Payrolls Everywhere Else

The most remarkable and illustrative part of the payroll reports continues to be the hours series. Even with more leisure & hospitality workers back in the mix, the total number of aggregate hours worked – in the private economy – somehow declined on a seasonally-adjusted basis; that is, according to the BLS calculations, there were fewer hours worked (-0.5%) in February than January.

Unadjusted, total hours last month were down a whopping 6.3% year-over-year. To put that into perspective, this is just about the same level of contraction as the worst eight months of the 2008-09 Great “Recession.” Given this figure, no wonder there weren’t many other jobs added besides in revived bars and restaurants (and it looks more like ADP); there was, apparently, no work for possible new workers to be staked.

It raises the further possibility of fallout from the summer slowdown that persisted through autumn and has nearly finished its own winter – there’s only so much left that can be put back from further reopening. More and more, it seems that while some jobs are still available for being reanimated in non-economic terms there are millions upon millions more which may never be.

The former tend to be the waiters and bartenders; the latter appear to be the rest of the system.

Job losses were supposed to have been temporary (then again, we all heard the same things in 2009). Like flipping a switch, the economy was turned off and could, therefore, in theory, be turned right back on again, an ensuing “V”-shaped recovery widely promised and forecast. After having gone missing, it was said the rapidity was only delayed.

Despite massive doses of “stimulus” of all kinds interjected along the way, approaching the one-year anniversary the US economy remains more than a Great “Recession” worse off! While other economic accounts have at least rebounded closer to, or even have reached their prior highs, what matters most is labor and jobs.

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Disclosure: This material has been distributed for informational purposes only. It is the opinion of the author and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any ...

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