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The Slowest Jobs Recovery Since the Great Depression Hits a Little Part-Time Speed Bump

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report this morning, and investors have found little to cheer -- the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) fell nearly 0.4% in the afternoon after opening with a small pop. The report was rather disappointing -- economists (and this columnist) generally expected a tally of 200,000 new jobs, but were instead served with a preliminary figure of 192,000. That by itself isn't necessarily enough to stoke fear, but there were other worrying trends in today's jobs report, some of which have received far less attention than they deserve. Let's take a look at the guts of the jobs report to find out why Wall Street doesn't think the new numbers are worth getting excited over.

Headline number: 192,000 new jobs added
Along with the new jobs estimate for March, the BLS also revised employment figures upward for January (from 129,000 to 144,000) and for February (from 175,000 to 197,000). These two revisions added another 37,000 jobs to 2014's tally, but that's barely a drop in the bucket of a 156 million-strong national labor force.

While this latest report fails to push the BLS' data over the peak of 138.365 million nonfarm employees set in January 2008 -- contrary to Wednesday's ADP jobs report, which showed a new record for private-sector employment -- it pushes the economy to striking distance of that total. The current employment tally of 137.928 million Americans is 437,000 employees away from 2008's record jobs total, and a new record should be attainable in the May or June jobs report, barring any unexpected downturn. This month's update continues a general trend that's been quite stable for the last few years -- monthly job gains have quite often been near the 200,000 mark:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some parts of the American economy had a larger impact on payroll growth than others. The BLS' sector-by-sector breakdown gives us a rather clear picture of where the jobs are coming from:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Totals may not match due to sector omissions.

Traditionally low-paying sectors -- retail and the leisure and hospitality sector -- continue to drive gains in employment, with the broad-based "professional and business services" sector leading the pack with 57,000 new jobs added in March. Construction employment surged again as the housing crash moves farther in our economic rearview mirror, but the government was a nonfactor this month, which is still better than being a drag on employment (as government layoffs have been an ongoing employment issue). The leading Dow components today reflect the relative strength of their industries: Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) , which is the dual beneficiary of retail strength and health-care stability, and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) , the purest play on "consumer discretionary" on the blue-chip index.

Unfortunately, there was some bad news hidden in this month's jobs report. After months of declines in the part-time labor force, the BLS reported a spike of 414,000 new part-time workers in March, which was the largest monthly increase in nearly two years:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This could just as well be an aberration, as it was a year ago, but the part-time picture in the American workforce is far from rosy. The financial crisis resulted in a spike in the number of part-time workers as a percentage of the labor force, and this has remained elevated ever since. In fact, it might be said that the "part-timing" of American jobs has held back a stronger workforce recovery, as the number of full-time equivalent jobs -- calculated by combining total employment by average hours worked, and then dividing that figure by 40 -- is a bit further away from full recovery than the baseline employment figure:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and author's calculations.

Full-time equivalent jobs peaked in March 2008 at 119.888 million, and the latest figure of 118.963 million full-time equivalent jobs is nearly 1 million short -- more than twice the gap between today's baseline nonfarm employment number and its 2008 all-time high. Average weekly hours, at 34.5 per worker, aren't far off of the 34.7 hours per worker recorded six years ago, but when you add up a fifth of an hour across more than 100 million workers, it makes a very big difference in the amount of time Americans actually spent on the job.

The BLS report also disappointed economists and investors who were hoping for unemployment to decline. Another 27,000 people were added to the unemployment total in March, continuing a reversal of the unemployment declines that had persisted for seven consecutive months until February. The baseline unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%, but the U-6 rate (which includes barely there workers and part-time workers who would rather work full time) ticked up to 12.7%. The U-6 rate has remained above 10% since June 2008. Another problem for the American labor force is the declining but still persistently high number of long-term unemployed people:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This report wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't great. Americans are still working less than they were in 2008. Many of the jobs they're finding don't pay a whole lot of money. And millions of people continue to go many months without ever finding a job. Today's reaction from the market's largest and most durable stocks is about right -- it's disappointing, but not extremely so.

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  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2014, at 9:11 PM, Tiingall wrote:

    The best answer to improve long-term and short term unemployment is to close the Federal Reserve.


    1. In the year the Fed started operations Federal Income Tax also started. Something like 90% of money paid in tax goes to the Federal Reserve to pay the National Debt.

    2. Who creates the National Debt - the Federal Reserve. They pay a few cents to print cash notes and sell it to the government for face value, plus lots of interest. They create funds in banks by simply creating a transaction, and charge lots of interest on the fake money they issue in that transaction.

    3. What did the 3rd President of the USA warn about allowing a private company - owned by the international banking family cartel - to take control of money supply in the USA: : "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

    4. And what did the President who signed the law to allow the Federal Reserve to be created say, a few years later: "I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

    5. How can you collapse the Federal Reserve and make it unprofitable for the corrupt and criminal international banking cartel to give up it;s operation: stop paying Federal Income Tax. The law that created Federal Income tax was never actually enacted. Anyone who refuses to pay income tax has never been prosecuted because the people running the system know they cannot win the court case.

    6. The Federal Reserve is a corrupt scam that nets the international banking families billions of your hard earned income every year, for doing nothing that the government could not do itself. While ever the people behave like sheep the criminals who own and operate the Federal Reserve can keep doing their psychopathic thing to everyone.

    7. Without the massive financial losses created by all that Federal Tax money being withdrawn from the system, unemployment would recover much faster, driven by consumer demand. But while everyone continues to give money to the international banking families via the scam of the Federal Reserve, businesses, families and individuals will remain paupers and with little discretionary income to create demand for consumer goods.

    8. The bankers' scams have helped concentrate most of the world's wealth into the hands of very few people. The World Bank has reported that the difference between rich and poor has been growing bigger, faster in the developed countries. Something like 90% of growth in income and wealth over the last 20 years have gone to the richest 1% of the population. These people have a very limited ability to use or carry cars, washing machine, fridges, phones, TVs, tablets etc. If the same money was spread over the entire population, millions more people could buy and that would generate demand, jobs, profits to invest etc.

    Sink the Federal Reserve and get back the country, the jobs, the wealth. And end the human suffering and economic surfdom created by the international banking families for their benefit. You can't rely on elected politicians, because the bankers either buy them out or kill them ( see: ) if they show any sign of revolt.

    Simply stop paying the illegal tax.

    "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, a few years after the Federal Reserve was created.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2014, at 5:48 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    The labor market (and economy) has been in a speed bump for over 5 years. It's time to go to Plan B and stop all the "fine tuning". It needs a complete overhaul.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2014, at 2:33 PM, gkirkmf wrote:

    not exactly good news here: (from the report)

    "In March, average

    hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down

    by 2 cents to $20.47."

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2014, at 7:56 PM, Tiingall wrote:

    Mathman67 is correct, the jobs market is depressed and previous MF articles have demonstrated that recovery from recessions or depressions is taking longer and longer with each event. 2020 is the year when unemployment is predicted to again reach pre 2008 levels in the USA.

    And fine tuning is simply part of the idealogical hegemony used by the big banking families - and their paid agents in politics, education, business, lwa and accounting - to keep everyone thinking the economic system is complex and convoluted and requires great intellect to manage.

    "FIne tuning" is putting band-aids on a cancer that needs to be cut out. Fine tuning, labour programmes and all the other tweeking or repairing is only treating the symptoms of the disease, not addressing the disease itself.

    The disease is the Federal Reserve:

    Representative Louis T. McFadden (R-TX) -

    We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board... This evil institution has impoverished .. the people of the United States ... and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through ... the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.

    Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) - Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international moneylenders. ... The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and ... manipulates the credit of the United States.

    Benjamin Franklin - The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the Revolutionary War.

    Economist, Milton Friedman - The stock of money, prices and output was decidedly more unstable after the establishment of the [Federal] Reserve System than before... Any system that gives so much power and much discretion to a few men, so that mistakes can have such far-reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic - this is the key political argument against an independent central bank.

    Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England in the 1920s - Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money and control credit, and with the slick of a pen they will create enough money to buy it back again. Take this great power away from the bankers and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, for this would be a better and happier world to live in. But if you want to continue as the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of slavery, let them continue to create money and to control credit.

    The USA population is a slave of teh Federal Reserve, toiling to create wealth which the international banking families steal.

    The Federal Reserve is like any parasite, it needs sustainance from it's host to survive. Remove the sustainance and the parasite dies. The Fed's sustainance is your federal tax money. Stop paying federal tax and the Fed will die.

    Sure, it - and the international banking families which control most central banks in most countries, - will make a lot of noise, and try to precipitate unrest, assasinate people (like in the past) and create fear ,as in the past. But it will be just just the death throws of a dying parasite.

    Theodore Roosevelt, New York Times, March 27, 1922 - These International bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of newspapers and the columns of these papers to club into submission or rive out of public office officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government.

    A prominent Brazilian politician - The Third World War has already started. It is a silent war. Not, for that reason, any less sinister. The war is tearing down Brazil, Latin America, and practically all the Third World. Instead of soldiers dying, there are children. It is a war over the Third World debt, one which has as its main weapon, interest, a weapon more deadly than the atom bomb, more shattering than a laser beam.

    American Bankers Association, 1891, as printed in the Congressional Record of April 29, 1913 -

    On September 1st, 1894, we will not renew our loans under any consideration. On September 1st wee will demand our money. We will foreclose and become mortgagees in possession. We can take two-thirds of the farms west of the Mississippi, and thousands of them east of the Mississippi as well, at out own price... Then the farmers will become tenants as in England.

    Vancouver [Canada] Sun newspaper, May 4, 1934 - Abraham Lincoln, the martyred Emancipator of the Slaves, was assassinated through the machinations of a group representative of the International bankers who feared the United States President's national credit ambitions - and the plot was hatched in Toronto and Montreal.

    Benjamin Franklin -The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the prime reason for the Revolutionary War.

    It's time to take back control to reduce unemployment, return businesses to profitability - so they can fund growth with profits, not with debt to bankers - and eliminate the massive financial burden that has retruned the country and individuals into fuedal domination.

    Starve the Federal Reserve so the parasite dies. Do not pay Federal Taxes.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2014, at 11:43 PM, Tiingall wrote:

    And when the Chairman of the Fed, the commercial bankers who live off our debt, and the other parasites who need us to work, create, labour and endure so they can live off our efforts say that economics and money management are too complex for us to comprehend and too dangerous to change, find strength in resolve to eliminate the Fed from the words of long-time economist, teacher and academic John Kenneth Galbraith -

    "The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it. The process by which banks create money is so simple" – John Kenneth Galbraith writing in 'Money: Whence it came, where it went' (1975).

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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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