Are we all working less?

That’s right, work less, good catchy title for a post about the job numbers released on Friday :)

According to the calculations of our friend Jake over at EconomPic, the current average of working hours in the US is the lowest it has ever been! (well the lowest it has ever been since we’ve been keeping track anyway.)

Employment/Population Ratio * Number of Hours Worked Per Week

That’s actually kind of amazing if you think about it this means that if you take the US as a group and looked at how many hours we are working, we are working the least amount of hours then we did at any other period in tracked history. Look at Oct. 99 – we were working the most and of course we all know about the internet bubble that was happening at that time. With so much less work

Interestingly a lot of people argue with me about the rate of job loss decreasing is a result of people getting new jobs and not a result of people dropping out of the job hunt or settling for lower quality work. This certainly has some truth to it, my friend Mish has some interesting numbers that he pulled out of the BLS data on this…

Highlights

  • 190,000 jobs were lost in total vs. 263,000 jobs last month.
  • 62,000 construction jobs were lost vs. 64,000 last month.
  • 61,000 manufacturing jobs were lost vs. 51,000 last month.
  • 61,000 service providing jobs were lost vs. 147,000 last month.
  • 40,000 retail trade jobs were lost vs. 39,000 last month.
  • 18,000 professional and business services jobs were added vs. 8,000 lost last month.
  • 45,000 education and health services jobs were added vs. 3,000 added last month.
  • 37,000 leisure and hospitality jobs were lost vs. 9,000 last month.
  • 00,000 government jobs were lost vs. 53,000 last month.

A total of 129,000 goods producing jobs were lost (higher paying jobs). Retail and professional services contributed to to the plus side.

So yes – there was some job growth… we added a lot more retail jobs, professional services jobs, education jobs, and healthcare jobs… In other words – the people who lost their jobs making products are now reporting that they are in a category that does not make products and usually requires less working hours, lower pay, etc. A great example of this is a friend of mine who lost their financial industry job some time ago and began a private professional service job out of their house. They are doing good with it, they have customers and are making money - yet the overall income they are taking in is drastically less and the contribution to the economy as a result is drastically less (their consumption is down, despite having a graduate degree they are not contributing to a company that is producing or investing anything, etc). Based on the overall data, this anecdote is likely true amongst a large number of the people making a similar change.

Mish summarizes this very well with this quote (he has the data to back it up on his site)

The chart shows there are 9.28 million people are working part time but want a full time job. A year ago the number was 6.8 million.

Yes, that is a huge difference - yes that is A LOT OF PEOPLE! Given all this information it is not amazing that the government is adding extensions to the unemployment insurance program. What does that mean for you and I – five simple thoughts?

  • If your a trader, trading will be choppy intra-day so follow trends.
  • If you are unemployed – try starting your own business (now’s the time to experiment while you have free time)
  • If you are employed – you should re-evaluate where and how you are saving your money, what your plan is for staying afloat when/if you are laid off.
  • If you are an entrepreneur – get scrappy – regardless of the funding you have, being scrappy and focused is important (did you read Andy Sack’s lessons on Seattle 2.0 today?).
  • Talk to your kids about what his going on.
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