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April 10, 2023

An Ominous Jobs Report

While the primary pieces of the report seem sound, a closer look at some of the underlying trends paints a far less rosy picture.

At first glance, the March jobs report seems something of a snoozer. After all, the actual number of jobs added by employers, 236,000, nearly hit the expected number, 239,000, on the nose.

The fact that this was the first time in 12 months that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ number didn’t meet expectations is, let’s face it, a technicality. In addition, the news that the unemployment rate edged still lower, to 3.5%, seems welcome, as does the labor force participation rate having increased to its highest level since before the Communist Chinese unleashed COVID-19 on the world and thereby crushed the global economy.

But some of the underlying numbers are not technicalities.

First, this Good Friday report marked the slowest pace of job growth in two years. As Fox Business put it, “U.S. hiring slowed in March as the once rock-solid labor market began to soften in the face of high interest rates and stubborn inflation.” For comparison, let’s consider the trend so far this year: January’s jobs number was 504,000, and February’s was 311,000.

We’ve been wondering when the twin scourges of Bidenomics and Bidenflation would begin to impose their will on the U.S. economy, and this might be the start of it. Fox Business continues:

A separate report released Wednesday showed there were about 9.9 million job openings in February, the first time since May 2021 that the number of available jobs dipped below 10 million. However, job openings remain historically high. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the highest on record was 7.6 million. There are still roughly 1.7 jobs per unemployed American. There has also been a wave of notable layoffs over the past few months, and the list grows longer by the day. Amazon, Apple, Meta, Lyft, Facebook, Google, IBM and Twitter are among the companies letting workers go.

Big Tech workers losing their jobs: Ya hate to see it.

Here’s another ominous indicator: New applications for unemployment benefits hit 228,000 last week, which was much higher than recently reported numbers.

And another: Layoffs among U.S.-based employers have increased nearly 400% when comparing the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year.

Our cognitively addled president seemed mostly pleased with the report, calling it “a good jobs report for hard-working Americans.” Still, he couldn’t resist taking a bizarre swipe at Donald Trump and the 74 million Americans who voted for him.

“Extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress … are threatening to wreak havoc on our economy with debt limit brinkmanship,” Biden warned. “Their extreme agenda would send the unprecedented investments we’ve made here in America — along with the jobs that come with it — overseas. And it’s all to pay for even more giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations. Make no mistake, I will stop those efforts to put our economy at risk and take us back to the failed policies of the past.”

Let’s see: “extreme agenda,” “unprecedented investments,” “wealthiest Americans,” and “failed policies of the past.” That ChatGPT thing is getting betting and better.

On the “bright” side, job growth in the government sector continued to be robust, with another 47,000 taxpayer-funded jobs added in March. That’s second only to the hiring in restaurants and bars, which grew payrolls by 50,300.

This makes sense, though. Happy hour typically starts at 4 p.m., and someone’s got to be there to wait on all those public-sector employees.

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