Despair Economics

March 26, 2009

This so-called “financial meltdown” is indeed a down, but a descent from the base-bottom up — Close to 70 percent of the current unemployed in the US are blue-collar workers despite all the Wall Street blubbering and Rick-Santelli rants about the financial industry.

“This is a blue-collar recession, just like we saw in ’81,” said Andrew Sum, professor of labor economics at Northeastern University. “In fact, we’ve seen no net loss among college graduates. At least not yet.”

And this ain’t heavy.

(Illustration found here).

Jobs are  important in more than just the obvious, financial sense, but in the physical-social movement as well — an example, the growing tent city explosion across the country of unemployed, homeless folks, maybe a big chunk from the construction industry, at 17 percent unemployed, one of the hardest-hit trades in this economic nightmare.
Here in California, the unemployment rate hit 10.5 percent in February, which lead the nation in mass layoffs — 116,000 jobs gone, the “biggest portion, about a third, were in manufacturing, followed by retail trade and transportation and warehousing” — all blue-collar peoples, and mostly male peoples.
Maybe the big news is former banking executives now delivering pizza or some such bullshit, but the real feelers of the “news” are those in actual contact with the physical end-result reality of all those fancy default swaps.

National employment stats released this morning from the Labor Department continues the look of an old Shell-station public toilet — brown-shit nasty:

And for the week ended March 21, first-time (unemployment) claims for benefits rose 8,000 to 652,000, a level that’s fully 78% higher than the same period in the prior year.
The four-week average of these initial claims fell 1,000 to 649,000.
The claims report shows that businesses are laying off workers at a rapid pace and that finding replacement employment for those people out of work is ever harder.
Initial claims represent job destruction, while the level of continuing claims indicates how hard or easy it is for displaced workers to find new jobs.

Claims rose 123,750 to stand at 5.33 million — in itself an all-time record-keeping high.
Also from MarketWatch:

The U.S. economy experienced its most violent contraction in a generation during the fourth quarter, with real gross domestic product plunging at a 6.3% annualized seasonally adjusted rate, the Commerce Department reported Thursday in its third estimate of quarterly growth.
GDP hadn’t fallen so much since the first quarter of 1982.
It was the third largest decline in GDP in 50 years.
Economists believe the current quarter, which ends March 31, was nearly as bad.
Current projections look for GDP to fall at a 5.1% annual pace.
Since 1947, GDP has never fallen by more than 4% for two quarters in a row.

But the real horror:

The recession that began in December 2007 intensified in the fourth quarter following the government’s rescue of several large financial institutions and the collapse of Lehman Bros.
The ensuing credit squeeze has driven consumer and business confidence to generational lows, and cost 3 million Americans their jobs.

Just since last September — WTF!
Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, ah, we remember.
The now-famous $700 billion TARP program we couldn’t survive without in September, but never really used and redefined by Paulson a month later, which actually meant the man didn’t know what the shit he was doing.
Geithner was head of the New York Fed at the time and had a hand in putting the original nonsense together.
This entire financial system bailout/save-the-bankers scheme is akin to having the fox guard the hen-house.

Blue-collar vs white-collar nowadays, even within its own self, like reports CitiGroup engaging in “Recessionary Discrimination” in laying off people, or even with new jobs lagging, medical people are in high demand — a circle of employment spiraling down.

According to the above-mentioned Andrew Sum, professor of labor economics at Northeastern University, education is still the key: “It is well-documented that the more education you have the easier it is to find a new job…This is why we’ve seen virtually no net losses among white-collar workers,” he said.
Although there’s been some net job gains for black women, not so for black men, and in the Hispanic community, men have absorbed about 80 percent of the layoffs, while with whites it’s 75 percent.
Where are we going with this?

In the meantime, economists high and low are still searching for the bottom of the blue-collar, mostly male recession barrel, only to come up with bigger and bigger unemployment numbers.
“The magnitude of this is alarming,” Mr. Sum said. “People say, ‘Why does it seem so much worse?’ and the answer is because it is.”

Horse walks into a bar, bartender asks, ‘Why the long face?’

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