BLS September Report: Disaster!

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 1, 2015

Once again the Wall Street experts were way off target on their jobs-added predictions in advance of the September Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The professionals’ consensus was that the economy would create 203,000 jobs. The harsh reality was not only that the total was a meager 142,000, but the BLS revised its already lackluster July and August reports down by an aggregate 59,000 jobs.

Every key statistic in the September data is dismal. Lowlights from the report:

  • The civilian labor force participation rate declined to 62.4 percent from 62.6 percent for the prior three months.

  • The employment-population ratio dipped slightly to 59.2 percent.

  • Average hourly earnings were essentially flat month-over-month in September, below expectations for 0.2% growth.

  • Manufacturing employment, one of the economy’s better paying sectors, fell 9,000 in September versus expectations for no change.

  • Food services and bars continued to provide safe haven for distressed job seekers, plus 21,000 in September and plus 349,000 during 2015.

  • Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 167,000.

  • The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1 percent, but savvy economists realize that the true rate is the U-6’s 10 percent.

sinking ship
Lousy September BLS report shows American employment sinking fast.

And this depressing double whammy: in September, the average hourly earnings declined by one cent from a nine-cent gain in August, while the average number of hours worked fell by 0.1 hours. Americans are working fewer hours and earning less for each of those hours on the job.

Although the financial news summaries rarely factor immigration into their calculations, here’s a summary of newly authorized immigrant workers that the Obama administration has allowed to compete with unemployed and marginally employed Americans.

In addition to approximately 1 million work permits given annually to new legal immigrants, the State Department also issues about 750,000 guest worker visas to high- and low-tech workers. Approximately 500,000 illegal immigrants enter, most work, and few are deported. In all, that’s 2.25 million immigrant workers each year who will vie with, among others, nearly 8 million unemployed Americans, 4 million American youths and high school graduates who turn 18 and another 800,000 who earn college diplomas.

Interestingly, in his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, then-Senator Obama predicted that immigration would devastate American workers.

Obama wrote:

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century (and) threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

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