Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Depression, by any other name ...

“Private employers cut 250,000 jobs in November, the most in seven years, a report by a private employment service said on Wednesday, (Reuters 12-3-08).”

The experts also keep “revising upward” their totals from months we thought were behind us, so things keep getting worse in the past as well as present and future.

Previous reports this fall include:
Aug. 2008 – 127,000 for the month
Sept. 2008 – 284,000 for the month, incl. 201,000 service jobs
Sept. 2008 – Hewlett-Packard 25,000 announced
Sept. 2008 – unemployment hits 5-year high

And this is official unemployment, meaning unemployment claims, which only counts people who are eligible - a category which shrank notably in the Reagan years, artificially lowering the reported unemployment rate. It only includes people who are currently looking for work, but who have been looking for only a few months (in other words, their benefits haven't run out yet), they aren't students (even taking one class, even a night class, even a vocational class), they are 100 percent unemployed (because working even 1 hour a week disqualifies you). Moreover, they recently had a job, where they had worked for long enough and enough hours per week to qualify - and they still only get a fraction of their former pay, from which they paid into the system (it's unemployment insurance after all, not welfare).

It doesn't count millions of people who have given up looking, are working even a little, or who are otherwise "unavailable for work" for any part of the day, e.g. taking care of kids.

Oct. 2008 - Citigroup 22,000 announced
Oct. 2008 – manufacturing 90,000 cut
Oct. 2008 – leisure & hospitality 16,000 cut
Oct. 2008 – construction 49,000 cut
Oct. 2008 – professional & business services 45,000 cut
Oct. 2008 - retail 38,000 cut
Oct. 2008 – temp jobs 50,800 cut
Oct. 2008 - 200,000 predicted; 240,000 actual for the month; 1.2 million cut for the year (most of these - 651,000 - in the last three months, each month worse than the last)
Oct. 2008 – unemployment hits 14-year high (Again, this is official unemployment, i.e. ue claims.
Oct. 2008 – “The so-called under-employment rate, which counts those part-time workers, as well as those without jobs who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work, rose to 11.8% from from 11%, matching the all-time high for that measure since calculations for it began in January 1994.” - CNN
Nov. 2008 – Circuit City 7,300 announced (17 percent of its domestic workforce)
Nov. 2008 – Hartford Financial 500 announced
Nov 2008 – GlaxoSmithKline 1,000 in sales positions announced
Nov. 2008 – Fidelity Investments 1,300 announced
Nov. 2008 – Mattel 1,000 announced
Nov. 2008 – Ford 2,600 announced (+ total auto sales in US at 25-year low)
Nov. 2008 – Sun 6,000 (18 %)
(total tech sector 2008: 140,000; 107,300 in 2007; 131, 200 in 2006; 174,744 in 2005; 700,000 in 2001 when “dot-com bubble burst”)
Nov. 2008 – Applied Materials 1,800 announced (12 %)
Nov. 2008 – National Semiconductor 330 announced
Nov. 2008 - Citigroup 53,000 announced (20 percent so far since 2007)
Our future? 300,000 job losses a month predicted (CNN) - they can always "revise this up" later; Cisco Systems, Qualcomm, Nokia may announce layoffs before the end of the year due to losses; and of course 2-3 million jobs lost if even one of the Big Three goes belly up.

By the way, I noticed in all that hoopla last week that the recession was finally "official" - and backdated to December 2007 - the same group said, in answer to a reporter's question, they have "no official definition" for the predicament that dare not speak its name: "depression."

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