Home > The Economy > The US jobs-gap (3 graphs)

The US jobs-gap (3 graphs)

from David Ruccio

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 11.30.08 AM

With 217,000 new jobs created in May, the U.S. economy is finally—finally, after 50 months!—back to the pre-recession employment level.

Except it isn’t. Not by a long shot. Not when we consider the “jobs gap”—which we can calculate in one of two ways: by the amount of time it will take at this rate to get back to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month (4 years) or by the difference between payroll employment and the number of jobs needed to keep up with the growth in the potential labor force (6.9 million jobs).



And that’s not even considering the kinds of jobs that have been created or the pay for those jobs or the percentage of the unemployed how have been without a job for 27 weeks or more.

Or, for that matter, the fact that all those how have been lucky enough to keep their jobs or to get a new job are forced to have the freedom to work for a small number of employers who are able to capture and do what they will with the profits their workers create.

  1. Herb Wiseman
    June 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    This is NAIRU on steroids! Wages barely increasing while inflation is minimal except for a few non-core items. Not boding well for the future.

  2. BC
    June 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm


    Private, full-time employment per capita is back to the level of early 1988.


    However, the change rate is reported as growing at the fastest rate in 20 years, and nearly three times faster than real final sales per capita.

    But there is no precedent in nearly half a century for private, full-time employment per capita growing while the labor force is contracting and growing three times faster than real final sales per capita, which itself is at or below the historical rate of stall speed.


    Growth of real non-residential investment to private employment also suggests stall speed or recessionary conditions. The two similar periods of the past that occurred without a recession occurring were 1967 and 1986, i.e., mid-cycle pauses within longer Juglar cycles, when real final sales were growing 3-4 times faster than today’s rate.


    Real retail sales per capita ex autos are contracting yoy, which does not support the reported growth of employment and implied growth of after-tax income and purchasing power.

    Employment does not grow 3-4 times faster than final sales and investment less employment while real retail sales ex autos and the labor force contract yoy.

    Employment growth is being significantly overstated.

  3. Ack Nice
    June 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Reality Economics 101 is this: You have a stomach that requires to be fed, or else you die.

    Motivation to work is provided by stomachs. Note that everybody has one. Food doesn’t jump or fall into anybody’s mouth – not on this planet, anyway. Maybe it works differently on some other planet or in some other universe, but on Earth, this is the situation: Bear no catchee fish means bear no eatee fish means bear die, bird no catchee worm means bird no eatee worm means bird die. Bear work or bear die. Bird work or bird die. No rocket science or brain surgery or university PHD required to figure it out.

    Note that the insertion of money between ‘catchee’ and ‘eatee’ does nothing to change the fundamental situation we human bears and birds are in.

    All of which means: work, which is accurately defined as the sacrifice of (a bear’s or a bird’s or) a human being’s time and energies – is the first condition of life, of living, of staying alive.

    The right to work to feed your stomach is a natural right – a right we humans had in nature – a right bears and birds retain to this day.

    The essential necessity to work to feed your stomach to stay alive is not negated, not even reduced, by living in societies. The necessity remains, inviolable as ever – but note that societal living as we modern humans practice it has actually subtracted the ability for all humans to access their right to work to feed their stomachs to stay alive: consult the graphs kindly provided by Mr. Ruccio, above.

    OMG what ARE we modern humans thinking, eh?

    The answer to that is that we are NOT thinking – we are just unthinkingly conformist, going along with whatever our societies are doing, throwing in willy-nilly with ‘the flow’, having abdicated our right and responsibility to ourselves to think things through for ourselves. We have fallen sound-snoring asleep to the most fundamental truths of our reality, we have all become unrealists.

    This is why we fall for the ruse that gold is required to motivate people to work, and why we swallow the even bigger snake-oil that if we DON’T give the rich more gold THEY will lose motivation to work and if we DO give the poor more gold THEY will lose motivation to work. That argument is clearly self-contradictory, therefore clearly illogical, therefore clearly untrue – on top of the fact it so conveniently and completely ignores the first fact of life.

    When work means eat means stay alive and no work means no eat means you die, society has no right to withhold a job from anyone. If societal-living is subtracting, obliterating, rights we had in nature that mean survival for individuals, then societal-living is providing a net negative benefit to its members as compared to living in a state of nature. To withhold jobs in a society is to kill people, is to use societal living as a means to starve people. To fail to provide jobs for everyone who wants one is to prevent them the ability to feed their stomachs in order to stay alive = to murder people.

    (And notice we have not even gone anywhere near the fact that there is enormous work needing to be done in our societies that is not currently being undertaken. For just one example, just look at the deteriorating state/condition of housing globally. For another, consider the enormous gap between caregiving needed for children and elders, and that currently provided.)

    What gets referred to as unemployment is in fact mostly involuntary – forced – dis-employment. This can be got rid of at any time by simply reducing the number of hours at which overtime pay kicks in. Reduce the number of hours that constitute fulltime work, and employers will hire more workers rather than pay overtime pay to fewer. As employment nears 98% (assuming natural unemployment rate of 2% – there are always a few people between jobs or living off savings), the point at which overtime kicks in can be raised – the overtime point can and should “float” up or down as necessary for purposes of optimal, maximal employment.

    No matter how many rightwing cheap labor predators tell you otherwise, speaking lies born from their beloved, rancid, obsolete ideology of social hierarchy (with themselves always on top, of course) the truth is that the healthy animal wants to work and so does the healthy human. Because stomachs. D’oh!

    (Homer Simpson is smarter than most humans. Homer is at least capable to have the big D’oh! moment when he suddenly realizes how wrong he has been getting it.)

    A company today advertises 50 jobs and a thousand people show up to apply. That is the norm, not the exception. You have only to try being without work once in your life to understand that nobody but nobody works harder than the poor and the involuntarily dis-employed do – just to stay alive.

    Now let’s go even a bit farther down the path of return-to-realism. The argument that paying all jobs working people do the same fairpay amount would cause unworkingness, does not hold water. It doesn’t stand up to rational scrutiny. If all work paid fairpay (fairpay = equal pay for equal sacrifice of time and energies to working), nobody would stop working – because if they didn’t work in a fairpay system, they wouldn’t get fairpay to buy food and they would die. Furthermore, some people are already getting the fairpay amount, and they have not stopped working, so it cannot rationally be said that fairpay causes unworkingness, period.

    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
    – Albert Einstein

    • davetaylor1
      June 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Well said, Ack.

      • Ack Nice
        June 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

        Thank you very much, davetaylor. It’s good to know somebody read and appreciated the work. If you agree with the thinking, then it is your thinking, too – so you are invited to copy it, put your own name on it, and pass it along.

        It’s especially nice to hear a kind word today, as I feel half dead with a bad flu virus. (Note that I am experiencing an overwhelming desire to French kiss Peter Schiff, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, and Peter G Peterson… a desire commensurate with how awful I feel.)


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