thing, they ought to raise it to $200/hour and the average full time worker will make $8,000/week or $416,000 a year. That will make the worker rich, the government will be able to then make the rich workers pay their fair share of taxes. Raising the minimum wage should be a win/win for both parties.


Don Bauder April 8, 2013 @ 10:34 a.m.

Jeff: If the minimum wage would have gone up as rapidly as CEO pay, workers would probably be making $200 an hour! Best, Don Bauder


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