A jobless recovery means no recovery for the unemployed

After all the buildup from the other day, everyone has no doubt been hanging out on my site, refreshing the page every five seconds, waiting for my next post. How do I know? Because I’m watching… always, thanks to Google Analytics and an abundance of free time. Think of me like Big Unemployed Brother, who, rumor has it, sleeps in his parents’ basement these days because he can no longer make rent. Big Mother likes having her boy around. Big Father wants BUB to get out of the spying business and go into sustainable energy. I also know you’re out there refreshing because this is what I do every Sunday during football season. I repeatedly refresh the box score for my fantasy football game to see if Larry Fitzgerald or LaDainian Tomlinson has another touchdown. It’s a way of life in the Internet Age. As of this moment, I’m winning, barely.

So, sorry to keep people waiting. Without further delay or digression, here is my entry for the America’s Next Great Pundit contest…

The words “jobless” and “recovery” are now inextricably linked. Because every ongoing current event requires a snappy name, economic cousins have become bedfellows. Forcing these words to coexist in Gosselin-like harmony – in print, online, over airwaves and in conversation – feels wrong.

A jobless recovery isn’t really a recovery. It’s a stock market rally, an uptick in economic activity or an improved economic indicator blown out of proportion. It’s also unemployment that numbers in the millions and a nation of employees scared for their jobs. “Recovery” suggests improvement. “Jobless” proves otherwise.

Economists first trotted out the term “jobless recovery” in the early 1990s to describe the new post-recession phenomenon of concurrent economic growth and high unemployment. Some experts blamed higher worker productivity born of increased automation. Others pointed to increased labor market slack, as workers switched jobs and industries. Whatever the cause, “jobless recovery” appeared again after this decade’s first recession, and once more earlier this year. The experts who failed to forecast the Great Recession needed a term to signal its end.

Conditions were right for “jobless recovery.” The economy was bottoming out, and everyone was scared. A pervasive need for good news – any good news – provided traction. Stories about unemployment’s slowing growth and stockbrokers turned ice cream men no longer cut it. Consumers needed something more positive to boost their confidence and open their wallets. Because without consumers, who provide 70% of our economy’s spending, actual recovery cannot occur.

But job creation remains non-existent; jobs are still disappearing. The national unemployment rate is approaching 10%. Add in underemployment and that figure is 17%. Include frustrated jobseekers (those who haven’t looked for work in a month), recently minted stay-at-home parents and new workforce arrivals who remain jobless, and that figure passes 20%. Companies, for their part, continue to cut pay and benefits rather than lay off still more employees.

This is the workforce that’s expected to spend money. But they’re not spending. Nor will they be for the foreseeable future. Just ask any retail outlet about its projections for the upcoming holiday season. Companies refilling their depleted inventories and the resulting excitement on Wall Street are driving the perceived recovery. It’s not real. And it won’t be until the public finds gainful employment and a renewed sense of security. The “jobless recovery” will continue. But only because it’s more palatable than “continuing recession.”

And this is why I should win, aside from my general, overall awesomeness…

I am a laid-off marketing professional and former freelance music writer, who has an opinion on everything. And I need a job. My current bout of unemployment is now pushing a year. In that time, I’ve improved my writing and job skills and submitted hundreds of applications. I document my unemployed life on the Jobless and Less blog (www.joblessandless.com) and keep up with the news in my now extensive free time. None of my hard work has paid off yet. Though my wallet (and my wife) tells me that needs to change. I can start right away.

Now back to your regularly scheduled life.

Entering a contest for a job… sound familiar?

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  1. Kelby2012 wrote:

    I am on day 95, of my unemployment. I have gotten over most of my bitterness about it, but, I still have my moments. I decided to enter the blogsphere with all my free time and have been commenting on everything that my ADD allows. I don’t see how a job recovery can happen if the unemployment rates continue to rise, and the employers continue to downsize workers paychecks. Where is all this mythical money to kick start the economy going to come from. I feel like we need Jerry Bruckheimer to make a movie about putting together a group of economists to save the planet.

    This is my first visit to your site, and I like your style, I plan to visit and comment often, take care.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  2. A U.S. News & World Report senior correspondent touched on this issue in a recent blog posting, which prompted me to blog about it from my own perspective: the perversity of a company’s stock rising when the company announces a major layoff. I’m morbidly fascinated at companies’ behavior: who do they think buys the goods and services they’re trying to sell? Oftentimes the very people they, and other companies, are axing. Try as they may, they cannot slash their way to prosperity, at least not in the long term.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  3. Daniel wrote:

    I’ve been unemployed since I graduated in May. As much as I would love to have a full time job it’s given me the opportunity to start my own business doing what I love and also help out other unemployed people!!

    Check out my new company at http://www.resumefacelift.com and get the edge over all those other job seekers!!

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 1:26 am | Permalink
  4. Louise wrote:

    this is a great website…sobering….it’s important to keep this information going to educate people on what is really happening. there is too much government and media spin and smoke and mirrors. keep up the good work.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 6:01 am | Permalink

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  2. […] run out by the end of the year. The work landscape is still bleak, as the country is enjoying a jobless recovery. I’m planning a huge party without food, drink, entertainment or people to celebrate it. I’d […]