Saturday, July 05, 2003

A new study released by the Kansas City Federal Reserve makes the General's observation official: the Bush, Jr. "recovery" is another "jobless" one.

The KC Fed scratches its head at just the second "jobless recovery" in US history and chalks up the new phenomenon to "just-in-time employment practices" and "flexible labor inputs": to regular citizens, that means an increasing reliance on overtime, temporary workers and part-time workers rather than full-time hires.

The only surprising thing is that this surprises anyone! As the General stated on Thursday, during and after the Reagan recession of 1981-83 the time lag between GDP recovery and employment recovery was a mere 6 months. During and after the Poppy Bush recession of 1990-91 the time lag between GDP recovery and employment recovery was 33 months. The smashing of labor unions in the United States in the 1980s and the outsourcing of work both to temporary firms (which has shown a secular rise since 1983) in the US as well as to contract firms abroad has make the US labor force extremely "flexible"; that's economist-speak for docile, manipulable and easily exploitable.

This labor force is nice and productive, but doesn't need to be paid well, and that's the magic of the "jobless recovery". Output recovers and people are working; it's just that they are working with little if any security and their renumeration is almost totally unconnected to output and productivity.

The KC Fed winds up the report in typically hilarious style, worshipping the god Efficiency and His just and beneficent reign over the plane of Economy above all else:
These findings are largely positive for the economy overall . . . [resulting] in a more efficient use of resources that allows the economy to adjust more quickly to shocks. . . . For workers the impact . . . is mixed. . . . easier for some people to enter the labor force or change jobs . . . and to have more flexible schedules . . . the opportunity to earn additional income . . . [but] because temporary and part-time jobs offer less job stability, lower pay, and fewer benefits, their greater prevalence in recoveries could inhibit consumption growth and thus help perpetuate the joblessness of a recovery.
The "jobless recovery" is here to stay because we are returning to 19th century politics where Captains of Industry manipulate "labor supplies" at will across the globe. Good for production, good for profits, good for capital -- bad for everyone else and every other value human civilization cherishes.

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