Where Do They Go?
By David Glenn Cox

All along the watchtower princes kept the view of strange days and of self-same nights.

This month’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report expresses the symptoms of a lingering stagnation that smells. Actual new job hires were 17,000 in a labor population of nearly 157 million; two million more working compared to last year, with another two million more “no longer in the labor force.” Either way, split the difference as the number of officially unemployed grew for a third consecutive month to 12,332,000.

Wages rose at the ridiculously paltry rate of 0.5 percent, seasonally adjusted for three months and for the year; compensation rose only 1.9%. A desert sheik should run such a frugal household. At 1.9% wage growth, any plans for an economic recovery should be placed well off into the far distant future. It’s true you know, you can’t stand still. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. The numbers all meander around so, up one month and down the next, but never improving outside of a narrow range.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report says: “Employer costs for health benefits increased 2.8 percent over the year. In December 2011 the increase was 3.5 percent.” Who paid that increase? So the averages for Americans of all stations are falling backwards. Take heart ye of the class struggle, wages for the higher-ups are doing only proportionally better. Retail workers’ wages increased an average of ten dollars a week, while their boss made twenty. But either way it’s only McDonald’s money.

Weekly hours worked are down in every employment category year after year, save for business services and healthcare. It’s not just a slowdown in this industry or in that, it is a widespread malaise. In its January report the BLS is careful to mention in the footnotes: “Note: Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of the January data.”

Median unemployment duration in weeks:

October – 19.6

November – 18.9

December – 18.00

January – 16.00

I never would have guessed that they adjusted the population controls, would you? Such adjustments make it difficult to assess changes over time through data comparisons and what they’re saying numerically doesn’t truly express the meaning existentially. It means if you were to lose your job today, on average, in a best case scenario, you won’t find a new job until June.

Now take a look at the average length of stay on unemployment.