New Census Data Shows Why the Job Market is Still “Terrible” (as Trump said), but the Numbers Get Hushed up

Hardly any improvement for individuals since the Great Recession.

When Donald Trump campaigned on how “terrible” the jobs situation was, while the Obama Administration touted the jobs growth since the employment bottom of the Great Recession in 2010, it sounded like they were talking about two entirely different economies at different ends of the world. But they weren’t. Statistically speaking, they were both right.

Since 2011, the US economy created 14.6 million “nonfarm payrolls” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – whether or not they’re low-wage or less than full-time jobs. But for individuals, this job market, statistically speaking, looks almost as tough as it was during the Great Recession.

Obviously, a lot of people have found jobs, and some of them have found good jobs since then, and there are a ton of “job openings.” But the Census Bureau just told us why the job market is still, to use Trump’s term, “terrible” when it released its population estimates for 2016, just before clocking out for the holidays.

According to this report: From the beginning of 2010 – in terms of jobs, the darkest days of the Great Recession – through December 2016, the US “resident population” (not counting overseas-stationed military personnel) grew by 16 million people.

But since the beginning of 2010 through November 2016, nonfarm payrolls grew by only 13.8 million.

Note that in 2010, nonfarm payrolls declined by 900,000, after having plunged by over 5 million in 2009. The first year with growth in nonfarm payrolls was 2011.

The chart below shows this peculiar relationship between the “resident population” of the US (top green line) and nonfarm payrolls (bottom blue line). Both rose. But the bottom line (nonfarm payrolls) didn’t rise nearly enough.

The difference between the two is the number of people that are not on nonfarm payrolls. They might be students, unemployed, retirees, or working in a job that the “nonfarm payrolls” do not capture (more on that in a moment). This is reflected by the red line, whose slope should head down in an economy where jobs grow faster than the population:

For the first five years of this seven-year period, the number of people not occupying a job as captured by nonfarm payroll data, kept growing (red numbers), even as the touted jobs growth was kicking in. Why? Because population growth outpaced jobs growth over the five years from 2010 through 2014.

Only in 2015 and 2016 has growth in “nonfarm payrolls” edged past population growth. Those were the only two years since the Great Recession when people on an individual basis actually had improving chances of getting a job.

The nonfarm payrolls data is not a complete measure of the US jobs situation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it excludes “proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid volunteer or family employees, farm employees, and domestic employees. It also excludes military personnel, and employees of a big part of the intelligence community, including the CIA, the NSA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

There are many folks who’d contend that this population growth is mostly young people who are not yet in the work force and old people who refuse to die, and that for working age people (say, 18 to 65), the jobs growth has been phenomenal.

But that’s not the case. According to the Census report, in 2016, the percentage of people 18 and over grew to 249.5 million, making up 77.2% of the total US population, up from 76.8% in 2015 (247.3 million), and up from 76.2% in 2010! The millennials have moved into adulthood, elbowing each other while scrambling for jobs.

And boomers are not retiring from the working life. Why should they. Many of them are fit and don’t want to sit around bored, and many of them have to work because they can’t afford to quit working, even if they would like to. So the number of workers 65+ has soared 45% since the end of 2009, from 6.2 million to 9.0 million. So now there are nearly 3 million more of them on nonfarm payrolls than there had been in 2010:

The natural growth rate of the population (births minus deaths) has been declining for years. In 2016, it dropped to 0.38%, a new low. The growth rate from immigration, which fluctuates somewhat with the economy, edged down to 0.31%. So total population growth dropped to a new low of 0.69%, according to the Census report. Of note: the natural growth rate via births won’t impact the labor force until the babies are young adults. But the vast majority of new immigrants are of working age, and they add to the labor force immediately.

So the number of jobs since 2010 has risen by 13.8 million – which the economists are endlessly touting, along with the even better sounding 14.8 million since 2011. But the population has increased by 16 million since 2010. Most of them are people of working age, jostling for position to grab one of these jobs that would put them on the nonfarm payrolls. And this is why the job market for many individuals is “terrible,” as Trump said.

But those might have been the good times. Read…  Red Flag on Recession Crops up in NY Fed’s Coincident Economic Index, first time since November 2009

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  109 comments for “New Census Data Shows Why the Job Market is Still “Terrible” (as Trump said), but the Numbers Get Hushed up

  1. Bookdoc says:

    One other factor enters in. Many of the millennials and other younger workers lack a working attitude. Attendance can be a problem as well as showing up on time and working (instead of being on the pads and phones) so employers like older workers who do a day’s work for a day’s pay.

    • Cain says:

      True but after 30 years of offshoring all our mfg jobs then IT jobs in 2000’s the is not enough critical mass of good jobs left. It is the middle class majority that is the backbone of Americans strength, not the .01% of the wealthy people, not the count of millionaires. This fact is marginalized by the rich and the government leadership they control. The millennials are starting to wake up and understand the the boomers have ripped them off and they will not recover for potentially and entire life time. Jobs, 20 trillion debt, education standards, etc., etc.. Everywhere you can imaging, the rich have taken too much out of society.

      • robt says:

        The ‘rich’ create the wealth – poor or average people do not create wealth.
        The rich don’t take money from society and bury it in a hole somewhere. It’s out there for everyone to use; the rich just have ownership of it. It may be deployed in productive resources, it may be loaned to individuals so they can create productive resources, but it doesn’t just disappear to some secret place, never to be seen again, so someone can wallow in it, like Scrooge McDuck. Unless of course a nation is hostile to capital, which then finds a new home.
        Creating class or intergenerational warfare, the usual tactic of envious and desperate socialists, does not create jobs. If you want to start from ground zero the unpalatable but only solution is the elimination of minimum wage laws.

        • Justme says:

          Rich people create wealth? What Rubbish.

          Rich people hoard and amass wealth. That’s what they do. They inflate bubbles to rob the lower classes of even more wealth. Example: Wall St inflated the housing 2001-2007 housing bubble, and then Hedge Funds acquired near 7% of the housing stock of the US at (relative) bargain prices in the ensuing firesale of foreclosures, and had it all financed just for them by the Federal Reserve buying their bad bonds and thereby giving these Wall St insiders the funds to buy aforementioned near 7% of the housing stock.

          Oh, the rich create wealth alright. For themselves only.

        • Lune says:

          Please. The rich do not create wealth alone. *everyone* does. The rich wouldn’t be rich if there aren’t buyers for the products their factories produce, or entrepreneurs with the ideas that can put their capital to productive use.

          An economy needs both producers and consumers in balance. If the rich feel they alone produce wealth and everyone else is a parasite, ask them how much nutritional value a dollar bill has when no one has the means to buy or rent what they own.

        • RepubAnon says:

          It used to be that capitalists needed workers to run their factories. Alas, automation is changing the balance – fewer and fewer workers are required to produce and distribute goods.

          Of course, this means fewer and fewer people can afford to buy those goods. This is seen by the slow shift from mass production of consumer goods toward limited production of luxury goods.

          The solution is increasing the maximum marginal tax rate to something like 75%. This removes the motivation of the 0.1% to starve their workers while keeping the productivity gains for themselves – at that marginal rate, the 0.1% are motivated to hire more workers and pay them more to minimize turnover- wages being tax-deductible, you see.

          Elimination of minimum wage laws won’t do anything. The minimum wage is already so low that minimum wage workers can’t afford minimum life essentials: food, housing, and transport. At a sub-minimum wage level, the choice is not to work OR starve – it’s to starve AND work, or just starve.

        • Saylor says:

          This I find to be not only incorrect but touches the very basis of the 1% ‘problem’.
          In these days, most money of the rich go into investments. Financial instruments that protect. Less and less of the money goes into growing a new company or product. It has been shown that ‘trickle down’ economics has NOT worked.
          If you created a graph with the amount of money a person makes compared to working a job that produces tangible products you would find that the more someone is worth, the less actual productivity they do. Which means I am not counting playing the market or buying bank bonds as ‘productive’.
          And the crux of the problem is that one of the best tax breaks you can get is buying stock and holding onto it for more than 1 year. You get the capital gains tax break.
          The lower you are on the income scale, the less you have invested in such things that give you this capital tax break (while being more involved in actual production of goods).
          So it is no surprise that the rich have been getting richer. Their favored methods of money gain also have the best tax havens. So be it by percentage or actual count, they gain and low income continues to lose.

        • JZ says:

          There r two kinds of rich. first kind is the bill gates, steve jobs, henry ford. the second kind are those who screws up the system and then gets bailouts.
          There are two kinds of poor. Those are are lazy and gets food and services from other people and those who tried hard but got destroyed by the 2nd king of rich.

          The 2nd king of rich always talks like the 1st kind and the 1st kind of poor always seek sympathy pretending like the 2nd king of poor.

          Solution is simple.
          No government bailouts.
          No government subsidies on houses and foods.

          Let the market work and it will clean out those parasitic richs and poors.

          Yes, it will be messy, unpleasant like the depression. But that will restore the wealth gap, and increase productivity, and as a whole, the civilization will advance again.

          But, but, but, the 2nd king of rich will always lobby and the 1st kind of poor will always vote. So the cleansing will never happen until IT HAS TO.

        • Bob says:

          The smart and motivated create wealth, not the rich. I assume you were being sarcastic given the obvious flaws in the logic.

        • d says:

          “The smart and motivated create wealth, not the rich.”

          Yes, They and their children must also work very hard at staying rich, or employ very good people to mange their wealth for them (Like the major shareholders of BMW) or else they will not stay rich, for very long at all.

          Something all the wealth hater’s, conveniently ignore.

        • robt, I am sorry to have to bring this to your attention, but not only do the rich spend time creating wealth for themselves, but it has also been proven that the rich do not loan money, nor do they create jobs. The rich today have shown us again and again they have no interest in improving things for the jobless, they are not investing in new business, or infrastructure, or educational programs (unless it directly benefits a family member!). Long story short, the rich have become short sighted, and are only interested in ammassing great fortunes for themselves, while the earth crumbles around them and us.

    • walter map says:

      “Many of the millennials and other younger workers lack a working attitude.”

      Quite right. Poor people struggling to hold down three part-time jobs can only blame their own laziness for their poverty.

    • Newport Ned says:

      I haven’t noticed that Millennials have a poor work ethic. Rather, I think a lot of them recognize that the economy sucks, wages are down, housing is prohibitively expensive, and they’re saddled with debt that their Boomer/Gen X parents and the culture encouraged them to take on. I don’t blame Millennials. I blame the System.

      • Saylor says:

        Agree with both you and walter….at one time, in a different life, I had over 200 people under my bailiwick. I found that the performance of the manager in doing their job had more to do with the attitude of young workers than what the young workers believed when they first stepped inside one of my production facilities.
        I’m pretty sure the meme of ‘this younger generation just does not know how to work’ has been repeated often by the earlier generations preceding it.

      • John Doe says:

        Agreed. I feel for the Millenials, as they rightly recognize what a s*it’s how and joke this economy has become. However, it is no single preceding generation’s fault this has happened, but a culmination of decades of public apathy, combined with a Federal corporation infested with parasites. Regardless of what has been the norm for years here, the current trajectory is unsustainable and will result shortly in complete societal breakdown and economic collapse unless addressed quickly and meaningfully.

    • RealityMayBite says:

      The stereotypes about Millennials crack me up. There were two “independent studies” that concluded that:

      1) Millennials “goof off at work” and don’t work long hours;

      2) The largest problem for corporate employers are that Millennials are workaholics suffering from burnout.

      A great deal of the problem that I see, as a Gen Xer who manages Millennials, is the corporate culture of the Boomer generation isn’t about results — it’s about appearances.

      “Showing up at 9 instead of 9:15” hardly matters. “Being on your personal device rather than looking like you’re working” hardly matters.

      All that matters are results. Millennials (and Xers) are generally far more efficient and effective than Boomers, and more concerned with results than process.

      In the Boomer era, one could “check in” at 9, look busy, check out at 5, and say “look at what a great employee I am,” regardless of the quality and efficacy of the work. It was about keeping up appearances.

      Today, work is about actual results, and businesses should be prepared to compromise with their employees if they want to get the best results.

      Companies that overemphasize “be right on time at 9” and that micromanage every waking moment are less efficient, creative and effective than ones that embrace modern reality.

      You can argue the contrary all you like; i’ll just point to the indices of modern tech companies versus “traditionally managed” firms and point out that the former have outperformed the latter by orders of magnitude.

      • d says:

        “You can argue the contrary all you like; i’ll just point to the indices of modern tech companies versus “traditionally managed” firms and point out that the former have outperformed the latter by orders of magnitude.”

        Really easy to outperform when there is no long term established competition to be measured against.

        The number of Tech companies that implode is also HUGE. But in the here today gone tomorrow tech field this is conveniently ignored by tech booster’s.

    • Ralph K says:

      That’s a laugh. If they truly did lack a working attitude, then find a job would be as easy as pie. Anyone could just pick up the job the last millennial got fired from. Except the job market has been horrible for everyone, including older workers.

  2. unit472 says:

    If one person holds two ( or more) ‘jobs’ that too doesn’t show up in ‘official’ data and given the low paying, part time nature of many of the new jobs, I suspect there are millions of people having to do this.

    That is almost, by definition, the nature of the new ‘gig’ economy we are supposed to be enjoying.

    • OutLookingIn says:


      One very big salient point that is being missed in Wolf’s article, is the consideration of the source of the data.
      An act of blind faith – the government statistics are “true” and are free from all “false” data. The government would not lie to you.

      If you believe the above, then I would very much like to sell you some very nice ocean front property located in Arizona!

      The BLS and Census “published” data (which mostly is composed of surveys) has been proven time and time again in the alternative media to be patently false. Now about that waterfront property…

  3. d says:

    Coinciding with the election of baby bush I sustained a serious injury which is how I ended up being a Forex trader and spending way to much time on the nett.

    Since then I have annaylised and been writing, that if America does not stop importing unskilled labour ( Legal or Illegal irrelevant ) that it does not have work for.

    Serious economic and social services issues are going to develop.

    Now US Employment and Population Stats agree with me.

    Very roughly America need 5 Million + jobs, to get back to where it was, employment ratio and worker participation wise, in 1999.

    which explains why US wage rates are still effectively, in decline.

    The official US Unemployment numbers and the real un/under employed numbers are hugely different, as America in particular massages these stats to the benefit of the white house. Very effectively..

    US unemployment, and chinese GDP, who can tell the biggest lies, and get away with it.

    This is all before you factor in how many jobs are being done by illegals that remit a large part of their pathetic wages, to loans sharks who funded their illegal immigration, and then their family’s.

    Another huge economic drag, on the US economy.

    • Edward E says:

      Even ‘Poppy’s NWO economy doesn’t work well for most people after Neo-Stupids took over. hope you had a great Christmas. We had a froggy Christmas, 60°-70°f with frogs singing in the woods like it was spring. That may be a first. My messed up leg is balking after spreading two loads of gravel by wheelbarrow.

    • Lune says:

      You may be right as a general principle, but it doesn’t explain the current economic malaise. The fact is the total number of illegal immigrants hit a peak just before Obama took office and is down by over 1 million people since:

      • d says:

        The fact is the total number of illegal immigrants hit a peak just before Obama took office and is down by over 1 million people since:

        That was you saturation point.

        From then on the damage, they have done and are still doing starts to become obvious, to everybody, even those stupid enough to vote for PE 45.

        Illigal/unskilled immigration is just like a cancer, by the time as an everyday person, you realise you have it, you have a very serious problem.

      • Petunia says:

        Pew is one of the main organs of liberal propaganda. It’s research is based on a bunch of over educated people talking to other over educated people, who all together don’t know that much. From what I can tell, stealing art collections is what they do best.

    • Frederick says:

      I agree that illegal immigration is a drag on US wages but so is globalization And in a big way It will only get worse unless tariffs are imposed and the US becomes more isolationist as Trump is proposing Not saying it will work because it wont but it will be hailed as our saviour for some time

      • d says:

        “√I agree that illegal immigration is a drag on US wages but so is globalization”

        That’s another piece of the puzzle

        PE 45’s unlevel playing is accurate.

        The way he intends to rectify it is not.

        TPP is the way forward. TPP is the beginning of the rule book that should have been written.

        Before Globalisation was allowed.

        The issue with “Globalistion” is uneven rules ( pollution, gargbage, disposal, worker safety standards, taxation) which save company’s huge amounts of money, not wage rates themselves.

        Reduction in wage rates are simply a bonus compared to the other cost savings.

        Game out all the costs direct and hidden in America and Australia, not including wages, in any basic ecologically unfriendly manufacturing process.

        Then do the same for india and china.

        The differences are INCREDIBLY HUGE.

        That’s where the Corporates make their money in “Globilisation”.

        “Where there’s muck there’s Brass”

        The world needs new Tariffs, based on Total pollution, Worker safety standard’s and conditions. Added to the existing Regimes.

        Then when china and India are fairly Tarriffed on pollution and worker safety standards and conditions, they can not legally retaliate.

        Dont just Tariff and start a Tariff war.

        Create new Tariffs, that legally level the playing field.

        Then you can win.

        Then Globalisation might start to do what it was originally intended to. Raise the lowest boats.

        Instead of what has happened, where it has been Hijacked by Globalised Vampire Corporate’s (Mostly Pseudo American based) Currently Allied with china, to enrich only themselves and china, at the expense of everybody else, particularly the western middle class.

        • You make some good points in your post.

          However, this one caught my attention :

          “TPP is the way forward. TPP is the beginning of the rule book that should have been written.”

          Without being disagreeable, I challenge you to prove — or at least otherwise provide solid evidence — for that assertion.

          Thank you in advance.


        • d says:

          The link to the TPP agreement has been posted here many times.

          Why dont you read the thing, instead of blurting negativity about something, you only have negative biased hearsay of??

          Informed People in our country know a lot about it. BECAUSE WE STARTED IT.

          Before the US bullied its way into it, and took over, as usual.

          Which is why we are still the custodians of it, and why we know, that with out the US in the long term it will be better, if PE 45 dosent sign it, it will be much harder for the US to get back into it later. (Belive me they will need to)

          Most of the nations in TPP have deals with china, they dont really want RCEP, as RCEP is simply another one way traffic license for china, to exploit all the other nations in it, just like their other trade deals.

          Bottom line.

          TPP was Spawned, in answer to BAD chinese trade deal’s..

  4. Newport Ned says:

    The problem, of course, is mass third world immigration. We simply don’t need to import millions of illiterate peasants to take jobs our own people should be doing. How many of these new jobs have gone to immigrants?

    • Frederick says:

      Newport Ned is exactly correct and the answer is PLENTY of them trust me I know from firsthand experience

    • nick kelly says:

      Like picking strawberries and lettuce? If an illiterate can do a job the literate American would be underemployed doing it, and in the case of the these jobs plus all the other shit work- wouldn’t do it anyway.

      • Frederick says:

        Nonsense I was making 35 dollars an hour as a carpenter until my boss figured out he could hire 3 latino guys for the same money If you believe theses guys are just ag workers you are very missinformed

      • Newport Ned says:

        That’s bullshit. I picked strawberries and corn as a teen in rural New York State in the ’80s, alongside other White teens and blacks from the inner cities. Hard work. It can be done.

        • Ivy says:

          Many kids, and not a few adults, picked various agricultural crops and were otherwise gainfully employed down on the farm. Many of us know the business end of various implements, and got the thrill of driving or handling a lot of machinery.

          To this day, I retain an appreciation of what it takes to plant, cultivate, irrigate, harvest and transport food, and I share that with my family so that they also take nothing for granted about how they are able to eat.

        • Greatful again says:

          A little over a hundred years ago, most people lived and worked on a family farm. I pretty sure they did almost all the work themselves.

        • jerzdebil says:

          And I worked in tomato fields, good work for a kid barely in high school. Not so much for a 20 or 30 something, so I learned early what I didnt want to end up doing later in life. Very valuable lesson, and kids nowadays need to ditch the phone and learn it.

          Another reason the old are working so late in life is to pay for their kids who cant get decent work. Yeah, some are lazy and the quality of education is going down while the price keeps going up. Anything that cant be offshored enjoys pricing power and exploits it to an insane degree, like housing and health care. This economy is a nightmare for far too many.

        • JerryBear says:

          When I was in 7th grade i lived in a suburb of Portland Oregon. During the summer, buses would come around to each neighborhood early in the morning to pick up the kids to take them to the berry fields if they wished. We would pick the berries into a special hamper and we would be payed for each one we picked. At noon work would cease and we would be taken back to our neighborhoods. It was a lot of fun and we got some spending money too.

    • walter map says:

      “How many of these new jobs have gone to immigrants?”

      More all the time, apparently.

      Trump will hire foreign workers to staff Mar-a-Lago this winter

      Trump Winery under fire after applying for visas seeking foreign workers

  5. DV says:

    Some stunning figures I came across.

    In 18 to 24 age category 45% simply do not work for different reasons.
    49% of the US adult population are not taxable.
    Over 70% of Americans reported in MCKinsey survey that their income actually decreased over the past 10 years.

    • Frederick says:

      Mine was higher in the late 80s to be honest before we were overrun by illegals

  6. walter map says:

    Class Warfare

    Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary

    Crapification of employment in Amerika. Summary of this study from earlier in the year:

    It’s going to get worse, a lot worse, because federal policy aims to make Amerikan workers “competitive” with Third-World hellholes like Bangladesh:

    From the WWE to the White House: The Anti-Worker History of Trump’s SBA Pick

    Icing on the cake, or one of the many reasons why older Amerkans can’t retire:

    The Scandal of Vast Inequality in Retirement Pay

  7. Sidera says:

    Great article Wolf. Thanks for all of your hardwork. This site is a breath of fresh air among all of the financial media giving falsified information.

    Just a question regarding the farm payrolls.

    Why are farm jobs not counted towards this number? A job on a farm is just as productive as any manufacturing or technology job.

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to a prosperous 2017 for everyone on this site !

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I don’t know the logic why farm workers are not included in nonfarm payrolls (just like the other groups that are not included). It would be nice to have a total employment number that includes everyone who is working, from gig worker to CIA officer. But the BLS does track farm workers, and by subcategory too:

      • Justme says:

        I can think of two reasons why farm work is broken out from the mainstream payroll stats:

        1. Farmwork is seasonal and therefore appears as undesirabe and alarming noise and variance in employment statistics.

        2. Farmwork is low-paying and therefore the elite do not want the farmwork wages and benefits (if any) to be reflected in official stats. Farmwork stats drags down the averages and detracts from any narrative that any given state is doing well economically.

      • Lune says:

        I think it’s because farm work is highly seasonal and so would introduce unwanted seasonal effects into the data. Sort of like how they exclude census workers every 10 years because the huge number of people hired by the govt to complete the census obscures the underlying picture.

        • davidgmills says:

          Anyone who thinks farm work is seasonal has never been a farmer. There is always work to do, usually from way before dawn to way after dark, 365 days a year.

      • d says:

        “they a deliberatly braking up the data so people can not see instantly w the true situation..

        “Baffle them with BS” Standard lawyer tactics.

        I we have simple numbers, Registered unemployed/job seekers, and Employed.

        If you are not Retired, or a registered member of either group, you will receive attention from various authority entity’s, regarding your “Lack of visible means of support’.


  8. Kent says:

    The vast majority of new jobs require very little skill to perform, and are paid accordingly. And job seeking is fungible. Many people have a working spouse, and therefore can choose to do other things than work in a low-paying job.

    The beauty of capitalism is it is always trying to automate highly-skilled, high-cost labor. And by doing so, can increase dividends for the rest of us. Everybody wins! /sarc

    • davidgmills says:

      By 2030 or 35 robots and computers will be able to do nearly ever job better than a human can do it, regardless of the job.

      At that point we will all have to have guaranteed income.

      • d says:

        “By 2030 or 35 robots and computers will be able to do nearly ever job better than a human can do it, regardless of the job.

        At that point we will all have to have guaranteed income”

        And the smart people will own, or own stock, in the entity’s that own working robots.

        Robots are the new, more ethical, and much more efficient slaves.

        “Why should I pay heavy taxes on my return from my active investment so you can sit around and do nothing.”

        Will be the argument presented by the Robot Owner’s. In opposition to your claim to a Social Salary/UBI, the keeps you in poverty, just.

        There are to many uneducated unmotivated taker humans on this Planet. Mostly in the urban regions.

        Robots are simply going to illuminate that issue. of the unemployed unproductive, consumer, taker, urban masses.

        Many urban regions, are already effectively, unproductive, Taker, Consumer, Jails. All those regions really do, is provide profits to corporate suppliers of Chinese garbage, at the expense of other taxpayers.

        If 80% of them global disappeared overnight, after the evening news nobody would ever really miss them, except a few Corporate profit counter’s. And china.

        • JerryBear says:

          I really couldn’t make much sense of your comment. Maybe it would help if you left Ayn Rand out of it. Most of your “takers” work long and hard for the little they get.
          I am well aware that a significant proportion of the ultra rich wish that 90% of the population would just disappear. They would enjoy the uncrowded planet that would result and the 10% that remain would be the slaves they require for their needs.

        • d says:

          “Maybe it would help if you left Ayn Rand out of it. Most of your “takers” work long and hard for the little they get.”

          Your obsession with rand’s work is unhealthy, especially when you accuse others of supporting and promoting it. Incorrectly.

          The urban takers either don’t work, or attend state/municipal employers facility’s, as they need somewhere to eat their lunch, and can claim they work. Globally

          All of them in total, are a drain on the economy, they produce nothing, globally. There are to many humans on the planet. This is where many off them can be found, globally. India, Africa, and south America in particular, aren’t getting the message, make less people.

          People who work and produce, or work and provide a service wanted by producers ( as opposed to being a legislated cost on producers) are not by definition “Takers”.

          Somebody will invest in the ownership of the robots, and make a profit from them.

          That profit will, be taxed, by “Takers”.

  9. RD Blakeslee says:

    In places like the WV countryside, MOST economic activity is unmeasurable, by design.

  10. Petunia says:

    I could write a reply longer than the article. Those older workers still working, need the money. The financial crisis didn’t just take their houses, it took their savings, and pensions as well. Every company that left the country sent a very small check to the employee to relieve themselves of the pension obligation. If the company went under, the workers may not have receive anything. All those hard earned pensions are gone for many. The media has done a lousy job of covering what’s going on in the real America and it was on purpose.

    Since I am a Latina, I have always had a ring side seat to the illegal immigration problem. The illegals do take away jobs and reduced wages. They can do this because they don’t pay taxes and that makes the wages go a lot further than for a legal worker. Both the employer and employee know they are both getting a good deal. The illegals also siphon off expenses resources, like free medical and educations for their children, because they don’t fear the authorities. Reagan gave them a free pass and they are still using it.

    While living in Florida, I came across a new form of tourist worker, people here as tourists but working. These people move across borders to work and go home before their tourist visa expires. This was popular not just with Latinos. They may work on or off the books and have no money withheld for taxes. This is possible because they are technically not illegals. The American worker has been so screwed by the immigration issue that many no longer have any sympathy for any of them. Hence, the Trump victory.

    • Frederick says:

      Great evaluation Petunia You understand all too well the reality of the situation I sold my house and left as I couldnt afford to live anymore due to my boss hiring 15 or so illegal kids from Central America They work hard for ten dollars an hour and dont complain too much and that was in the Hamptons NY where the cost of living is VERY high They lived an hour away and came 5 in a little beatup sedan every morning

  11. david says:

    Thank you for the simple explanation. Middle America got the message years ago.

  12. Greatful again says:

    Very nice analysis. Thanks.
    I’ve heard the figure of 95M working age people do not have a job in the US. Even adjusting for 10% error, this is a devastating statistic. Most of the job creation of late has been in the low wage sector.

    Consumer confidence was just measured at a 14 year high. I guess it’s the trump election euphoria? How long can it last ?

    • Frederick says:

      Not very long I imagine Maybe Feb 1st but MSM(fake news) will do their very best to get the sheeple to continue guzzling the koolaide

    • walter map says:


      “95M working age people do not have a job in the US”

      contradicts this:

      “Consumer confidence was just measured at a 14 year high”

      One could easily surmise that survey-takers first ask whether the respondent is employed, and if not the survey is over and questions about ‘consumer confidence’ are avoided. Selection bias could make for a very easy way to come up with patently dishonest statistics.

      I would find it difficult to believe whether many, or any, of those 95 million unemployed were surveyed at all.

    • JMiller says:

      Those 95 million that you are talking about are people categorized as “not in the labor force” and most are not in the labor force for good reasons. Most are school students, retirees, disabled persons and stay-at-home moms. Most are not unemployed workers and are not and should not be included in the labor force statistics. Some however are long-term discouraged workers and should be counted as part of the labor force but are not. As far as those that are in the labor force which numbers about 160 million, the number of unemployed is about 15 million people which gives us a U-6 unemployment rate of 9.3%.

      • Ralph K says:

        320million people in the US. 160m are working, 95m are students, retirees, disabled, and stay at home parents… So who are the extra 75m since you covered all the other extra categories in the 95?

        • JMiller says:


          Currently there are about 324 million people in the U.S. Besides the approximately 160 million in the civilian Labor Force and the 95 million in the “Not in the Labor Force”category (any one that is 16 years or older that does not work excluding people who are institutionalized and active duty personnel in the military), there are about 65 million children under the age of 16.


          There are about 2.5 million people who are institutionalized who are mostly inmates in prison or jail. And there are about 1.5 million active military personnel. This comes to a total of 324 million.

        • d says:

          75 M

          plus all the undocumented illegals and others, who are not in the stats.

        • JMiller says:


          What exactly do you mean by undocumented illegals?

          If you are referring to the 11 million illegal immigrants, well then many illegal immigrants are already counted. Many do have jobs so most of them are already included in the Labor Force. I have worked with a few illegal immigrants. Plus some are in school and are counted in those statistics. But I suppose perhaps a million or two may not be counted.

          You said undocumented illegals and OTHERS. Who do you mean by others?

        • d says:

          “You said undocumented illegals and OTHERS. Who do you mean by others?”

          Every country has those that fall through through crack’s, many deliberately, and so are not in the stats.

          America has a 300M + population, so at least another 3M + Legitimate American’s, will be off the stats.

          It could almost be said of America, that it collects its stats with the intention of missing a large population segment, that is not in registered paying work. So boosting its, perceived by the stats, employment percentage.

          The undocumented illegal estimate, and reality, are different thing’s entirely.

    • QUOTE FROM YOUR POST : “Consumer confidence was just measured at a 14 year high. ”

      That is a survey or a poll, conducted by some gubmint or other official entity, right ? And such polls are reliable, like each of these :

      BLS employment/unemployment stats
      USA published inflation numbers
      The MSM polls that predicted a Trump loss

      Why would anyone believe any officially-generated and published stat ?
      ( Rhetorical question, of course )


  13. RD Blakeslee says:

    Again: Much of the livelihood activity of those dispossesed by the conventional economy is UNMEASURABLE.

    Petunia highlighted immigrant “off the books” labor. There are literally millions of other examples “under the radar”.

    Here are a few from the countryside: Barter hunting rights for firewood.

    Sell farm produce locally, for cash.

    Take “grandma” to the doctor, in return for housecleaning.

    Small potatoes? Who can say? How many millions …

    • Greatful again says:

      My own experience says there’s something to your assessment. Anecdotally, myself and a number of my friends, have hobbies that end up paying us fairly well. We are not counted as “employed”. I’m inclined to believe we’re not the only ones.

  14. Phoenix Pilgrim says:

    “A striking picture of this lopsided reality is evident from the shares of the total job gains since the November 2007 pre-recession peak in employment. As the chart shows, of the five-million-plus net jobs added since that high-water mark nine years ago, some 56% went to Hispanics (rightmost green bar), about quadruple their 14% share of the labor force at the time (rightmost blue bar). Meanwhile, 29% of those job gains went to Asians, i.e., about six times their 5% share of the labor force (second set of bars from left). Moreover, 25% of those job gains went to Blacks, i.e., more than double their 11% share of the labor force (third set of bars from left).

    In sharp contrast, Whites, who made up over 81% of the labor force in 2007 (leftmost blue bar) accounted for negative 9% of the net job gains (red bar). While the percentage shares for these four groups add up to more than 100% because White Hispanics are double-counted as both White and Hispanic, and Black Hispanics are double-counted as both Black and Hispanic, the reality is stark. Whites actually have fewer jobs than nine years ago, while Hispanics, Blacks and Asians together gained all of the net jobs added, and more.”

    • marty says:

      Phoenix, thanks for the link.

      There’s also the problem of Indian programmers being imported in large numbers to displace all the American programmers. There are parts of Chicago and SF where you won’t see anyone who isn’t Indian. Then they claim that they need the workers because we have a shortage of tech people. yeah, right.

      error in link url

      • Petunia says:

        Microsoft hires tens of thousands of H1B’s, how much nifty stuff is coming out of MS, not much. Plenty of big booboos though.

    • Kent says:

      That is just a piece of the issue. The “white” jobs lost were $25/hour union machinist type jobs with full bennies and a pension. The jobs gained by non-whites were $12/hour part-time gigs for Uber. Nobody were big winners here except for the Mitt Romney types.

  15. Greatful again says:

    I was just watching an author talk about his book “chaos monkey” it’s a tell-all from a Silicon Valley insider. Having spent 20 years there myself, it seemed pretty accurate/authentic. But, the interesting thing he mentioned was that almost all the young start-ups he’s seeing right now are focused on work-automation products. This is the host that new technology is beginning to feast upon….

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      “Wolf Street” has reported on the phenomenon:

      Also a report yesterday contains a synopsis of citations:

      • Beard681 says:

        BS. Automation is just capitalism at work. Mechanization, Electrification, CNC Machines, etc. all improved productivity more than more recent automation trends. The rust belt is littered with factories that are CLOSED. They are not automated with empty parking lots.

        The phrase “Nobel Economist” should be an automatic disqualifier in discussions about anything related to the real world. BTW there is no Nobel Prize in economics as Nobel did not included it in the series of prizes that bear his name. It was added later by the Bank of Sweden and has always had a globalist\neo-liberal tilt.

    • marty says:

      And this is false economics. The automation craze is due, at least in part, to the idiotic minimum wage being raised by govts. i believe it’s also a push from tptb, along with this guaranteed income.

      They are creating a Brave New World future. We’ll all be on soma, getting an inadequate govt check and blaming capitalism. it’s fascism, gang, from all those fantastically productive 0.1% who create all the wealth in the economy.

      • Saylor says:

        I don’t agree.
        We would be headed towards automation simply because it is cheaper and easier overall (no overtime, no health care…etc.) Many years ago a board stuffing house (circuit boards) would have rows of people inserting components into boards then dragging the boards through a ‘solder bath’.
        By the time I left the industry, automated machines did all the placement and solder baths were replaced with UV curing. It was just because the machines could do it faster and longer. It is the natural progression of technology.

      • Kent says:

        Why automate minimum wage jobs? Wouldn’t it make more sense to automate $100,000/year jobs?

        • d says:

          Unless its a union rort.

          Its a100K as it requires a level of intelligence and qualification, way beyond current computer programing levels.

        • Frederick says:

          Yes it would but those are held primarily by our chose leaders and we cattle have nothing to say about that obviously Kent until we DO By the way Im doubtful Mr Trump is the answer

  16. KMOUT says:

    At the same time increasing the number of part timer poor souls forced to take a reduction of let’s say, a 35 hour part time position knocked down to 29.5 hours to stay part time.
    All of this would seem to increase part timers needed to do the same work with no increase in wages.

    You dig?

  17. Agent76 says:

    Dec 26, 2016 Obama Christmas Message Full BS and Lies! Here Are the REAL Numbers

    Now in Obama’s last Christmas message, the President ends his eight years in office with a message full of BS and lies. After eight years we’re used to this kind of crap at the most inappropriate times.

  18. Chicken says:

    According to this report: From the beginning of 2010 – in terms of jobs, the darkest days of the Great Recession – through December 2016, the US “resident population” (not counting overseas-stationed military personnel) grew by 16 million people.

    But since the beginning of 2010 through November 2016, nonfarm payrolls grew by only 13.8 million.

    Why am I not surprised? One by one, the pile of misnomers are being flushed out.

    • Kent says:

      I didn’t find that statistic too satisfying. Payrolls shouldn’t keep up with population. I would expect in a healthy economy, 1 man ought to be able to support a spouse and a couple of kids. So a population growth of 16 million should only need maybe 4 million jobs.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        What world do you live in?

        • Kent says:

          I’ve worked a decent job (software engineer), wife stayed home and raised 3 kids. 2 kids graduated college with no debt. Third kid is pre-med. he will have debt after med school. But it will be paid off quickly.

          Here’s the secret: for most middle-income folks, one spouse isn’t going to make enough in wages to pay for all the losses in not managing the household expenses. My first real job was with Ross Perot’s outfit:EDS. Wives were expected to manage the household and support the hisband’s career. Most of us lived that way and just got used to it. It works.

      • night-train says:

        Except for very few, the one man supporting a spouse and a couple of kids was on the skids by the mid 60s. It can still be done, but generally requires much sacrifice and won’t be considered a traditional middle class American lifestyle. For those who go this way, more power to them, but most Americans want what they have been sold as the American middle class lifestyle.

  19. OutLookingIn says:

    “The Great Recession”???

    How about, “The Greater Depression” that is still unfolding?

    • Frederick says:

      Yeah dont you just love how they spin the situation with terms like “great recession”?

      • JerryBear says:

        They don’t think it is a depression because the rich were not hit. Just the rest of us.

  20. The Horse Farrier says:

    There are so many ways to look at this it can be maddening.
    In the case of patterns of human behavior where would one look to understand how people generally behave?
    Power, Greed, Fame, Self Preservation….
    Greed versus Altruism
    The One, The Few, The Many…
    What framework should be used to understand “reality”

    When I was a high school teacher, my teaching buddy and I worked out a routine for staff meetings that went like this: I would go to the hour long staff meeting and listen to all the ass-kissing and power politics. Then, the next day, I would meet with my friend to summarize, in about 2-3 minutes, what was critical to know without the bs staff meedting fluff.

    Wolf, I nearly everyday scan/read your site, Latimes, Nytimes,, realclear politics, WSJ, and sometimes The Nation to see what the Liberals have to say.

    Bottom line? You are the only one who could do this with any credibility and that is to summarize, at the outset of any article, a 3 to 5 sentence summary that is your take and then dive into the details.

    “Brevity is the highest form of intellectual ability”

    “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

    P.S. did you grow up in Germany? I ask to understand your educational background…

  21. Posa says:

    Here’s another perspective that complements Wolf’s analysis. From the last peak employment (Dec ’07 with 138.2 million “full time” non-farm employed) to the current (145.1) that’s a net jobs gain of 6.7 million (4.8% growth over 8 years), an average of 800,000 net new jobs created per year.

    Meanwhile the workforce age population, a Wolf points out, grows about 2 million per year. At a “good” participation rate of 66% that’s about 1.3 million people active job seekers. That leaves a gap of a half-million jobs a year that compounds to 4 million over the Obama tenure.

    4.8% growth over 8 years peak-to -peak is especially pathetic… from 1991-2000 the employment growth rate peak to peak was 20%

    And remember, if someone works as little as 4 hours a month the BLS counts that person as a “job holder on the payroll” used in that stats Obama brags about…

    Furthermore an astounding 94% of the job growth has been “alternative” work situations, much of which is distinctly “involuntary” part-time… Is “part-time-temporary-employment-new-normal?’

    • Im a millennial and I care says:

      Interesting lecture but what will change under Trump = ZERO. The folks he is hiring arent about to increase full time employment. To anyone with the breath to fog a mirror that should be obvious. He isnt hiring folks for the cabinet who appear to be middle class friendly. It doesnt matter when so called “middle america’ discovered anything.

      The industrial order has been resetting for years now. The service based economy has existed in greater totality than manufacturing for over 20+ years. Its old news to anyone, middle america or not. The major problem is excess labor lack of skills and mobility. Blame the immigrants all you want but price for labor competition is the problem and no change in immigration overall will cure it. The factory jobs are not coming back and one either adapts for fails now. Its simple. No skills no job and Trump will not save you. Period.

      If you want to know who controls your future take a look in the mirror but please stop saying any source of figures supports your argument. It doesnt whether is Breittrash, or CNN or Fox. Get a life, get skills and keep pressing. Those in the mid west can pray all they like but they are better off hitting the Junior College and getting enrolled in something that might offer employment other than Wal of Trash Mart.

      Electing a faux billionaire is not a start to a brighter future given his use of the legal system to avoid taxes hence not supporting the middle class to begin with. He is very much part of the problem and his tweets, although funny are useless as tools to improve your life.

      Great for venting anger and the last election was pretty much that. Also dont forget 3 million US citizens rejected him as Presidential material. He hardly has a mandate. At best he is a distraction from a world that no longer assumes the US is at the top at all, in anything.

      • BEard681 says:

        Funny, but here in NYC (which went 3 to 1 against Trump) all the young people I know with good jobs got either a union job though a relative, a government job through a relative (or some sort of “out reach” program), work in their dad’s business, or were lucky enough (and at the top of their class) to work in Financials. NONE of them got it through taking classes for a “skill” for which there are a plethora of experienced immigrants for employers to choose from.

      • posa says:

        I said nothing about Trump… I certainly didn’t vote for him (or anyone else for that matter).

        My post was a follow up to Wolf’s post examining claims that the economy is operating a a high level and that Obama deserves credit for miraculous economic performance.

  22. Chicken says:

    “the Numbers Get Hushed up”

    What, someone’s peddling fiction? Say it’s not so! Oh wait, we’ve moved on to minimizing Joe Sixpack.

  23. Jonathan says:

    What is the economic system is just broken? Maybe the intense competition for jobs are bringing their own set of problems and killing stuff like altruism where said things are hard or next to impossible to put a monetary value to.

    • night-train says:

      I think the economic system is broken. It was degraded by too much manipulation and gaming the system. The question now is, can it be repaired, or is a new system needed? And if a new one is needed, what is it to be?

      • d says:

        Is easily repairable.

        Just a few simple actions.

        1 Reinstate Glass Stegal.

        2 Put an end to fractional reserve banking. By legislating the gradual increase in reserve ratios to 100%. This also progressively removes the ability of bank’s, to create money. And makes a Retail ZIRP, NIRP, policy impossible.

        3 Regulate foreign deposits, and the banks borrowing from foreign entity’s, to boost their reserves, so Increase their ability to lend.

        4 Aggressively regulate the amount of capital banks can garner through bond issuance’s.

        Nobody wants to do this as it will progressivly pull the rug out from under several large Ponzi’s, AKA Asset Bubbles.

        Nobody wants to be the Ponzi Pooper.

        Most defiantly not the Laissez-Faire capitalist PE 45, and his republican crony’s.

  24. JohnF says:

    “And boomers are not retiring from the working life”

    Because Most of Them Lost Their Money In the Y2K Tech Scam That Collapsed in 1st Quarter of 2000 & The Sliced & Diced Mortgage Scam That Collapsed in Summer of 2009.

    Our Corrupt Politicians Are In Bed With The Too Big Too Jail Corporations, CEO’s, Wall Street & The Banksters Who Cheated Everyone In Their Rigged High Speed Computer Controlled Stock Markets.

  25. john smith says:

    Bill Gates is the kind of rich person that got his wealth from patenting “Windows” from an idea of Steve Wozniak. Research the computer club they belonged to. It was supposed to be a “Freeware”-type deal by Wozniak’s standards.

    Look, quit blaming other generations, the baby boomers aren’t out to screw their own kids and grand kids, nor are intelligent millennials out to screw their parents and grandparents.

    Place the blame correctly: our politicians are beholden to the ultra-wealthy, and do their bidding, which is a creeping totalitarian state, with all profits flowing to the very top of the pyramid. Clinton using Fica funds to balance the general budget is but one small example…another would be the never-ending propaganda of “enemies out to get America” enabling trillion-dollars in wasteful “defense” spending.

    Lastly, blame ourselves for not “watering the tree of liberty” as instructed by our revolutionary forefathers. It wasn’t a “maybe”: it was a certainty if we are to remain Free. A Requirement.

    • Hobbes says:

      You say not to blame the “other generations”, but instead to place the blame on our politicians. Personally, I do blame the previous generations, because they’re the ones who voted for these politicians and the crap politics they played. They’re also the ones who got complacent and started believing most of what came out of said politicians mouths, because their evening news doesn’t talk about what’s wrong unless there’s a different letter associated with it.

      Truly, when it comes down to it, us as voters are the only ones that can be blamed for what our government does. Trying to blame politicians that we voted for for screwing us over is akin to whining in my book.

  26. Brian says:

    December 28, 2016 “Financial Lockdown… ATMs Went Dry”: 3 Police States Banning Cash to Control the People

    The rush to create a cashless society is on. Why? Because it will be the ultimate measure of control. All of your money will then be in banks, and courts have ruled that “your money” in banks is not really yours, but is under the control of the banks, who, basically, can do with it whatever they wish. If, for instance, the banks introduce negative interest rates, you cannot withdraw it as cash. Think on that a moment. In essence, they could legally steal your money by the simple measure of creating negative interest rates.

    • JMiller says:


      You may not be able to take your money as cash but you can still take it out electronically. You are not forced to keep it in the bank and have it stolen by negative interest rates or bail-ins. There are other financial institutions besides banks. Also you can buy physical assets such as precious metals, real estate, collectibles, etc…with your money so it is not in the banking system. A cashless society does not stop you from doing the above.

  27. a.witt says:

    When “rich” person buys a yacht, mansion, Rolls Royce or any other high-dollar item, who benefits from that purchase? It certainly isn’t Walmart or the 7-eleven. Jobs are created every day to build and sell items that are exclusively sold to the rich. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Wealth envy is a contagious disease spread by rich politicians and actors who speak out against wealth merely as a PR scam. If you want to be wealthy, get off your butt and make it happen. Work hard, save. Repeat.

Comments are closed.