Mort Zuckerman: "America Remains In A Jobs Depression"

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mort Zuckerman, originally posted in The Wall Street Journal,

Jobs! President Obama has set a record. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, he uttered the word "jobs" more than in any of his previous four State of the Union addresses. His 45 mentions were more than double the references to any of the other policy ambitions encapsulated in his speech by such words as health, education, immigration, guns, deficit, debt, energy, climate, economy, Afghanistan, wage, spend or tax (the runner-up).

If only the president's record on unemployment were as good.

After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression. But the crisis isn't seen in that light because the country isn't confronted daily by scenes of despair like the 1930s photographs of bread lines and soup kitchens and thousands of men (very few women then) waiting all day outside a factory in a forlorn quest for work.

But the jobless are still in the millions across the land, little changed in their total since the 1930s: 12.3 million today officially fully unemployed compared with 12.8 million in 1933 at the depth of the Depression.

Yes, the U.S. population is much larger now, but 12 million out of work still means 12 million lives devastated. And that number masks the true vastness of the modern disaster.

The jobless today are much less visible than they were in the 1930s because relief is organized differently. Today in the "recovery," the millions are being assisted, out of sight, by government checks, unemployment checks, Social Security disability checks and food stamps.

More than 48 million Americans are in the food-stamp program—an almost incredible record. That is 15% of the total population compared with the 7.9% participation in food stamps from 1970-2000. Then there are the more than 11 million Americans who are collecting Social Security checks to compensate for disability, also a record. Half have signed on since President Obama came to office. In 1992, there was one person on disability for every 35 workers; today it is one for every 16.

Such an increase is simply impossible to connect to direct disability experienced during employment, for it is inconceivable that work in America has become so dangerous. For many, this disability program has become another form of unemployment compensation, only this time without end.

But the predicament of our times is worse than that, worse in its way than the 1930s figures might suggest. Employers are either shortening the workweek or asking employees to take unpaid leave in unprecedented numbers. Neither those on disability nor those on leave are included in the unemployment numbers.

The U.S. labor market, which peaked in November 2007 when there were 139,143,000 jobs, now encompasses only 132,705,000 workers, a drop of 6.4 million jobs from the peak. The only work that has increased is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.

The broadest measure of unemployment today is approximately 14.5%, way above the 7.9% headline number. The 14.5% reflects the unemployed and three other categories: the more than eight million people who are employed part-time for economic reasons (because their hours have been cut back or because they are unable to find a full-time job), the 10 million who have stopped looking for work, and those who are "marginally attached" to the workforce.

The labor-force participation rate has dropped to the lowest level since 1981. It reflects discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor force. If it were not for the dropouts, the formally announced unemployment rate would be around 9.8%, not the headline 7.9%.

Sometimes the employment numbers that are announced are simply not understood. January was supposed to have seen 157,000 jobs created. The news provoked relief and even enthusiasm in some quarters. But the supposed hiring was based on seasonally adjusted numbers—numbers adjusted to reflect regularly occurring shifts in employment, such as increased hiring of farm workers during crop harvests or retail employees after Thanksgiving. The real, unadjusted figures for January show that nearly 2.8 million jobs disappeared, which happened to be worse than the 2.63 million lost in January 2012. Even though the 157,000 jobs created were fewer than the 311,000 of January 2012, many commentators cheered because they don't understand the effects of seasonal adjustment.

So there is no solace in the statistics. Job seekers are only one-third as likely to find work as they were five years ago, and a record number of households have at least one member looking for a job, which affects everyone. And most of the newly available jobs don't match the pay, the hours or the benefits of the millions of positions that have vanished.

It typically takes 25 months to close the employment gap from the employment peak near the start of the downturn. Yet this time, more than 60 months after employment peaked in January 2006, nonfarm unemployment is still more than three million jobs below where it started.

The president's speech was not without sensible commitments, and the news of negotiations for a trans-Atlantic free-trade area is promising. Europe and the U.S. represent 44% of the world economy, but both have stalled. They (and the rest of the world) would benefit from freer trade. Europe and the U.S. would also benefit from common technology standards and simpler regulations. The bilateral talks have been conducted quietly and positively for some time (while the World Trade Organization talks have floundered), but it will need real executive energy to get an agreement with a real impact on jobs.

Ordinary Americans are looking for leadership and renewal. They know that a job is the most important family program, the most important economic program, and the most important national program that America could have. They also know that, by this standard, we have failed.

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Monedas's picture

We have to stop watering and fertilizing "The Weeds" and whack 'em down with a hoe !

John Law Lives's picture

"Europe and the U.S. represent 44% of the world economy, but both have stalled. They (and the rest of the world) would benefit from freer trade."

Free trade has REALLY worked well for America... to the tune of running a net trade deficit (goods plus services) every single month as far back (at least) as 1992 (as per the Bureau of Economic Analysis).

You can find the data here:

Funny, I don't remember massive trade deficits being a selling point for NAFTA before it was ratified in 1993 and enforced in 1994.

Gavrikon's picture

Blablabla (fingers in my ears) bla bla bla (Smoot Hawley created the Great Depression)bla bla bla (I am a fucktard) bla bla bla (Free Trade is Good).

-- Typical Idiot Globalist, usually from the GOP, but also could be Damned-ocrat



John Law Lives's picture

Corporate lobbyists influence members of both parties.  Members of both parties have sold their votes in exchange for remaining in power.

Lord Of Finance's picture

  "A socialists wet dream"

Oh, it's coming. (pun intended). After all, their Marxist allies have their own lifelong wet dream of having one of their very own as president of the United States. 

   The marxists have finally taken the castle.


And of course they will not change the sheets.

Henry Hub's picture

I'm not that familiar with Marxism. If Obama is a Marxist than it must mean that Marxism promote massive handouts to Wall Street and the TBTF banks. It must mean that capitalists are not prosecuted for blatant crimes under Marxism. Who would have thought it. I learn so much on ZH

Gavrikon's picture

Yeah, he's a Marxist Fascist.  (As well as a fucktard).

Henry Hub's picture

He may be a fucktard. But what the hell is a Marxist Fascist. That like a Jewish Muslim or a liberal conservative. These are complete contradictory terms.

Lord Of Finance's picture

He is a neo-marxist. AND if you were familiar with the whole movement that has many heads or columns, you would know that. You need to read some literature on the subject of the communist movement and how it has morphed/PROGRESSED over the years.




Read 'slouching towards Gomorah' by Robert Bork.







Lord Of Finance's picture

Now educate yourself and when you finally attain knowledge you un-wise asses, then you will have a proper logical framework to respond.


Now read up or shut up!

Lord Of Finance's picture

Oh yeah. There is much more that is out there on the subject that I still look forward to reading. The key is to look for it. IT, will not seek you! IT wants to remain as stealth as possible.


Another thing to do is google the 'Venona project' or Venona papers. These are the declassified soviet cables that reveal a lot of the soviets secret plans, including the communist movement here in America. There are many fronts, but they all have the same goal.





Henry Hub's picture

It sound like you too don't understand the difference between Communism and Fascism. In basic terms Communism forbids all private property. Everything is owned by the state. Everyone works for the state and is provided for by the state. Under Fascism there is private property and the private interests (ie. the major corporations) are aligned and supported by the state. Workers and their so called unions are strictly controlled by the government. This is why the wealthy love Fascism and fear and loath Communism. They are both completely opposite economic systems. The only similarity between Soviet Communism (Stalin) and Nazis Fascism (Hitler) is that they both very quickly devolved into totalitarian systems. 

The United States is very much in the control of the wealthy plutocrats and their multinational corporations.  The U. S. is quickly becoming a Fascist system. Obama is a toady of these powerful interests. The idea he is a Marxist or a Communist is laughable.

Nick Jihad's picture

OK, so if I understand you correctly:

Communism:  The government controls everything, murdering the wealthy and confiscating their property

Fascism: The government controls everything, and targets some other group for expropriation and genocide.

And that makes these two governing idealogies complete opposites?

Lord Of Finance's picture

This is nonsense Henry Hub.

BTW-My apologies for getting harsh my saying shut up. That is not a good thing. I value freedom of speech right up there with right to privacy. They are my top two and I violated one of them.


    You are getting into the technical definitions of the two movements. What is this text book definition stuff about? You can not honestly believe there is a blueprint definition for a theory as fallacious as marxism. That is what is laughable.


   Obama a fascist? 


 You basically state that Obama can't be a marxist because he consorts with the Wall st. crowd.  Well of course he does!!!!!!!!!! That is the marxist 'modus operandi'!!!!!  They are all hypocrits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Including the man who is credited with starting it all, Karl Marx himself! You honestly can't believe that all these assholes are true believers in their own bullshit! Although that may have been what Lenin was hoping for.  Maybe that is what Lenin meant when he allegedly told Stalin or whoever, that the success of their movement depended on the useful idiots of the west. The two best historians on Marx and Stalin, as late as 2008, still stated that there is no proof that Lenin ever made the claim, but that it would be very typical of Lenin to make such a remark.

       If that is true, then we can only speculate on the true meaning of these unproven spoken/written words. Well then, I would theorize that some people are the usefool idiots that Lenin was refering to. It makes sense. Get some people to believe that the marxist "practitioners" actually believe the tenets of their own bullshit, then when the useful ones see the so-called marxists not practicing what they preach- PRESTO! -usefool idiot then says, "nothing to worry about lord of finance!  Because if he really was a marxist, he would not surround himself with bankers and tax cheats!"   Who knows?  Would be sinisterly clever.


 The two historians did say Lenin was as clever as the devil!


Marxism works in theory but every marxist will show you something a whole lot different when it comes to practice. Now a fascist, on the other hand, sure as HELL practices what he preaches. Maybe that is why the Marxists hated them so and vice versa. Now this marxist front that Obama is leading knows full well that he can not create a totalitarian state here in the USA. Marxist sympathizing politicians are the worst kind of politicians to have in this nation. A fascist could never have any influence. But a naive marxist will push through legislation that weakens us militarily(in progress right now) and weaken us economically(need I say more on that). But that does not define the WHOLE movement. As I said before, there is no defining this "thing". Some are naive, some are useful idiots. Some are unwitting agents. Some are hardcore leftists.  The only thing they have in common is  hypocrisy. Oh, and one more thing. They will lead this nation to bankruptcy. Wether it is intentional or not is not the concern for me. Either way the end result is the same and we are in serious trouble.









  Do not get caught up in the literal(if there really are any)/technical definitions of Marxism, because there is no possible way of defining something so fallacious as marxist theory. 











SheHunter's picture

Let me give you an example of where the rosy employment numbers are skewed beyong belief. I am a one person business who relies on oil and gas, uranuim, coal, timber - things you can drop on your foot- development.  Five years ago I had more work than I could keep up with, primarily the smaller contracts not worth the while of larger companies to bid.  Now I am farming myself out for on call work with these large companies.  Why? Becasue the work that used to be too small for the large companies to bid they are now snapping up left and right.  They bid on everything that comes across the net just to keep their full timers with something to do. They have cut back on their permanent staff and now keep longer lists of us on-calls that do not suck them for benefits.  Go into small western towns in WY, ID, CO, MT...6 years ago these towns were booming with oil and gas, coal, uranium exploration.  Now the small town entrepreneur who believed work was coming back to their town and who went into debt refurnishing her motel has the vacancy sign constantly lit at her motel and she is working part time at the local liquor store to pay her bills.  Don't let the media tell you otherwise. It is bad out there and only getting worse.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla's picture

1099s will be the prevailing tax form of the future.  Better to pay someone $40/hour on a 1099 than hire someone for $60,000/year with taxes and mandated benefits that actually cost $50+/hour.

SamuelMaverick's picture

1099's will become code word for 'tax evasion' in the near future.  You can bet the bank that the IRS will slam everyone who is going to try to classify  de facto employees' as contractors.  If someone is working exclusivly for you, and you have any say in their hours of work etc etc. etc., then they are actually an employee.  Just wait, the Feds are going to keep changing the hours worked / week scam until every employee you hire that works even one fucking minute will have to be provided healthcare benefits..   These Libtards have no clue the consequences of their dictatorial edicts, all they are doing is crushing any chance of a company hiring anyone....oh yeah, I forgot the unintended consequence of every surviving company that will just be forced to pass thru all the increased overhead into the price of their final product.  A stealth indirect tax on the poor and middle class..   Worst part is that the average Obama voter thinks it is " freeeeeeeeee !!!!!!!!!"   Gimme my free Obama phone and my free Odumma health care.....   The USA is so screwed.

pursueliberty's picture

Change your first sentance from "will become" and you are correct.


They are hammering down on this right now, and let me tell you, they are going after everything.


WC, for example, isn't paid on a 1099, they are going to want that money.  You cannot pass on costs right now, people can either afford what you currently offer or they can't.  Going up in price over the last few years has been a matter of picking how large of a percentage of your customer base you are willing to lose.

Monedas's picture

Barack knows that illegal Latins are going to cream his illiterate niggers .... Latins, Orientals and White Americans will keep the "Black Beast" from getting out of control .... something blacks don't talk about much !

Gavrikon's picture

Damn, dude.  I mean, just fucking damn.

Sorry that I can't give you infinity green arrows.

Seriously.  I mean, fuck!

Imminent Crucible's picture

"his illiterate niggers"

What is WRONG with you? You're not supposed to say NGGRZ because it rhymes with Chiggers, and those are really aggravating little bugs that get under your skin and suck the blood out of you, usually right on your scrotum somewhere. So don't let me EVER see you using that offensive language again.  This is Zero Hedge. We're allowed to beat the bloody hell out of each other, but we're not going to stoop to likening people to bloodsucking parasites.

Except in the case of Obama. You can call him whatever you like; he's the worst Photoshopper I've ever seen.

Mortimer Zuckerman.....Zuckerman......wasn't that the farmer in Charlotte's Web? Huh? U.S. Snooze and Whirled Reporting? Never heard of it.

tradingdaze's picture

That's Barry "Pants on Fire" Obama and he's here to help.

Yen Cross's picture

   I'm going to jump the shark tank. $9 or $19 , inflation is going to be the cause of the next great uprising... When the natives can't fill their stomachs there will be [pitch forks and molotov cocktails] for everyone.


q99x2's picture

Obama's half black roots can't produce no green shoots.

He's a conman for the bankster takeover of the US.

I think he's using again.

world_debt_slave's picture

yeah, I'm having a hard time finding a full time job since I moved from Cali in July 2012. I've been working part time since Aug. 2012, my current employer will not hire full time nor move one up to full time. Interviewed for a private company only b/c they forced the former employee to quit after over 40 years and she was in her 70's. Only other full time jobs are for the county and state or minimum wage service jobs.

Yen Cross's picture

 POTUS needs to move to Japan for 6 months.  Get rid of the Wookie, and buy a latex "Love Doll ®"...

  stag-deflation/hyperinflation is just around the corner...

Gavrikon's picture

Do they REALLY wanna improve the jobs numbers? Of course not.

If they did, they would>

1) Put tariffs on good and services from slave labor and cheapo countries like China, Vietnam and India.
2) Cancel the H1 visa program and send all those little brown men back to Bangalore.
3) Announce immediate deportations of illegal aliens.
4) Cancel Welfare programs.
5) Start hanging the CEOs of multinationals from lamp posts.

People would have jobs in pretty damned short order.

world_debt_slave's picture

I agree with your points accept with tariffs. IMO we shouldn't have trade agreements with these types of nations. Don't trade with them unless they reform their ways and have the same values as true Americans.

When we have trade agreements with rogue nations it only hurts us and causes us to be more like them.

Nick Jihad's picture

Chinese, Vietnamese and Indians have the same right to earn a living as anyone else, and if I wish to trade with anyone on the planet who offers me a product or service at a price I find fair, neither you nor any government has any right to interfere.


Smegley Wanxalot's picture

If banning guns stops crime, why not ban unemployment to stop joblessness?

What's good for the goose is good for the sheep, yo!

GeezerGeek's picture

Why not go all the way and make poverty a crime punishable by death? 

Henry Hub's picture

***Why not go all the way and make poverty a crime punishable by death? ***

That's a little bit extreme. Maybe we could bring back the poor houses and the work houses that used to be so prevalent in this country 150 years ago. A lot of people starved to death in them because they didn't provide food to the inmates. The idea being that they would pay their bills faster to get out.

This time however we will make them private for profit institutions like the regular prisons. Think of the profits as more and more Americans slide into destitution and penury.  I love the smell of profits and the starving poor in the morning.


Stuffs And Stuff's picture

Why not go all the way and turn this country into a big fucking FEMA camp.

We'll split the population into two groups. One group breaks down big rocks into small rocks, and another group pastes the debris back together and hands it back to the first group.


smartstrike's picture

The real issue that most don't want to admit is that private economy has failed because it is a Ponzi economy. The well to do put their money into asset appreciation and prefer to earn profits form global wage arbitration, employment of illegal labor and government contracts instead of employing capital into production and hiring of labor.

To feed this Ponzi, corporate owned-government entity must run ever larger deficits and money printing schemes while the US native labor force gets more dependent on ever cheaper foreign goods. The fact that one can trash their own currency in order to feed the global trade Ponzi, shows just how high the profits are.

Large US corporations earn more than 50% of their profits abroad, 20% is earned form government contracts, which leaves only about 30% earned from domestic operations. In order to make this type of economy somehow sustainable, corporate owned -government would have to levy high income taxes on their owners and individuals behind those corporations. 



Mad Muppet's picture

Jobs! Double plus good!

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

fascist, communist: for fucktards who think they are different: both need central control of property and economy.

.now go argue your silly; but but fascist work with corporations and communists are just angels looking out for the common man with absolute state power. such stupid fucks who post on and on about how they are not the same cat.

national socialist is a national socialist period.

Henry Hub's picture

***national socialist is a national socialist period.***


But it is not Communism.   FUCKTARD

Nick Jihad's picture

So when it comes down to it, "fucktard" is all you got. That's the sum total of your argument.

Positive Dennis's picture

Who was it that defined insanity as to continue to do something that clearly is not working? By thus definition Mort is insane. Free trade is not working, why does anyone think that expanding it will "kiss it and make it better?"

IridiumRebel's picture

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
-Albert Einstein

Stuffs And Stuff's picture

We don't even live in a free market. In a free market, everyone plays by the same rules. 

When 'too big to fail' banks make a profit, it goes into their pockets, and when they lose money, it's taxpayer money which is lost!

When these same banks are caught commiting serious crimes, they are almost never held accountable - They can make billions in profit breaking the law and then pay only a fraction of said profit in fines. The fine is basically just a bribe to the government, it's essentially just a way to pay them off!

This ain't free market, motherfucker; I hesitate to even call it capitalism - What it is, is a centrally planned corporatist system.


lindaamick's picture

The poor are kept hidden.  Food Stamps and SS Disability are required to keep them hidden. 

The few that dare to come out into the open are arrested as vagrants or sent to homeless shelters usually run by church groups.  The poor are being criminalized.

As long as the hiding is successful the charade of BS information coming out of the government is not questioned by the majority.  Things "Look Like" they have for decades.

You have to be observant to notice all the empty store fronts, the growing number of potholes in the roads and lack of newly painted lines, the taller grass in the medians and roadsides and the general, gradual decay that is going on in most places.  

It is a virtual reality painted by the overlords.

Kingkongballs827's picture

Bury your Guns, Gold, AR-15s, Ammo, Food and More with this 4.5' Foot Nitrogen Sealed PVC Burial Tube Gun Vault.

Jack Burton's picture

The biggest NEW employer is the state, via Social Security disability. This field of work is where the mostly male former working class has been going for over a decade now. All those factory and service to industry jobs that men once filled in their millions have died off since the late 70's by the beginning of the 2000's they are nearly all gone. Many of the males that did or would have found work in these fields are unemployable and they know it. Thus you have had a mad rush to claim disability from the Social Security system. If the truth be told, I believe that the government is telling SS to make a show of being tough on claims but in the end I think their orders are to take on millions of the former industrial and maufacturing sector workers for who those jobs will never ever exist again. China has most of them, and factories still close to move abroad everyday. The government is buying social peace by paying millions of men to sit home and drink beer and watch tv and collect SS.

I know a guy who drove truck, he claimed SS disability for his bad back, by all accounts he is a cripple. He  claims that he can never drive a truck or work again, so he gets his SS check. Thing is, he likes to trout fish, just like me. So I take him with fishing several times a summer. This requires a several mile walk through thick brush and rocky difficult country. I am in peak condition, and it is a grueling experience to get in to the good fishing holes in the wilderness areas surrounding our town. He never has a problem keeping up! This tells you his bad back is BS!

pursueliberty's picture

I know several who are on disability largely due to job market.  Most lost a job in the last five years that paid over $20/hr.  After realizing there weren't any jobs around paying in that range they had mental or back issues.


My FIL works 10+hours 7 days a week with a pain pump.  His back is gone but his spirit isn't.

uncle reggie's picture

"Such an increase is simply impossible to connect to direct disability experienced during employment, for it is inconceivable that work in America has become so dangerous. For many, this disability program has become another form of unemployment compensation, only this time without end."

This statement is both misleading and inacurate. First, Social Security Disability does not require the disability to be work related as the author implies. Any qualifying disability, regardless of whether it is "connected" to employment or not, enables the applicant to receive benefits. Next, the vast majority of applicants are denied benefits. This author mistakenly supports the misconception that SSDI is "easy" to obtain and those receiving are scamming the system. A more accurate analysis of the increase in beneficiaries can be found by looking at our dysfunctional healthcare system, corporate control of our food products which are largely responsible for the worst diet in human history and ever increasing reductions in general living standards. This author obviously belongs to the elitist thinkers crowd who like to blame those at the bottom of the society for ripping off the rest of us hard working, real Americans. Part of the "keep the masses divided" folks so we don't get too angry at the obscenely rich oligarchy. Sorry, we're not all susceptible to that "blame the little guy" bullshit.

Henry Hub's picture

Actually the "obscenely rich oligarchy" is perfectly happy to let these claimants go on SS because it will more quickly deplete the resources of the SS trust fund. Destroying Social security has been their goal since it's inception 70 years ago.

rsnoble's picture

Lord knows the public unions aren't going to join the depression!  Nope, pay this big tax bill grandma so I can keep what I got!  If you can't afford it we'll just sell your house!

Those bastards need to be crushed.

kurt's picture

sometimes the crabs in the basket pull the escapees back in as they labor to get out also. I'd pick better targets