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Spinning Unemployment in a Collapsing Empire

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday that the economy gained
only 103,000 new jobs in December -- not enough to keep up with population
growth -- but the rate of unemployment (U.3) fell from 9.8% to 9.4%. If you are
confused by the report, you are among the many.

In truth, what fell was
not the number of unemployed people but the number of unemployed people who are
actively looking for work. Those who have become discouraged and have ceased
looking for work are not considered to be in the work force and are not counted
as unemployed in the U.3 measure. The unemployment rate fell because discouraged
workers increased, not because employment rose.

The BLS counts short-term
discouraged workers (less than one year) in its U.6 measure of unemployment.
That unemployment rate is 16.7%. When statistician John Williams
(shadowstats.com) adds the long-term discouraged, the US unemployment rate as of
December 2010 was 22.4%.

The question to ask yourself is: why does the
media focus on the unemployment measure that does not count any discouraged
workers? The answer is that the U.3 measurement only counts 42% of the
unemployed and makes the situation appear to be a lot better than it is.


Where are the 103,000 new jobs? As I have reported for years, the jobs
are in non-tradable domestic services: waitresses and bartenders, health care
and social assistance (primarily ambulatory health care services), and retail
and wholesale trade.

Today the United States has only 11,670,000
manufacturing jobs, less than 9% of total jobs. Yet, despite America's heavy
dependence on foreign manufactures and foreign creditors, the idiots in
Washington think that they are a superpower standing astride the world like a
colossus.

John Williams reports that "the level of payroll employment
still stands below where it was a decade ago, despite the U.S. population growing
by more than 10% in the same period. The structural impairments to U.S. economic
activity continue to constrain normal commercial activity, preventing any
meaningful recovery in business activity."

Another way of saying this is
that American corporations have taken American jobs offshore and given them to
the Chinese. So much for big business patriotism.
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Williams also reports
that, unless it is finagled, next month's BLS benchmark revision of payroll
employment data will lower the level of previously reported employment by more
than 500,000.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke used his testimony
before the Senate Budget Committee last Friday to warn that the U.S. government
must get its budget deficit under control or "the economic and financial effects
would be severe." Here Bernanke is acknowledging that the Federal Reserve
cannot indefinitely print money in order to finance wars and bailouts of the
mega-rich.

But how is the government to get its budget under control? The U.S. government, regardless of political party or president, is committed to
American hegemony over the world. The Congress has just passed the largest
military budget in history, and there is no indication that any of America's
wars and military occupations are near an end.

The financial crisis is
not over, with more foreclosures and more losses for the financial sector that
will result in more taxpayer bailouts for those "too big to fail." John
Williams says that the double-dip is already happening, just disguised by faulty
statistics, and that the deficit implications are horrendous and are likely to
result in hyperinflation as the Federal Reserve will have to monetize the
otherwise un-financeable deficits.

The dollar is also in danger; its
role as reserve currency undermined by the Federal Reserve's creation of more
and more dollars. Temporarily, the dollar is buttressed by the grief that Wall
Street's sale of fraudulent derivative financial instruments to Europe has
caused the euro.
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The Republicans will try to destroy Social Security and
Medicare in order to pay for wars and bailouts. If Americans are capable of
realizing that they are threatened on a much greater level by the Republicans'
evisceration of the social safety net than they are by terrorists, the
Republican assault on what they call "the welfare state" will fail.

The
fallback target will be private pensions, assuming any survive plunder by the
Wall Street investment banks. Pension funds could be required to invest in
Treasury debt or they could face a levy. In the Clinton administration,
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Alicia Munnell proposed confiscating 15% of
all pension assets on the grounds that they had accumulated tax free. Certainly
Washington will steal Americans' pensions, just as Washington has stolen
Americans' civil liberties, in order to continue the empire's wars of
hegemony.

Increasingly, the rest of the world views America as the single
source of its financial and political woes. While the superpower massacres
Muslims in the Middle East and Central Asia, people in the rest of the world
have learned from WikiLeaks that the U.S. government manipulates, bribes,
threatens, and deceives other governments in order to have those governments
serve the U.S. government's interest at the expense of the interests of their
own peoples.

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http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His books, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available (more...)
 

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