Updated October 11, 2004Friday's Presidential debate must have been scheduled to overshadow monthly job numbers. Non-farm job growth -- at 96,000 -- again fell considerably short of the 150,000 needed for stable numbers, and this is almost a third-fewer new jobs than reported in August. Only 59,000 of these jobs are private sector jobs. And technology and telecom lost 35,000 jobs in September.
BLS press releases -- and the echoing business press -- continue to focus on "non-farm" employment, which includes public employees, although "private" employment more accurately reflects the state of the economy. And, once again, private employment data were revised downward and government employment revised upward for the prior month's report.
Total private employment in September was 109,926,000 -- that is 1.5 percent less than the 111,560,000 employed in the private sector in January 2001. President Bush is only the second president in history to lose private sector jobs in his four-year stewardship of the economy.
Private employment August was revised downward by 43,000 jobs -- about one-third fewer than reported in September.
Note: all job data are seasonally adjusted.
Public Sector Growth
Government jobs, on the other hand, continue to grow. In January 2001, there were 20,828,000 public sector jobs. The preliminary number for September is 21,641,000 -- an increase of 3.9 percent, suggesting his first term number will be greater in both percent and absolute numbers than Clinton's first term (3.5 percent).
The preliminary number of government jobs for August was reported at 21,565,000; it was revised upward to 21,604,000.
As the International Herald Tribune noted:
"Despite the stimulus from three rounds of tax cuts, a spectacular run-up in federal deficits and enormous assistance from the Federal Reserve, which lowered interest rates 13 times, the United States still has at least 585,000 fewer jobs now than it did when Bush took office in January 2001."
The technology sector lost 24,300 jobs in September; telecom, 10,982. That's more than half of the private sector jobs added in September.
In early October, the media made selective note of a new rash of pending layoffs. United Airline announced it would reduce its fleet by 13 percent, resulting in an undetermined number of layoffs. AT&T announced it would be laying off 20 percent (another 7,400) of its workforce. Bank of America announced another 4,500 layoffs, on top of the previously announced 12,500 resulting from its merger with FleetBoston. (WallStreet, of course, celebrated by boosting BoA's stock price.) Unisys announced it was cutting 1,400 jobs; Computer Associates, 800.
Private Non-Farm Mass Layoffs - 1996 - 2003 (BLS Data)
- 1996 - 1,113,175
- 1997 - 1,073,279
- 1998 - 1,158,787
- 1999 - 1,096,859
- 2000 - 1,107,055
- 2001 - 1,698,131
- 2002 - 1,457,024
- 2003 - 1,387,541
"A Business Council survey of 50 corporate chief executives revealed that they expect economic growth of only 2 percent next year -- a further sharp deceleration compared with this year."
Average folks know this; they compensate, in part, by flooding Wal-Mart each weekend. Pundits and politicians -- will voters look to their pocketbooks or respond to fear-mongering on 2 November?
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