Hello, is America Hiring Again?

bigdog posted on 04/05/11 at 10:47 AM

So the March ADP employment report didn't look too shabby: as the WSJ reports, the economy gained 201,000 new jobs in March, half from the private-sector. A related TrimTabs report suggested even bigger growth, 295,000 new jobs created in March. (To quote the WSJ, "TrimTabs calculates job growth through the analysis of daily income tax deposits to the U.S. Treasury from all salaried U.S. employees.") 

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires say unemployment now stands at 8.9% - not great, but hopefully moving the needle in the right direction.

While I'm watching these stats like a hawk just like every investor (and employer, for that matter), we all know to take these numbers with a huge rock of salt. Previous month's numbers are often revised upward or downward later, as happened with last February's numbers. (Those slid from 217k to 208k, according to ADP.) The unemployment figures famously under-represent people who are underemployed, people working more than one job to get by, and those who want paid work but have given up job-searching, either permanently or temporarily.

Still, I'm eager to hear your on-the-ground impressions of the labor market now. Are your unemployed friends starting to get work again? Has your company steadied its headcount after layoffs, or started hiring? What about your employed buddies - are they antsy to move from jobs they disliked but didn't want to quit hastily? (WSJ reporter Sue Shellenbarger's article, When a Job is So Bad It Hurts, suggests that quite a few folks are eager to jump ship from toxic work environments.) 

Send us your stories! I'm eager to track the employment trend "on the ground", and this blog's a great way to do that.
[image: Clock Work Man by smemon87 on Flickr]


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Posted by bigdog on 04/05/11 at 10:47 AM


Fiddie posted April 06, 2011 (12:51AM)


The chart says it will be about 30 more months till we equal the employment peak of Dec 2007.  I'm hoping for 20 months, but am often overly optimistic.The trade imbalance, architect/builders sub-index, and factory back-orders/output all need to improve at a faster pace though.  Basically, we need more consumer spending and infrastructure investments...  do you see an egg or a chicken's head in the graph?:

datadave posted April 06, 2011 (09:16AM)

Actually I am seeing an uptick in jobs posted in the newspaper and especially Craig's List. Except for a few exceptional jobs like Administrators, Doctors, (no Lawyers), and even a Architect or two (wanted for less than 20 bucks an hour). Most jobs offered have no benefits, or are temporary and just a couple bucks above minimim wage. Central New York, which didn't get hurt by the housing bust. Houses never went up and are such a deal here. Just about anything you'd want for under 150K. (4 bdrms and 2 baths). I've got to chuckle that some clinic was advertising for free on Craig's list for a Physician. 

Like many I am semi self employed, no benefits nor unemployment, and just scratching for a living doing temporary self employment gigs. I'd not had luck on Craig's list as it seems often to be a bottom-feeder community looking to screw someone it seems (both literally and figuratively). But have seen some nice jobs in the construction field that I am in, but I am new to the area and older. My g/f's son is just graduating from Law School and with 120K in debts, and there are little to no jobs in the Law field. Apparently a very over-sold profession these days. He's got connections though and his future bro-in-law is at JPM in bonds..... seems a law degree might be handy on Wall Street me thinks .. if you have a connection. 

Something has to be done with forcing recent college grads who are forced to pay back loans Immediately (ultimately to the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks) w/o recourse to legal restructuring (bankruptcy et al). Why are home owners and all other debtors who were buying too expensive real estate allowed to walk away from foreclosures while high achieving kids are forced to pay usurious rates to financial institutions (backstopped by the US Govt.) that pretty much used leverage at colleges to oversell Debt as a way to get ahead? 

spshapiro posted April 06, 2011 (05:45PM)

I think that the reason you are not getting much in the way of responses, is that most of us don’t honestly have any idea.  The reason for this is largely due to the fact that there has been a substantial change in the conditions of employment, and this is evident to the 80%-90% who are still working.

When I first started out, it was commonly assumed that you went to work for a company and you worked for them for forty years and retired.  If for some reason you didn’t continue to work for them, you worked for a competitor, that is you stayed in the same industry.  I  don’t need a survey of my daughter’s cohort to know such ideas would be ‘from another planet’. 

Today, almost everyone sees themselves as an ‘at will’ employee’, even if they have ‘tenure’.  They are aware that anyone could be replaced, and what they don’t realize is that their employer across the table secretly fears the same for himself.

No, I don’t think that this is the end of civilization, but I do think that we will endure this ‘Carter malaise’ for some time.  About the only thing that I could see that would move us quickly beyond this is an outside threat, like WW II.  (No, I don’t want that.)  Even 9/11, which had some potential to move us along, was quickly turned into a political football.  

datadave posted April 07, 2011 (12:42AM)

Shap, great points. I have to add that listening to some academic on NPR a couple of years ago in the midst of the "melt down", He or She said, that the average stay of employment (length of job) has been cut about half just in the last 10 years. Meaning insecurity of most is the lot. Average job length was about 13 years in the past, now it's around 5 or 6 years if I recall correctly. Even at the top, CEOs bounce around quite a bit. 

Also, a lot of the commentary is over at the General forum. What there is left of us, eh? 

bigdog posted April 07, 2011 (02:33PM)

Spshapiro, I'm with you - it's nearly impossible to pinpoint what'll move the needle on unemployment. Still, you guys offered some great food for thought, as I knew you would. Thanks!
Fiddie, that's one eye-opening chart. It does suggest the trend is turning, but slowly for sure.
DataDave, sounds like you're hanging in there in these difficult times - I hope your situation improves soon. I'm particularly hopeful that small-business activity ticks upwards soon - that's traditionally been a key lever in digging us out of past recessions. Here's an interesting article about baby boomers starting new businesses, both to combat the difficult job market or to cushion their retirement years with extra income:
Keep me posted on any interesting reads you find about this issue - it's obviously a top concern to the economy and markets, if not THE concern.

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