Sunday, 8 February 2009

Job Number Optimism?

The G & M has a relatively optimistic story about spinning yesterday's horrendous unemployment numbers out of the U.S. They note that it's a little inaccurate to compare these to the 1974 numbers, the last time we've posted numbers this big, because the total number of jobs is so much higher now. Also, as they note, the unemployment rate is far rosier than it was in the Great Depression and even rosier than the early 80s' serious recession.

They also acknowledge that it's a lagging indicator, though, and there are a reasons, IMO, to worry that we're on a very troubling downward spiral. The reason is that in the early 80s and and in 1974 we weren't facing nearly as fragile a situation with housing and with car companies. As demand for cars continues to decrease we're likely to reach a point at which failure of two of the big three becomes inevitable. Similarly, the foreclosure situation is horrific and while we're losing jobs at a pace of 500 000/month, it's likely to get worse. Remember the precarious situations banks were in, well we could see even more of their assets becoming toxic. The banks and the auto industry don't need too many more hard shoves, but I worry that this accelerating job loss situation is exactly what is going to be delivered. And if Chrysler and GM go, then we'll really start seeing unemployment numbers.

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