Joe Guzzardi, 8/11/2016 [Archive]

A Politically Incorrect Look at July's 'Strong' Labor Report

By Joe Guzzardi

Wall Street gushed when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the July economy created 255,000 new jobs. The most effusive review may have come from the head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Quoted in a New York Times story, a representative said that the BLS data was "everything you could have asked for, maybe more." The July data may look rosy to stock market players, but the underlying jobs picture is, in reality, frighteningly bad and offers scant hope for the near-term future.

Scrutinizing the types of jobs the economy created among the lucky 255,000 paints an entirely different picture than the one Wall Street touted. More than 200,000 of July's new jobs are in the low-paying service sector, and many are involuntary temporary or part-time positions. About 75 percent of part-time workers live in poverty or close to it. Furthermore, the employment-age population grew 225,000 in July, so the low-paying jobs didn't keep up with population growth.

The boom in service sector hiring accelerated in 2009. Joanie Courtney, senior vice president at Monster Worldwide, told a Fox News panel that since President Obama took office, more than 90 percent of all jobs created have been service-related. Over at the blog site Zero Hedge, there is an eye-popping take on the extent of the labor market's true weakness: since 2014, half a million waiter and bartender jobs have been created, but no manufacturing jobs. Zero Hedge notes that since 2011, when the employment-population ratio for workers with less than a high school diploma bottomed, that sector in 2016 has regained its employment losses. But the employment-population ratio for high school or college graduates, eight of nine American adults, has been stagnant for four years.

The takeaway: the so-called jobs recovery has been propelled by cheap labor employees, some of whom have to work multiple jobs ---- and are counted multiple times in the payroll BLS report ---- to pay for basic household necessities.

Now for the maximum in political incorrectness, look at who's getting those low-paying service jobs. The answer is found in the alternate household survey, and not the headline-making, buzz-creating payroll survey. The household survey includes demographic information on the foreign-born working population, and shows that from July 2015 to July 2016, the foreign-born labor force increased five times more than the American-born workforce.

More currently, in the last two months, immigrants have gained 647,000 jobs ---- a 2.6 percent increase, while Americans workers have lost 160,000, a 0.1 percent loss. Going back to the Obama administration's first days, immigrant employment has risen 4.6 times faster than American employment, and total employed immigrants now comprise 17 percent of the labor market versus 15 percent eight years ago.

These payroll and household statistics are taken directly from federal websites, and easily available to interested parties. For those who've been paying attention to auto-pilot immigration ---- about one million work-authorized, permanent resident legal immigrants are added each year regardless of the nation's economic conditions or needs ---- American worker displacement doesn't surprise. Assuming the million annual immigrants will keep coming, a safe bet, and that automation will play an increasingly prominent role in the leisure industry, especially in those popular bartending and table-waiting jobs, only the most optimistic can see a bright future for workers, save for those with advanced degrees in specialized fields.

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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org.

Joe Guzzardi ©2016 Joe Guzzardi and Capsweb.org. This column is distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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