Employment-To-Population Ratio Back To October 1983 Levels: The Only Chart That Matters

Tyler Durden's picture

The administration thinks it can pull a fast one by pretending the unemployment rate is better when millions of people are allegedly leaving the labor force in droves? That's fine - however, there is nothing Christina Romer's replacement can say to put lipstick on the below piggly chart. The ever critical ratio of civilian employment to population is now at 58.4%... It was last this low (to the upside) in October of 1983. At least in one way Obama has caught up to the Reagan administration.

Source: St. Louis Branch of the Den Of Thieves

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Turd Ferguson's picture

I could have sworn that I heard Liesman mention this earlier.

sarc <on>

Trichy's picture

But he did point out the that US companies are bringing back jobs to the US from abroad. This after GE anounced they laid off 400 workers in China and hiring the same number in the US. In his words - lots of silver-linings in this report.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

It was Becky who remembered the WSJ article and pointed it out to Liesman, who gleefully declared he had seen it (Thank you Becky for grasping at straws) and then stuffed it in Santelli's face as "good news". Of course, Santelli couldn't, or wouldn't, argue with it because it was clearly a straw man arguement.

Gotta give Santelli props, he consistently tries to bring the discussion back to things that matter. But he's pissing in the wind because of the NBC corporate agenda of positive spin.

Trichy's picture

It must be a pain in the ass for them that he is to popular to give the boot.

NoBull1994's picture

Actually, CNBC's viewership is much higher when the markets are cratering.  I don't completely understand the desire to be so bullish.  Their advertisers will stick with them regardless.

NotApplicable's picture

That's because they peddle the "hope" dope to placate the herd, numbing them to the ongoing carnage.

Steak's picture

In honor of today's unemployment report I would like to present:

Fired on your day off (a playlist): http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=33135E8E214454B3

happy suck day to y'all :D

Lord Blankcheck's picture

It was the USA Today,not sure they get the WSJ over there.

tom's picture

The ultimate measure of whether what you're saying is true is the trade balance. After improving much less than it should have in such a steep recession, because the government's hugely increased foreign borrowing propped up the dollar, the trade deficit is widening again.

Or perhaps I just missed the note of sarcasm?


chunkylover42's picture

400 jobs?  We're supposed to get excited for 400 fucking jobs coming back here?  We've lost 8 million since the beginning of this recession and we aren't hiring people fast enough to keep pace with people entering the workforce.  What fucking tools these people are.  400 jobs is a goddamn rounding error.  These CNBC people should be shot.

MeTarzanUjane's picture

Isn't it NBC that has the new sitcom about Indian Offshore workers. Don't want to spoil all the warm and fuzzies that we'll develop for the funny offshore Indians. They need jobs too, don't they?

Where is my regional offshore Indian? Show Me The Curry BABY!

Turd Ferguson's picture

Its not even a rounding error. Its utterly insignificant. 

Extrapolating anecdotal incidents to create a false image is standard CNBS operating procedure.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Yes, those few thousand jobs gained will make up for the 8 million plus lost. It is time to party like 1999!

Get, f*cking real.

NoBull1994's picture

This analysis below from 2009 is brilliant - timing again is the only question.  Key point is:  "By 2012, there will be a general feeling that the nation is in immediate danger of blowing up or coming apart at the seams. This fear will be justified, given that the U.S. has always been held together by the promise of a continuously rising material standard of living—the famous “pursuit of happiness”—rather than any ethnic or religious ties. If that goes, so could everything else. We were lucky in the 1930s—we may not be so lucky again."

The difference is that in the '30s there was still manufacturing.  Today, our unemployed and welfare recipients are paid 10-20x as much as productive manufacturing personnel in India, China, Taiwan, etc.  Our citizenry is not well educated enough to be a true intellectual economy sufficient to keep 300mm people employed and net worth positive.


hamurobby's picture

And that a significant number of people lived on "farms". My grandmother (born in 1925) never even knew there was a depression in rural Mississippi, nothing much changed in her life during that time period.

dark pools of soros's picture

that's because her whole life was lived in a depression as a Mississippi farmer..  also, this chart is bogus since back in the good old 50's women stayed at home for the most part and you only needed one paycheck to support a family with a good life..  so what is the goal now with shit wages?? 90% population needs to work?  What about less people married?  Forcing more and more to work?  These numbers do not relate to the past



ElvisDog's picture

Your response makes no sense at all. In the 50's the labor participation rate was low because women chose not to work. Today, it's falling to the 50's level because people can't find work. "Forcing more and more to work"???  How about "the only way to pay for education/health care/middle class life is to have husband/wife both work"?

dark pools of soros's picture

women chose not to work???  So there were endless job openings because half the population chose not to work??  you have a couple of forces in play here..  globalization and union busting.  If it wasn't for globalization, union busting wouldn't have as dramatic effect on wages; but combined, it drives it down considerably.  Thus, you now need both parents to work which means more people chasing less and less jobs.


Another angle to this chart is what jobs increased in pay and which ones decreased or vanished?  


Throw in the fiat-debt-spiral and it matters not how many people are working if the value of the people's wealth is in quicksand

dussasr's picture

"you only needed one paycheck to support a family with a good life.." 

In the 50's a family owned one car and had a 900 sf house without A/C and only ate out once or twice a month.  If I lived that way today my savings rate would skyrocket even if my wife didn't work!

kujo's picture

That's what make this chart so freaking horrible. The chart's fine, the data's horrible.

RichyRoo's picture

also society was predominantly white and christian. There were AfroAmericans, but they were effectively supressed. Fewer latinos, asians etc.

There is faaaar less social cohesion in the USA (and UK,Aud,Cad) today than in the 30's.

tmosley's picture

Pffft.  Back then they felt the same way about blacks, Irish, Italians, and eastern europeans as we feel today about muslims and latinos.

Social cohesion may break down, but it would have broken down just the same back then, it just would have been whites fighting whites and slightly off-whites.

Jim in MN's picture

Kennedy had to give a special speech to reassure a terrified WASP nation that a Catholic President would not bow to the Pope and BBQ Presbyterian infants, or something.

In the Golden Age of Pax Americana, almost all Presidents were good Baptists.  Not to mention naval officers.  SALUTE!!!

Arthur's picture

The offshore work is interesting.  Generally I am opposed to shipping manufacturing jobs overseas.  Once the cost of transport is included the price differential closes and as a country we are losing a lot as the money leaves the country.  American workers tend to spend their earnings here in America, which in turn generates more tax revenue, etc.  Business does what is best for business, at least on the individual level and most operate on a short time horizon.  Free trade is a nice academic theory but who on Zero hedge thinks that the most foreign markets are as open as ours? 


That said, I am having some software developed by experienced and well educated engineers in India for about 5% of what it would have cost me stateside.  No job loss though as I could not have afforded the custom software even if I tried to hire a college kid on the cheap.  I have a little start up.   I do try to stay with American workers all of whom I have found to be excellent and hard working.

ElvisDog's picture

You are an example of the "Walmart syndrome". People shop at Walmart because of the low, low prices but don't consider the damage to society as a whole (no more mom-and-pop local businesses). There is a pet supply store close to my house that has been around for 40 years and is family owned. I buy all my dog food there and I don't care if I pay extra for it because I want to support them. If you go to Paris, the same attitude prevails in that people go to the restaurants in the section of town in which they live.

tmosley's picture

Impoverishing yourself does not help society.  All it does is support a corrupt and decaying government.

Buy the cheap stuff, use your savings to buy gold and silver, then invest that money in industrial production once the current government has collapsed, or become capital friendly.  If you can't wait that long, leave the country and start a business in a more friendly nation.  From there, you can wait out the end of America as we know her, and hope for the re-emergence of America as your great-grandfather knew her, at which point you can bring your accumulated capital back and help to rebuild.

Whenever someone starts using the phrase "society as a whole", the warning flags come up.  Artificially supporting prices doesn't do anyone any good, even if it means exporting jobs in the short term.  Again, all it does is give the government more power.  If you REALLY want to stick it to them, while supporting local commerce, make those transactions under the table.  Pay no taxes, go to work for them at less pay than you normally get, but net more as no taxes are taken out, etc.  This way SHOULD make those goods cheaper than what you can get at Walmart, and you will be supporting REAL economic growth without feeding the bloated cancer that is our government.

ElvisDog's picture

I would argue that the current high unemployment is a direct result of society (there's that word again) seeking out the lowest possible price, because that was what drove most of our manufacturing overseas and took all of the formerly middle-class manufacturing jobs with it. Sorry, but I will continue to patronize Bothell Pet & Feed Center and Walmart can blow me.

MachoMan's picture

Businesses seek out the lowest cost for expenses and inputs...  ALL businesses (even those that remain solely domestic)...  this is inherent in the profit motive.  Where they seek these out is simply a function of our will to accomodate them.

PS, your beloved doggie food store is importing that shit from china... 

dark pools of soros's picture

exactly, the only way to really stick it to them is for everyone to make their own shit and barter...  plan to leave the grid though..and hope your well doesnt get any 'accidental' chemical spills

Dantzler's picture

Guess you missed this part:

"I could not have afforded the custom software even if I tried to hire a college kid on the cheap"

These days, an increase in productivity (perhaps by implementing software) can mean the difference between surviving (or hiring more US workers) or not.

I suppose you would rather his business fail and he lay off the domestic workers in addition to the Indian?

ETA: By the way I agree with you on the Walmart front, I just don't think this is a valid comparison. And I just noticed the Bothell location--I worked in that town (WA) for 10 years.

dark pools of soros's picture

write your own damn code -  if you cant then just pick a different business..i guess you plan to outsource your customer service and tech help too??  with one of those godawful voice only activated answering navigational systems??

Dantzler's picture

I'm not in that kind of business. If I were, I would be inclined to take your advice and learn how to do it myself.

In this climate though, I can't fault some one for hiring an Indian to write some code. Isn't that the definition of a free market? Two entities agreeing on a price for a product or service?

ThisIsBob's picture

An an ex used to say:

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish, you get rid of him for the whole weekend.

dark pools of soros's picture

that's some chatty sassy stuff right there...

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Nobull, our society is significantly educated enough. Unemployed engineers are dime a dozen in the US. The point is the profits made by shipping our jobs to the BRIC economies are going to the elite. The issue is companies found a cheaper way to manufacture and increase their profits. Screw average US citizens.

NoBull1994's picture

While I agree that there are many unemployed engineers, that does not mean that our society is well educated.  I guarantee you that every one of the engineers you describe can find work in the US - the problem is that they want to make $50-100k/year, not $5-20k/year.  If they want to work at that price, there will be employers lining up to hire them.

I would also add that due to immigration, America today has a far greater proportion of lazy people who expect a high standard of living.  There are FAR too many high school graduates going off to get useless BA degrees from low-quality colleges, and not nearly enough going to technical school.

In my opinion, anyone going to college and choosing a non-technical major should sign away their rights to unemployment or other types of welfare coverage.  If you do not learn a trade and are not willing to work at a market wage, then you are not equipped in modern society.



Johnny Bravo's picture

"a non-technical major"

Would that include getting a BS that leads to a CPA license?

If so, you know where to shove your comments.

What are we supposed to do?  Work at McDonalds?

Johnny Bravo's picture

Maybe I should get a degree in computer science so my job can be outsourced?

Maybe I should become a carpenter/welder/drywaller/carpetlayer/etc so that an illegal immigrant can underbid my job because they work for 7 bucks an hour and live 15 to a 2 bedroom house?

Maybe I should become a plumber or electrician so that my job can be underbid by illegal immigrants?

There's a ton of work in construction now, you know...

Even during the housing boom, many people I know that worked in the trades had to shut down their business building houses because of...???

Illegal immigrants.

AccreditedEYE's picture

++ Johnny Bravo. You got it. I heard an interview with Dennis Gartman on Bloomberg yesterday morning and almost drove off the road. In a nutshell, telling Tom Keene that blue collar work is essentially "dead" in this country and people will need to get advanced skills and join the new economy. (adapt or die) I believe he has seriously lost his mind, and his f-ing elitist garbage spewing forth made me want to puke. This is how "they" think. It makes no sense at all. We need this market/global economic crash more then most people know... if for no other reason to reset the board and bring reality back to life.

stollcri's picture

I sometimes think that technical degree holders are the new proletarian, and from a capitalists perspective they are much better than non-degree holding workers because they have little or no class consciousness. If you tell them that they make less money than a non-degreed, union worker then they will think it is because union workers are overpaid, and they will not stop to think that maybe it is their lack of collectivization that is causing them to be underpaid.

I think that maybe we don't teach enough hard math and science prior to college, so the technical bachelor degrees are forced to cover a wide range of technical topics at the expense of non-technical topics. This seems to yield smart technicians with little classical education.

This might be why some people push for others to get technical degrees.

Jendrzejczyk's picture

It's a little more complicated than that Johnny. There are VERY few skilled locals that want to work construction. Every one wants to sit behind a desk and get rich/comfortable.

Parents don't want their children to get into the trades. They should "work smart, not hard". Having a son or daughter as a blue collar worker is a sign of failure here.

The vast majority of the local kids that do go into the trades are the bottom of the barrel.

Send the illegals home and watch as every crop rots on the vine and every house turns to dust.

I could charge an absolute fortune for my skills if you all sent the illegals packing.

Be careful what you wish for.

dark pools of soros's picture

a sign of failure where???  in your crusty imperialist ivory tower??  middle management and a salesforce didn't make this country great

Jendrzejczyk's picture

My view is a little skewed. I've been in the 130 degree attics and rat corpse infested basements of all the ivory towers for 30 years.

As I've proved many times on ZH, I'm quite dense and often miss the sarcasm/humor in other's posts but................

I think we are of like mind.

Corrections accepted with appropriate humility(my own, not yours).


Cathartes Aura's picture

Even during the housing boom, many people I know that worked in the trades had to shut down their business building houses because of...???

Illegal immigrants.

I wish people would re-think this utterly predictable, oft-repeated rant, because it's shallow and untrue.

your "problem" with "illegal immigrants" is false JohnnyB - the root cause is the people who HIRE illegally - if the businesses didn't hire underpaid labour, then you'd not have the "15 to a 2 bedroom house" people here WORKING for those lousy wages. . . up thread is yet another explanation of how business seeks the cheapest form of set-up and run, because it's the nature of business (apparently).

and by the way folks, multi-family housing, coming to your neighbourhood sooner than you think. . .

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

"the problem is that they want to make $50-100k/year, not $5-20k/year.  If they want to work at that price, there will be employers lining up to hire them."

Even if some engineer said, yes I'll take 10K/yr, guess what? That's suicidal in an economy where his basic costs of living are well above that 10K salary. When he loses his house/apartment is he going to sleep under his desk?

dark pools of soros's picture

'market wage'  so when competing vs a slave wage nation, be ready to accept a market wage close to $0 ?


The capitalist snake has eaten most of itself...