Why the Next Recession will be a Doozie for Consumers

Tougher for workers, rougher for the economy.

The employment data released today beat expectations nicely. In June the economy added 222,000 civilian jobs. April and May numbers were revised up. In total, over the past three months, nonfarm payrolls rose by 581,000 jobs.

This data will do nothing to deter the Fed from proceeding with its tightening plans. The Fed should never have cut its policy rate to zero, or kept it down that long, and it should have never engaged in QE. However, acting as lender-of-last-resort when credit froze during the Financial Crisis — when even GE and IBM had trouble borrowing to meet payroll — was essential to keep the system from collapsing. These short-term loans were not part of QE and were paid back. But the hangover of QE is still on the Fed’s balance sheet.

So I support whatever “normalization” efforts the Fed might undertake. They should have happened years ago.

Among the reasons the Fed wants to “normalize” policy now is to put aside some dry powder for the next recession or crisis. And it will come. Recessions are an essential part of the business cycle. If allowed to proceed, they’ll blow the cobwebs from the system, remove excess debts, and clean out the misallocation of capital – at the expense of creditors and investors. It’s a fresh start for the economy.

But here is the thing about employment and recessions: Something big changed since 2000. It can be seen in the employment-population ratio, which tracks people over 16 years of age who have jobs, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From the 1960s until 2000, the ratio fell during recessions, but then during the recovery regained all the lost ground plus some, ratcheting up to new records after each recession. Some of this had to do with women entering the work force in large numbers.

But since the ratio’s peak in April 2000 at 64.7%, a new pattern has developed. As before, the ratio drops before the official recession begins and keeps dropping until after the recession has ended. But when employment recovers, the ratio ticks up only slowly, recovering only a fraction of the ground lost, before the next recession hits. This has happened over the last two recessions.

For the 2001/2002 recession, the ratio started falling in May 2000 and continued falling until September 2003. During those 3.5 years, it fell 2.7 percentage points from 64.7% to 62%. Over the next three-plus years of the “recovery,” the ratio rose to 63.4% by December 2006, having regained only half of the lost ground, before the next downturn set in.

This time, the ratio plunged from 63.4% to 58.2% in November 2010 and again in June and July 2011. It plunged 5.2 percentage points in 4.5 years. During that time, nonfarm payrolls plunged by 8.7 million jobs. Over the seven-plus years of the jobs recovery since then, the economy added 16.7 million jobs (146.4 million nonfarm payrolls, as defined by the BLS).

But the employment-population ratio only made it to 60.1%. It regained only 1.9 percentage points, after having plunged 5.2 percentage points. In other words, after seven-plus years of jobs recovery, it has regained less than one-third of what it had lost:

And now the Fed is preparing for the next recession.

There are all kinds of factors that move this equation one way or the other. Baby boomers are not retiring to the extent prior generations did. Millennials have fully entered into the working-age population (16 and over by this definition) though many are still in school. And according to Census Bureau estimates, the overall US population has surged by 16.7 million people from April 2010 through “today,” to 325.4 million.

Since the bottom of the employment crisis in February 2010, the economy has created 16.7 million jobs as measured by nonfarm payrolls. During the same time, the population has grown by 16.7 million people. Not all of this population growth is working age. But this is the problem that the employment-population ratio depicts: jobs are being created, but not enough for the dual task of absorbing the growth in the working-age population and in putting people back to work who lost their jobs during the recession.

And these are the good times! What happens during the next recession?

However this works out, one thing we know from the past two downturns: During the next employment downturn, the employment-population ratio will get crushed — from a much lower base than during the prior recessions. And even as the economy recovers afterwards and generates 150,000 to 220,000 jobs a month, the employment-population ratio will barely budge higher and will recapture only a fraction of the ground lost during the recession.

Automation in the service sector and in the goods-producing sector, offshoring, downsizing, the corporate mania for cost cutting, the shift to a “gig economy,” whose jobs are not fully captured in the employment data, the growth of the working-age population…. Whatever caused the downward ratcheting of the employment-population ratio with each recession, we can assume one thing: the next recession will be even tougher on people who want to work, on consumers overall, and by extension, much rougher on the economy that is so dependent on these consumers.

And this happens when the whole construct is burdened with more debt than ever before, thanks to the Fed’s eight years of experimental scorched-earth tactics to load up the economy with debt and to achieve the “wealth effect” though clearly, those tactics have not had any visibly positive impact on this employment equation.

Now bankruptcies are surging as the “credit cycle” exacts its pound of flesh. Read…  Consumers and Businesses Buckle under their Debts

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  286 comments for “Why the Next Recession will be a Doozie for Consumers

  1. Bernardo Morais says:

    How would the ratio look if the denominator had working age population (eg 16-64) instead of over 16. Boomers are retiring so it may be natural for the ratio to decline.

    • CrazyCooter says:

      For what it is worth (anecdote incoming), I was talking to a buddy I know who does remote telecommunications tower maintenance in SE Alaska. They fly him all over to keep repeaters, radios, etc and such in working order.

      A former coworker of his, who retired three years ago, came back to work recently.

      He is 70.

      I also had a guy I know recently who was laying carpet at 70 – he is down and likely out with medical issues at this point, sad deal, but he worked until he was hospitalized and flown out of town for sufficient treatment/care.



      • Realist says:

        It seems that the retirement plan for most people is to work until you are carried out feet first … it will probably be the case of the entire developed world. The USA is showing the way, followed by countries like the UK and Sweden. Sweden for example have over 300.000 retirees that live beneath the EU’s poverty norm.

        To save for your retirement is good advice, but what to do if your earnings simply won’t allow you put a side any savings ? That is the reality for a lot of people living pay check to pay check, not to speak about those who aren’t employed …

        And the way the economy currently is manipulated, that is pure poison for savers trying to acumulate a nest egg ….

        In short, the plebs are s****ed.

        • JungleJim says:

          Actually, that’s the way retirement was always seen. The concept of having people walk away and stop working was created during the Depression to remove older worker so as to create job openings for younger workers.

        • Kent says:


          Somewhat true. Retirement was more a function of the industrial revolution. When folks lived on farms, the children would take over the farming and grandma and grandpa would do light odds and ends until they couldn’t anymore.

          When people were moved from the land to factories, that possibility went away. Children and parents often lived in separate areas, or children lived at such bare subsistence and didn’t have the time or money to look after their parents.

          Germany, under Bismarck, recognized this problem first and created the model social security system in the late 1800’s. By the 1920’s, the United States was fighting over it politically. Large industrial firms created the pension system in an effort to keep the money privatized, and keep the government out of the business. But the Great Depression wiped out most of those pensions and the US government adopted the early German system.

          It wasn’t so much that old folks were in the way of younger workers, it was much more that older folks couldn’t compete and too many were literally starving to death in the big cities.

          I’m old enough to recall when Reagan said retirement required a 3-legged stool of SS, your corporate pension, and personal savings. I’m fortunate in that I will look forward to all 3 when that day comes. Too many Americans today don’t earn enough to have real savings, and certainly won’t have a pension. And SS pays very little.

        • Lee says:

          Just be lucky that you aren’t an American living overseas and want to get your social security early.

          If you do manage to actually qualify for the scheme in the first place.

          Mostly likely you’ll find that even though you qualify, the amount is so low that it won’t help you much.

          Second, taking social security early means that you get the reduced payment (which is reasonable) AND even more importantly they limit the number of hours you can work.

          Work 44 hours and 59 seconds in a month and you get your entire monthly payment. Work 45 hours and one second and for that month you get nothing.

          The definition of ‘work’ is defined so broadly that the only type of work you can do is work for somebody else paying you wages. By the way ‘work’ includes paid national holidays and vacation as well as sick leave.

          It doesn’t matter how much you make during those hours of work nor does it matter how much other income you make for example, from interest, dividends, or capital gains. You can make US$1 million a year from those other sources and no problem, but work that extra one second and you get zip.

          That work restriction ends of course when you hit your normal retirement age.

          But here in Oz there is another matter you have to be aware of: any income you receive will reduce your Australian government pension!!

          Get $$ from the USA and be reduced in Australia. And don’t even get me started on the arcane rules, regulations, and requirements for the old age pension here in Australia either.

          Things one never thinks about when they are in their 20’s, but can hit you 40 years later.

      • TheDona says:

        Cooter, in both instances it is because both men like to actually fix/do things, are good at it, and take pride in it. Dying breed.

        My neighbor down the street retired as on site manager from a commercial construction HVAC company and they begged him to come back….which he agreed to if he could write his own ticket; they jumped at the chance as the cost overruns and delays were killing them. It seems his young replacement managers were just happy to get the title “Manager” and did not have the common sense to actually check on the work. So he implemented a mentor program to train these guys, write protocol, guidelines, check-in systems, etc.

        For those with common sense and work ethic there will always be jobs. Most of the country unfortunately does not have these attributes.

        • economicminor says:

          Dona, “those with common sense and work ethic there will always be jobs. Most of the country unfortunately does not have these attributes.”

          Why do you think this has happened? I don’t think it was that way 100 years ago. Or even 50 years ago. Do you think it is our education system, our culture or the fact that the world is changing so fast that it is just to hard to keep up?

          There are a lot of people with good work ethics, especially 1st and 2nd generation immigrants but I agree, in general it seems that people would rather scam the system than work their way up in it.

        • Kent says:

          I don’t think it was any different 100 years ago. My take is human beings evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to live in small groups, hunt, gather, fight and fornicate. We’re very good at that stuff. Working 8 hours a day in our modern, industrial capitalist system is not what we’re designed to do. Yes, some are very good at it. Most aren’t. Some just can’t.

        • Mike says:

          No doubt all of the millions of US workers whose jobs were moved to China did not have common sense or a willingness to work. I am sure that China’s slaves or labor laws that provide workers there with no protections or people working for $5 per day (originally when the jobs transfer to China began) had nothing to do with it. It was just millions of lazy Americans with no common sense that were to blame. Let us all bow down and worship Trump and eat the crumbs that fall from his tables gratefully! Archie Bunkers of the world unite!

        • Lee says:

          “For those with common sense and work ethic there will always be jobs.”

          You think so?

          Try getting a job here in Australia if your are in your late 50’s or early 60’s if you are laid off or your job disappears.

          Heaven forbid if you get sick or injured too in that age group.

          The biggest age group on unemployment in this country are the people in that age group.

        • Mike G says:

          There are too many large organizations that are hostile to people with common sense and dedication to quality work. They want compliant, obedient worker drones who will unquestioningly follow idiotic and arbitrary rules under micromanagement by self-dealing cokehead MBAs.

        • Circuit breaker says:

          It´s way easier when you´ve been lucky enough to start your career when the economy is booming non-stop. When I got my first “real” job as an engineer, if I needed to schedule a meeting with the chief engineer, I had to appoint it two weeks in advance, no joke. I was able to start making my way, because we engaged in a project requiring massive amounts of digital electronics, and it turned out that the senior technical staff didn´t know what the hell was TTL logical circuitry, so I was appointed as project manager (this was a long time ago, obviously)

          I recall very vividly the struggle to keep the incumbent hr leeches out of the project staffing. Again, I was lucky, because the managing director ordered explicitly to leave me alone, so I personally interviewed every person applying for a position in the project. That was a one-off, never to happen again.

          From then onwards, it´s been an endless downslope of increasingly shittier contracts, furious unionizing, hubristic management (and each time less and less competent by the way) and of course, all the consequences of every crisis, shortfall…for the late and newcomers. Keeping your job is mainly a matter of how long you´ve been there, who is protecting you or whose b**** you are.

          I´m lucky enough to keep in touch with people I´ve worked with. Every single one of them who is at least 7 or more years younger than me has been working for at least 10 different companies in very different tasks. These are really smart and capable people, but they´ll never achieve such a proficient expertise in their areas, because they´ve been forced to drop them several times throughout their working life. Imagine the unlucky millennials, who will have gone trough their first 10 jobs when they get to 35 (if they´re fortunate)

          To make matters worse, almost no one wants real expertise, craftsmanship…these days (even less, pay for it) The only thing that counts is to deliver the shit on time, keeping the stupid profit centers at ease and no mails from the CFO. It will fail sooner than expected, but that´s fine because we want the “product support” as well.

          The proud and praiseworthy experts of tomorrow have been slowly but relentlessly slaughtered during the last decades. No one can become such if he/she is forced to “reinvent” him/herself every few years to make a living and, in so doing, ends up as a store manager, putting a ton of effort to fool the scummy staff selection business and their bullshit testing to get the position.

          What was different from 50 years ago? The chief engineer I mentioned before died seven years ago, I attended his funeral. He worked in the same company for 46 years.

          Many things have changed…for the worse. It´s not everything the youngers´ fault.

        • Anon says:

          Lee, Sometimes the arcane rules work in your favor. Canadians who contributed even a small amount to the Canada Pension Plan are entitled to a monthly benefit even if they have been out of the country for 30 or 40 years. There is no 40 quarters rule as with US Social Security. Canadian ex-pats should check the Service Canada web site for more details.

          On another web site, someone suggested that if you wanted a decent retirement, from a financial standpoint, don’t have kids. The guy had a good point. Kids are expensive to raise and some don’t become financially self supporting until their late 20’s or early 30’s.

      • prepalaw says:


        4 years ago, we need someone to design an innovation for one of our machines. We asked Bruce if he would help. Our retired chief engineer. Bruce was 84 at the time and still driving. He drove 40 minutes each way to the company and did the design work with almost no assistance. He labored at home and at work almost 7 days a week until he solved the problem and finalized the prototype design.

        We put the prototype into production. Bruce was awarded US and European patents. Old ago caught up with Bruce. He died 2 months ago. Bruce did not need the money. He need a challenge. This project possibly extended his life. Loved that guy.

    • madras says:

      How will we ever know for sure? The figures are unreliable now and they will become more so when the situation deteriorates.

    • Beethoven says:

      Not that many boomers are retiring at 65 anymore. The social security administrative clerks frequently are told by would be retirees, “How do you expect me to live on that?” A more realistic retirement age for non smoking private sector employees is 74.

  2. John says:

    Great commentary Wolf, and I’ll agree, the next recession will be a doozy for the ordinary people. Hell, they still haven’t recovered from the last one, whereas most of the extraordinarily wealthy hardly noticed any recession. You mention loans to big businesses and say they were paid back. How about the tarp funds that virtually all big business partaked in? As far as I am aware and have read, not much of that was paid back at all in real terms.

  3. nick kelly says:

    When I watch TV, two types of ads seem to outnumber all others, car and truck ads and fast food ads.

    The former has been discussed in several revs of Carmageddon.

    But cars and car ads have always been with us, it’s just now there is a peak.
    And although the consumer can economize by buying used, he does need a car.
    Fast food looks much more discretionary. In fact it wasn’t THAT long ago it was much smaller. As little as 20 years ago, the idea of an IPO for a Chipolte etc. would have seemed very unusual, if not laughable.

    When I was growing up, (1955 -65) our reasonably middle- class family (own home, two cars) had take- out about once every 2-3 months max.

    If consumers, who for the most part have kitchens, get serious about their budget, this sector could take a big hit.
    The workers in this sector are already at the bottom of the skill/ pay ladder. When former factory or even trades folks lose their jobs, they can still work in fast food, but the reverse isn’t true.

    We make fun of McJobs etc. but it is something of a safety net, especially for first timers.

    I don’t know what percent of work force under 25 is in this sector but it must be large.

    • Mark says:

      Those McJobs are going away too, unless pay is decreased to levels that the market decides it’s worth based on supply and demand ($5/hour? Less?). The few times I ever eat fast food, I’d rather interact with a kiosk anyway…

      And with autonomous vehicles going mainstream in the next few years, truck drivers, Uber drivers, taxi drivers, etc. will all go the way of the bank teller or travel agent. Also, I’m amazed airline pilots have a lot held on as long as they have when autopilot/remotely controlled drones work as well as they do.

      As for the future, could be bad, could be good. Lords and serfs vs. universal basic income, health insurance, and lots more vacation time. The way things are going politically in the US, I’d bet on the former though.

      • Bruce Adlam says:

        Autonomous vehicle’s are alot farther away than you think. There are obstacles they have to over come and im not so sure they can or not least for a long time yet.

        • Bee says:

          I dunno if this is the guy that always promotes automated cars and semis, but it’s funny how said person thinks loaded 18-wheelers are going to be driving on the interstates at 70-85 MPH with no one inside. Kinda like believing said semis will be electrified…haha…*eye roll*.

      • Dave says:

        Pilots are no longer “needed.” Automation does a far better job. They are still there as a result of public perception versus reality.

        • nick kelly says:

          You clearly know nothing about aviation. The so called auto-pilot is a glorified cruise control. There are no intersections on a trans ocean flight. Why would the pilot hold the yoke for five to ten hours fighting every little gust to keep on course?

          Depending on the airfield and conditions, landing can be very hairy for the most experienced pilots. A gusting cross- wind
          is a game changer.

          Miracle on the Hudson? Don’t happen with auto pilot.

        • Paulo says:

          Would you get in a plane with no pilot?

          I have 10,000 + hours flight time. Sh*t happens that requires decisions, not just programming and sensors.

        • alex in san jose says:

          Dave – You must have not flown much. Pilots are absolutely necessary. Steering around storms, all sorts of unforseen circumstances. I flew several times a year in the early-mid 90s and wow, life in the air well, it’s a jungle up there.

        • Vic says:

          I flew for a major US airline for 21 years, half of that as captain. There’s no way I’d get on an airliner sans pilots, and you should feel the same. There’s some great technology that’s improved commercial flying but you won’t see autonomous airliners in your lifetime – nor should you want to. There’s just too much happening that requires human judgement and skill. Machines don’t have it.

      • Cagney says:

        Automation is so close people hardly realize. I’m a general contractor and I am currently in the process of retrofitting some tools to work without supervision through software I have designed.

        If I can do it anyone can. It’s much closer than people think. I suspect there will be construction price deflation of up to 30% in heavily affected industries and 10% due to labor deflation in unaffected industries within the next 10 years.maybe more. Significantly more.

        However this doesn’t mean less jobs. Construction sales volumes maintain or increase as people consume more construction because the industry will actually grow as it competes better with other industries.

        But as of now when I post an add looking for help for minimum wage there are literally hundreds of responses in a 24 hour period. So these people will definitely need new skills. Many are too stupid to succeed and will need financial support.

        • two beers says:

          “Construction because the industry will actually grow as it competes better with other industries. ”

          Hilarious. So, if housing prices become more affordable, consumers will put off purchases of shoes, trucks, donuts, and computers, and buy more buildings instead!

        • nick kelly says:

          I’ve done some coding and some construction and altho I don’t mind learning, off the top off my head I can’t imagine too many fields less likely to be automated than house construction.

          A truss plant maybe, but there are so many unrelated tasks in house construction. When a house is to lock-up (required to be insured) only a third of the budget has been spent, even tho the basic structure is complete.
          Automate plumbing, electrical, dry wall, cabinets, counter tops etc, etc. ?

    • Paulo says:

      We’re about the same age and I hardly remember ever eating out when young other than on the bi-yearly drive to Minnesota to visit Grandparents.

      When my own kids were young we simply did not have money to eat out. Now retired, we can eat out whenever….but save it for a treat. My own kids eat out quite a bit, even though they are both excellent cooks. I think it is simply the access to plastic that makes it all possible. 35 years ago average folks did not have credit cards, in fact, the cheque book had to be balanced with every purchase.

      I believe if we got rid of easy credit 50% of jobs would disappear; from auto manufacturing to furniture to big macs. Our way of life is descrectionary fluff for the most part.

      • CrazyCooter says:


        Cheap money is pulling forward demand in many ways that people do not perceive – and any return to pay-as-you-go is going to be very, very painful for many market participants.

        How that happens, I genuinely don’t know, but I am pretty sure that will end up being the end result at some point.



      • Pavel says:

        I agree completely, Paulo — it is thanks to the credit card that there is so much dining (and drinking) out. Lord knows in my younger and wilder days I also went out drinking and dining and it was all paid by credit cards. When I go out now the waiters automatically bring over the credit card reader and look surprised if I pay cash.

        Back to your other point: I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (elementary/high school years) and though we were comfortably upper-middle class I don’t recall many restaurant dinners except on holiday trips. Occasionally we would go to a pizza place or a burger restaurant for a treat. I do remember our first family visit to a McDonalds — we all drove together and had the meal and my father said basically “What’s all the fuss about?” :)

      • MarkinSF says:

        Yeah but that was before women entered the workforce en masse. Moms stayed at home and prepared meals and the family had but one bread winner.

        • Kent says:


          My wife has been a stay at home Mom since the first of 3 kids were born. She could always make a better, healthier meal than eating out. As the last of the birds has left the nest, we will eat out once or twice a week. Generally with friends and more for the companionship. And there’s a lot more money now.

        • TheDona says:

          Markin, back in the 60s (in Houston anyway) everybody generally had the same 3/2 or 4/2 type house, one TV, minimal clothes/shoes (remember how tiny those closets were), driving vacations, Drive In theaters with the family bringing our own food, etc. The biggest thing to look forward to was getting a bike and Christmas. My Mom sewed, clipped coupons, collected Green Stamps and bought bread from the Day old Bread store and froze it to keep us 4 kids fed at school. We all thought life was good in the suburbs because that was how everyone else was living. I really though life was good because we had moved from a 2/1 duplex (no washer/dryer)…with 4 kids under 6 yrs old. One bathroom for 6 people? That was when my Dad was starting his career off as a Lawyer.

          Quite frankly my stay at home Mom so was busy cooking, cleaning and sewing that we did not spend what we call today “quality time” with her. But we did get those nightly home cooked meals.

          So it appears the average Middle Class was not so all that it was cracked up to be in the 60s early 70s.

          In the early mid 70s there was an explosion of money. Lots of families from our humble Burbs moving up economically very quickly and some to crazy rich. From that point on EVERYONE became spoiled and entitled.

          It appears that going back to the 60s middle class model is not palatable for most people.

      • alex in san jose says:

        Paulo – The local McD’s was just a short walk up to the local shopping center, but I think we ate there about 3 times when I was a kid. Not a week, not a month, not a year, total.

        And although it’s the stereotypical low-skill job, it was too good a job for white people where I grew up. I didn’t have a chance of getting to work there, and all the time I was there I never saw a white person working at one.

        There are times I wish those damned islands would sink.

    • Modalita says:

      “If consumers, who for the most part have kitchens, get serious about their budget, this sector could take a big hit.”

      The issue is that some consumers, especially millennials have absolutely no idea how to economize. Even if they wanted to, the idea of budgeting and cooking in are foreign concepts.

      • Dogstar says:

        “..especially millenials..”

        Bull. Millenials likely do a better job than anyone as they are the ones getting screwed the most. They have no choice. They’re futures are being cannibalized by their elders.

        • Hiho says:

          Exactly. If anyone knows how to survive with a miserable wage and unstable jobs, that’s the millenials.

      • BrianC says:

        Now for another anecdote…

        I follow this blog occasionally:

        There are two “millennials” working for my current client that actually read this blog and are “living” the blog. So to speak.

        After discovering the blog and reading the *whole thing*, one of them sold his car and moved from the east side of Portland to the west side. So he could be within walking distance of his employer. (My client.) He’s living in a more down scale apartment building, but not having to commute by car every day makes it worth while.

        He kept his bike in the cube next to mine, and we got to talking about why he was riding. Second guy is in another building on campus. Doing the same thing. Neither knew of the other, and stumbled onto the blog in the same way.

        From conversations on tri-met with younger people, I think there are a heck of a lot of people that have learned to watch their spending in this economy…

        My two cents…

        • Kent says:

          My son-in-law turned me on to that site a few years ago. Changed my life too. I’ll probably retire 6 or 7 years earlier than I otherwise would have. My son-in-law and daughter also do their best to live that blog.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          I am one of those who follow that blog. Have done so for the past few years. Thanks to being a part of that community and changing our mindset, my husband and I retired early and live on 35k a year.

  4. Marty says:

    Wolf, here are more places to look for the employment probs:

    1. obummercare
    2. minimum wage laws
    3. the debt burden

    Automation wouldn’t be the hot area if it weren’t for 1 and 2 above. These problems also drive the gig econ.

    Look to the stinkin’ govt for the source of our woes. Always!

    • Suzie Alcatrez says:

      So after 79 years, you are claiming minimum wage in the US is now effecting employment?

      • Marty says:

        Large minimum wage increases in many cities.

        • Suzie Alcatrez says:

          Which has not effect employment stats ( e.g. Seattle ).

        • Marty says:

          It does effect employment, as anyone with common sense understands. The fact that some politically motivated economists lie with statistics is irrelevant.

          Minimum wage laws increase unemployment, period.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Nope. Marty, look at San Francisco. $13/hr now. Going to $15. People cannot live here at this wage unless they’re students working part time and living with their parents. Low-wage workers have to commute a long way into the city, which is also expensive. Minimum wage levels the playing field. Which is good for restaurants and the like. Now all competitors have the same minimum-wage cost structure. They’re competing with restaurants on the same street or a mile away, not with restaurants in Dallas or China. So they can hire decent people and NOT get undercut in their cost structure by some restaurant that tries to hire the cheapest labor they can find.

          The unemployment rate in SF is 2.7%.

        • Frederick says:

          Just because the minimum wage is X amount doesn’t mean all employers pay that amount I personally know a guy in Sag Harbor NY who does maintenance and landscaping on homes and hires new arrivals from Central America less than minimum in cash and he has 15 employed They also live 20 to a house and make life miserable for people who want to play by the rules How many kitchen workers in Chinatown are earning minimum wage? I’d say very few

        • Marty says:

          Wolf, a low unemployment rate in SF does not mean that minimum wage laws don’t create unemployment. There are many factors that go into unemployment, some that mask the effect of the increase.

          There is no way that “saying makes it so” negates the law of supply and demand. Higher prices lower demand. Econ 101. Just because politically motivated economists muddy the waters doesn’t make it so.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Marty, at the low end of labor, there is a vast oversupply in many areas. In other words, the supply-and-demand curve has collapsed in those areas. “Econ 101” doesn’t work in the real world. Without a minimum wage, there would be starvation wages because something is better than nothing, and workers would work and starve, and employers wouldn’t care because there’s an oversupply of this labor. And it would gut the economy.

          I agree that a high federal minimum wage that would be right for San Francisco would not be right for Tulsa. I’m not a fan of a high federal minimum wage, though the current one should have been raised long ago. However, many cities and states have costs that need a higher minimum wage. Where these higher minimum wages are in place in expensive cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, they work.

          As I said before, a minimum wage creates a level playing field in the cost structure of these businesses. Minimum wage jobs are mostly in food service, retail, and similar sectors that are local, and that do NOT compete with Vietnam. They compete locally. So all businesses in that locality have the same cost structure and can pass on the higher wage to the customers … and there would be more customers since every dime of these higher wages are going to be spent.

          Also, because the federal minimum wage is so low, these workers receive food stamps and other subsidies, including housing subsides. In other words, the taxpayer subsidizes the companies’ labor costs. That is a pernicious side effect of low wages. Walmart’s cost of labor (and therefore its profits) has been the biggest beneficiary of these taxpayer subsidies.

        • alex in san jose says:

          Marty – they may look large as a dollar amount but they’re not large as a percentage. I remember my mom making $3.35 and myself starting out from $3.35, but that had very shortly before been raised from $1.60-odd.

          In buying power, the minimum wage has been going down.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Um, Niko, not so fast.

          Read the whole linked WaPo article – rather than just the title. The article also said this, among numerous other reasons why this “study” might be off:

          “And critics of the research pointed out what they saw as serious shortcomings. In particular, to avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations. Skeptics argued that omission could explain the unusual results.”

        • Wilbur58 says:


          I have no idea why you accept the indoctrination of “Econ 101, Supply and Demand”!

          Markets aren’t perfectly efficient as the pseudo-religion of ’20th century economics’ would have you believe.

        • Steve says:

          Wolf, Min wage causes supply-demand imbalances by creating a price floor for wages. The higher the minimum wage the more supply of labor and less demand for labor. Look back to Nixon’s price ceilings.

          Government sponsored price floors or ceilings will ALWAYS cause an imbalance in the supply-demand curves for the respective product or service.

          Your right most of the time but in this none I would have to respectfully disagree.

        • Wilbur58 says:


          Read this and it should end your “supply and demand” argument:


        • Niko says:


          What is a large employer in Seattle? Is it Microsoft and Boeing which usually offer higher wages or is it Starbucks stores that pay closer to minimum wage. Of course their is going to be some discrepancy in ever story from the Mainstream Media, that is why they have very little if any credibility. The gist of the story is that forcing a minimum wage appears to have a negative or opposite reaction to what was envisioned.

        • TheDona says:

          Niko, Here ya go: https://www.tripsavvy.com/biggest-seattle-area-employers-2965051

          Boeing – about 80,000 employees. …
          Joint Base Lewis-McChord – about 56,000 employees. …
          Microsoft – about 42,000 employees. …
          University of Washington – about 25,000 employees. …
          Amazon – about 25,000 employees. …
          Providence Health & Services – about 20,000 employees.

    • Doug says:

      Automation is going to happen no matter what .Minimum wage it at historic lows , quick we better automate . Don’t be so sure your job is safe .

    • Wolf Richter says:

      OK, Marty, by your theory, let’s go back to slave labor. It’s free. And don’t give workers healthcare, for crying out loud. Let them rot in the gutter when they get sick and replace them with new slave labor. That’ll create a bunch of jobs at no cost to the employer. Ideal, isn’t it? But wait… what about the consumers, what are they supposed to buy consumer goods and services with if they don’t make money and if they’re rotting in the gutter? To whom are those companies going to sell their products?

      LOW WAGES for the bottom half of the workers in the US is the number 1 problem this economy faces.

      • John Doyle says:

        It’s not only low wages. We have stressed home buyers whose mortgage repayments leave them with little spare money. So they cut back on spending.
        As you imply, spending is what drives the economy. Even things normally considered a cost, such as welfare, give the economy a boost
        As long as the spending doesn’t end up in the banks coffers the spending gets into main street.

        • NoEasyDay says:

          >We have stressed home buyers whose mortgage
          >repayments leave them with little spare money.

          Indeed. The federal reserve’s plan of building a floor under housing prices while wages are flat or falling will end badly.

      • milking institute says:

        Totally agree with your last sentence,Wolf,what is the solution? the government forcing small businesses to pay a certain wage? determined by who? and how much? certainly a minimum wage of 25.00 would help the working poor. how about 35.00 and all our poverty problems would be solved,no? as minimum wage pressures are put on already struggling businesses total automation is only inevitable. i am all for expanding opportunities for the working poor,government stepping in to “help” usually ends up in tears. some would say cutting taxes and regulatory burdens for small companies would give them incentive to hire help. Obama care alone put a strangle hold on every business employing more than 50 workers,of course same legislation is championed by the defenders of the minimum wage. both are job killers IMO.

      • wkevinw says:

        A lot of assumptions here that may not be true.

        1. The true minimum wage is and always will be $0, because of “substitution”, either of automation or by use of business capital to go elsewhere and not open said business.= no employment.
        2. Minimum wage is so local that the national minimum wage should be very low, (assuming we need one), – the wage for the lowest area in the country. Example: $15 in the Seattle area was recently proven to be too high- the average paycheck is now lower than before the minimum wage hike. $15 might be manageable in SF.
        3. Salaries and benefits are not gifts from employers, they are used to compete in the labor market for scarce, valuable employees.
        4. The economy is not healthy right now so many of these “systems” are not functioning properly- e.g. the overall labor market.

      • Kman says:

        Dude, you are living in dreamland. That min wage increase not only is just on part of the cost increase, it ripples right up the wage scale. Right to the point where my margins get crushed and I let go of 3 employees while the others have to carry the extra hours. I’ll be looking at automation soon to ease the burden. If the pricing power ain’t there, you have very few options. For Apple at some ungodly amount of revenue per employee, this aint Dick. For the top 200 retailers in the Fortune 500, that 15 bucks per equals a huge NEGATIVE revenue number per employee. Simple math Wolf. Otherwise, why not go to 20…..DUH dude.

        • fajensen says:

          “I’ll be looking at automation soon to ease the burden. ”

          By all means: Go for it!

          I can guarantee that the license fees, maintenance, depreciation and financing costs of the automation solution will somewhat* exceed the salaries of the employees it replaces and now bound by a contract to the supplier, you *must* grow your way out of the hole rather than shrink costs, f.ex. by firing people.

          If there is no pricing power, it is a commodity market. This means that sales price will always approach cost price, a lot of work is done and product may even be shipped, but no profits approaching risk-free bond rates will ever be made by anyone in that market. It is dead.

          *Of Course* the business news will be brimming with McKinsey articles shilling “automation”.

          The “end game” is business owners working to service the system providers their business is dependent on, while assuming all of the financial and market risks. Agriculture went that way 2 decades ago, other rent-seekers will want to repeat that success in all areas of the economy, seeing that agriculture didn’t blow up as expected during the financial crisis.

        • Wilbur58 says:


          I’d love to see the actually data on this instead of an anecdotal story.

          Here’s what I want to know:

          # of employees whose wages increased
          $ amount of min. wage increase
          We can factor in FICA and SUI, to your benefit
          What industry
          What margins have now been “crushed”
          What’s the fiscal plan to automate?

          If you can’t give good answers, I’ll have to assume that your presence here is politically motivated and that you’re not a business owner.

        • walter map says:

          Kman, all you’ve done here is prove that your system is not viable, taken to its logical conclusion, because people who work for a living must ultimately be unable to support themselves under it, for the simple reason that most of the product of their labor accrues to someone else, and not to them.

          Clearly, capitalism as presently constituted only works for capitalists, and no one else. Since there is no reason for any one else to buy into such a system it is necessary for others to resort to one that is actually viable.

          Economic realities can never actually be disproven. They can only be distorted, compromised, and exploited. And so they have. There are well-established systems for doing to.

        • Lee says:

          Do you people know that here in Oz the minimum adult wage is A$18.29 an hour?

          Huge numbers of people actually make a lot less. How?

          People under 21 make less according to their age. Want to keep wage costs down? Hire kids at 16 and fire them at 20. Repeat.

          Hire people as contractors, pay for piece work, or just do like many of the restaurants here do: hire foreign students and pay cash well under the minimum rate. That last one is, of course, illegal, but then many of those foreign students are breaking the law by working more than allowed under their visa. Are they going to complain? Nope.

          Or even better yet, just don’t follow the law and hope you don’t get caught. Lot’s of people in the service industry get screwed that way. Hairdressers get ripped off all the time. Too costly? Just close down declare the business bankrupt and don’t pay the accumulated wages and allowances. Then start another business. Repeat.

          Many moons ago I worked in HR and wrote individual and union collective labor agreements for businesses here.

          Wrote up one for a famous franchise business and got a call from them telling me that there was no way they could afford to pay the amounts in the agreement. They weren’t paying overtime, penalty rates, annual leave, or sick leave.

          I told them just don’t coming crying if you get caught. As far as I know they haven’t been caught and still aren’t paying the correct amount.

          Or better yet, get the union and businesses to agree to award overtime at less than ‘legal’ amounts and ‘somehow’ slip it by the government regulator populated by labor party appointees – that has saved those companies hundreds of millions of dollars and the unions – well you figure it out.

          And talking about that minimum wage. If you have a full time job at minimum wage you are in the 19% marginal tax bracket for everything a little over A$18,000.

          If the minimum wage goes up again next year, many of those people will be in the 37% margin bracket.

          Can people in the USA imagine paying a marginal rate of tax of 37% on income of over US$28,000 a year?

        • NotMyPresident says:

          Oh really? And what would happen if the C-level employees and second tier managers at those companies took a massive pay cut…commensurate to the ACTUAL value they provide to the company? I bet that you could rapidly find the funds to help people live better lives and become more productive spenders in the economy. Let’s see 2 million split 100 ways = $20,000 more per year per employee…a $10/hr increase in salary!

      • Jas says:

        The new slave catchers set up shop at your local prison.

      • Nick says:

        Also, low minimum wages simply subsidize the employer. If minimum wages were raised then the employers can no longer claim government benefits. Same with restaurants; the customer subsidizes the employer by tipping the server.
        Raise the minimum wage and eliminate or reduce the tip

        • RD Blakeslee says:

          Wages are a cost of business, along with taxes and other costs.

          If costs are too high, the business adapts or fails.

          Jobs go abroad. Business moves to a lower tax venue.

          While a minimum wage can exists in law, it will be obviated in practice by avoidance of businesses, big or little.

        • nick kelly says:

          Notice the high turnover in non-chain restaurants?
          That’s because its a 5% profit biz.

          BTW: always tip the server cash. Many employers will skim the tips.

        • TheDona says:

          Nick, please see what happens when tips are not accepted: http://time.com/money/4046887/restaurants-no-tipping-ban/

          The prices go up and/or an automatic 20%surcharge is added anyway. Now everyone is equal…front of the house back of the house, good server, bad server. Everyone makes $15 an hour…whoopee.

          This also means the really good servers get penalized so they go somewhere else to work where they can earn a lot more in a tipping environment.

          Certain Restaurants implemented this because the “Tipping Pool” (splitting a certain amount of servers tips with back of the house)
          became illegal in certain States. Other high end restaurants tried and abandoned it because the 20-30% fee meant they were responsible for taxes on that revenue which would normally be paid by the server.

          So back to the drawing board. No way to make it “fair to all” while retaining the best.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          TheDona, it all depends…

          There is a total no-tipping policy in Japan, to the point where, when I left a tip on the table the first time, the waitress ran after me and told me I’d forgotten something on the table, and very formally handed me the money. This no-tipping policy works great. Service is superb because the servers are trained and paid properly; they know that their job is to provider superb service. Just like an engineer. There is no reason to tip an engineer 10 times a day to motivate him/her to do a good job.

          If American workers, guests, and restaurant bosses got used to it, it would work too. It’s just a huge transition here, and not easy. Tipping is bred into our system.

      • economicminor says:

        Wolf, wages are a pretty complex issue.. And mandating them also distorts the system.

        Mandating a wage for a low end service job sounds right and fair except the cost of living varies so much as you move away from areas like SF where the Venture Capital has driven up the costs. Move out to Shasta or Redding or Bakersfield and the costs are so different yet the same minimum wage is mandated?

        I know what you are saying is true about the cost of living in SF but the answer can’t be to raise the state’s minimum wage laws so that a restaurant worker in SF can make enough money to live there when SF is not a normal place. That same law then affects the farmers who competes with south of the border farms.

        Why not have the government decide how much a journalist should make or an accountant or the CEOs? Either free markets or government command and control. It is either or not both..

        • Endeavor says:

          Eliminate the earned income tax credit and cut back on other handouts. Devise a tiered wage subsidy where for instance a low wage worker at min. wage gets 1$ per hour for 24 hours or less,$2 an hour for 32 hours or less and $3 dollars and hours for 40 paid by treasury quarterly. There would pressure to increase hours without costing the employer more and raise standard of living without costing employer more.

        • alex in san jose says:

          Really? Eliminate the earned income tax credit? A program Nixon was for?

          There are some real crapitalist lizard-people on this forum.

        • two beers says:

          “Either free markets or government command and control. It is either or not both..”

          There is no such thing as a “free” market: all markets are subject to implicit if not explicit conditions. The closest thing to a “free” market on earth is Somalia. I suggest you open a business there without all the onerous gummint regulations such as a court system to enforce contracts. Those who stand the most to gain from greater control over tho market are those who scream loudest about”free” markets (viz the Koch bros). Reductive libertarians have a black & white, Manichean view that the only possible options are absolutely unregulated free markets or absolute gummint tyrrany; there is nothing in-between. Unfortunately, this adolescent libertarian fantasy is the current philosophical hegemony among the status quo pundit opinion makers that too many people get their opinions from. Otherwise Intelligent people think that clowns like Thomas Friedman have insight into economics. Hint: he’s a tool of the plutocracy to get idiot American workers to vote against their own self-interest.

      • DGaspard says:

        a couple of things I ponder when I see people bashing minimum wage:
        1) if you have a service based economy, but the consumers have no money to pay for services…what happens?
        2) the burger flipper (the go to for bashers, but also includes sales people, luggage handlers, call center people,…), that makes a pittance working a full time job qualifies for benefits. So we are indirectly subsidizing the company they work for with our taxes. So yeah, they do (in a way) make 15$ an hour, you’re paying for it AND your arguing to keep it that way.
        3) Maybe it’s because you’re not making much more than 15$ and your self esteem is being hurt by having a burger flipper make 15$ and hour? Is it dawning on you that you are being underpaid as well?
        4) the free market and competition argument: Well, if you have to rely on what basically constitutes slave labor wages, your business should not exist. The FED has created enough zombie companies, they do not need your help.

      • Otto Maddox says:

        If you pay a high minimum wage, prices will rise. In the case of restaurant workers, a 50-100% price increase will simply cause restaurant prices to rise, resulting in less sales. Not only will higher prices result in more automation, people will find substitutes – like eating at home. If one argues all food prices should rise to compensate, then the poor suffer greatly and you have Soviet-style central planning. Higher minimum wages are not a long run solution, but simply a short term vote buying scheme. If I were unskilled and living in SF, I would move.

      • Gian says:

        How do you raise wages for the “bottom half…” and not increase prices to cover the increased costs of business? When wages go up, so do contributions for UE, SS and workers’ comp. Businesses will, out of necessity, have to raise prices for goods, services, rents, etc…, or go belly up. Those consumers on the bottom half will receive a quick lesson in inflation, as any wage increase will be gobbled up by higher prices.

        • economicminor says:

          How do you increase the wages for the workers and not raise the prices? Well it is done thru increases in productivity. That is why German workers have 4 weeks minimum of vacation, full pensions and a great health care system.. because the increased value was evenly distributed and didn’t go exclusively to the owners.

        • TheDona says:

          But German and Austrian workers are innately productive and efficient to begin with. Would not work in the US.

      • Barry Fay says:

        Wolf – I´m surprised you bother to even reply to an obvious right wing ideologue just bantering the boring Reagan BS about government being the problem. And arguing against minimum wage from the same mindless standpoint: the perfect Trump voter, no less. I do wonder how he wandered onto this site.

        • Bee says:

          ^ Nasty, hateful comment.
          Keep it up and your type (stereotyping like you just did) won’t win for 10 years, anywhere ~ so do keep on with your disparaging comments indicating what a sore loser you and your ilk are. You just don’t get it!

      • Petunia says:


        Slave labor, at least in the US, was not free. In 1850 the average cost of a slave was $800, the approximate value of a house, paid in cash. There was also the upkeep of shelter, food, clothing, healthcare to protect the asset, security to retain the asset, etc . The investment in slavery was massive and worth it to the slave owner, but not free.

        • TheDona says:

          Petunia, I took a plantation tour in Louisiana about 20 years ago. Fascinating all the way around. Agriculture of the south versus industrialization of the north. Cotton was Americas number one export at that time (to the British). Of course it was OK for the North to use cheap Immigrant labor/child labor/deplorable unsafe conditions/indentured Irish.

          Regarding their health: you are correct. Every plantation had a small room that was stocked with medicines and supplies to keep their investments healthy. Some of them still had the original medicine bottles (tinctures/salves, etc) and journals of keeping track of who had what and how they were progressing.

          Of course they had to wear clothes. Issued somewhat what would be called a uniform today. Cheap basics.

          Food: weekly or monthly allotments of basics. Most slaves quarters had a communal garden. They also got to keep the cast offs…hence the “chitlins” and pigs feet. They fished and set traps for small animals. Weak or sick people can’t work. Their offspring can be sold.

          Yes it sounds horrible. Just agreeing the slaves were investments. The poor people up north were replaceable widgets.

          Bottom line….America was built on slavery one way or another to enrich the wealthy. We are just in a new phase of slavery. Most all of us are replaceable widgets.

          The middle class BS was an anomaly to to recuperate after WWII.

    • farmboy says:

      Just imagine If instead of taxing the —- out of employers and employees The IRS and Social Security were to tax the use of natural resources including land and minerals etc and set import tariffs to level the playing field in natural resources. Next get rid of the majority of labor laws like minimum wage child labor and OSHA We could then have paying jobs for everyone willing to lift a hand.
      The Amish are a good example. Even though without all the tech available to their compeditors they can compete in various markets. They find ways around child labor and minimum wage etc since the boss and the worker have a mutual agreement to never go to law against each other so now you have teenagers on the job learning and contributing and starting a small stash while most kids still have years before getting out of college with a monstrous debt pile. Its common for Amish workers will work at a shop/mill/farm etc as a self employed contractor. So its quite rare to find Amish looking for work.

      • Bee says:

        “so now you have teenagers on the job learning and contributing and starting a small stash while most kids still have years before getting out of college with a monstrous debt pile.”

        That romanticism is fine and dandy—until you realize that these Amish kids aren’t even ***allowed*** to go to college [or high school] !!!!!!!!!

        • RD Blakeslee says:

          One of the things I find admirable about the Anabaptist (Mennonite, Amish, etc.) tradition is that individuals in their communities live in harmony with their doctrines and way of life.

          Criticism comes from outsiders.

          Contemporary sociopolitical fashion (called “English” by these German-speaking people) doesn’t concern them one bit.

        • Bee says:

          RD Blakeslee—you couldn’t be any more wrong. It’s really quite upsetting when “English” ROMANTICIZE their way of life—you see their pretty, old-fashioned clothing and think all is well ~ ~ ~ “how simplistic and fun this must be”!
          Like I said, they aren’t allowed education past 8th grade for a reason (and the education they do receive is not the equivalent to an “English” 8th grade)—to KEEP THEM there.
          Have you ever lived the life? “Individuals living in harmony”—BS! My family comes from this life and I know many stories from the older folks dying off. Take off those rose-colored glasses—you’re pining for 1930 again.

        • RD Blakeslee says:


          As you point out, I have not “lived the life” in an Amish community. But I was raised in a strict, literal bible-believing family and understand the powerful emotional attachment true believers have to the prescribed life within their clans.

          I simply respect that and feel its not for me to criticize them.

        • Bee says:

          RD—as a strict, Bible literalist, you should know that their man-made rules are contrary to the Bible. The Ordnung is placed higher than the Bible. Their way is the only way to heaven.

          I’m not advocating one way or the other, but I have to make light of it when you compare them to others—look beyond the surface!

        • RD Blakeslee says:


          I am not a strict bible literalist. I said I was raised in such a family and understand their devotion to their way and will not criticize it.

          “Compare them to others”? Precisely the opposite, bee.

        • Bee says:

          RD—I will quote you again, from my initial reply. “so now you have teenagers on the job learning and contributing and starting a small stash while most kids still have years before getting out of college with a monstrous debt pile.” — you’re comparing the English (book-learnin’ + debt—bad) to the Amish (hard working + underage—good). You compared them and placed the Amish on a pedestal.

          I will add one word then to my previous comment: “RD—as a \\\\\FORMER///// strict, Bible literalist, you should know that their man-made rules are contrary to the Bible. The Ordnung is placed higher than the Bible. Their way is the only way to heaven.”

        • RD Blakeslee says:


          the quote “so now you have…(etc.)” is farmboys, not mine.

          I have enough trouble defending my own stuff, bee!


        • Bee says:

          RD—I apologize, I was thinking your reply to my reply to farmboy was he himself. Lol. How I check for new comments sometimes hides the person’s name, so I wasn’t paying attention fully. I’m sure you were wondering why the argument was going…ha ha.
          My initial reply to farmboy still stands though.

        • RD Blakeslee says:

          No problem, bee!

          At my age, comments “still standing” are no problem. Me still standing – that’s the problem.


        • farmboy says:

          Bee; In no way am I endorsing the Amish religion. I just used them as an example of the benefits to social and financial well being when US citizens skirt numerous labor laws and taxes associated with employment. Social well being having to do with the dignity that comes with having a job vs living from handouts.

          In summary we need jobs not only for the economy but also for the morale of individuals that make up society and many of the laws and taxes of this nation are killing jobs. http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjuly17/opioid-jobs7-17.html

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Some of the most reliable and reasonably-priced services here in Southeast WV are offered by Mennonite small businesses.

    • Mary says:

      Marty, you are looking for factors that cause “employment probs”. How about the end of slavery? Those were people working for nothing, and now that have to be paid SOMETHING, even if it’s a below-poverty line minimum wage.

      And you are right, it was the “stinkin’ govt” that caused this mess. Lincoln did free the slaves.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Actually, the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the Confederacy. It did not free slaves in the Union.

        It was meant to punish damage the plantation economy of the American South.

        • John says:

          Freeing the enslaved people and replacing it with Jim Crow Sharecropping was a clever move. You de monetized the human meat and just rented it with a beautiful scam that gave them a so called share. Then when they got the illness of starvation lifestyle, you cut them loose to die.
          It is always a huge question for oligarchs…slaves or serfs. Serfs are obviously better unless there is a huge excess population of low value meat that are a low cost write off.
          Neo feudalism is a hot trend now.

      • rex says:

        Wait, Wait! Are there really folks who believe the care and maintenance of slaves was free?!
        What about the costs of providing food, clothing, shelter, etc.? Even though a slave received nothing in monetary compensation, the cost associated with slave labor was anything but free

        • walter map says:

          “We disapprove of slavery and the cost of the maintenance and upkeep of slaves. We prefer our English model in which we control the issuance of currency, and control of money, it allows us to control labor without the cost of maintaining it.”

          Lord Baron Rothschild (private owner of the Bank of England. Quote 1849)

        • nick kelly says:

          I’ve missed sarc a few times. Is this another one?

    • Renee says:

      I love how people look at areas like healthcare and taxes for ways they can get back 1 or 2% but the general population still ignores the fact that a group of less than 1000 people have stolen BILLIONS if not Trillions from this Country….HFT is equivalent to skimming from a casino…TARP was embezzlement…….QE was theft from savers…..Ex-LMBA PM price manipulation which has stolen millions of not billions of value in silver and gold from moms and pops all over the world…
      Come On people focus on what’s actually causing the scarcity, not what’s scarce……

  5. Jas says:

    Propublica has been tracking the TARP bailout dollars since it was allocated, they have extensive research into the repayments. Seen here; https://projects.propublica.org/bailout/

  6. Lori says:

    I’ve been having this very discussion with my husband recently who happens to have worked a long time in the food service business. I’m aware that many of the jobs created in this last recovery are service jobs; when revenue is hit in the next recession, most businesses but especially restaurant, well the first thing they look to cut is labor. My belief is that once that labor is cut much of it will not return as it will haven been automated. Automation doesn’t call in sick, doesn’t have a dress code, doesn’t file for unemployment and doesn’t require government mandated health insurance. Its a no brainer. But many restaurant employees do not have skills that would easily translate to other professions and they will not be employable. I worry that we will have many that just will not be able to work in the future.

    Secondly, as we returned from our 4th holiday we stopped at many small towns in NC (I like to shop for antiques, thrifts, etc). I was amazed at how many stores were empty in the downtowns, businesses that had shuttered. And I wonder what, if anything, will take there places? Small town mom and pop retail cannot compete with online retail. Brick and mortar, especially in small towns with no major industry, is what these entire communities rely upon. Once the retail is gone, many of the restaurants will follow as some rely on the retail for traffic.

    Peoples way of life is just being decimated a little at a time. I know we saw something similar when we moved from an agrarian society to an industrial one. But I’m just not seeing a path forward that doesn’t end with a lot of folks without any possibility for work.

    Does all the wealth redistribute to just a handful of tech centers in our country while the rest of the nation languishes? It seems to be headed that way.

    • Frederick says:

      It’s been headed that way for awhile now That’s why I moved to the Hamptons from suburban NY twenty years ago I could see the future and it didn’t look bright for anyplace NOT related to bankers or high tech and I didn’t want to be a statistic on Wolf Street I was doing pretty well till my ex wife and my sons tuition at Georgetown knocked me down a bit I’m back on track though building a small hotel on the Med coast in SW Turkey and growing my own food Funny where life takes you sometimes

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        “Funny where life takes you sometimes”.

        The first twenty-five years of my life I lived in Detroit Michigan, a cog in the auto industry. After college, off the Washington DC to work as a U.S. Patent Examiner.

        Fifty-three years ago, We moved our family out of Arlington, VA to Warrenton, VA 50 miles from Washington, DC after the Cuban missile crisis. But Warrenton became a real estate developer-driven bedroom town for DC.

        So, we have been in Southeast WV for forty years now.

        There is no comparison between the quality of life in Detroit (even before its socioeconomic blight) and our life here in the mountains.

    • Nick says:

      Agenda 21

    • prepalaw says:

      This is why I shop on Ebay and almost never on Amazon. The small business has moved to Ebay. I just bought an expensive tripod for my camera lenses from an entrepreneur. Because bulky protective packing was required, the shipping charge alone was $50. Nevertheless, I bought a 1st generation item for 40% of the cost of new. I saved a lot of money and got what I needed in almost brand new condition.

      The US is over-supplied with used, high quality stuff. No one cares where you bought that item. If it looks good, other people will notice. I only care if the item works well and has not been abused.

      • alex in san jose says:

        That’s what I do as my main job. I had my own small business on Ebay before the crash. Now I work for a guy I got to know because he was into electronics surplus too. It works out great – he’s good at getting the stuff and he’s the better of the two of us for technical knowledge, but I’m better at being organized and a better photographer. I get a free place to live (in the warehouse) and $250 a week. I pay something like 17% of my gross income in taxes – and I’ve figured out it’s because I don’t have children to become soldiers for the Empire; it’s a sort of carrot-and-stick setup and I’m getting the stick. But yes, Ebay is the last haven for small biz.

  7. Lee says:

    How much of that USA population statistic captures the huge number of illegals in the USA?

    IMO they have had a significant impact on the population, the number of people with/without jobs, and wages in the USA.

    Increased supply of workers has allowed businesses to keep wages low. In the USA it is a combination of loss of jobs and inflow of illegals.

    Here in Oz it is the use of ‘contractors’, foreign students, legal immigrants, and a visa system called 457 visas to bring in workers puts pressure on wages about the minimum wage and allows businesses to pay workers less.

    That software engineer too costly, bring in one from India on a 457 visa and pay them A$20,000 or A$30,000 a year less than an Australian would be paid.

    • Suzie Alcatrez says:

      Illegals don’t really show up in the stats. For the most part, they do not claim unemployment or participate in the Fed Household surveys.

      During the Great Recession of ’08, there was almost no downturn amongst construction workers in Texas.

      • Bee says:

        What does your last sentence have to do with anything…?
        Illegals are in every state, not just Texas LOL.

        • milking institute says:

          I guess what she is trying to say is: importing cheap foreign labor is great for the natives wages,it really is,trust me! LOL

      • Frederick says:

        Illegal workers crushes not only native workers but salary levels Even in the very affluent Hamptons take it from me it is devastating Many of them work for cash under the table while collecting everything possible Food stamps, Medicaid etc I wouldn’t want to be young today and try to compete with them I guess that’s why so few try

        • Pavel says:

          Another anecdote: I was in “very affluent” Martha’s bloody Vineyard visiting friends recently and went to a restaurant — the waitress was from eastern Europe… as was an Uber driver! I guess there is some H-1B style visa especially for restaurant & services staff? I pointed this out to my host who said it is because “the season goes past the start of college in September so they need foreign staff instead of local college students”. Not sure if it’s that or the “local college students” don’t want to do menial work. In any case it is a crazy world out there.

        • VegasBob says:

          Seasonal businesses love to import foreign workers for seasonal summer jobs. If they are students, many of them are exempt from FICA and Medicare taxes, so the worker gets more money and the employer does no have to pay the employer share of employment taxes. Before I retired, my old company used foreign summer workers in its Atlantic City operations for that reason.


    • nick kelly says:

      Ask a California grower about hiring US citizen help. Even blacks are long gone.
      For strawberries (AKA in Spanish: the crop from hell ) even Mexicans of Spanish descent take a pass and try to get into broccoli etc.
      The job often falls to Mestizo Indians based in Mexico, who are ‘housed’ in shacks.
      Every now and then a white kid shows up maybe after reading some romantic novel about harvest help. They last about two hours.

      • alex in san jose says:

        Where I was living, in Gilroy and surrounding areas, there was berry picking and tomato picking, just walk-on jobs. Walk on, sign up, here’s how you do it, and you’re at work. I watched those poor bastards working so hard, since it’s by the bin, basket, box, etc some of those guys might be making $20 an hour but are they ever earning it. I thought about doing it to make some money but wow … not only was I not sure I could do it, but the idea of taking work away from those folks was saddening.

  8. Bobby says:

    Wow! The chart pattern is very interesting, the angle of each upward trendline for all periods after each recession is about the same and once the trendline breaks out of its range it’s game over. Please keep posting updates of this chart in a few months if it starts looking very tipsy.

  9. yoopar says:

    The problem as I see it is the way the fed went about “fixing the recession”
    When I started out in the trades, the government had training programs in the trades that paid half our wages to the employer for training young people. This created, as one can imagine, tons of jobs. The people got trained and the money trickled upwards. When Reagan was elected, these programs were abandoned and all the money since has been given towards big business to trickle down. We can all see how this has created the mass shift of economic inequality and fewer and fewer people saying what direction the world should go.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Modern technology has propelled socioeconomic change at such a pace that glacial-paced government training schemes are often obsolete by the time they’re installed.

  10. michael says:

    The Federal Government has sold out the average worker by allowing the tax base to move offshore and permitting the import of cheap H1B labor.

    Automation is only possible due to the FED’s cheap fiat.

  11. Maximus Minimus says:

    But… Yellen LLC said there will be no crash in our lifetime, err…meaning in her lifetime, given that all promises have certain statute of limitations. Which, given her appearance, does not inspire too much optimism in me.
    On a serious note, the data featured on this site points to an looming recession just when the central banks decided to tighten.
    But then, they were always consistent – in their cluelessness.

  12. d says:

    Unless something is done to stop competitors dumping in the US and Europe, and competitors are still allowed unbalanced access to EU and US markets.

    The trend in the article will continue. Simple.

    China and its copy cats. Will keep on eating the western lunch, until they are forced to stop.


  13. Chris Wagner says:

    Who can believe the BLS? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-19/lies-damned-lies-inflation-statistics Not me! Highly suspicious, hearing of “jobs added” every month without regards to a) actual payroll hours & b) tax revenue. The gig economy with on demand part-time jobs which are not like our parents’ jobs in the 50s or 60s.

    Total insecurity for many young people. (In the UK, it’s called “Zero Hour” contracts. => Not knowing whether one will earn the rent, let alone enough to pay all other bills…

    Peter Tauber, a top CDU politician, belittled hard working folks “with 3 mini jobs”, lecturing them they should have “learned a trade to get good jobs”. Many politicians NEVER held down a normal job! And for Germany, most “mini jobbers” do have skills… While he makes 5-figures a month, can travel for free and not get into hot water if he doesn’t attend hearings. (Decades ago, “Stern” published photos of what poliiticians were doing during an important debate & vote. One leading guy was painting his fence!! others wered as attorneys. And EU reps jet in, storm to the sign in books and run back to the airport, earning “thousands” that way. Another “let them eat cake” moment in history.

    Human work is under threat. Technologically, Apple could bring the manufacturing back home and sell fully automated products with the factories being in the U.S. The LSVA, labor share of value added will keep dropping. something has got to give!

  14. kk says:

    I remember going to a party in 1976 celebrating the 200 years of American independence and it being said that there were 200 million Americans. Now, 40 years later, there are 325 million. At this rate, when the millennials start to think about retirement in 2057 there will be 500 million Americans. Can half a billion people live like Americans? Are the resources of the country infinite?

    • unit472 says:

      California passed New York to become the most populous state in the late 1960’s. It had 18 million people. It was the high water mark for the Golden State. The same Golden Gate, Bay Bridge and highways we had then are used by more than twice as many people today. BART was added around 1970. A California house, even a house in San Francisco, was affordable. There were still blue collar workers in San Francisco and, with the exception of a few hippie drug addicts living in Golden Gate Park, homelessness was not a major issue. If you were poor you could live in the Tenderloin, South of Market or Polk Gulch.

      No, you can’t keep shoe horning millions of poor people from Latin America into California and keep the standard of living that made the Golden State golden.

      • Niko says:

        California is a prime example of what is wrong.

        1) Too many legal and illegal immigrants on social welfare
        2) Too many citizens on social welfare
        3) Too many liberals that want to give more social welfare but want someone else to pay for it

        Then you factor in corporate greed and ridiculous C-level compensation and political contributions to politicians that only care about being re-elected and you have the mess we have today.

        • Realist says:

          Maggie Tatcher was right about one thing:

          Sooner or later a leftist government will run out of other people’s money.

        • MikeJL says:

          And yet, California has a budget surplus, some of the best centers of innovation in the world, a chance to provide a single payer health care system to everyone in the state (at less than the current insurance/employer based systems), etc. We seem to have found a reasonable balance of social benefits and budgeting – certainly compared to most of the other states.

          What do you mean by too many citizens on social welfare? There is certainly no simple or reasonable way I could understand that – unless it is just bloviating. Same question about too many liberals wanting to give social welfare (as opposed to unsocial welfare?). If either of these things were true we wouldn’t be as healthy economically as we are.

          Finally, I had to laugh about the last sentence – like that was unique to California.

    • Matt says:

      The group that does the “Earth Overshoot Day” and other things (footprintnetwork.org) would probably say no, we don’t have the resources to import any more people into California (and that’s only counting the renewable resources). They did a report on the states, you can scroll down to page 8 and see that CA is a bit of an outlier:


      Another way to put it in perspective is to remember that California has more people than Canada; 38 vs 36 million.

  15. Raymond C. Rogers says:

    I wonder how these numbers jive with the underground economy. Is one taking the place of the other, and if so, by how much? If anyone has any interesting material about this, don’t hesitate to throw it out there.

    • alex in san jose says:

      I made a bit over $13 playing my trumpet tonight for a bit over an hour; more than I’d have made in the same time driving for Uber and no car needed :-)

      • Otto Maddox says:

        Don’t tell the musician’s union. Have you paid your dues?

        • alex in san jose says:

          The musician’s union is a joke. I looked into it. Ideally, I should pay for a membership in EMI, BMI, etc. to play songs in their copyrighted repertoire as a “small venue”, so about $300 a year. As for the union itself, as someone online put it, “Even my neighbor, who plays bad harmonica, can join”.

          I’m all for unions, and if I become “a thing” on trumpet will probably join. But at the street musician level no one gives a shit.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Raymond, I have lived a low-cost rural area for 40 years, after leaving Michigan in my mid-twenties. In Detroit, I lived a “measurable” life – a statistic in the auto industry during its heyday.

      Major components of the economy where I live now are dispersed, quietly enjoyed and not measurable.

      It has been called “subsistence farming”, “preppy living” or, if you want to denigrate it, “the underground economy”, because, I guess, it flourishes without 100% reliance on money.

      You might get some kind of handle on the extent to which Americans are turning to it by Census Bureau statistics purporting to show out-migration from America’s cities.

    • Kent says:

      I live close to Kennedy Space Center. When the space shuttle program shutdown a while back, thousands of highly skilled technicians hit the job market. Right along with the Great Recession.

      I just put in a new kitchen. With the exception of installing the counter-top, all of the labor was performed by these highly skilled folks paid in cash. One of the guys is a good friend and perfectionist. He couldn’t stand the little imperfections that have accumulated in my house over the years. So he fixed them all at no extra charge.

      The pastor of a local church lives across the street. I set up a VPN and MS Terminal services for his church so his accountant could work from out of state for awhile while she looks after her mother. All for free. And I make good money.

      We live in a land of massive abundance of skilled people and stuff. Friendship can be far more valuable than cash.

  16. unit472 says:

    I agree low wages for the bottom half of workers is the biggest problem our nation faces but only top corporate people can be paid more than they are worth and they are not that numerous. Everyone else gets paid according to what the market rate for that skill/job function is.

    As to leaving the jobless in the gutter, well isn’t that exactly what San Francisco does. As noted you can’t afford to live there and maintain your employability ( clean clothes, personal hygiene and grooming) on $30,000 or less per year so many live on the street and survive on General Assistance and private charity. Others must come in from the outer suburbs to do low wage work and that makes the unemployment rate for the City of San Francisco meaningless. The ‘jobs’ maybe there but not the housing so the unemployed do not qualify as residents.

  17. Matt says:

    Wolf, I rarely comment on here so here it goes. This jobs report is total bullsh*&! how the heck do you get 222,000 jobs and only 221,000 could work p t due to “weather” when it is summertime for God’s sake! How do you create 8,100 jobs in the retail sector when you have thousands of layoffs every week from mom and pop , supermarkets, retail and dining stores closing? How do you go for over 400 k civilians losing jobs, 367 k f t jobs lost last month, 608, k dropping out of work force to all of sudden net positive and yet the unemployment number ticks up? Labor participation rate ticks up? again this report is full of bullsh*& from top to bottom. they are using a broken out dated business creation model. we have been losing more business than creating for over 10 years now. they are pulling these numbers out of the air. they only sample 40,k households a month and avg them out.

    • Frederick says:

      I agree with your analysis Matt Anything to keep confidence from collapsing I guess is their goal It’s NOT working with me anyway

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      You summed up the bureau of BS statistics quite nicely. But I guess, if they reported reality, they would become the statistics.

    • nick kelly says:

      The biggest piece of gov nonsense is ‘a job is a job’
      I.e., a part time job counts the same as a full time job.
      Whatever your politics, this is nonsense.

      No wonder things look rosy when an employer evades some costs (understandably, he acts in his interest) by splitting a full- time job into two, or three
      Voila! same hours but job creation.
      The only scientific way to do this ( economics is supposed to be a science) is to report on hours worked.

  18. Bill Shortell says:

    I am concerned about the omission of one major element in your assessment of the healthful effects of recessions, Wolf. What about the human costs? Wiping the cobwebs out of commerce seems like a good thing, but when millions of workers lose their jobs, the suffering is immense.

    The costs to the economy in healthcare alone hurts business. As you point out, the market is no longer capable of achieving full employment. U-3 does not capture the effect of the employment/population ratio.

    What has happened to the workers on the out side? They vote for Donald Trump. Some of them become mass murderers.

    We have to stop relying solely on the market to supply jobs.

  19. Meme Imfurst says:

    Wolf…it seems what you are not saying is, diminishing returns, if they continue, and it seems there is no answer, means any business that survives is still terminal. I don’t thing the average person understands how hard, if not impossible, it is to regain lost ground unless it has personally affected them. Shrug it off, does seem to the meme that is pushed on all of us.

    The economy is not just ‘consumers’, but without consumers ( including industrial and governmental) no business can survive.

    • economicminor says:

      And few mention the growing numbers of homeless across our nation.

      Mandated wages is not going to fix anything.

      Those at the top of the income ladder are so far above the minions who support the ladder that they can not see that they depend upon all those minions.

      I have a real difficult time believing and understanding the imbalances that have driven this nation into such an abysmal rat hole. When I read financial journalists I am appalled at how little most actually understand about the life of the minions even though those minions are the foundation that supports the entire system that they are analyzing. Which is akin to a structural engineer not having a clue about steel or concrete. As if the world is all about beauty and structure with no regard as to how to support it.

      • Wilbur58 says:

        And that, economicminor, is why we need a national labor strike… and a return to the unions that helped develop the greatest middle class the world has ever known.

        Why do we all continue to support this system with our labor?

        • economicminor says:

          Unfortunately Wilber a return to Unions is only a piece of this puzzle. As long as we have free trade with nations who have extremely large impoverished populations, the increased labor costs in the US just makes the US noncompetitive.. Add in the servicing of all our debts, the monopolization of entire business and industrial sectors, an out of control health care system, an educational system more appropriate for the dawning of the industrial age rather than the age of robotics and on and on.

          Unfortunately there are no simple nor quick solutions. Add to that a very dysfunctional Congress and an unjust justice system.. No Unions wouldn’t fix much and harm more. Why not just mandate that all leaders, corporate or government be humans with compassion for their fellow travelers.

        • Wilbur58 says:


          Indeed, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. I agree. And yet, it’s a significant one.

          Every single bank needs its branches. Amazon needs their deliveries. Target and Walmart need their people on site. Apple needs its sales and support people. Drugstores and groceries need their people. Telecom needs its people.

          And on and on.

          Our economy still makes huge gains every year. But those gains all go to the top. And all the ‘free markets’ / ‘cheap-labor conservatives’ (tip to Walter Map)… still buy into this shit that owners deserve it all. You know, as if Tim Cook manufactures, assembles, transports, and then sells a single iPhone personally.

          It’s a sickness that most people now think this way. The person(s) at the top gets everything, as if Larry Ellison can do the labor of 2,000 people.

          What’s the solution? Let’s let them try.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘An education system more appropriate for the dawning of the industrial age rather than the age of robotics…’

          You are an optimist. The former system would teach basic literacy. The high school near me has just issued a verbal instruction that no record will be kept of ‘times late’ so it also teaches contempt for punctuality.

          In general, the profession is anti-intellectual, self- esteem is more important than fact.

          There are, of course, exceptions.

    • realist says:

      Indeed, demand is key. A critical detail: slaves, whether of the legal or the metaphoric (debt- & wage-) variety, do not go shopping, because they have no disposable income; that has already been transformed into an asset on a bank’s balance sheet, otherwise known as “debt”.

      The triumph of neoliberal economic policies has been destroying the structure of the very economy that they were supposedly intended to enhance. Interestingly, neoliberal policies have not failed in their ultimate intent: the enriching of the rich.

      • Niko says:

        Well put

      • Meme Imfurst says:

        I curious discussion with several friends of mixed politics about ‘rich people”.

        My liberal friends say ‘he deserves every buck he can get” without any consideration or knowledge of how that person became ‘rich’. My conservative friends say ” he earned it”, and they almost consistently can tell you how.

        When discussing ‘the poor’, again my liberal friends say ‘they deserve every assistance they can get”. My conservative friends say “they need to earn it”.

        When I mention rich bankers, almost mutual condemnation. When I mention rich Politians, I get 100% thumbs up OK from my liberal friends if it is a Democrat, but mixed from the conservative ones.

        That should tell you that very little is going to change anytime soon. Otherwise the prisons would ALREADY be overflowing with bankers and Politians from the last 10 year or more.

        Suggest you search the ‘who had a party in the Hamptons’ over the 4th and see what an up hill battle you point really is.

        • prepalaw says:

          I work for rich people. When you go to a yacht dealer, the salesman never asks where you got your money. The only questions are “cash or wire-transfer” and what the maximum price is.

  20. walter map says:

    Oh, puh-leeze. If people want more money, they should just get a better job.


    Everybody knows the US is loaded with six-figure jobs that just go begging:


    Seriously, people who struggle to hold down three part-time jobs have nothing but their own laziness to blame for their poverty. Besides, if workers weren’t so greedy American industry wouldn’t be so uncompetitive globally and then they would have better jobs.

    None of this has affected any of those millionaire teachers working cushy jobs a few months a year and are just glorified babysitters anyway.

    Really, the solution is easy: tax cuts for the rich. That way they’ll be able to invest in the US instead of other countries, creating loads and loads of high-paying jobs. Naysayers will tell you this has never worked and has only made the problem worse, but that’s only because those tax cuts haven’t been anywhere near deep enough.

    It’s amazing how many of you Yanks actually fall for this sort of shit, year after year. Suckers.

    • milking institute says:

      Quoting “Thinkprogress.com” does not really give your arguments much credibility,LOL. Please keep us up to date on George Soros’ latest wisdoms as well,will you?

      • walter map says:

        My arguments are so sufficiently credible that you are unable to refute them. Must be the stinging sarcasm. KellyAnn Conway certainly put her foot in her mouth on that one, didn’t she?

        • Meme Imfurst says:

          You are, without any doubt, the most consistently insulting “contributor” to this site.

          If you feel that superior to your fellow man, then perhaps you can scoot up to heaven and tell God what a mess he has made and how you can fix it…lick-I-di split. He might not be in the mood for your scorched earth policy, but one never knows. For me, however, I WILL PASS ON ANYTHING YOU WRITE HENCE FORTH.

          Lets hope and pray that whatever country you live in is blessed with a glass dome to keep out the ‘Yanks” but still lets in the light of day, truth, and perhaps a bit of courtesy and respect.

        • walter map says:

          ‘You are, without any doubt, the most consistently insulting “contributor” to this site.’

          You should be annoyed that you Yanks have been taken for fools, not because I’ve pointed that out that you’ve been taken. Blaming the messenger, and all that.

          “The plain working truth is that it is not only good for people to be shocked occasionally, but absolutely necessary to the progress of society that they should be shocked pretty often.”

          George Bernard Shaw


          Not likely. In view of how conditions are certain to worsen, and not improve, it’s more likely you may in time come to appreciate what I have said, though you resent it. In the meantime you’re welcome to reject realities and entertain your illusions. It’s all the same to me.

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Please watch this.


        Just the reality of living in America in 2017.

    • economicminor says:

      Wow Walter, You are totally disconnected to the reality of the bottom 90% of the population. I really don’t know if I should pity you for your ignorance, be angry at your arrogance or just be afraid because so many of the people running our world think like you.

      People who have nothing don’t have options to move to get a better job or pay for the skills they were never taught so that they could receive the benefits you pretend are just outside their grasp. Which you pretend is because they are lazy rather than just plain unattainable. You some how imagine that people are just lazy and that is why they work 2 or 3 jobs to survive.

      You do not even know that all those minions far out number you and your kind. And that with out them, you would have nothing.

      Sorry Walter, your sarcasm was just a little to much for me not to respond to…

      • walter map says:

        Corporatist trolls can always be relied upon to deliberately misconstrue valid criticisms directed at them in the service of their corporatism. You are no exception: you’re not dumb enough to have not caught the sarcasm in my post.

        • R2D2 says:

          walter map: I didn’t catch your sarcasm either ?. I thought that your comments weren’t your usual style, but your comments did sound serious.

        • DH says:

          I think your sarcasm is bang on. Loved it.

    • Wilbur58 says:


      Two days ago, I had to educate my CFO on this exact matter. He’s completely fallen for trickle down. Even when I explained how the poor and middle pay a far greater percentage of their incomes back into the economy, he was hung up on the fact that a rich person can go shopping at a mall and drop $25K.

      I explained how $1 given to the poor and middle can lead to $1.60 worth of activity, whereas $1 given to the rich turns into $.70 or whatever. And this is before even getting into the fact that the rich often engage in asset trading, not huge purchases of new goods and services.

      Some of the most educated in the US are complete and utter suckers for ‘trickle down’… or its new name, ‘free markets’. I actually find ‘free markets’ to be one of the most insidiously clever doublespeak terms ever created by the corporate powers that be.

      • walter map says:


      • VegasBob says:

        The term ‘free market’ is a lie, at least in the United States. We have managed markets, manipulated markets, and rigged markets. We certainly have nothing resembling ‘free markets’…

        • polecat says:

          I’d much prefer ‘fair & competitive’ markets, over the ‘Free Ferengi-For-All’ currently in play !

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Free markets include free movement of products, capital and labour. But the so-called free marketeers are the ones who complain the loudest about immigrants – even legal ones.

        They are A la carte free marketeers.

    • R2D2 says:

      Are you quoting these shady scam sites such as http://www.moneycrashers.com/six-figure-income-jobs-without-having-a-degree as the beholders of the truth? There was YouTube video in which the guy was advertising his coding class. He was telling stories of this or that 24 years old without a degree were hired by Google, Facebook, and Apple at starting salaries of $170,000. As soon as I started commenting that he should stop lying to people, my comments were deleted withing 2 minutes.

      Well, let me tell you as someone who has been interviewed and is working for such companies, the reality is not even close. I’ve been A+ student in toughest subjects all my life. I’ve been learning non-stop since I was 5 years old. I know the most complex current technologies such as Scala, Java, Spark, Casandra, Kafka which are all supposedly in hot demand. Yet the interview process is so difficult that you’d think they are choosing the president of the United States. If these jobs that you have quoted did exist, someone like me should not only be swimming in cash, but also should feel so cocky and confident at my job. But one hint of asking for a raise, and my manger will tell me to pack my things.

      Sites such as the site you have quoted are there to sell to suckers and not to provide truth.

      • walter map says:

        “Sites such as the site you have quoted are there to sell to suckers and not to provide truth.”

        Very true. Unfortunately, suckers seem to constitute an economically-important market segment.

        We’d all probably be better off if we took a rest day from shopping and txtng and political nooz to work a bit on our critical thinking skills. But that’s just me.

      • nick kelly says:

        If you are under 35-40 try plumbing. I’ve learned enough from my own renos to do most of it. I’ve seen ads for plumbing help with that verged on desperate: “any plumbing experience should apply”

        Soldering copper is very easy and kind of fun. The black ABS drain pipes and elbows fit so tightly you can run water thru them before gluing.

        BTW: there is often an inverse relationship between the perceived glam of a job and its pay. Lawyers leaving the job is a cliche- they are everywhere.

        • Frederick says:

          Nick I built houses for thirty five years and many times did the plumbing work just for the challenge and fun of it Same with electrical and did my own fireplaces and chimneys from brick My first fireplace and chimney was in my mothers family room at age 16 in 1970 It was alittle rough but it drew well

  21. Shane says:

    Boom times in the state security field. After all, gotta keep the serfs from rebelling against the elite…….

    • Frederick says:

      No amount of security will save them if and when the people truly awaken from their slumber and decide that Enough is enough

      • walter map says:

        That’s hopeful.

        I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

        Jay Gould, US financier & railroad businessman (1836 – 1892)

  22. stan says:

    Right on, farmboy. I notice that everyone missed it. As long as the workers put up with taxes on wages, salaries and tips they will always be serfs. A tax on jobs kills jobs.

  23. milking institute says:

    Business journalists at bloomberg ,cnbc etc would analyze and dig in to the numbers as employment reports would be published,this is no longer their job apparently. asking questions and would compromise their incestuous relationship with the financial sector. the fact is: the numbers mirror the current state of the economy,the people on top are doing very well but the majority of jobs created are low wage low commitment jobs. the new “journalists” are now found on sites like this as the trust in the MSM keeps fading away. little did they know the term “fake news”they so cleverly invented to discredit alternative media would come back to bite them in the rear. poetic justice…

    • Bee says:

      GREAT comment!

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        I agree.

        How to rein in the international corporatocracy?

        Some are suggesting single payer (governmental) medical care.

        How about a single payer stipend for each citizen?

        Mark Zuckerberg is advocating that now:

        Could governments extract enough taxes from the conntemporarily irresponsible corporatocracy to pay for it?

        • Meme Imfurst says:

          Oh My…3 cheers for Mark. What A guy. Gave that big gigantic lump of stock to start a political lobbying association ( oops, he says it is for ‘charity”) so strike that comment.

          Yep Mark is the best at surveillance, and so good he knows what you want to read to keep you safe

        • RD Blakeslee says:



        • Realist says:

          “Some are suggesting single payer (governmental) medical care.”

          Strangely enough this is something that does work surprisingly well in most other developed countries.Those countries spend less ( sometimes a lot less ) than the US on health care and still have better results over all. People do accept the fact that it is financed through taxation in these counbtries because people know that they’ll get something in return the day they need health care.

          Don’t mention France, they are at the other extreme end compared to the US. Sweden is another example where things are coming apart at the seams, mainly due to the huge influx of migrants whom the Swedish government prioritizes over native Swedes. But generally speaking, government run health care usually works nicely because there’s a very big gorilla ( the government ) keeping checks on the medical-health care industrial complex preventing fees and prices from going through the roof …

          For example why is it forbidden to import medicines from Canada to the US although the same medicines are a lot cheaper in Canada compared to the US ?

        • R2D2 says:

          Realist In Canada, doctors and hospitals scam government, in other words tax payers big time. They are sucking blood so easily out of the tax payers. Government is never good at anything.

        • Bee says:

          Realist & R2D2—I talked about this very thing with a relative last night. Their father was of an old, wealthy San Francisco family…had health troubles his last few months of life…Medicare (or whatever old people get) paid $500k to the hospital…he could have paid it all. Said relative spends a lot of time in Germany and thinks their healthcare implemented here would get rid of the govt waste (I repeat—$500,000 for one man nearing death).

        • DH says:

          R2D2, my son has a tic condition, so we were recommended a host of specialists to see. One of them was a developmental pediatrician, who just sat and talked to him for a half hour or so. We just got the bill the other day, and they charged $750 for the visit, of which my insurance paid only $250. I’m fortunate to be able to pay the difference, but we’ve been shocked at how high the prices for these “talks” are getting. I mean, at least hook our son to a machine for that price! lol

        • nick kelly says:

          Anyone trashing the Canadian system compared to US is out of his mind.
          Total coverage for most stuff, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality (not that beating the US is hard, it is WAY back) for about half the cost.
          When you visit a pharma or doc, they will advise you about lower priced generics.
          US will often steer patient in other direction.

          A few weeks ago Ari Fleischer (?) on MSNBC lost it when some GOP hack was saying folks came from all over for ops in US.

          ‘No they don’t! I was raised in Canada. People from there or Norway or the UK don’t come to the US”

        • R2D2 says:

          DH: I know; I don’t think medical doctors go to medical school to get their degree in medicine. I think they go to get their degree on how to be a sleazy businessman. In most cases, they fix nothing, yet, they see you for half an hour and they ask for a huge fee for that half an hour. In your case, the doctor has felt that his time is worth $1500/hr. Can you believe these people? And they don’t even heal anything; they charge you for the honor of allowing the lowly you to speak to his/her majesty.

        • R2D2 says:

          nick kelly: I was not comparing US to Canada. I was saying neither are that good. One of the most important reason is that the number of medical doctors, dentists which are allowed to graduate each year are kept very low in order to keep the income of of doctors and dentists up. There are some countries in which the number of doctors is so high that they have to compete against each other price wise. The medical industry has become like mafia. They keep the supply down in order to keep the price up.

        • Bee says:

          R2D2—I like your second comment. If more people were allowed to follow their dreams, we wouldn’t have such a shortage of doctors. When I hear doctors today speak their BS, I think “this is the creme de la creme….?”
          PSA: the answer is to prevent the need for a doctor!

        • R2D2 says:

          Bee: One of the most important thing for prevention (at least in my case) is to eat right. Stop eating all the poison that they give us as food, and also, I eat a lot less than I used to. Because of that, I haven’t had the need to go to a doctor in the last 10 years, other than the annual check up. And I feel far better than I did 10 years ago, and even better than when I was 20.

        • Bee says:

          R2D2—that’s exactly right. I haven’t had more than a sniffle in 7 years. No cold, no flu, nothing. I simply said “prevent” because when I speak of diet, people lose their minds—the corn m@fia comes out!
          If people hadn’t been sold down the river, they’d be in much better shape. My family is in the midst of cancer, yet you try to get them to eat beneficial foods, no way…speak to cancer survivors about reducing sugar, no way. I don’t actually bring the topic up unless they ridicule my diet—they just look in bitter bewilderment when I speak truths in reply to their passive-aggressive comments.

    • Harvey says:

      The top twenty percent are the winners of neoliberalism and globelzation in the past few decades, come at the expenses of the bottom 80%. The only way to survive is to work in a sector that belongs to that top 20%, else you are just a fish waiting to be fried.

  24. RangerOne says:

    Government and business need to work together to create a more realistic map of jobs decades into the future. As we lose manufacturing jobs we need to find equivalent quality jobs and start guiding young people towards those jobs from highschool.

    The US really drops the ball on workforce training outside of rolling the dice on a STEM degree in college. But there should be alternarives.

    At this point I am more concerned about job quality than quantity. My dad raised a family of 4 on a manufacturing job he got right out of the navey. They made him a salary machinest and he worked 30 years. Got laid off in the end with the good fortune of being old enough to live off a decent pension and 401k.

    He owns a home in Cali and helped me and my brother through UC college. We weren’t rich but we were solidly middle class with good opportunities.

    How does a similar path materialize for young people now? What are the prospects of a young person coming straight out of there Navey with no college?

    • walter map says:

      “Government and business need to work together to create a more realistic map of jobs decades into the future.”

      They’ve already done that.

      Business and the governments it purchased decided it would be realistic to ship most of the good jobs to Asia and have the taken by H1-B imports. They decided the unwashed masses in the US should not have a say because those typically insist on fair pay and working conditions.

      The world is run by Cheap-Labor Conservatives:


      The class war is over. You lost. The only left is to gin up some more wars to justify doing away with Social Security, child labor laws, the minimum wage, and the 13th amendment within the next couple of election cycles. You know they want it.

    • Kent says:

      Manufacturing jobs didn’t pay well because they were good jobs. They paid well because they were union jobs. You don’t need to plan anything. You just need to unionize. That’s what created the middle class. Nothing else. And as Americans have been conned into hating unions, the middle class is going away.

      Honestly, its that simple. And it is the only thing that will ever fix the problem.

      • walter map says:

        Hear hear.

        • VegasBob says:

          The problem is that as long as we have ‘free trade,’ US union jobs will be outsourced just as fast as corporations can set up shop in third world hellholes where people work for slave labor wages.

      • R2D2 says:

        Kent: Just take a look at the salaries that some of these cops and fire fighters get, not because their job is dangerous, but because they are unionized.


        Unions like this are definitely not the answer to anything.

        • walter map says:

          “Unions like this are definitely not the answer to anything.”

          Unions like this are definitely the answer for cops and firefighters.

          And the article you cite is obviously phony. The 300k – 400k figures represent the cost to the city in added hospitalization insurance, equipment, supplies, and pension liability, not what the firefighter actually takes home.

          We’ve already been over this kind of propaganda lie with SF teachers who are supposedly all multi-millionaires even though they make a lot less than 100k/year and don’t actually get paid enough to be able to afford to live there. One way to perpetuate this kind of lie is to add in the cost of school buildings, buses, and insurance, and pretend it’s all part of teacher compensation.

          Even if it were true, why shouldn’t people who work for a living make some serious money sometimes? You certainly aren’t going to complain about the tycoons who make a thousand times that much and never fight a fire or catch a crook, now are you?

        • walter map says:

          Greedy, Lazy Firefighters Caught on Tape Wasting Tax Money


          Firefighters are greedy and lazy until they’re called upon to die trying to save those high-priced spreads owned by tycoons out in the chaparral. Hold some solemn services and get back to bashing.

        • R2D2 says:

          walter map This one about Firefighters is not phony. It was actually on some new channel, and they even interviewed one of the fire fighters and were asking him about this. So, it is definitely not phony.

          I always question why or how tycoons amass easy money; I’ve always said that the likes of Buffet are Buffet because they have rigged the game.

          But with regards to these cops and fire fighters the difference is that they are working shmocks like us; why the hell should they be paid anywhere north of 100K. After all cops and firefighters weren’t exactly the high achievers in school.

        • c_heale says:

          I would prefer a firefighter to be paid a massive salary than any of the rentier class. Firefighting is a dangerous job and they deserve every penny they get. If they get paid the highest salary in the whole country, they deserve it more than all the politicians, CEO’s etc, most of whom have no idea what hard work is.

        • Lee says:

          You should see what people in local government in Australia make.

          The CEO of our city pulls in around A$400,000 a year. City population is around 310,000 people.

          Heads of some of the State of Victoria departments pull in over A$750,000.

          The soon to be departing head of Australia Post is getting over A$3.5 million, but the new replacement, a woman, will get about half of that…(bring on the howls of pay discrimination!!)

        • R2D2 says:

          c_heale Completely wrong, lies propagated by media and police and firefighter unions: Look at the top 10 more dangerous jobs: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/10-most-dangerous-jobs-us-1.aspx

          And these poor people are not paid nearly as much as cops and firefighters do. So, don’t just repeat what the media has brainwashed you with.

        • Niko says:

          Typical response of someone who has never worked as First Responder. The story clearly indicates they made this money working overtime and the reason for overtime was a hiring freeze.

          I ask you the following questions:
          1) Have you ever entered a burning building filled with smoke to rescue someone you don’t know
          2) Have you ever missed family celebrations and or holidays because you were need to protect the very people that resent you for making, what they consider, a good wage
          3) Have you ever been in a dark alley, building or other place most people wouldn’t go knowing that there may be someone there that would kill you if they could
          4) Have you ever run into a building, while others are running away from it, knowing that it could collapse. So that you can attempt to help people you don’t know
          5) Finally, How much would you pay to have someone between you/your loved ones and someone/something who would want to do serious harm to them? Knowing that the person there to protect you and your loved ones is willing to die in their place.

          One of the items the story failed to mention was the number of First Responders that are forced to retire early due to work place injuries. Injuries that they will be dealing with for the rest of their lives.

          Please don’t judge them until you have walked in their shoes!

        • R2D2 says:

          Niko: I’ve already posted the link for the top 10 most dangerous jobs, and cops and firefighters are not on that list. Even pilots are in more danger that cops and firefighters.

          Those firefighters were making that much because of hiring freeze? Is that your defense? We in the private sector are paying all the taxes, and yet in the private sector, we have to work on average 20 hours overtime for free. Who gives you the right to ask for overtime when people who are paying your salary don’t have that luxury? It’s as if taxpayers money is free. Tax payers money grows on trees; so no problem, we’ll just give you as much as you want.

          Besides, we choose our jobs. Why are you a firefighter or a cop? Cause you liked being one. Why am I a programmer? Cause I liked being one. So, you are simply doing the job that you wanted to get; nothing special about it.

        • OhReally? says:

          You’re absolutely right R2D2! I suggest that you raise money and start a local (make sure it is local) campaign to lower the salaries of firefighters and police in your district by one half. Once your community has lost the incentives to keep people who put their lives on the line for ingrates such as yourself, the thieves that come to rob you and set your house on fire won’t have any trouble taking care of matters. Balance will once again be restored.

        • R2D2 says:

          OhReally? Actually the more free money that you give to any employee, specially public employees, the more they feel empowered believing they are above everyone, and keep doing a worse and worse job.

          There are thousands of people who would love to be cop or firefighters; I’m not one, but there are thousands in every community. Pay less, hire more, and the service will improve, and at the same time, you pull all the hot air from those that currently are getting paid so much for doing jobs which others will do for half that price.

      • DH says:

        That’s what I don’t understand. Conservatives gutted the ideas of unions, promoted free trade and trickle down, the middle class
        was decimated…and now all the people affected by it have put them in complete control of the US government.

        It’s so diabolical that I’m almost impressed by it. That’s some comic book villain-level of mastery right there.

        • mean chicken says:

          I was always puzzled by Ross Perot’s warnings. (NOT)

          In response, for self-serving reasons (I expect), he was labelled a kook.

          That’s my recollection.

        • alex in san jose says:

          Mean Chicken – I remember Ross Perot. He was kind of … weird. Like, he gave a magazine interview then decided he didn’t want it published, and could not understand why he couldn’t simply buy *all* of that issue and destroy them. There was also some weird thing about his Navy discharge, something like, he begged to be let out because he didn’t know sailors cuss.

          I’d sure rather have him than the human (?) Kewpie doll we’ve elected though.

  25. Colin says:

    Gasoline demand started dropping in September last year if I recall a chart correctly. Continued dropping into January, down over 5% YOY in January. Recovered a bit after that, but down at least 2% for the large majority of this year. It’s probable we were in a minor recession late last year, and the government didn’t acknowledge it. Based off of that I’m thinking they may not acknowledge a recession for many years.

    • EfficientDeflation says:

      it’s likely just more fuel efficient cars eating into that… whether it’s uber Prius’ or EVs

      most petrol is going to be stranded in 15 years, and that estimate is probably too long, 10-12 years may be the reality for stranded nat gas and petrol

    • Niko says:

      Did we ever really exit the last one?

  26. walter map says:

    “Based off of that I’m thinking they may not acknowledge a recession for many years.”

    Some people believe, perhaps reasonably, that they haven’t acknowledged a recession that’s been going on in the U.S. since 1999:


    From there it is easy to suppose the U.S. economy has been systematically liquidated all these years, the better to drive the general population to desperation, reducing labor costs and gaining greater profitability. With continuing improvements in automation and political control nearly the entire general population can be made obsolete, leaving only the problem of disposal to prevent them from wasting finite resources.

    In the most likely scenario, therefore, most people don’t have to worry about the future, because they’re not actually going to have one.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      In 1958 in a church group for young married couples, the future of humankind came under discussion.

      I thought Homo sapiens evolution would come to a discontinuity, whereafter “we” would exist as non-organic entities.

      I remember joking “Pass the screwdriver, Honey. Let’s make a baby”.

      • walter map says:

        “We’re not going to make it, are we?” John Connor asked. “People, I mean.”
        “It is in your nature to destroy yourselves,” said The Machine.

    • thelocalpragmatist says:

      You, of course are correct in your dystopian views…massive structural unemployment is inexorable…a given. The Government has only three ways to handle the unemployed;

      Hire them, OR
      Maintain them, OR
      Kill them.

      Chew on that for a while.

      • TheDona says:

        One good scientifically engineered Pandemic aimed at the 65+ year olds should solve a lot of the worlds problems. No more worry about Medicare overspending, under funded Pensions, SS pay outs. Would free up a lot of jobs and would free up a lot of homes. Would wipe out all of those pesky oldsters in Japan who have the audacity to hoard their savings. Yep, this could truly get the world’s economy back on track.

        • thelocalpragmatist says:

          “One good scientifically engineered Pandemic”


          The biologically engineered pandemic (Old Age) already exists….

  27. Coaster Noster says:

    Lots of comments, loads of mis-information. Lots of assumptions that are not true….except for the comment that is all vastly too complex for our increasingly complex society. Add in 16 million more people, with flat wage increase…too complicated.
    I will note as an ancecdote, that working for the US Census in 2010, we got $22/hr in the Bay Area, whereas same work, same job, was paid $13-$15 in the Midwest.

    • thelocalpragmatist says:

      ” we got $22/hr in the Bay Area, whereas same work, same job, was paid $13-$15 in the Midwest.”

      Combat pay….

  28. Dr Pangloss says:

    I am really disappointed in the commentary today. Lots of opinions with little or no facts to back them up. I am a retired old goat. The comments on this important topic left sanity about 1/3rd the way down. This is an important topic , for ourselves, our kids, our grandkids.
    I assume Wolf wrote this commentary because he is also frightened by this possibility in our future. Why don’t you stick to the topic at hand and give some serious dialogue.
    I also noticed that even Wolf has stopped adding commentary since it has gone so far off topic.

    • Wilbur58 says:

      Eh, it only really got of course due to the ridiculous assertion about supply and demand, as if it exists in perfect balance, in a vacuum. But even worse is trying to apply it to the minimum wage. (This was the largest thread.)

      And then a bunch of other people misunderstood Walter’s sarcasm.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Glad to have somebody here to straighten us all out …

    • alex in san jose says:

      Dr. Pangloss – I think it’s been pretty conclusively proven (research my dialog on here on other posts if you care) that the average age on here is 65+.

      People who own stocks. People who own houses. People who have pensions. People who can’t believe, for the life of them, why I didn’t just take the over-65 deduction on my taxes (I’ll be 55 in a couple of months and am about as exotic as a Martian or a fluorine-based life form on here).

  29. JB says:

    wow 130 comments as i write this. the important point that is illustrated is that job growth is not keeping up with population growth. Although the post recession 2.0 period created many jobs these are mostly part time . If these numbers were converted to a full time equivalent number (i.e. 40 hours a week) the numbers would look a lot more dire .

  30. Tinsel Town says:

    Rising min wage is good.

    More money out there slushing in the hands who might want to spend it stimulates business revenue, which in turn helps pay the higher salaries.

    The issue is gov has become a vampire killing its host, rather than a neutral to beneficial parasite.

    I have a feeling the money won’t come back to businesses, it’ll just keep going to where it’s been going all along, to the very wealthy.
    Gov taxes, obamacare, or interest payments, eventually it gets back to the very rich.

    This is just a transient can
    kick at the cost of SMEs.

    NOTHING will get better until the pyramid scheme is realised and the young say no to the debts they’re inheriting, and demand debts created in future are created by society, for the benefit of society, without interest.

    No pain no gain.

    Anyone pretending this can all just get better without the dependent vampires (big gov and central bank) dying is fooling themselves.

    On automation… really? Is this a thing?
    I can imagine many places you can automate, but most already are.
    Is there really a new wave in robotics and computing/sensors that make more jobs automatable?

    Huge initial cost rules out most SMEs.
    Liability issues? Who insures the robot server who scalds a customer or kills a kid? SMEs again are gonna struggle vs mega corp.

    And SMEs are the ones most at risk of killing their own market as they’d be ‘sacking’ their customers or posioning their image locally, boycotts and all that.

    • c_heale says:

      I also have my doubts about automation. I think all the hype is just sales talk. I doubt things like self-driving cars will ever happen on a large scale.

    • c_heale says:

      I also have my doubts about automation. I think all the hype is just sales talk. I doubt things like self-driving cars will ever happen on a large scale.

      • Jon says:

        I work as a automation architect and I can vouch through first hand experience that because of automation , i saw many good jobs paying $100K+/year has been lost….

        anyone think automation is not coming ( e.g self driving car etc etc ) is like a ostrich

        • nick kelly says:

          The self driving car is a good example of major over- hype. In the last few months there has been a great cooling, as more pundits realize that PRACTICAL use is decades away. Tesla has been told to stop describing its cars as self driving. All current apps require a human ready to take over.
          The top MIT guy on it says no time soon.

          Current practical automation requires a closed environment that varies only within certain parameters, e.g, the assembly line. Or the largest single app. individual packaging from bulk supply.

          Sure, apps resembling bus routes will happen. This is the kind that once fueled the weekly headlines, and briefly juiced the shares of Google. Apple. Tesla etc. which was most likely the point. As soon as Tesla can’t sell shares it’s game over.
          Similarly Ford has long been frustrated with its share price and duly got selfy religion, but now everyone’s forgotten about it.

          The kick from the announcements is over and several have sold their self driving units

          While it’s essential for everyone to seem at the leading edge, self drivers are the bleeding edge.
          When self drivers do launch in consumer quantity, for years they will need their own designated parking areas, like buses.
          Their constipated groping in a busy parking lot would drive humans to rage. If released today they would be barred from Walmart etc.

          The obvious and easiest app is the bus. But even that is probably going to need the ‘smart road’, one with sensors that give the vehicle feed back. It will be a street car without tracks.

          I’m a little surprised that the enthusiasts don’t extol the smart road. where the intersections detect vehicles and communicate with them, or at least emit a signal.

          If the GPS goes down, do 100, 000 cars pull over?

          When bus drivers are a thing of the past, the self driving car will be next on stage.
          The old, old term for this app (along with AI) is ‘vapor ware’: an app you will have ready soon so buy company’s stock now.


  31. Semper Gumby says:

    Hi Wolf.

    I wonder if Albert Nock’s 1935 prediction in “Our Enemie, the state” is finally coming true. With the total destruction of all social power the state has only one path left with which to fund its illegal and evil activities – forced labor.

    Witness Chicago new plan to force its high school graduates into one of four paths or they don’t receive a diploma as evidence of this new tact.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You mean, “Our Enemy, the voter?” Because we vote for these goons.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Pogo: “We has met the enemy and they is us” – Walt Kelly, cartoonist

      • walter map says:

        And there it is. Excellent. Most excellent.

      • Lee says:

        Isn’t Maxine Waters from your part of the USA?

        And what about “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” Pelosi?

        Good ole Moonbeam himself?

        Yeah, California……………

        And the perfect example: What about good ole “Sinking Guam” – Hank from Georgia?

        Perfect examples that reflect the people that elect them.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Lee, I’ve been trying to unseat Pelosi (I live in her district) at EVERY election. No one of stature ever runs against her. It’s called “entrenched power.” But if there were a strong alternative, backed by enough money (yup, gotta bring in the dough), to rally enough voters, Pelosi could be sent home. But I see zero chance of that happening.

        • nick kelly says:

          Wasn’t Pelosi being sarcastic about the GOP’s desire to craft the bill in secret and then bring it to a vote, before the Dems OR most GOP senators had a chance to study it?

          Continuing in a sarcastic vein: “Who knew health care was so complicated?”

      • economicminor says:

        I think we don’t really vote for these goons.. I think the numbers are something like 50% of the people are not even registered to vote and I think that leaves off all the millions of felons who have been taken out of the system, in a lot of cases, rather minor offenses. Then during most elections, less than half the registered voters vote. That means that in many elections, only 12 or 13% of those who should vote pick the winner..

        Why is this? Because the two party system isn’t a vote of the best candidate but the lesser of the two evils.. So most people just won’t play the stupid game of voting against their best interest and being *good* citizens..

      • Semper gumby says:


        But my point and A.N.’s point is that it doesn’t matter. The conversion of social power into state power is a long process but is unstoppable. The end result is mobilized forced labor of the civilian populace, when the system breaks down and the voters can no longer supply through taxes and voting, the resources the merchant state needs to continue its self perpetuating existence. Is the end in sight? Have the forces of evil won? Or is the battle on going for another 80 years?

    • TheDona says:

      The Chicago plan is a test run to get kids to join the armed services.

  32. P says:

    The major and only difference is small business formation has been permanently crippled. This is solely from Google fixing search results and from Google making sure people who do not agree with their politics cannot start companies. They regularly ban conservative companies from their results and they purposely make sure companies in convervative areas of the county do not place at all.

    If you track the new company formation you will see the lost ground mirrors exactly the rise of Google.

    It is impossible to start a new company unless you have $20K per month to scam google search results and then you will be successful only for a short period of time; surely not enough time to build a company and a bran.

    Unless and until the federal government stops them we are finished as the America we all grew up in.

    Another trend you will recognize is the growth of Amazon. This is due mainly to stupid retail competitors but Amazon saw what Google was doing to small companies and brought them into Amazon’s marketplace. This has arrested the decay but Amazon is just as crooked in that they know the companies have no choice and they use and abuse the companies and are bleeding them of profits.

    Our crony government is in no position to fix any of this.

    • Realist says:

      The EU recently grabbed Google by the balls and did fine them an amount of which even Google will feel the pain. The reason ? Google’s abuse of their market position, ie manipulating search results according to Google’s interests.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      There are many reasons to avoid Google.

      An important one for me is that they accumulate and apply user’s personal data for their financial gain.

      So, I use DuckDuckGo ( https://duckduckgo.com/ ) as my search engine. They do not track you and IMO their search results are actually better than Google’s, because their criteria for listing order is not warped to benefit their financial interests.

    • alex in san jose says:

      P – I see no sign of this. I just did a few google searches, for SodaStream, an Israeli company loved by conservatives, the KBI “Excalibur” food dehydrator, another fave product among conservatives and preppers, and cor-bon bullets, yet again, big with the Right. Every time, right at the top of the search. Zero problem finding them.

      I think right now is a golden time to start a business/brand. We’re in a Depression, so the opportunity cost is lower than in good times. We have things like Kickstarter, YouTube, Ebay, Etsy, blogs, yadda yadda, to get your product known. You don’t have to have to become Ford or Goodyear. If you need a million people to know about your product, that means about 1 in 300 people in the US. You may only need a customer base of a few thousand.

      There’s more knowledge, that’s easier to get, than ever before on how to start and grow a business.

      I live on very little (largely because I like having free time) and I’m considering starting a business and establishing a brand, essentially creating a new product and building up demand, and then once it’s built up, sell the company/brand. If I fail, well, I sell some things and I get to give some to people I know, and I make a little money and have some fun. If it goes how I think it might, I’ll end up with a company and brand I created and can sell – that’d make a nice retirement nest egg.

      I really don’t think Google gives a shit if I’m politically left or right. If they jiggered search results like you allege, they’d be out of business. It’d piss off the techies (like Ars Technica) the most and there are a lot of right-leaning gun-toting techies as well as lefty ones.

    • graham says:

      I worked in search results with travel for 15 years. Google changed business model by making sure they took money by manipulating the results. Forcing EVERY market segment to purchase PPC so they get a piece of the action. If you own a shoe store and was once receiving sales through google……you would wake up in the morning and your site would be gone….buried deep. This would force you to purchase clicks and pay google for your sales. Problem is those clicks rose from $.50 to $8 in a short time. This was done in EVERY business segment in today’s world. It’s still happening and you’re right…then came Amazon. Google was asked 10 years ago when the domination took a strong hold who scares them the most. They replied Amazon. Google took us all

      • alex in san jose says:


        Here in “Silicon Valley”, you have a very slim chance of making much money if you work with your head, but if you work with your back the money’s definitely there because you’re the commodity; a healthy strong human body.

        So I got talking with a guy washing the windows on a building. He was using these crazy long poles to reach up, so it was physically demanding, and so he was making $50 an hour. But how he started was, he worked for another guy washing windows for $18 an hour or so, and learned the trade that way. Then he and his brother set up their own window washing business and business was slow … people were not finding their website. So they paid a computer geek $500 to do some ritual that probably involved animal sacrifice and something called “SEO” and the business started rolling in.

        I think it comes down to having the right keywords in your web site, even if they’re in white-on-white.

        I’ll say what else works is, having useful information on your site. If you sell light bulbs, have a good body of information on the sizes and official names of all the various sockets. If you sell microwave components like http://www.microwaves101.com then have a rundown on the different connectors and waveguide sizes.

  33. Michael says:

    Automation would never happen without all the near zero cost fiat.

  34. Von says:

    I’m confused. If you read this blog you learn that retail jobs at brick n mortar stores are drying up. So too are restaurant jobs as ppl haven’t the money to go out on. The auto industry is in a slump. Consequently where are all these jobs numbers coming from? Who is hiring for the minimum wage jobs that characterize present day labor.

    • economicminor says:

      Who is hiring all these people that the BLS says are new hires? How about the Wizard of Oz or the BLS Birth Death Model which is still programed to register new small business growth even though the data is showing that more are dying than being born..

      You do know that tax receipts are also down almost across the nation of both corporate and personal.

      And the numbers of homeless, where counted, are growing in double digits. And Food Stamps use is still rising..

      So what do you believe, what you see or what you are told?

    • nick kelly says:

      One answer: employers are splitting full time jobs into two or three to avoid benefits etc. But gov calls each a job, part time or not.

  35. michael says:

    Its summer, temporary jobs

  36. EfficientDeflation says:

    Has Wolf expressed when he believes the next recession will occur?

    • TheDona says:

      By the comments on this sight, one might conclude we have been in one for a long, long time punctuated by a few bubbles and busts along the way.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      NO. I just showed what will happen at the next recession, whenever it occurs.

  37. walter map says:

    Most graduates will never pay off their student loans


  38. mean chicken says:

    “So I support whatever “normalization” efforts the Fed might undertake. They should have happened years ago.”

    I also desire an end to their repetitious criminal conduct ASAP. Nothing less “should” be acceptable.

  39. Ambrose Bierce says:

    Some of this has to do with lower immigration rates. DJT might say he will stop illegal immigration, but it’s already happened. (Like always he takes the credit). I know trades people who work after retirement doing gratis work for seniors who can’t afford it. There’s a lot going on in the economy, and not all of it is measured. There is a large wage and tax gap, people working without wages pay no taxes. There is far too much wage inflation, which is why old guys are still working, and more liberal immigration laws would help, something Greenspan once advocated.

  40. Bee says:

    Wolf—do you really not allow the “T” word here (Trump)? As in, my comment was in ~support~ of Trump, so it wasn’t approved?
    In this thread alone we have suggestions that our President is sub-human, a “kewpie doll”, someone with the name saying he’s “not” ~their~ President, etc.
    I’m confused—wouldn’t support for our President be more in line with a comment being approved, rather than the other way?!
    I’m not telling you how to run your site; I’d rather see no filters than filters, just my thoughts!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Bee, I allow the T-word, as long as it is not some partisan rant one way or the other (I don’t catch all of it, but I try to tone it down … so maybe I didn’t step in soon enough).

      But the problem with your comment was NOT the T-word.

      The problem was that you had gotten caught up in a flow of bickering and personal attacks between commenters. I just wanted to stop it. I had to start somewhere. It happened to be your comment. If I had let it go through, it would have triggered an even bigger reaction. That happens occasionally. I just try to calm things down. That’s all.

      BTW, Walter Map’s comments (the one you replied to) also were treated that way after this incident. You just didn’t see that part.

      I screw up occasionally… but I try to keep things civil and bickering to a minimum. Other people too get caught up in this occasionally.

      • Bee says:

        I don’t think you screwed up, I was just wondering if that’s why it wasn’t approved (I assume a filter triggered by the T word prevented my comment from going instant, lol). I think you do a fine job of moderating your site—I’d rather see no filter [so all views can be evaluated, good or bad], but that’s just my take.

        • Bee says:

          I see I repeated myself saying “no filters”—can you tell I’m from a filtered background??????!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          It’s not the views that I’m worried about. As you can tell, there is a lot of disagreement on this site, and this is encouraged. It’s flame-throwing between commenters that I’m worried about (among other things). It can degenerate. And then the comment section isn’t interesting to read anymore for others.

          When things heat up over some issue and people lose their cool, rather than getting into a flame-throwing contest, just step away from that comment and let it be.

  41. Akakai says:

    Re: restaurants going out of business

    Which will raise the question, what purpose do they serve? None, outside of feeding business travelers, there is no real need for them. They do serve the purpose of redistributing wealth from people who can do discretionary spending on food to those needing low paying jobs, that’s it. I’m guessing 50% of those jobs in many areas will disappear in the next recession, followed by commercial real estate and regional bank failures.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Don’t underestimate the joys – and also the convenience – of eating out. Many people LIKE to eat out.

    • Bee says:

      I got fast food for the first time in a year last night. $11.50 for a few things; no meat, pop, or ice cream! Cold, soggy fries; burned onion rings. The last time I was there they didn’t give me my entire order. I say let these dumpster dives close. Eating out (for me) SUCKS. Was at the fanciest restaurant in the area this weekend—salty, crunchy crap. People are wasting their money and their health at these places. Wolf: Nothing compares to a home-cooked/prepared meal! *my opinion hehe*

  42. R Davis says:

    The Bureau of Labor
    We have The Australian Bureau of Statistics
    They are big on reporting that TEEN PREGNANCY IS UP & how Australian youth do not want to work – every time they come out with new stat’s it is TEEN PREGNANCY IS UP – making sure that we know that our teenage girls are less than virtuous & totally unscrupulous in that the pregnancy is a deliberate play for welfare – a bunch of money grabbing slags.
    In fact – this group of people have never looked out their window to see if life really exists.
    “A Doozy For Consumers”
    The quality of clothing & footwear in our retail stores has dropped to skungy & cheap – which means that we Australian can still afford to put some clothes on our backs – worse would that we can only afford to buy at the opportunity shops – only that the quality of clothing would be of a higher standard having belonged to money before it was discarded.

    • R Davis says:

      Only the rich & powerful suffer as a result – Malls closing down – Business & manufacturers downsizing to bankruptcy –
      It is the fall from Riches to Rags – you should be asking how the well to do & Entrepreneur will survive – their downsized life style.
      We the people out here know how to make do – we will weather the storm & the fat cats will have to learn survival skills like ours to survive.
      We’ll be just one big happy family wallowing in poverty.

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