Wednesday brought a string of data confirming what most Americans already know: The job market stinks.
- ADP said 91,000 private sector job were added in August, slightly below expectations while July's tally was revised down by 5,000 to 109,000.
- Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports planned layoffs at U.S. firms in August, while down 23% from the prior month, are up 47% vs. a year ago.
- 31% of US workers are "worried they could soon be laid off," according to a new Gallup poll.
These reports — along with the Conference Board's grim confidence data yesterday -- suggest Friday's government jobs data will be "rather lame," as Dan Gross quips in the accompanying video. The consensus is for growth of 100,000 non-farm jobs in August, but that's not enough to keep up with population growth, much less create jobs for the roughly 8 million Americans who've lost work since 2008.
While the ADP report has been notoriously bad at forecasting the government's job data, it's notable the ADP report excludes the Verizon strike, and another round of layoffs of state and local government workers; both will be included in Friday's report.
Got to Have a J-O-B
Layoffs of government workers may be overdue and fiscally responsible; the idea of a guaranteed "job for life" contributes to inefficiency, abuse and waste. But the slashing of government payrolls is contributing to the anxiety of U.S. workers, as Dan and I discuss in the accompanying video.
Private sector employees have long known there are no guarantees (or loyalty) and now government workers are enduring the same experience. That's both adding to the number of people looking for work and eliminating the "safety net" (real or perceived) many private sector employees kept in the back of their minds. Readers of a certain age might remember the critical scene in "Hollywood Shuffle" where Robert Townsend's character declares: There's work at the Post Office.
Not anymore — at least, not as much work as there used to be. Facing bankruptcy, the USPS is considering cutting as much as 20% of its workforce, or 120,000 jobs, The Washington Post reports.
At this moment in U.S. history, the owners of capital are kicking labor's tail. Workers who fear a loss of job are willing to work longer and harder -- even for less money, much less a raise. That boosts productivity levels, which drives up corporate profits which, tada, are the basis for CEO pay, which continues to surge even as the majority of Americans scramble to stay afloat.
I don't know if Karl Marx is laughing or rolling in his grave, but he's definitely listening.