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The Invisible Unemployed

In this story at The Atlantic, Derek Thompson delves into the mystery otherwise known as the U.S. labor market to reveal a few reasons why the electorate seemed so unhappy earlier this month despite a plunging jobless rate and soaring stock prices.

I had always thought that the number of “unemployed” was actually far higher than the number of discouraged/involuntary part-time workers and, up until recently, it has been, but no more. Combined with little or no wage growth (and declines in real terms going back a decade or more), it seems Americans do have a lot to be unhappy about.

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Food Stamps and Unemployment

More evidence that the current economic “recovery” is unlike any other comes via Robert Doar in this item at Real Clear Markets where food stamp SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) usage has failed to take its usual course following the end of a recession by moving lower along with the unemployment rate.

Of course, new claims for unemployment insurance reached a 14-year low earlier today, so, the recent trend shown above shows no sign of reversing.

Why is this happening? The answers you might hear are likely dependent upon the political party affiliation of the person responding to the question, but this also involves changing demographics, ongoing cultural changes related to government assistance, and a host of other issues related to our financial/economic system and the decline of an aging empire.

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Some Disturbing Labor Market Data Points

In the wake of Friday’s dismal labor report that dismal scientists across the country shrugged off as a one-off event come a couple of interesting (and pretty disconcerting) data points for the U.S. labor market that appeared on the intertubes this morning.

First, from this item at David Stockman’s Contra Corner blog comes the chart below showing what U.S. nonfarm payrolls look like without what can only be described as a more than decade long education and health care (mostly the latter) jobs juggernaut.

In short, while the U.S. population has increased by more than 30 million over the last 14 years, there have been no net-job gains in the U.S. labor force when  health care and education workers are removed from the totals, what Stockman calls “a fatuous shibboleth”.

Also… (more…)

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The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs in July and prior months were revised slightly higher as the unemployment rate rose from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent, due largely to people entering the labor force but not being able to find work.

In a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management, the broadest measure of the nation’s manufacturing sector showed strong growth last month as the Purchasing Managers Index rose from 55.3 in June to 57.1 in July, the highest level since April 2011.

The key new orders index jumped from 58.9 to 63.4, the best reading of the year, and the employment index rose from 52.8 to 58.2, the best reading in over two years.

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