Calamitous BLS Report Underlines Ongoing Employment Crisis for American Workers

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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.

May 6, 2016

I’m running out of adjectives to describe the consistently awful monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For April, I’m using calamitous.

BLS reported that last month the economy created a paltry 160,000 jobs, well below the 200,000 analysts had their fingers crossed for. All the news is bad including the one item Wall Street pointed to as encouraging: wage growth.

The worst may be yet to come on the jobs front.

As it has in previous months, most of the employment gains came in traditionally low-paying jobs in health care – hospitals and ambulatory services – and financial support staffers. Higher paying jobs like mining and energy-related employment declined by an aggregate 7,000. The labor participation rate dropped to 62.8 percent, down from March’s 63 percent, as more than 360,000 frustrated job seekers gave up the search.

As for the touted average hourly earnings’ 2.5 percent increase during the past year, note that this is an average and not the median, and includes the year-end multimillion dollar bonus checks that Park Avenue investment bankers deposited in January. Last year, Wall Street bonuses exceeded total earnings of minimum wage workers.

The jobs report followed last week’s Commerce Department’s grim press release indicating that GDP increased a measly 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2016, a decline from the fourth quarter of 2015’s 1.4 percent.

Mass immigration’s continuing negative effect on America’s jobs and wages is inarguable. Posting on the fivethirtyeight.com blog, former Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Casselman wrote that “Benefiting the ‘average worker,’ however, is not the same as benefiting all workers. It’s possible that immigration could benefit the economy as a whole while still hurting the less educated native-born workers who compete most directly with immigrants for jobs.”

Please help protect American workers. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell Congress to vote for mandatory E-Verify which would create an employment eligibility verification system. Increasingly scarce jobs could only go to citizens or legal immigrants.

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