The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

What the Heck Is Going On in the Job Market?

On July 21st, 2014, posted in: Uncategorized by

Traffic jamSometimes during the day, I leave the office. I have to go to meetings, other branches, pick up lunch, etc., etc. As I’m tooling about, I find myself amazed by the number of people doing the same during the middle of a day. Pick Tuesday, but any day works — what the heck is going on out there that traffic is backed up on a secondary artery? It makes me think.

I have been known to utter out loud over the chatter of the radio, “Why aren’t these people at work?” I have followed up with “Maybe they all work at night?” Then I realize that I am talking to myself, playing the role of two different people in a conversation. It scares me a little, and instead I move on to listening to some mindless drivel being spit out of the radio speakers.

I’ve got to say, I had never given thought to the fact that the number of folks driving around midday may be doing so because they are out of work. After all, unemployment numbers have generally decreased, and the most recent jobs reports were glowing. What the heck? Certainly, the media wouldn’t be lying about the numbers. Nope. Come to find out, there are some other numbers that are in the second tier of government data that aren’t always grabbing headlines. They are worth a look and may explain why I can’t enjoy my midday excursions.

It appears as though full-time jobs plummeted last month by more than a half-million and part-time jobs soared by 800,000. So apparently those annoying midday traffic jams are people looking for full-time work. WOW! I was floored by these Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. I guess that, in many cases, two people are now working the same number of hours that one person had previously worked.

Here are some more numbers that freak me out. Since 2007, our population has grown by 17.2 million U.S. citizens, but there are 374,000 fewer jobs since the fourth quarter of that same year. And apparently 91 million folks over the age of 16 are not working, and that is a record high. That figure is up 12 percent over the past six years.

Look, the fact is that the American economy known for job creation is on holiday. During the four previous recessions, growth rebounded about twice as much as it has during the aftermath of this recession. UGH! Something is wrong.

I spoke with some small business owners, and whatever their political bent, they were not investing in growing the business. There are too many unknowns to take a big pot of cash and throw it into growing the business. Regulations, politics and taxes (not in any particular order) are stifling.

The economy needs to grow via consumer spending. Our collective spending accounts for two-thirds of economic growth. But we can’t spend as much as we used to because we have a part-time job versus a full-time job. Factor in inflation and we’re buying less with our part-time dollars today than in previous years. Washington, D.C. needs to stop fighting and fix this mess. Set politics aside and begin doing what’s right for America. I have hope, but it’s fading.

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