This short series has so far tackled recent housing and marketplace data as they relate to future perspective on the U.S. economy, something all good marketing strategists should be developing right now (but aren’t being encouraged to by any trade journalists or marketing “gurus” – today Seth Godin will bore you with the difference between “no” and “yes”; Guy Kawasaki just released NINE tweets in the past hour – honest to God – one of them about a picture of a caterpillar).
[You can start with part 1 of our economic series here if you missed the beginning.]
Today, we look at employment. Or unemployment, depending on your outlook on life.
This bit of data is one that mainstream media (see: Reuters) has spun like mad. We have been told to put on a happy face, now that monthly jobs reports have shown “good” numbers over the past three months:
- December, 2011 = + 223,000
- January, 2012 = + 284,000
- February, 2012 = + 227,000
As a simple series of three, for consistency and trending the data is pathetic. The numbers are no higher than a full 12 months ago. And readers with good memories will remember that the new-jobs count went over the cliff last May, falling nearly to zero inside of two months.
March 2012 numbers will be reported this Friday. Will they be “Good”? You bet. Somehow the gubberment will come up with 250k+, and Reuters will signal the “all clear.” When we really need to be coming in around 500k to have any real impact.
Flip the coin over and look at weekly unemployment claims data. We are told to turn cartwheels now that the numbers have settled into the 375,000 range. Comparisons are made to May 2008 – the last time the numbers were “this low.” Odd choice of timing, since Great Recession #1 was underway then.
Here’s your real benchmark – steady state during normal times. Weekly unemployment claims then are in the range of 315,000. The U.S. economy seems a few months removed from that scenario.
[In tomorrow’s post, we’ll review what some real experts have to say about it all. Don’t miss it.]
Out in the real world, here’s what workers in Illinois have been seeing and hearing, according to Crain’s, in just the past two months:
“Job cut announcements by Illinois-based employers quadrupled in January from December and rose 86% from January 2011.”
Notable cuts: Kraft Foods – 1,600, Archer Daniels Midland – 1000, Abbott Labs and Northern Trust – 700 each, Jewel Osco – 220, PepsiCo – 150. Thank God, at least, the weather has been nice this winter.
Add to this a nationwide plan – actually a survival tactic – by the USPS to eliminate some 35,000 jobs.
Depressing stuff, to be sure. But unless you wade knee-deep into it, you are at the mercy of Reuters et al. As well as at the mercy of Guy Kawasaki, who just – honest to God – tweeted again: “TSA confiscated scissors find new life as art.”