1114-biz-webCHARTSFloyd Norris channels Dickens to discuss the Worst of Times (employment wise):

“The overall unemployment rate, which reached 10.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis last month, remains below the post-World War II peak of 10.8 percent, reached in late 1982. But the proportion of workers who have been out of work for a long time is higher now than it has ever been since the Great Depression.

The persistence of joblessness for so many people — 5.6 million Americans have now been out of work for more than half a year even though they have continued to seek employment — may provide the greatest challenge for the Obama administration if it decides to seek a new economic stimulus program.”

The NYT graphic nearby (click for larger size) shows how rapid and steep the rise in Unemployment has been what compared to some other ugly eras.

This certainly isn’t the Best of Times, at least one indicator seems to be  improving:

“The short-term unemployment rate — the proportion of the work force that has been jobless for less than 15 weeks — has begun to decline, however, and stood at 4.5 percent in October after peaking at 4.9 percent in May.

That decline is a signal that the recession, which officially began in December 2007, probably has ended. In past recessions since World War II, the National Bureau of Economic Research has always dated the end within two months of the peak in short-term joblessness.”


Job Losses Mount, Enduring and Deep
NYT, November 13, 2009


Category: Cycles, Employment

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

15 Responses to “It Was the Worst of Times . . .”

  1. franklin411 says:

    Oh, the joys of a service economy based on unskilled labor, where everyone is dispensable. The incentive is to err on the side of caution and fire more workers than necessary, because any idiot can sell jeans or scrub toilets.

    This is why the President is attempting to “reset” the American economy so it is based on knowledge and high tech skills, which can’t easily be replaced by any random high school kid or any illiterate Chinese villager.

  2. VennData says:

    …any idiot can sell real estate or scrub your loan app.

  3. franklin411 says:

    Or be the CEO of AIG, Bear Stearns, or Lehman too!

  4. Blurtman says:

    These aren’t all bubble jobs that have been lost. This data indicates that the economic system in the USA is deeply flawed.

  5. Marcus Aurelius says:


    There are already too many worthless (way over indebted for an education that will not pay for itself in the job market), degree-holding idiots selling jeans, waiting tables, and the like. Maybe not scrubbing toilets, yet, but I wouldn’t doubt that’s coming down the pike (“Jobs Americans Won’t Do.” Heh.). I have a feeling that an illiterate Chinese villager would home school (so to speak) most of our high school and college grads in how to work (as opposed to any more specific skill — tech or scrubbing toilets).

  6. madman130 says:

    How does a president “reset” the economy? How can anyone (even god) “reset” voluntary transactions among people? We have to drop this nonsense that president can “fix” the economy, president will create jobs and blah blah blah……

  7. bsneath says:

    A “I have good news and bad news.”
    B “Give me the good news first.”
    A “The short term jobless rate is going down.”
    B “Hey that is great. Does that mean more people are getting rehired?”
    A “No. That is the bad news. Now they are long-term jobless.”

  8. bsneath says:

    madman130 Says:

    “How does a president “reset” the economy? How can anyone (even god) “reset” voluntary transactions among people? ”

    By giving people real confidence that the economy will be turned around. By putting forth an investment program that restores the people’s faith that the economy will once again grow. By doing what should have been done last winter to stimulate real long term economic growth instead of short term spending commitments.

  9. call me ahab says:

    “…any idiot can sell real estate or scrub your loan app”

    no doubt

    “There are already too many worthless (way over indebted for an education that will not pay for itself in the job market), degree-holding idiots selling jeans, waiting tables, and the like.”

    also- no doubt

  10. ZedLoch says:

    That last chart (by age group) is particularly troubling. Recent grads are hitting a wall, meanwhile people who should be nearing retirement are going back to work. how does that happen?

  11. SS says:

    A madman asks,

    “How can a President reset the economy”

    The answer may be displeasing to the ideology you have been fed since a young age but if you want to work and survive there is really only one answer: the President can set national priorities, tax to raise the revenue and spend on government programs to meet these priorities whether infrastructure, outer space, clean streets or safer neighborhoods, etc. In the past tax and policy initiatives promoting private sector initiatives in these or other areas of our economic life might have been sufficient but the imbalances have become too great to redress them with anything bu a massive public works projects a la the 1930s WPA.


  12. bsneath says:

    “the President can set national priorities, tax to raise the revenue and spend on government programs to meet these priorities whether infrastructure, outer space, clean streets or safer neighborhoods, etc.”

    No no no. A thousand times no. This does nothing to make us more competitive, more efficient, more able to compete on an international playing field.

    We must invest. Outer space, clean street, safe neighborhoods. All well and good. But this is not what is going to generate lasting job opportunities in a global marketplace.

    SS – please go back to the drawing board and rethink; What can our government invest in to make our economy more competitive and thus create lasting economic growth?

  13. TakBak04 says:

    No Ordinary Utensil
    By David Glenn Cox

    I don’t think that there is any spectacle quite so moving or so sad than to see someone’s possessions stacked in the yard in front of what used to be their home. It is odd, not just our own connection with our belongings, but our belongings’ connections to us as well.

    What once was a living room chair or kitchen chair, where we relaxed and contemplated life or ate our meals, then becomes lawn debris left over from a silent, slow-moving, invisible storm that drowns some and leaves others bone dry. The victims are washed away to a land that we don’t know about and have never heard of, and what’s more we don’t care.

    When my son was young we used to launch model rockets on the grounds of an abandoned prison in Alabama. The prison buildings had been razed in the hope that the land could be redeveloped into a residential neighborhood. But the ghosts would have none of it; because of the function of the old prison there had been many, shall we say, “accidents.” Record keeping had been supplanted by expediency and it was discovered that the land was littered with numerous unmarked graves.

    The ghosts exacted their revenge on the unsuspecting developers because the state had sold the property as is, all sales final. To the ghosts this was their property and they had made good their title. They had purchased it with their lives and paid interest on the note with their bones and the unceasing misery they witnessed. So, as the developers pondered their dilemma, it made an excellent rocket range. I was chasing a red and white parachute one day when I kicked up a stamped steel spoon. It was a spoon just like millions of other spoons, with no adornments of any kind. But as I picked it up and held it, it gave off a vibe that almost burned me. This was a special spoon, not unlike some war relic of the long dead.

    It was someone’s sole possession, a slender thread, a single article that connected the unnamed and unknown to humanity. It was a utensil that had outlived the container of human misery where it was once employed. Perhaps it was hidden there on purpose, perhaps hidden there as part of an aborted escape attempt that ended in fury and accident. Or maybe it was just serendipity, but here it was, burning my hand. It had outlasted the buildings, the prisoners, the guards and the electric chair that was once the prison’s centerpiece of good government.

    As I stood there, alone with just the ghosts, the winds and the burning spoon, I had mixed emotions about taking it with me. Part of me said to leave it, to put it back where I found it. To let it slumber in the earth until it joined with the ghosts. Yet, if I took it with me I would be liberating it, giving it a small piece of freedom that the hands which once held onto it so dearly had only dreamed of possessing.

    This was indeed no ordinary utensil; this simple spoon with its shiny appearance and checkered past weighed heavily on my mind. I couldn’t leave it behind, and when I got home I could neither leave it in the car nor take it into the house. It didn’t seem right to leave it in the car, to replace one confinement with another. Likewise to take it into the house and not only to confine it but also to risk it being used again, seemed unconscionable. This spoon had earned its retirement and its parole. Then it came down all around me, the significance of what I had done.

    Even a simple tool of this type that we take for granted is entitled to some respect. Even a tool that has served only the lowly and the lonely and the lost and the condemned of this world is entitled to remembrance and even reverence. I took the spoon out to the back of the yard and placed it the bough of a tree, out of sight of the curious. The spoon seemed to be content there and offered up no complaints, so there it stayed for the next several months.

    One sunny spring day I was limbing a huge oak tree in the back yard that was too close to the house. The truth was that limbing trees had become part hobby and part part-time job. That’s why I had gotten such a good deal on the place; it would have cost more than the price of the house to pay someone to remove all the overgrown trees on the property. And this was a white oak Goliath, far better than five feet around at its base, and I and my chainsaw were about to do battle with it for supremacy.

    I placed one ladder against the house and then carried the other up to the roof and tied it off to the tree. Then, with my chainsaw tied to a rope, I began to scale towards the summit. I found a comfortable spot to sit and began to pull the saw up to me with the rope. Just for a moment I surveyed the scene, the sun, the wind, and only the songs of the birds to break the solitude. It was a lovely scene, set against a backdrop of waving, joyous, young green leaves, each screaming for attention as the young often do.

    It struck me, and in that instant and I understood why that spoon was so content to be left there in the bough. It was freed from the dirt and connected to the sky, still rooted, still supported, but communing with the angels of our better light. Now free from the misery connected to its previous life, it was perhaps able to exorcise itself from the demons of misery and perhaps even able to bring small peace to those who once held onto it so tightly and treated it so preciously.

    there’s more at link…but this is enough, isn’t it?


  14. TakBak04 says:

    Oops…sorry…I had excerpted a few paragraphs and the whole thing came through. Sorry about that. I don’t know how to edit it down. Can’t find a function to do it with this site. Perhaps someone monitoring BR’s site can cut it down to just a few paragraphs. Apologize.

  15. Bruce in Tn says:

    Well. Let’s see. If the WSJ article about re-hires going back often for 40% less than they made is correct, then let’s do a little noodling, shall we? IF we were talking old job vs new job, then 40 hours per week times .6 (what the new job is worth compared to the new job) equals 24. IF we look at the average work week, we see that averages 33 hours now. IF the WSJ article is correct, then these new hires are working a 24 hour work week comparted to where they were before they were laid off and then rehired.

    ….Math is such a snot.