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November 2013 jobs: is the sick patient reporting less pain?

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The United States economy, crippled and wincing with each single movement, apparently felt a little less pain in November, 2013.

A sign of the economy healing? Few seriously think so. The patient is still very sick, and the fundamental causes of the economic downturn have not changed.

For those of us who suffer any sort of chronic pain, however, gaining SOME relief from that pain generally feels less negative.

And so goes the reporting of economists in reaction to the Department of Labor’s November jobs report. Very few are even suggesting that the patient is actually healing. But they are reporting less pain.

The numerical highlights:

· The government’s official unemployment rate (U3) dropped from 7.3% to 7.0%, the lowest in 5 years.

· Some of that decrease was due to the rehiring of about 450,000 government workers furloughed during the government shutdown in October.

· The number of people who work part time because of the economy, but who would prefer to work full time, dropped by 331,000. But that number of people still stands at a staggering 7.7 million.

· The labor participation rate continues to be mired at 63%, the lowest since 1978, when the culture and economy was geared for less of the “workable” population actually choosing to not work. Some of this is due to the so-called “baby boomers” being forced into retirement because of the sluggish economy and the reticence of employers to hire in order to expand. It had reached a high of about 67% in the later 1990s.

· Businesses added only 196,000 employees.

Why does this not show the economy actually healing? How does this demonstrate the “patient” is still stick? Two reasons:

  1. The more that government hiring moves the jobs numbers, the bigger the government has become. And the more it will depend on taxing the general population to sustain any so-called “jobs growth” in the government sector.
  2. Private sector hiring is very low. Businesses are extremely reticent to expand, despite signs that these businesses have the cash to expand.
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