Even as the BLS and the administration are trying to cover up the real state of unemployment affairs using assorted semantic gimmicks of just what it means to be unemployed, and as companies provide adjusted EPS numbers, while actual earnings continue to collapse, the true barometer of spending, provided by the Financial Management Service, tax withholdings (net of refunds), continues to paint the truest picture of just what is really happening with both America's consumer and the corporate world. And it ain't pretty. On a rolling 12 month basis, individual tax withheld has dropped by nearly 8% YoY, from $1.42 trillion to $1.31 trillion, while company witholdings are down a whalloping 64%, from $274 billion to just under $100 billion! This is money that will never be used to pay down the skyrocketing US deficit, because both the US consumer and average US company are simply not collecting the required cash to line the Treasury's pockets with the one traditional way to pad the deficit: taxes. Expect much, much, much more debt issuance in America's short, medium and long-term future.
Reader Michael provides some perspective on the above data:
A perspective on the level of US unemployment is not whether someone is employed or partly employed (and varying obtuse definitions) but the level of wages being generated by the consumers. Only wages pay the bills (and generate economic activity), not employment definitions. An insight into National wages is the daily (cash) tax collections published by the Financial Management Service. The rolling 12 months figures show a consistent decline, with Nov 2009 showing a 7.6% decline from Nov 2008. Drilling down into actual monthly figures does not indicate any trend change. The rolling 12 Month Company tax payments shows a 63.95% decline to Nov 2009. Monthly net collections again show no change in trend, with the month to 4th December showing a further refund of $14 Billion.
And even though we missed the President in his daily address to the nation earlier, we hope this a topic he will bring up tomorrow or later this afternoon, whichever comes earliest in his next scheduled TV appearance.