Friday, August 06, 2004

Bush: 'Economy Is Improving'; Economy: 'Like Hell I Am'

Yesterday, in a speech he made in Michigan reported by the WaPo, Bush said everything is getting better.

Bush Stumps in Dem Stronghold of Michigan

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 5, 2004; 7:44 PM

SAGINAW, Mich. - President Bush ventured into Democratic strongholds of this swing state on Thursday to attract crossover voters with a message that was tough on terrorists and full of hope for more prosperous times.

"The economy is improving - it's getting better," Bush said to several thousands of supporters at a community events center in a section of the state where the unemployment rate went up in June to nearly 8 percent - above the national rate of 5.6 percent.

Bush's trip to Saginaw - his 18th trip to the Michigan - reflects the difficulty of an incumbent president campaigning in areas hard-hit by economic problems.

Yeah. It's called a 'yawning reality gap'.

The Saginaw-Bay City-Midland area of Michigan, a blue-collar, traditionally Democratic zone, has lost more than 8,000 manufacturing jobs. In Canton, Ohio, last Saturday, the president was in an area that has lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs since Bush took office.

"Factory orders are on the rise," he said. "Manufacturing jobs are coming back. The unemployment rate has fallen a full percent and we're not going to rest until everybody who wants to work can find a job."

Oh, really? In today's WaPo, the Labor Dept is forced to report otherwise.

Payroll Growth Slows Dramatically in July

By Nell Henderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2004; 3:30 PM

U.S. job growth nearly stalled last month, the government reported today, reinforcing other signs that the economic recovery is losing steam just four months before the presidential election.

Employers added [only] 32,000 workers to their payrolls in July, the smallest monthly gain since December and the fourth consecutive month in which the pace of job growth has slowed, the Labor Department reported.

Hiring also was weaker in May and June than previously thought, according to the department's revisions of earlier figures, which sliced 61,000 jobs off the earlier totals. That means the economy added an average of 106,000 jobs a month since May, far below the 150,000 monthly pace many economists believe is needed to keep up with population growth.

Yet the unemployment rate declined slightly, to 5.5 percent in July, the lowest level since October 2001, from 5.6 percent the month before, as more people did find work.

The figures reflect employers' reluctance to add to their payrolls in July after the overall pace of economic growth slowed sharply in the spring, dragged down by higher oil prices, rising interest rates and weak consumer spending, analysts said. Although they do not see the economy sliding back into recession, many forecasters expect the expansion to continue at the recent, cooler rate, with the pace influenced in large part by what happens to oil prices.

"We have slowed down dramatically," said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group.

So once again the Labor Dept was forced to 'revise' its original figures--what they had said was job growth surpassing or at least equal to what was needed to 'keep up with population growth', they are now, 3 months later, forced to admit is falling well below that. An infinitesimal 32,000 jobs for the whole of July is an abysmal number for a 'recovering' economy. What might be helpful in determining whether or not US jobs are ever going to recover is a number they won't give us: How many jobs did US corporations create overseas in the last three months?

This staggeringly low stateside job creation performance is beginning to have even Wall Street concerned (it's about fucking time). In a second article, WaPo reports that today's stock market plunge was at least in part due to the Labor Dept's numbers.

Dow Closes Down 148 to New 2004 Low

By Jerry Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 6, 2004; 6:22 PM

News that job growth has stalled sent the stock market skidding for the second day in a row, driving the Dow Jones industrial average to a new low for the year.

The Dow plunged 148 points to 9,815.33 -- a 1.5 percent loss that drove the blue chip index to its lowest point since the day after last Thanksgiving.

Suffering a 1.5 percent loss, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index fell almost 17 points to 1,063.97, its lowest since last December.

The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index dropped 45 points to 1,776.89, a 2.5 percent loss that pushed that index back to where it was in late August 2003.

As the losses accelerated during the afternoon, traders warned that stock prices will likely go lower.

"I don't think the market is going to fall apart but will probably just continue to stay in a trading range," Jonathan Golub, equity strategist at J.P. Morgan Fleming Asset Management in New York, told Washington Post reporter Ben White. "On the one hand you've had really great earnings but on the other hand you have a lot of fear in the market about the upcoming election, interest rates, terrorism, oil prices and Iraq. . . . This [jobs] number just gives one more shot of worry."

Once again, I'll repeat for the benefit of any free-marketers who might be looking in (yeah, right...) a question some of us have been asking for several years as offshoring, overseas outsourcing, and other corporate tactics for lowering payrolls, ducking their tax obligations, and avoiding inconvenient health, safety, and environmental laws here at home grow into SOP for more and more companies:

Who's going to buy all this shit if you move everybody's job to Indonesia?

(all emphasis added by me)