Friday, November 6, 2009

'Recovery' Leads to Double Digit Unemployment

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

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Just as the mainstream media has lulled the public into thinking we were on a one-way trip to economic happy land, today's U.S Employment Report throws cold water on the whole enterprise. The headline unemployment number came in at 10.2%. October was the first month in 26 years that U.S. unemployment has exceeded 10%. The alternative government unemployment figure, which includes discouraged workers and people who are forced to work part-time, rose to 17.5%. People, such as John Williams from ShadowStats, who adjust the government figures for more realistic numbers, generally add about 3% to that number to get the actual unemployment rate.

There was very little good news in the report. October was the 22nd month in a row that U.S. employment fell. There were large job losses in manufacturing, construction and retail. Retail losing jobs at the beginning of the big holiday selling season tells you just how bad things are. The average workweek is at a record low. The percentage of workers unemployed for over 6 months is at a record high. The labor force participation rate fell and the unemployment rate would have been even higher than 10.2% if this hadn't happened. The good news was that the numbers in August and September were slightly better than originally reported and that temp agencies added 34,000 jobs.

As usual mainstream economists underestimated how bad the report would be. Expectations were for a drop of 150,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 10.0%. The 190,000 job loss reported is from the payroll survey by the way - and that is the one that is always reported by the media (and the one that shows that the employment situation is better of course). There is a separate household survey (which is a random sample, unlike the payroll survey) and that indicated a loss of 589,000 jobs in October. The government did state that total U.S. unemployment rose by that amount to 15.7 million.

The market reaction to the report was that stock futures, oil and gold dropped (gold had been as high as $1098 in early morning trading). In the long-term, this only means more money pumping, money printing, and dollar pimping by the Federal Reserve. This can only be bullish for gold and the rest of the inflation trade. There is no way that it is politically tenable for the Fed to raise interest rates until the employment picture improves. It is going to be in an increasingly uncomfortable position next year when inflation starts rising, yet unemployment remains high.

NEXT: Market Keeps Going as Stimulus Keeps Flowing

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.


Mao said...

Hi, Daryl, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Look forward to the next general meeting.

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What a unemployment problem.