the DON JONES INDEX…

 

 

GAINS POSTED in GREEN

LOSSES POSTED in RED

 

    9/3/22...      14,907.62

  8/27/22...      14,962.90

   6/27/13…     15,000.00

 

 

(THE DOW JONES INDEX:  9/3/22… 31,318.44; 9/10/22… 33,706.74; 6/27/13… 15,000.00)

 

 

LESSON for September 2, 2022 – LABOR DAY: WAGE and PRICE Cons and Trolls!”

 

I really needed that job,” our Managing Editor recalls.  The Index does not pay contributors, nor officials, nor does much wealth fall to those who contribute to small community publications, nor to those toiling in what is now called the “gig economy.”  The position, unpacking crates of toys from China in the back room of a corporation now bankrupt, removing the toys and placing them on shelves for American families to peruse and, perhaps, obtain, paid eight dollars an hour, an especially weighty sum inasmuch as the State minimum was only seven dollars and a quarter – or less.  (It remains so, having not been lifted since 2008.)

But, in order to secure one of these jobs, an applicant had to submit to surveillance, a background check and psychological examination conducted by spooks making ten times that wage, or more, for a company named Taleo.  Taleo is a subsidiary of the Oracle Corporation, whose sole proprietor and overseer of protocols is an American named Larry Ellison – who literally holds the life-and-death fate of millions in his grasp.

Ellison, at the time the fifth richest man in the world... he has since slipped to 11th with a net worth of $95.6 billion, according to Bloomberg... oversees analytical programs that determine the suitability of Americans (desperate at the time for any sort of work, this before war, pandemic and the aging-out of the workforce made the pool of employees somewhat smaller – although not small enough to pay living wages) for removing and installing these Chinese boxes on a retail shelf.  And Mister Ellison... or, rather, his underlings and analytics... determined that our Managing Editor was not qualified.

The reason was this.

Many American workers... you, perhaps, reading this Lesson... have elderly parents or other relatives who suffer from conditions which render them unable to care for themselves.  Alzheimers, of course, strokes, some paralytic accidents and infections – perhaps more exotic disabilities as might stem from crime in the streets, from military service, from the drunk driver on the highway, from other physical and mental infirmities with no recourse save government subsidized nursing homes, if that.

Those who failed to accumulate great wealth before misfortune overtook them, nor any security blanket of pensions, benefits, emoluments and the like must depend upon relatives to assume their care... often 24-7... and like our M.E., these relatives must quit their jobs, often moving across the country, and take up the burden of caregiving – which can be extensive, expensive and long-lasting (in his case twelve years, the latter seven precluding even part-time or gig work).

This is not a healthy situation for a supposedly developed nation, but it is the duty of adult children to care for those who cared for them in their youth and infancy.  Such reciprocation is understood.

Except... not by Larry Ellison.

Taleo analytics scrutinize the work history of minimum (and often sub-minimum) wage job applicants for evidence of what a recent New York Times expose called “derelict” behavior.  An American with a gap on his or her work resume is presumed, by its analytics, to be proof positive of undesirable traits... the worker is labeled a bum, a drunk or addict or, most likely, a person who has spent the interim as a guest of the State (a prisoner in a correctional institution or locked up and down in a mental facility).

American free enterprise must be proected from such parasites.

So, our M.E. found himself unemployable for five more years (except to the world of sub-sub-minimum labor that even illegal immigrants hesitate to accept... his last job being delivering phone books, which work, after factoring in the cost of gasoline, but not vehicular repairs caused by bad country roads, paid all of $1.87 per hour).  So... reaching the age of qualification for Social Security – which remuneration was well below the sub-sub-poverty level, he took the bait (as well as the payless job for this Index).

 

Larry Ellison, meanwhile, financed a sports arena, purchased the sixth largest in Hawaii, assorted yachts, airplanes, designer cars and real estate (his 22-acre property in Manalapan, Florida cost $173 million… the most expensive residential property purchase in Florida history).  He’s a major holder in Tesla and... with his buddy Peter Thiel... dabbles in politics, unfortunately investing a pile of money in the career of “Little” Marco Rubio for President (by November, he’d pivoted towards Trump and joined the legal effort to overturn the 2020 election – although not to the exent of rioting at the Capitol).  But not so much that he had to sell his possessions, nor dive dumpsters for something to eat.  Those thousands, perhaps millions of workers kicked aside by Taleo and Oracle in Larry’s vehemently intrusive yet appallingly sloppy slash and burn approach to job-seekers?

Bums.

Derelicts.

Which, with Labor Day just around the corner, brings us back to the Times article on the cybernetic tracking of those more fortunate to have been hired... the plague having somewhat improved the prospects of finding work, although not necessarily a fair wage nor security.

And management contempt and disrespect has of late, with the necessity of plague-inspired “work at home” schemes (which save money on employer infrastructure but make it harder for the boss to stare and glare at the little people to be sure they’re not goofing off or wandering off to pursue unnecessary distractions like, as Amazon sanctions, urination and defecation).

Two recent publications: one from the venerable New York Times in... duh!... New York, USA and the other from Romania, portray (with supportive media commentary from both America and the U.K.) the contradictory directions in which worker surveillance and tracking may be headed.

“Many employers, along with makers of the tracking technology, say that even if the details need refining, the practice has become valuable,” allege the Times’ authors, Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram (who have been making the rounds of the talkshows, of late) “— and perhaps inevitable.

Tracking, the spooks and spies say, allows their clients “to manage with newfound clarity, fairness and insight. Derelict workers can be rooted out. Industrious ones can be rewarded.”  (New York Times, 8/14/2022, See Attachment One)

Digital productivity monitoring, already common to the minimum wage drones, is spreading among white-collar jobs and roles that require graduate degrees. “Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, “idle” buttons, or just quiet, constantly accumulating records. Pauses,” the Times authors contended “can lead to penalties, from lost pay to lost jobs.”

In those cases where necessity and the aggravation of constant turnover of more highly skilled (and paid) employees... many of whom have the official protections of existant labor law to discourage outright firing... a burgeoning tactic adding to the usual ways and means of impelling the derelicts to quit and, thus, forfeit messy and extensive unemployment compensation has been to install corporate goals in the contracts of new hires and to impose fines or wage reductions in cases of noncompliance and detect such dereliction by such mandatory means as counting and tabulating keystrokes (semi-elite online human resources, as you know, don’t actually work, they tap data into keyboards which either they or their superiors then interpret).  Such “productivity” is then analyzed by other analysts (economy being not at issue) or, more likely, analytics... or even, in some cases, situating surveillance cameras atop the home workstations which monitor not only business at the keyboard, but eye movements, amiable or disgruntled facial expressions and whatever else the spooks conjure up.

These can be related to the corporate bottom line, or simply sadistic.

 

Kantor and Sundaram unearthed a Putin’s Box of horror stories, including the travails of one Carol Kraemer, a longtime finance executive, who took a new job at ESW Capital... a Texas-based group of business software companies.

Her title, senior vice president, was impressive. The compensation was excellent: $200 an hour.

But, the reporters reported, her first paychecks seemed low. “Her new employer, which used extensive monitoring software on its all-remote workers, paid them only for the minutes when the system detected active work. Worse, Ms. Kraemer noticed that the software did not come close to capturing her labor.”

Offline work — doing math problems on paper, reading printouts, thinking — didn’t register and required approval as “manual time.” In managing the organization’s finances, Ms. Kraemer oversaw more than a dozen people, but mentoring them didn’t always leave a digital impression. If she forgot to turn on her time tracker, she had to appeal to be paid at all.

“You’re supposed to be a trusted member of your team, but there was never any trust that you were working for the team,” she told the Times servers, who concluded her story with this pungent reflection:

“Since the dawn of modern offices, workers have orchestrated their actions by watching the clock. Now, more and more, the clock is watching them.”

 

That the plague and other circumstances have made employees more useful... hence valuable to their masters... has been a mixed bag, or perhaps a crazy quilt of perks and punishments – both designed to keep the useful worker bees and snuff out the drones.

 “It’s a way to really just focus on the results,” rather than impressions, said Marisa Goldenberg, who ran a division of Kraemer’s ESW, and assured the reporters she used the tools in moderation in, presumably, a win-win situation where the bosses make more money off enhanced productivity and the workers... well... the discipline helps to make them better workers and better people.

Right?

Maybe not, according to... of all people, the Romanians.

Several print and video applications over the past week have notified Don Jones of, and commented upon, the study by the PLOS research team over there in Dracula-land.  The researchers apparently wound up contending that it was the work itself... hence, the employers... who were really stealing the souls and the blood of their employees by imposition of Amazon-type hyperdiscipline as opposed to enhancing, perhaps, the quality (as opposed to quantity) of “work” as opposed to recognizing “the efficacy of micro-breaks (short periods of disfocusing on the keyboard or loading dock that could range from ten seconds to look up at the sky to ten minutes for power naps) for increasing well-being and performance.”  (See Attachment Two   8/31/22)

 

Heresy?  Perhaps...

But Dracula’s daughters (four of them, and two sons) have found advocates in the media for their contentions... as opposed to the piss your pants and work-till-you-drop ethos of Amazon and, as it now appears, the hyper-woke Starbucks.

 

The notion that production, clerical and now... as it would seem... even middle managerial workers are human beings who will respond to maltreatment and contempt by doing less productive labor, not more, has found wide support... not only from the usual left-wing and neo-Socialist liberals, especially with Labor Day around the corner... but from some corporate royalty who (like, perhaps BilBarr the Barbarian), have abandoned a losing cause... to wit: his former boss hiding classified documents in his basement... and joined the barbarians storming the gates.

“Invasive and exploitative workplace surveillance in the United States is now growing largely unchecked due to weak worker power and a lack of legal protections or regulatory restrictions on these behaviors,” contended Kathryn Zickuhr in the August 18, 2021 edition of equitablegrowth.org (Attachment Four)

While the plague and other factors may have briefly improved labor marketability (it has trended back down over the last few weeks), workplace surveillance fundamentally shifts the dynamics of power in the workplace in favor of firms in ways that harm workers and drive inequitable growth. It enables illegal discrimination, hampers worker organizing, and leads to constant stress for workers who can be fired at any time.

“Worker monitoring is part of a cycle of fractured work arrangements through which firms de-skill work and misclassify employees, allowing them to pay workers less, sidestep worker protections, and undermine workers’ bargaining ability, ultimately increasing economic inequality and distorting economic growth,” Zickuhr contended.

“The ubiquity of technologically enabled workplace monitoring and lack of privacy protections continues a harmful cycle. Pervasive surveillance not only undermines worker power but also adds to the already-weakened state of worker power in the United States that allows firms to further surveil and exploit workers.”

 

“Our results revealed that micro-breaks are efficient in preserving high levels of vigor and alleviating fatigue,” the Romanian researchers concluded.  “It seems that the effects are univocal and generalizable for the well-being outcomes. These were relatively homogeneous, and none of the included moderators were significant. Hence, the data suggest that micro-breaks may be a panacea for fostering well-being during worktime.”

Employers, on the other hand, find them a pain in the ass… and a hindrance on profits.

One of these pervasive surveillers, Gartner at least recognizes the responsibility of bosses to cloak their iron fist of fines and firings in the velvet glove of euphamisms – chiefly “transparency”.  “Employees who are informed about why and how their organizations gather data about them exhibit higher discretionary effort and levels of trust relative to their peers who remain in the dark.”  (6/9/22 See Attachment Five)

In other words, the mugger holding a gun upon his victims is transparent in that – if they give up their money, they might escape with their lives.  Not always the case, but they’re being honest.

 “Leaders and managers want to make sure their workers are being productive, regardless of where they’re located,” says Helen Poitevin, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “However, there is a widespread misconception that remote work leads to a decrease in employee productivity, despite data showing remote work leads to positive productivity outcomes.” In fact, Gartner research finds that 55% of employees are high performers when provided radical flexibility over where, when and with whom they work versus 36% of those working 9 to 5 in the office.

Gartner’s “tips for tracking employee productivity with AI” was outlined by futurecio.tech (Attachment Six) and compared the experience of employers in Asia to those in the United States.  Not flatteringly… at least from the point of maximum productivity,

“For many organisations in Asia the quest to track employee productivity in remote work conditions continues. It is as if having visibility of your employees guarantees productivity or quality work,” say the Editors.

“Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than 10% of workers will seek to trick artificial intelligence (AI) systems used to measure employee behaviour and productivity.”

 

Forbes (Attachment Seven 5/5/21) also trusts transparency to maintain that “physical safety” and trust that enables workers to toil harder and longer,  And the corporations seethe at implications that some of their employees might be slacking off.

Reid Blackman, a founder and CEO of corporate ethics consulting firm Virtue Consultants interviewed by the Forbsters, said he’s not surprised employees are falsifying their work. “Obviously people are going to game the system … especially if they think the system is unfair,” he says.

This past year, there’s been an uptick in reports of companies using monitoring software to keep tabs on their newly remote workforces, turning to technology to track their keystrokes and search histories, as well as tools to take periodic screenshots of their computers.

“Workers will quickly discover the gaps in AI-based surveillance strategies. They may do so for a variety of reasons, such as in the interest of lower workloads, better pay or simply spite. Some may even see tricking AI-based monitoring tools as more of a game to be won than disrespecting a metric that management has a right to know.”

 

Worker backlash against intrusive surveillance and an environment of pain and punishment (not to mentioned soiled pants) has even engendered its own vocabulary.

There’s “Amazon bottles” similar to those used by truckdrivers on the road with no facilities for a hundred miler… and not the meme of the day is “The Great Resignation”, simply meaning that employees who are fed up with evil supervisors are simply quitting – often finding other work that is not only less soul draining, but pays better.

Teramind (shrm.org 3/14/22 – See Attachment Eight) is one provider of monitoring software that encourages organizations to use the data collected by its technology to help improve the employee experience. “Information gathered by the Aventura, Fla.-based vendor,” contends author Dave Zielinski, “can help prevent employee burnout or potential resignations by identifying known precursors to overwork like tardiness, a decrease in productivity and increased distractions.”

Such precursors can be “addressed”… perhaps by fines, job termination to give colleagues the fear or, sooner or later, physical termination. 

With their families and little dogs, too!

“In a time when most organizations can ill afford to watch even one more employee walk out the door, each factor influencing worker retention is receiving extra scrutiny from HR leaders,” states Zielinski. “Among those factors is the use of employee monitoring software, whose deployment grew rapidly during the pandemic as companies sought to keep an eye on employees suddenly working from home.

“Global demand for employee monitoring software increased by 66 percent in the fall of 2021, according to research from Top10VPN, a digital privacy and virtual private networking review site. Sustained demand for the technology is 54 percent higher than before the pandemic began, according to the site.”

“A 2022 study of HR technology use by PwC found that 95 percent of HR leaders have either implemented new methods to track and report on the productivity and performance of remote workers or plan to do so in the future.”

Friday’s unemployment toll (listed in our chart below) indicated that with more people returning to work due to lessening fear of inflation (or increasing fear of starvation or eviction), the bosses can begin to remove the velvet gloves, pick up their hammers and pipe irons, and crack heads.

 

American media, even on the far right, are loathe to castigate the “hard working Americans” as bums and derelicts inasmuch as these (the white ones, at least) comprise the base of the base of their beloved Donald Trump.

Not so in Old Blighty, where conventional conservative class warfare still rides out.

Nobody does this better than the Daily Mail.

Whereas “quiet quitting” (Britspeak for “the great resignation”) may actually make employees better at their jobs (citing the PLOS study), the DM cautioned that this should apply primarily to “creative types” whose effectivity may be measured by factors other than simply keystrokes stroked or pallets unloaded.

The downsides – for both workers and employers according to Shivali Best (8/31/22 – see Attachment Nine) – is that quiet quitting should be regarded (and tolerated) only as a short-term fix.

Best solicited Jill Cotton, Career Trends Expert at Glassdoor, who told MailOnline: 'Workers should not see this as a long-term solution to any problems they have in the workplace.

'While you think you might be quiet quitting and doing the bare minimum, those around you may think you are literally just showing your face, you don't like your job and want to hide behind others.

'Is there a danger of losing your job when quiet quitting? I would say yes. It can really damage your long-term career prospects.

'If you are not looking for extra opportunities, access to training, engaging with leaders and making your work known, just coming in and going away, it's difficult to achieve anything.

'The other big danger of using quiet quitting as a long-term strategy is that your experience might stagnate while your peers move on, making it tricky to find another job.’

How compassionate!

'In an increasingly uncertain economic environment and tougher jobs market, it might not be the most prudent move and could hamper your career,’ warned Charlotte Davies, Career Expert at LinkedIn.

The DM also included an app to “practice firing someone in virtual reality,” which is a lot safer than doing to in real life today.

See this.

 

And the right-wing peanuts in DM’s gallery showed a distinct loathing for their comrades whom they perceive to be slacking off, considering unionization, or just behaving like a nest of nervous nellies.  Even a few of the NY Times peanuts admitted that they were slackers (or... another rising meme: TikTokers) who should be punished for their sins.

The Peanut Galleries of the New York Times and Daily Mail, UK were instructive… and in the case of the latter, somewhat caustic.  Respondents, mostly workers who despise other workers who think they’re better than they are described the quiet quitters and derelicts as “spoiled under motivated millennials”, “slackers… skivers in the UK”, and, posted FF: “Get back to work you lazy lot and be grateful you have a job to go too. (sic)”

A DM respondent was…

PC I just don't see how people are getting away with this?unless bosses are that terrified of this generation they allow it?

AD Oh, their names will already be on a list, productivity gets noted, and when it comes to the crunch the least productive will be shown the door first with no hope of recompense given there will be a clear record of the reason why they are "let go". 

While a Times correspondent parried: HA nobody really gets fired because of their poor performance metrics on these systems. Data gained simply weaponizes the need to company’s plan to downsize, usually starting with the top of the hourly or non-exempt pay range. The current employee shortage must be driving management crazy.

 

 

 

 

 

August 27th – September 2nd, 2022

 

 

Saturday, August 27th, 2022

Dow:  32,283.40

 

 

Straight outta Mar-a-Lago, straight into the grasping little hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland (with a short, but poignant detour to the Man With the Black Pen) come and go the boxes of documents seized and confiscated by the FBI last week... full, perhaps, of crimes planned, attempted and concealed by former President Donald Trump, but so heavily redacted that the tabloid buzzards now perusing them complain there’s nothing but a “sea of black”.

   President Joe, after declaring a discount on (some) student loans taken out by aspirational (or perhaps just self-bamboozled) graduates, declares that he will extend the payment due suspension from September 1st to December 1st.  Republicans, joined by not a few Democrats are finding ways old and new to hesitate or downright resist. (See above)

   U.N. ecologists say that 1M of the Earth’s 1.5M species are endangered... scientists have begun DNA sequencing to bring the extinct back to life.  Some day.

 

 

 

Sunday, August 28th, 2022

Dow: Closed

 

 

Hyper-optimistic Bill Nelson (NASA) gushes that the Artemis launch means “we’re going back to the moon to stay.”  (And likely, given world conditions, start opening military bases.)  Among these conditions is the growing danger of Chernobyl-ish meltdown at the Zaporizizha nuclear plant as Ukes and Russians blame each other for shellings and sabotage.  Russian troops stop neighbors of nuke plant from leaving but allow emergency iodine rations to be distributed.

   Uvalde parents trek up to Austin to protest Gov. Abbott and lobby to raise the minimum age to own assault rifles to 21.  Back home, the high school Coyotes play their first football game since the shootings... and win.  Abbotts November opponent, Beto O’Rourke gets it... a bacterial, not viral infection.

   Partisans flock to defend Their Donald.  Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo) says the recovered documents were snatched without consulting Congress.  Republican talkshow talker Chris Christie says that the former President’s problem is his history of not telling the truth.

 

 

 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Dow:  32,150.49

 

 

After scientists say that the hydrogen leakage problem on Artemis is ‘acceptable’, other cooler, wiser heads say it ain’t so and the mission is scrubbed.  (They’ll try again today.)

   Bad weather goes global.  Over 1,000 are killed in Pakistani flooding.  The firest and the drought persist, but not in Mississippi where the Pearl River is overflowing.

   In a violent weekend, two killed and more injured in mass attack at the Safeway in Bend, OR.  Three Dutch soldiers are shot in Indianapolis.  Evictee in Houston shoots five other tenants, kills three.  (Doesn’t shoot the landlord.)  Detroit’s random killer is tracked down and arrested.

  

 

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Dow:  31,790.81

 

 

 

 

 

Ordinary ice is melting from Greenland’s ice shelf, leaving behind “zombie ice” and raising water levels ten inches by 2300.  Flooded Jackson Ms water deemed contaminated, residents will have to drink beer.

   500 year drought reveals dinosaur bones and footprints in America and, in Caceras a formerly submerged 5,000 year old field of pillar called the “Spanish Stonehenge”.  And a Nazi warship rises from the falling depths of the Danube.

   Congress cuts off free home covid testing.  So – the plague is over?

   President Joe, on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, touts his Safe America plan and denounces GOP efforts to defund the FBI as 26 violent criminals are busted for their campaign of rape, robbery and home invasions against rich celebrities. 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dow:  31,510.43

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP (sort of) for former Soviet President Gorbachev, dead at 91. Assorted world leaders remember him with respect and affection; Lootin’ Putin gives the corpse a rose, but denies the man who failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire the full state honours granted to Boris Yeltsin.  Gorby himself now says that he “regrets” the loss of the “Soviet Empire.”  But he did not regret the ending of the Cold War nor is he a fan of Vlad... see this.

   The DOJ opposes Djonald UnElected’s cry for a Special Master to investigate the Mar-a-Lago break in and documents, citing “obstructive conduct” calling it a “sideshow” and sloughing off Lindsey Graham’s call for riots.  Trump will hold a rally in Pennsylvania today, supporting his candidate: Dr. Oz.

   Speaking of which, Mother Nature’s wrath causes sweltering schools in Philadelphia as educators pronounce: “Heat impacts learning.”  Triple digit temps predicted for Portland (Or) and Salt Lake Cith through labor day, while flooding contaminates the water supply in Jackson, Ms. causing a TV pessimist to groan: “if they can’t fix it, they’ll have to abandon the city.”

 

 

 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

 Dow:  31,656.42

 

 

 

 

 

Team Trump and the DOJ gear up for the Mayhem in Mar-a-Lago where a Florida Judge will decide whether the former President deserves a Special Master (or Mistress).  Liberal media accused of “leaking and publicizing” for showing footage of SCI documents scattered over Trump’s strange rug.  Two thirds of Joneses polled say that Trump acted inappropriately, half want him prosecuted.  (The other half want him re-elected in 2024!)

  President Joe’s polling, on the other hand, rises to forty percent positive.  And in a happy development for Democrats, Sarah Palin loses her Congressional race to a Native Alaskan woman.  Biden rides his tiger with a speech proclaiming that Repulicans are semi-fascists and that Djonald menaces democracy.

   Governor Newsome of California declares a state of emergency as the power grid buckles under temperatures that rach 112° in beautiful downtown Burbank (124° in Death Valley.  And, after two months of calm, Hurricane Danielle finally manifests... but she turns out to sea, a fish storm.

 

 

 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Dow:  31.318.44

 

 

 

U.N. inspectors finally allowed into the Zaporizhizia nuclear plant to begin their inspections and find... no surprise... damage.  Presidebt... make that dent... Joe promises more arms and money to Ukraine to the tune of 13B.  Fox News witchfinder Monica Crowley (Aleister’s girl?) protests the presence of two Marines behind Joe, and the red lighting, which looks “Satanic”.  Republicans complain about the deficit and Trump retaliates with a Pennsylvania rally of his own, declaring that the One Six rioters deserved not only pardons but apologies.  And he also expostulates on the many wonderful qualities of Dr, Oz.

   The Mayor of Jackson MS tells residents that they will have to keep boiling water and showering with their mouths closed for months or years to come because the city can’t afford to fix its poisonous pipes.  In other climate news, the Mill Fire causes evacuations in the town of Weed, CA and Jane Fonda gets it... cancer.

   It’s a risky time for politicians... Argentine VP Kirchner survives an assassin who points a gun to her face that fails to go off.  He’s Brazilian – reviving old paranoia over the ABC wars.  And a Russian oiligarch “falls” from a sixth floor window – the eighth recently.

Serena Williams finally loses in the third round of the U.S. Open as she and sister Venus also lose in doubles.

 

 

With Labor Day arriving Monday, here are a few attachments re the rising unemployment rate – which even liberals call “a good thing!”

 

CNBC - The rising unemployment rate was ‘the best news’ in the August jobs report, economist says. Here’s why.

PUBLISHED FRI, SEP 2 20222:27 PM EDTUPDATED 2 HOURS AGO

 

By Greg Iacurci

 

KEY POINTS

·         The unemployment rate increased to 3.7% in August from 3.5% in the prior month, according to the Labor Department’s jobs report issued Friday.

·         That increase is largely attributable to the labor force growing by 786,000 people, which is an encouraging trend, according to economists.

·         A bigger labor supply is good for employers and may help reduce inflation. But it would be worrisome if the jobless rate continues to rise and the labor force doesn’t grow.

·          

The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7% in August, the Labor Department said Friday. While more people becoming unemployed may sound alarming, especially against the backdrop of lingering worries about a recession, labor economists cited “good” reasons for the increase.

A higher unemployment rate was “the best news in this report,” according to Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

That may seem counterintuitive. How can an increase in the jobless rate be positive?

The answer lies in the labor-market dynamics underpinning the jump.

Why the unemployment rate increased in August

The unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage point from 3.5% in July — a level that had tied with early 2020 as the best since 1969.

The movement upward in August was largely attributable to hundreds of thousands of people entering the labor force, economists said.

The government doesn’t count individuals as unemployed when they’re out of the labor force since they’re not actively looking for work. People left the labor force for various reasons during the pandemic, including illness, child care and other family responsibilities, and early retirement.

Now, there are more people looking for work and they’re officially counted as unemployed, which has had the effect of nudging up the jobless rate.

About 786,000 people came off the sidelines last month, which is a “huge” number, Pollak said.

The labor force participation rate — the  of people in the labor force relative to the U.S. population — grew by 0.3 percentage point to 62.4%; that’s a swift increase for a measure that generally moves by just 0.1 point, if at all, from month to month, Pollak said.

“There’s more willingness to work, more eagerness to find jobs and actively search for them,” Pollak said.

Why a larger labor pool is good for employers and the Fed

Against this backdrop, an increase in the unemployment rate isn’t worrying in the short term, economists said.

The job market is hot, characterized by steady job growth and ample openings, meaning workers aren’t likely to stay unemployed for long. It’s also good news for businesses that are having trouble hiring, since they have a bigger supply of workers to choose from.

“This means that more people are participating in the labor market, and while some of those individuals may not be employed yet, this is promising news for employers,” according to AnnElizabeth Konkel, a senior economist at job site Indeed.

Labor force participation still hasn’t fully recovered from its pandemic-era drop-off, though in August it tied for the highest level during the Covid-19 recovery.

“Prime age” labor force participation — for workers ages 25 to 54 — jumped to 82.8% in August, nearly back to its pre-pandemic level, according to Daniel Zhao, lead economist at Glassdoor, a career site. This metric was a “star” of the jobs report, he added. Looking at this figure over time helps control for some broad demographic trends like baby boomers entering their retirement years.

A larger labor pool is also a positive development for the Federal Reserve, which has been trying to reduce inflation: If employers can hire workers off the sidelines instead of poaching from other businesses by raising wages, it could help keep a lid on inflation, according to Zhao.

“The rising unemployment rate is a concern if it continues,” Zhao said. “But the strong labor force gains we saw underneath are a really encouraging sign.”

But the risk of long-term unemployment is low, given there are nearly two open jobs per unemployed worker, economists said.

It’s hard to know why people came off the sidelines

The Labor Department doesn’t pinpoint why people came off the sidelines in August. Survey data suggests finances may play a role in some workers’ decision, though.

About 59% of job seekers said they felt financial pressure to accept their first job offer in July, up from 51% the month prior, according to a recent ZipRecruiter survey. Those facing serious financial difficulties also rose substantially, to 16.6% from 12.3%.

The rising unemployment rate is a concern if it continues. But the strong labor force gains we saw underneath are a really encouraging sign.

There’s a positive and negative aspect to the dynamic, Pollak said. On one hand, people may feel they need job income as their savings dwindle and inflation stresses household budgets, she said; on the other, it means workers see an opening in the labor market.

“When your chance at winning the lottery goes up, you’re more likely to play the game,” Pollak said. “People do jump in and give it a try when it’s easier to succeed.”

 

 

CNN - Yes, the unemployment rate rose. Here's why that's good news

 

(CNN) On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the US unemployment rate had ticked up to 3.7% in August, an increase that surprised economists who had expected it to remain at July's 3.5%.

In a normal labor market, rising unemployment is a red . But even though today's labor market is far from normal, last month's rise in unemployment is actually an indication that the job market is normalizing, economists say.

One of the main reasons unemployment ticked higher in August was because more people were working or actively looking for work. Labor force participation rose three-tenths of a percentage point to 62.4%. While still a full percentage point lower than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020, the August jobs report offered the first glimmer of hope that there might be some relief ahead when it comes to the tight supply of workers.

 

Pace of hiring slowed in August but the job market is still strong

"In the current context where labor supply has been a key constraint... this rise in the labor force participation rate is actually very encouraging," said Gregory Daco, chief economist at EY Parthenon.

Increasing the supply of available workers is positive for the economy, even if it does increase the official jobless rate, US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in an interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto on Friday. It's a sign that a lot more people are looking for work, which is a plus, given the extraordinary lengths to which employers are going to recruit and retain workers in a labor market with 11.2 million job openings.

"If the unemployment rate goes up a little bit because of that, that's okay. Because there are still many job openings in United States of America and we need to get more people back into work," Walsh said, adding that he was "very encouraged" by the growth in labor force participation.

Gary Burtless, labor economist at the Brookings Institution, echoed that sentiment. "That is something we've been worried about in this recovery — that too few people are looking for work and that's causing a lot of labor market tightness," he said.

Improvement in the number of prime-age Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 joining the workforce was especially heartening, he said. "A lot of the increase in the civilian labor force is in the population we've been most worried about," he said.

This is good news — even if they're not finding jobs right away, Burtless added. "[Some] entered the workforce but they didn't immediately find work, and consequently were added to the ranks of the unemployed," he said, which is why the unemployment rate rose even as the economy added jobs.

Even after increasing, unemployment is still very low by historical standards, which suggests that policymakers and lawmakers alike will have to stomach a higher rate of joblessness if they want inflation to moderate, said Ken Kim, senior economist at KPMG.

"That 3.7% unemployment rate is probably still adding to inflation in the US economy through higher wages," he said. "We think the unemployment rate will have to rise to 5.5%... to get inflation back to the Fed's 2% target." Wages rose at an annualized rate of 5.2% in August, the same as in July.

 

What the Fed talks about when it talks about pain

The combination of higher pay and a higher cost of living is likely motivating at least some of the new job seekers. "With inflation running at 8.5%, household finances are under pressure. If you're currently without a job, you're probably reassessing your financial situation, your wealth situation, and stepping back into the labor pool to maintain your standard of living," Kim said.

Aside from inflationary pressure, economists said stock market volatility, receding fear of Covid and a new school year in which in-person learning is once again the de facto norm are prompting more people to reenter the workforce.

"We also are seeing improving health conditions... probably helping alleviate some of the strains we've seen on the child care front," Daco said. "Public school are open on a more reliable basis. We're seeing some signs that some education workers are returning to the labor force, and that has knock-on effects" by freeing parents — mostly mothers — from child care obligations that were keeping them out of work.

"It's the fact that you know the school is not going to close every time there's a case," he said.

 

Fox - Jobless claims unexpectedly fall to 232,000, lowest since June

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week

By Megan Henney FOXBusiness

 

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped to a two-month low last week, a sign that employers are continuing to hold on to workers in a historically tight labor market.

Figures released Thursday by the Labor Department show that applications for the week ended Aug. 27 fell to 232,000 from the downwardly revised 237,000 recorded a week earlier. That is still above the 2019 pre-pandemic average of 218,000 claims.

Continuing claims, or the number of Americans who are consecutively receiving unemployment aid, rose to 1.438 million, up by 26,000 from the previous week's revised level. One year ago, nearly 12.18 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits.

For months, the labor market has remained one of the few bright spots in the economy, with the July jobs report showing that the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FED RATE HIKES WON'T STOP INFLATION IF GOVERNMENT SPENDING STAYS HIGH, PAPER SAYS

Earlier this week, the government reported that job openings climbed past 11.2 million – meaning there are roughly two available jobs per worker. But data on Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP signaled that hiring cooled in August, with private companies adding just 132,000 new jobs, the lowest since May.

There are other signs that the labor market is starting to weaken, with a plethora of companies, including Alphabet's Google, Walmart, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, announcing hiring freezes or layoffs in recent weeks. 

FED RAISES INTEREST RATES BY 75 BASIS POINTS IN ANOTHER HISTORIC MOVE TO TACKLE INFLATION

The data precedes the release of the August jobs report on Friday morning, which is expected to show that employers hired 300,000 workers following a gain of 528,000 in July. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.5%, the lowest since the pandemic began two years ago.

The Federal Reserve is closely watching the labor market as it tries to cool economic growth and wrestle inflation under control without triggering a recession. 

Policymakers have indicated over the past week that they remain laser-focused on tackling inflation, despite signs the economy is starting to slow. 

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester on Wednesday said she anticipates the benchmark rate will climb above 4% this year and remain elevated for some time until prices start to return closer to the central bank's 2% target. 

"My current view is that it will be necessary to move the fed funds rate up to somewhat above 4% by early next year and hold it there," Mester, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, said. "I do not anticipate the Fed cutting the fed funds rate target next year."

 

From Bloomberg

 

US Employers Add 315,000 Jobs as More Workers Join Labor Force

·         Participation jumped in August, leading to higher unemployment

·         Data offer mixed implications for Fed ahead of policy meetingUS Payrolls Top Estimates, Jobless Rate Rises to 3.7%

By Reade Pickert

September 2, 2022 at 8:32 AM EDTUpdated onSeptember 2, 2022 at 11:35 AM EDT

US employers added a healthy number of jobs in August and a steady stream of people entering the workforce lifted the unemployment rate, suggesting some easing in the tight labor market and offering mixed implications for the Federal Reserve.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 315,000 last month following a revised 526,000 advance in July, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to a six-month high of 3.7%, the first increase since January, as the participation rate climbed.

Economists projected an almost 300,000 gain in payrolls and a 3.5% jobless rate, based on the median estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Despite moderating job growth, the still-solid employment gain points to a healthy appetite for labor amid high inflation, rising interest rates and an uncertain economic outlook. Such demand, along with repeated pay raises, continues to underpin consumer spending.

However, the jump in participation, which could lead to a further cooling in monthly wage growth, added to signs that inflation pressures are slowing. That’s welcome news for the Fed as it debates its next rate decision, and led traders to pare bets for a third-straight 75-basis-point hike after the report. It also puts more focus on consumer price data due ahead of the September policy meeting.

“This is really what the Fed is hoping for,” former Fed governor and University of Chicago professor Randall Kroszner said on Bloomberg TV. “More people are coming back into the labor market. That helps to reduce the tightness of that market.”

Short-term Treasury yields fell, while the S&P 500 posted gains and the dollar extended losses on the day.

The labor force participation rate -- the  of the population that is working or looking for work -- advanced to 62.4%, matching the highest since March 2020. The rate for workers ages 25-54 rose by the most since June 2020 to 82.8%. Teen participation also surged.

“Most of the new labor force entrants found work, particularly part-time, while the remainder of these new entrants are still searching,” Mizuho Financial Group Inc. economists Alex Pelle and Steven Ricchiuto said in a note. The number of people working part-time for economic reasons jumped for a second month.

What Bloomberg Economics Says...

“The August report contains some good news for the Fed’s chances of engineering a soft landing, with more people joining the work force. As long as that trend is sustained, wage growth could moderate even as strong hiring continues. But we are pessimistic: Both the aging of the population and the impact of long-Covid imply that the participation rate will be slow to return to its pre-pandemic level.”

--Anna Wong, Yelena Shulyatyeva, Andrew Husby and Eliza Winger, economists

The job gains were led by professional and business services, health care and retail trade. Leisure and hospitality posted the smallest payrolls gain since a decline in December 2020.

While a persistent mismatch between labor supply and demand has driven businesses to bid up wages, the report shows some encouraging signs that the two are coming more in line. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% from the prior month and were up 5.2% from a year earlier.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell emphasized the “out of balance” nature of the labor market in a speech last week while also acknowledging that the combination of higher rates, slower growth and a softer labor market will “bring some pain” to households and businesses.

The report is also likely to be welcomed by President Joe Biden and his advisers as they struggle to craft a positive economic message amid hot inflation ahead of the midterm elections, where they are defending thin congressional majorities.

The Labor Department’s report also showed the average workweek was down slightly to 34.5 hours.

The number of people not in the labor force who currently want a job fell by 361,000 in August -- the biggest decline in a year -- suggesting solid wage growth and high inflation are driving people to look for work.

Other recent labor market data also paint a strong picture. Job openings edged up to 11.2 million in July, while applications for unemployment insurance last week dropped for a third consecutive week to a two-month low.

— With assistance by Olivia Rockeman, Chris Middleton, Liz McCormick, and Ana Monteiro

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DON JONES INDEX

 

CHART of CATEGORIES w/VALUE ADDED to EQUAL BASELINE of 15,000

(REFLECTING… approximately… DOW JONES INDEX of June 27, 2013)

 

See a further explanation of categories here

 

ECONOMIC INDICES (60%)

CATEGORY

VALUE

BASE

RESULTS

SCORE

OUR SOURCES and COMMENTS

 

INCOME

(24%)

6/17/13 & 1/1/22

LAST

CHANGE

NEXT

8/27/22

9/3/22

SOURCE

 

Wages (hrly. per cap)

9%

1350 points

8/27/22

+0.44%

9/22

1,381.63

1,381.63

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/wages   27.57 nc

 

Median Inc. (yearly)

4%

600

8/27/22

+0.08%

9/10/22

603.59

603.76

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   36,000

 

Unempl. (BLS – in mi)

4%

600

8/27/22

-5.41%

9/22

651.46

616.25

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000/  3.7%

 

Official (DC – in mi)

2%

300

8/27/22

-3.89%

9/10/22

303.60

315.41

http://www.usdebtclock.org/      5,628

 

Unofficl. (DC – in mi)

2%

300

8/27/22

+3.05%

9/10/22

295.33

286.31

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    11,825

 

Workforce Particip.

   Number

   Percent

2%

300

8/27/22

 

-0.106%           +0.034%

9/10/22

 

 

299.645

 

 

299.74

In 158, 345  Out  100,139 Total: 258,484

 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/ 61.26

 

WP %  (ycharts)*

1%

150

8/27/22

+0.48%

8/27/22

149.76

150.48

https://ycharts.com/indicators/labor_force_participation_rate  62.40

 

 

OUTGO

15%

 

 

 

Total Inflation

7%

1050

8/22

 nc

9/10/22

1010.64

1010.64

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.0 nc

 

Food

2%

300

8/22

+1.1%

9/10/22

289.34

286.15

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +1.1

 

Gasoline

2%

300

8/22

-7.7%

9/10/22

221.46

238.50

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm      -7.7

 

Medical Costs

2%

300

8/22

+0.4%

9/10/22

293.45

292.28

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.4

 

Shelter

2%

300

8/22

+0.5%

9/10/22

293.46

291.99

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.5

 

 

WEALTH

6%

 

 

 

Dow Jones Index

2%

300

8/27/22

-7.09%

9/10/22

280.81

260.91

https://www.wsj.com/market-data/quotes/index/   31,318.44

 

Home (Sales)

(Valuation)

1%

1%

150

150

8/27/22

-6.05%             -2.93%

9/10/22

154.06

309.58

154.06

309.58

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics

Sales (M):  4.81 Valuations (K):  403.8

 

Debt (Personal)

2%

300

8/27/22

+0.03%

9/10/22

290.69

290.61

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    70,882

 

 

NATIONAL

(10%)

 

 

 

Revenue (trilns.)

2%

300

8/27/22

+0.18%

9/10/22

324.61

325.19

debtclock.org/       4,448

 

Expenditures (tr.)

2%

300

8/27/22

+0.32%

9/10/22

330.07

331.13

debtclock.org/       5,921

 

National Debt tr.)

3%

450

8/27/22

+0.41%

9/10/22

443.46

441.66

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    30,863

 

Aggregate Debt (tr.)

3%

450

8/27/22

+0.16%

9/10/22

438.19

437.51

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    92,428

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL

(5%)

 

 

 

Foreign Debt (tr.)

2%

300

8/27/22

+0.98%

9/10/22

322.30

325.47

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   7,415

 

Exports (in billions)

1%

150

8/27/22

+1.60%

9/22

163.46

163.46

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  260.0

 

Imports (bl.)

1%

150

8/27/22

+0.29%

9/22

153.99

153.99

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  340.4

 

Trade Deficit (bl.)

1%

150

8/27/22

-7.41%

9/22

210.77

210.77

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html    79.6

 

 

 

SOCIAL INDICES  (40%) 

 

 

 

ACTS of MAN

12%

 

 

 

World Affairs

3%

450

8/27/22

  -0.2%

9/10/22

466.44

465.51

RIP Mikhail Gorbachev, who once said: “History is a fickle lady.”  Mad Vlad madder, boycotts funeral.  More rumors of Pope Francis retirement.  Religious riots in Iraq

 

Terrorism

2%

300

8/27/22

 +0.1%

9/10/22

296.30

296.60

Nuke blowup potential spurs U.N. to distribute 5M doses of iodine to Ukraiinians who start ground offensive to “kick the Russians out.”

 

Politics

3%

450

8/27/22

 +0.2%

9/10/22

465.52

466.45

One Six trials slog on – rioting cop gets maximum ten years.  Djonald UnIndicted (yet) promises pardons for all... plus apologies.  (And a pony!)  President Joe promises “Safe America” plan.  TX gubernatorial candidate Beto gets it... bacteria.

 

Economics

3%

450

8/27/22

 -0.2%

9/10/22

438.83

437.95

Student loan debt resumption pushed back from 9/1 to 12/1 after the midterms (but convicted pot smokers can’t get relief, even in states now legal).  Bed & Bath sends 150 stores and thousands of employees to the Beyond.  Another oil tanker grounded in Suez Canal means more supply chain woes.   Shortage story: tin cans,

 

Crime

1%

150

8/27/22

   -0.3%

9/10/22

288.78

287.91

Evicted Houston man shoots 5 other tenants – but not landlord.  26 celebrity-tergeting home invaders busted in Atlanta.  Two killed, more shot at Bend Or. Safeway – murdered worker hailed as a (dead) hero.  Three Dutch soldiers shot in Indianapolis, four in N. Dakota wheatfield.  Commanders’ rookie Brian Robinson shot, carjacked in DC. Deteroit’s random killer identified and arrested.  Drug warriors promise a War on Whipped Cream.

 

 

ACTS of GOD

(6%)

 

 

 

Environment/Weather

3%

450

8/27/22

    -0.2%

9/10/22

440.27

439.39

Greenland ice shelf will raise the sea by 10” in 2300 and replace glaciers with “zombie ice”. “500 year” Eurodrought lowers water levels and reveals big dinosaur bones, a “Spanish Stonehenge”, also Nazi ships rising from the riverbed of the Danube.  Heatwave hits West (triple digits in Portland, OR and Salt Lake) but also East... sweltering schools in Philly closed as educators declare: “Heat impacts learning.”  Ecologists say what the world needs now is more beavers whose dams save water.

 

Disasters

3%

450

8/27/22

  -0.2%

9/10/22

443.60

442.71

Over 1,000 die in Pakistani flooding, Jackson MS flooding kills fewer but will pollute water for months.  Kenyan cyclist dies in race crash in Vermont.  Subway surfer gets arm ripped off.  Ten year old saves epileptic Mom from drowning.

 

LIFESTYLE/JUSTICE INDEX

(15%)

 

 

Science, Tech, Educ.

4%

600

8/27/22

  nc

9/10/22

618.52

618.52

Artemis flops... rescheduled.  Krispy Kreme stuck with Moon Donuts (will be sold stale?) Besides the big dinosaur bones found in Europe, dino footprints come to light in Texas while Chinese drought unearths ancient Buddha statues.  Schools bringing in snarling K-9s to intimidate potential mass shooters.

 

Equality (econ/social)

4%

600

8/27/22

-0.1%

9/10/22

591.60

591.01

Thousands of immigrant Dreamers get citizenship in mass Dodger Stadium convocation.  Bills release accused rapist punter Arazia.  Meghan Markle and Mariah Carey discuss issues faced by “mixed race” women.  Protestors protest West Point KKK memorial.  Cops in Columbus OH shoot man accused of SWB (sleeping while black).

 

Health

4%

600

8/27/22

-0.3%

9/10/22

488.92

487.45

Life expectancy drops another year in 2021.  Target recalls animal cookies with metal shavings.  Congress cuts off funding for at-home plague testing... so is it over?  Navy Seals training said to push steroids.  Kids (18) suffer monkeypox but may get relief after baby formula manufacture resumes.  And bird flu is back.

 

Freedom and Justice

3%

450

8/27/22

-0.2%

9/10/22

452.19

451.29

One Six trials slog on; another minion of lower profile than the ten year cop gets 46 months.  (He’ll hope for a Trump election and pardon too.)   FTC and FBI fight Idaho’s surveillance of pregnant women suspected of wanting abortions.  Rental site Boomster sued for fraud.

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS and TRANSIENT INDEX

 

 

(7%)

 

 

 

Cultural incidents

3%

450

8/27/22

-0.1%

9/10/22

465.62

465.15

MTV awards honor Nicki Minaj; Taylor Swift wins Video of the Year, announces new album “Midnights”.   Daring (?) duet: Britney Spears and Sir Elton.  Honolulu defeats Curacao 13-3 to win LLWS marked by player surviving fall from bunk bed and another consoling the pitcher who hit him.  Uvalde football team wins first home game.  Squeamish squirm as Baker Mayfield uses an “expletive” during preseason game. Serena wins twice at U.S. Open before losing and moving on to “evolution”.  Horror movie “Invitation” tops tepid B.O. week.  RIP singer Luke Bell, actress Charlibe Dean, boxer Ernie Shavers and author/activist Barbara Ehrenreich.

 

Misc. incidents

4%

450

8/27/22

+0.1%

9/10/22

460.52

460.98

Air France pilots brawl in cockpit.L.A. Neighbors protest filming of F&F Ten because it inspires local street racing.  1952 Mickey Mantle card sells for 12.6M, Lady Di’s car for only 764K.  Crypto goof grants Aussie woman 10M – she buys a mansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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