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Friday, January 11, 2008

Signs Of The Times

Update: Canada loses 18,700 jobs in December. Over 2007 in total Canada gained about 370,000 jobs.
Canadian premiers will press Prime Minister Stephen Harper today for more federal government assistance as a weakening U.S. economy and strong Canadian dollar hurt regional growth.

The meeting will seek to build on Harper's announcement yesterday of a C$1 billion ($980 million) aid package for ``single-industry'' towns facing job losses. The money, to be placed in a trust fund, will help communities shift workers into other industries.

Harper's ability to give the provinces more aid may be limited by a decline in tax revenue as the economy slows and growth in the U.S., Canada's biggest trading partner, erodes faster. In the five U.S. recessions going back to 1973, Canada's gross domestic product also contracted for at least one quarter.
Georgia, USA:
For the fourth consecutive day, people waited in long lines Thursday for a shot at a job at a new Wal-Mart in DeKalb County, pushing the total number of applicants beyond 10,000.
Beginning Monday, after virtually no advertising or any signs, the throngs of hopeful applicants continued to pour into a church converted into a job processing center — all vying for only 350 to 400 available jobs, according to Wal-Mart officials.
Ouch. That smarts. Hat tip to Lance, who sent that one to me. I think the veil of complacency is about to be punctured.


Don't look good.

add more expensive food.


I follow your blog because it gives me a view of the bigger world. Here in the Denver metro area, at least among technologists, things are tight. No one I know is looking for work, and I know several companies who are looking to hire. Whether they will be if we slow down is a different question, but right now the labor market (again, for programmers, project managers, graphic designers) is tight.
Yeah, Vader. That's one of the main factors causing a lot of political upheavals around the world. Food and fuel inflation is truly painful for workers in many countries who spend a much higher proportion of their incomes on basic necessities.
Dan - I personally don't subscribe to the apocalyptic visions that I am reading from some sources. A recession, yes, but not a depression. However, a lot in the US depends on how other countries fare economically. We have the ability to compete in several areas, but we do need the demand overall.

Something did happen late in the year to cause a genuine slowdown in the economy. A slowdown has been creeping along under the radar for over a year, but abruptly the pace of it accelerated. It is not just due to the US, either. Other countries are slowing as well.

I listened to the AMEX call last night, and the change they saw was termed as "sudden".
The number of applicants sounds like a lot until you think what the ratio of applicants per job in this story is. By my calculation that is a little over 20 applicants per job. That number doesn't seem wildly enormous if you figure for any job posted on a job site like Monster gets at least 20 responses.
Most of Monster's Jobs are way above minimum wage, most either technical or professional.

In the Walmart case, you have minimum wages jobs without benefits getting 20 prospects per position.

If the jobs of last resort are getting 20 prospects per position, then the situation is not very good.
I do ascribe to the apocalyptic vision. However we have already passed my worst case imagination and are accelerating.

I can accept that I am not a optimist, never have been, never will be. But when the experts keep getting surprised and surprised in ways that their expertise should have avoided. And this keeps on, then I worry. I expect the optimists to be somewhat right. It's when they are consistently wrong that I become depressive.
Well, the ratio runs between 25-30 applicants per job. And Walmart jobs are not the best jobs around, but maybe they are better than what people now have. Maybe people are worried about the jobs they have now. All of these applicants couldn't have been out of work.

Vader, this is one case in which all the "experts" were paid to be wrong. I've been talking about a recession since 2006, and I find it hard to believe that some still dispute it.
What is disturbing to me is the location of the Walmart in the story; basically the Atlanta metro. I wouldn't think that Atlanta is in the top quarter of economically stressed areas in the US.
The folks could be coming literally out of the woodwork.

The UE rate for regular UE, discouraged UE and working part time and wishing for full time is on the high side of 8%

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers" rose from 8.4% last month to 8.8% this month.

Note Marginally attached definition: Marginally attached workers are persons who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job
and have looked for work sometime in the recent past.

This is 3% of the work force as opposed to an official UE rate of 5%. Let that sink in; a force equal to 60% of the official UE rate want to work but cannot find jobs.


I've personally been in this category all but 1 year since 10/2001. Out of 6 years, a person with extensive IT experience, has had a full time job, 1 out of 6 years, college degree and good work ethics and all that stuff.

In this economy, the best I can look forward to is working at Walmart, or a pizza shop. Rather I hope I can use a lot of arthritis pain to get a disability income from Social Security.

In my family, my wife has a regular job as a secretary pulling in $10 no benefits, I am UE, my 21 yo son is UE, my 21 yo step son is part time pizza driver, my step daughter works in a pizza shop, my brother is BK due to medical reasons and UE, I have a boarder that is 35 doing part time pizza shop, my ex-wife is UE and my wife's ex hubby is working part time. Maybe not a random sample, but not a shining example of the American Dream either.
Geeze! What area?

If enough people fall into those types of categories, the pizza business is going to take a hit soon enough.
Alabama. Bham for my immediate family.

I've applied for several tech jobs at the local college. Most are returned that the position was canceled.

Yes our leaders have not been truthful to us. Now is it a deliberate lie-I do not think so. But a world view, a paradigm, because they are so separated from the average citizen that is destructive, but they are just not aware of it. Think of the French Nobility on the verge of the French revolution. Or even the leadership elites on the eve of the Great Depression.

It is this fact that makes me so depressive on the immediate economic future. Not the economic factors as bad as they may be, but the psychology of the leadership in both their ignorance and attitudes. In battles, historically, most casualties are a result of bad leadership either in execution or the lost by the rank and file of confidence in that leadership. Political and economic crisis are no different.
Vader, I think of it as career deflation. They continue to tell you to go out and get an education to get a good job. But then that sector collapses and you get pushed down into a low paying job again. The official solution is of course to go back to school again.

My real question is exactly what is this nonsense about making people work longer before they hit retirement age. Exactly what jobs do they intend to make them work at? Most corporations are not willing to hire folks in their 50s let alone their mid 60s. The whole thing is silly. Folks will probably need to work because they can't get their lifestyle down to where they can live on SSI, unless they take to living under a tarp on the side of the road ;)
I've asked the same question myself, Teri. The only place for these folks to work is Walmart and as night auditors at motels. NOONE is going to hire them.
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