Friday, March 07, 2008

U.S. February 2008 payrolls the lowest in five years.

Before I continue, if you haven't yet read Hair Club for Men's excellent entry at Political Flesh Feast, then now would be a good time. Some of those who write pro-Israeli apartheid diatribes at other web sites shall not get it, because to do so would force them to think of Rachel Corrie as human and, as well, the Palestinians. And if there's one thing that absolutely terrifies the far right, it's that others shall recognize what is being done in our name against human beings. It's simply easier to think of Palestinians and their Western sympathizers as mindless beasts, "its" rather than people.

But for those of you who refuse to buy into that mentality, HCfM's entry is eye-opening. You could do a lot worse than to read it. Anyway, on to today's entry. Reuters reports a loss of at least 63,000 American jobs in February. I say at least, because as with what seems to be almost everything coming out of the news, the actual numbers are probably under-reported.

U.S. employers cut payrolls for a second straight month during February, slashing 63,000 jobs for the biggest monthly decline in nearly five years as the nation's labor markets weakened steadily, a government report on Friday showed.

The Labor Department said last month's cut followed an upwardly revised loss of 22,000 jobs in January rather than the 17,000 reported a month ago. It also said only 41,000 jobs were created in December, half the 82,000 originally reported.

"This confirms the fears that have been lurking in the financial markets in recent weeks. The probability of a U.S. recession is at more than 50 percent," said Richard DeKaser, chief economist for National City Corp. in Cleveland.

Too many Americans still seem to think it's easy to get a job in this economy, that if one is unemployed for more than a few months, it must be something wrong with the jobless person. But numbers have a way of inserting pesky reality into the equation. The truth is that it's not that people who fall under in this country aren't trying to obtain work; it's that the work simply isn't there.

Department officials said February's job losses were the largest for any month since March 2003, when 212,000 jobs were cut.

During February, the national unemployment rate eased to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent in January, but that was because fewer people were in the labor force. The department said the number of people in the workforce fell by 450,000 in February.

Job losses were widespread. Some 52,000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing industries, the largest decline since July 2003 when 92,000 jobs were cut. Construction businesses eliminated another 39,000 jobs on top of 25,000 that were cut in January, a reflection of the housing industry's deepening woes.

The department said that since the housing boom peaked in September 2006, construction businesses have cut 331,000 jobs.

Retail industries also shed jobs last month, dropping 34,000 people off their payrolls, a possible reflection of concern from businesses that hard-pressed consumers are likely to begin pulling back sharply on spending.

Just another stumbling block for those of us who've fallen through the ever-widening cracks. Except now those cracks are gaping fissures, and so many of us think that if we divert our eyes we can pretend the problem doesn't exist, just like the supporters of Israeli apartheid think that if they demonize their victims, then their hands are clean of human blood.

No comments: