People Balk at Regular Old Grind, Strike Out on the Own

Number of Workers Jumps by Massive 1.14 Million in Nov as People Strike Out on Their Own. But Employers Can’t Fill Vacancies.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today is based on two separate surveys that look at the labor market from two different sides: The Household Survey of about 60,000 households, and the Establishment Survey of about 697,000 worksites belonging to 144,000 businesses and government agencies.

The household survey is far broader and includes contract workers, the self-employed, people starting their own businesses, etc. The establishment survey includes only people who are on the actual payrolls of a company. And that’s a hugely important distinction today.

Households reported that the number of working people (including the self-employed, entrepreneurs, etc.) soared by 1.14 million in November from October, and by 2.02 million over the past three months, to 155.2 million people who are working.

This is a massive gain in the number of working people. Throughout the year, we have seen large-scale creation of new businesses. For the first three quarters, 4.11 million businesses were created, up by 58% from the same period in 2019 – chart posted in the comments below. These are mostly tiny businesses with the owner as the only person working in it, as people have struck out on their own. And this is part of the phenomenon of people being unwilling to return to the old grind of a regular job.

And so the total of working people, as per the household survey, remains 3.6 million shy of the total in February 2020, and is about 7.5 million workers below trend (red line in the chart below).

Employers reported that they added only 210,000 jobs in November, and 1.13 million over the past three months. This includes jobs at governments, which shed jobs for the fourth month in a row, seasonally adjusted; and it includes jobs with retailers, which also shed jobs seasonally adjusted, and we’ll get into those seasonal adjustments in both categories in a moment, because not seasonally adjusted, employment at both jumped.

Total employment – the number of people on regular payrolls – was still down by 3.9 million people from February 2020 and is about 8 million below trend (green line), amid this strange phenomenon of labor shortages.

The struggle companies have in hiring workers is clear in the retail sector. Every November, retailers staff up for the holiday selling season. And because this data is very seasonal, it is subject to heavy seasonal adjustments, which happened this November as well.

Hefty Seasonal adjustments gone awry?

There is a good reason for hefty seasonal adjustments: without them, you get whiplash looking at charts, as we’ll see in a moment, and it’s hard to figure out what’s going on beyond the cacophony of seasonal factors that occur every year. But the pandemic has upended regular seasonality in all kinds of economic activities, and some seasonal adjustments, which are based on the seasonality of prior years, have tripped over this upended seasonality.

Retail employment. “Not seasonally adjusted,” employment with retailers jumped by 331,600 workers from October, to 15.83 million. But that jump was less than in prior Novembers, and so, after seasonal adjustments, the BLS reported that employment with retailers fell by 20,400 “seasonally adjusted.”

This chart shows retail employment, not seasonally adjusted (red line) and seasonally adjusted (green line). Note the long-term decline in retail employment as ecommerce is taking over. But workers in ecommerce fulfillment centers are classified as warehouse workers, not retail, and Amazon’s office workers are not retail either, and ecommerce delivery drivers are not retail either:

Employment in federal, state, and local governments, seasonally adjusted, fell by 82,000 in November, the fourth decline in a row, to 21.9 million, and is down by 935,000 workers from February 2020.

Federal government civilian employment, including the USPS, has been holding roughly steady during the pandemic – except during the Census taking – at just under 2.9 million employees.

But state and local governments have seen wild fluctuations in employment, a plunge followed by a partial bounce-back that started reversing months ago. Employment at state governments fell by 9,000 in November to 5.03 million. Employment at local governments fell by 18,000 to 14.0 million workers — all seasonally adjusted.

Many of these job losses at state and local governments were in education. Jobs in education are very seasonal and subject to large seasonal adjustments.

“Not seasonally adjusted,” total civilian government jobs rose by 107,000 (red line) in November, while “seasonally adjusted,” they fell by 82,000 (green line):

The labor force and labor shortages.

The “labor force” – people who were either already working or who were actively looking for a job in the four weeks prior to the survey of households – jumped by 594,000 people in November from October, seasonally adjusted, the first big increase since April 2021.

But the labor force is still down by 2.4 million from February 2020 and by 5.4 million from trend, and isn’t really catching up with trend, amid 10.4 million job openings that businesses are trying to fill,  as many people are still not looking for work. Hence the labor shortages:

There are numerous reasons people aren’t looking for work yet. Many older workers decided to throw in the towel and retire for good.

Other former workers are resting on their gains in stocks and cryptos, and assume that those gains will continue forevermore, and that they won’t have to work again (been there, done that in the late 1990s, but at least I traveled around the world for three years and had a blast and met my wife).

Others can’t find affordable daycare centers. Insufficient wages and crummy hours keep many people from returning to the labor force, a particular problem with retailers and restaurants. And there are a host of other reasons.

If these people were not actively looking for a job over those four weeks before the survey, they were not included in the labor force.

The unemployment rate – the percentage of the people of the labor force that are actively looking for a job but have not found one yet – fell 4 basis points in November to 4.2%, the lowest since February 2020 (3.5%).

And the employment-population ratio jumped 4 basis points to 59.2%, the highest since March 2020 (59.9%).

Employment in other large sectors.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry jumped by 170,000 workers in November, to 15.6 million, still down by 1.33 million jobs from February 2020:

Employment in manufacturing rose by 48,000 workers to 12.55 million, but was still down by 253,000 from February 2020:

Employment in Construction rose by 43,000, to 7.53 million workers, but was still down by 115,000 from February 2020.


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  167 comments for “People Balk at Regular Old Grind, Strike Out on the Own

  1. Wolf Richter says:

    “The Amazing Explosion of New Businesses Continues as Americans Strike Out on their Own,” and my 2 cents about the high “failure rates” of new businesses, being a small-business owner myself.

    • Yort says:

      I wonder how many new small business starts are fraud, as so far they estimate that $87 billion of the fed to self employed “gig” worker extra unemployment pay was fraud, out of the $870 billion total. The fraud was so high due to using the honor system of income verification for self-employment, and the crime syndicates made bank off the system quickly. I believe they have changed the rules and are now prosecuting…what a mess as fraud takes from everyone…

      • Yort says:

        U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll finds 53% of Americans who lost jobs in the pandemic are not searching for work.

        Perhaps the Fed buying trillions more mortgage backed securities will help…LOL

        Maybe the Fed theory is once people can’t afford to buy a home, they will have to live at work???

        • Joe Saba says:

          consider also that small business can’t afford benefits and therefore it is far easier to hire CONTRACT workers – 1099
          been doing since mid 90’s – though it should be reported that stats of few years ago state
          over 6,000,000 self employed paid themselves $0 wages

          ie over 1/2 will be OUT OF BUSINESS within 2 years

        • gametv says:

          There are tons of people who think they are brilliant day traders because their stocks are up, as the market falls, those people will need a job. Lots of people who think they are rich because their house is worth more money.

          This is the definition of an asset bubble.

          Most of those new businesses will fail and we will have more people clamoring for work later in 2022.

          This whole environment was a massive bubble that is ready to collapse.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        If you’re talking about the PPP loans, I address those in the article I linked. PPP loans ended in March and required a business that had been in existence before the Pandemic. And you didn’t need to commit fraud to get PPP loans, and you certainly didn’t need an EIN (which is what this chart is based on).

      • EUGENE says:

        I applied as gig worker and got nothing in nyc.Just the stimmi.Now all those gig workers must pay self employment tax for 3 years.AI IRS comps will find that fraud and ask it back.

      • Mors Tyrannis says:

        I do this crazy thing. I never believe nothing the government or MSM say ever. There pathological liars that manipulate figures. Governments are the enemy of the people not there friend. Believe nothing, trust no one, nowadays everybody is a liar. Wake up people and smell the stench of corruption, its everywhere.
        “Figures dont lie, but liars figure”
        Mark Twain

    • Eastern Bunny says:

      Given the huge gift that was the PPP for business owners, its always good policy to have an Inc or LLC, you never know when the next “money for nothing” jackpot will strike.

      • ivanislav says:

        A track record of salary/wages paid is necessary for some of the programs, but your point is well taken.

      • Eugene says:

        My friend doc in Brooklyn got only 35 K for his closed med office for 6 months.Just enough to pay his rent and 2 salary employee.After 6 minths he came back from Florida.I applied for enemployment being a partimer and was denied .

        • Eugene says:

          But being a trader since 1998,i made good holding btc and eth ,still holding and waiting for a parabola spike.

    • Shells says:

      IMO part of this is that the youngest children still cant get Vaxxed. Thus parents of the youngest children are still needing to navigate childcare

    • Steve Sovring says:

      Great work Wolf. I just want to suggest why we will never return to the jobs of February 2020. A substantial portion of the jobs then are not what I consider real jobs but artificial jobs from excessive low interest rates and fed printing for a decade. When you throw trillions into an economy all kinds of jobs will pop up after it. It does not mean those jobs are fundamentally based or longstanding. Zombie companies and Internet anything companies are examples. If the Fed takes away the punch bowl we will find out how many jobs are fundamentally based. Yes the retirements and job seekers seeking better wages are having effects now, but moving forward I suspect magnitudes of jobs succumbing to the lack of fundamental strength for them as the recession side of this cycle initiates. There is an unprecedented amount of debt that needs to be reconciled and as of yet no recessionary pressures have touched it hardly. If the media starts harping on any housing or crypto declines, equilibrium may blow past the feds policy power by sentiment overwhelming on Main St and Wall St. Just as powerful as greed is, fear is devastating. Hyperinflation is just another word for the end.

      • Juanfo says:

        According to Desmet only 13% of jobs are fulfilling to the individual so it could be implied that only 13% of work is actually necessary and all the rest of the work being done is just digging holes and filling them back up with dirt again. For example, here in the communist shithole where I scrounge a meaningless existence, instead of cutting the grass of a giant park with a tractor, they use like a hundred people with lawnmowers. Once the lawnmowers break I predict they will use 1000 people cutting the grass with scissors or nail clips. What will all those other 999 people do if their jobs get replaced by one operator and a tractor? That is the predicament of our helpless species stranded on this finite rock indefinitely.

  2. Yort says:

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce poll finds 53% of Americans who lost jobs in the covid-19 pandemic are not searching for work.

    Perhaps the Fed buying trillions more mortgage back securities will help…LOL

    Maybe the Fed theory is once people can’t afford to buy a home, they will have to live at work???

  3. Jackson Y says:

    Central bankers are out of excuses to delay tightening. That’s why markets are throwing up right now. 📉

    • ivanislav says:

      Green by monday is my bet

      • sunny129 says:

        Look at the volatility of indexes especially Down jones Industrial and also Nasdaq both on Thursday and Friday. Never witnessed that kind of furious volatility .

        What and where are positive news for (already over valued) stocks going forward? Fed suddenly has become hawkish and committed to faster tapering . Mr. Powell’s walk follow his talk is yet be proven! Omnicron is adding more uncertainty.

        Bond yields are going DOWN not up if inflation keeps flaring up. Bond is forecasting recession and deflation once jitters of inflation fades out. How long between the inflation fading out and deflation showing up is undetermined. Reversion to the mean has started, one way or the other.

        • ivanislav says:

          Green by Monday was my bet until Crypto shit the bed early Saturday morning.

          As for the general trend, I think the natural progression is upward because most workers automatically buy passive index funds, but that reduces liquidity since active managers play a smaller role, which leads to systemic fragility.

          As for overvaluation, we’ve arguably been in overvalued territory for a decade, so unless you can point to a catalyst, I could easily see the market continuing up despite all logic.

        • sunny129 says:

          ‘natural progression is upward’ is intuitively correct but NOT with Fed’s permanent PUTs since March of ’09! In a genuinely, our old fashioned, American Free Mkt Capitalism, prices are determined fairly. most of the times but NOT when there is active suppression of price discovery either Bond or Stock mkts. NOT when there is suspension of Mkt to Mkt accounting standards, NOT with repeated bailouts of various industries etc.

          As I have posted repeatedly FED is/was the MKT and nothing else mattered. But now going forward, it is/will be a different story. If it was natural progression why did dot com(2000) and housing bust (GFC-2008) happened? Fundamentals entered the scene!

          Besides after long expansion of the Mkts/Economy(?) supported by insane credit expansion, since ’09, it is no secret that Global Economy appears to be contracting, as evidenced by 200 yrs of Mkt history. It is a natural phenomenon called ‘reversion to the mean’ There may be ‘bounces’ ( or BEAR traps!?) all along in a protracted ‘secular’ BEAR mkt, which many young (45y and below) investors have NEVER experienced in their life time! Trade accordingly. All the best for you and yours.

        • sunny129 says:

          B/w hedge funds and insiders are selling actively and retail are rushing in as dip buyers, just like during the top of BULL mkts in history!

    • Swamp Creature says:

      Jackson Y

      You may add that J Powell is very upset that B wanted Lail Brainard for Fed chief. He would have been relegated to sloppy seconds. But she would have faced a tough confirmation hearings so B didn’t pick her. Now its payback time for J Powel. Look for the Taper to end in March 2022, and interest rates to start going up like a rocket ship.

  4. Jackson Y says:


    Wouldn’t the “3.6 million jobs” shortfall relative to Feb 2020 substantially underestimate the strength of the labor market, considering that so many people have retired after stocks & home prices doubled overnight , and others have taken themselves out of the labor force to study & care for kids/family?

    Wouldn’t you agree the job market is showing characteristics of late-cycle overheating (record openings, record quit rates, rapid wage increases, etc.) that could potentially lead to a wage-price spiral?

    • RockHard says:

      One thing to remember is that going into 2020 the labor market was already tight- we’ve basically been riding peak employment for a while and employers were scraping the bottom of the barrel for employees. I’d argue that the labor market was already overheated for 10+ years of easy money

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The labor market is completely screwed up, in novel ways.

      There is HUGE demand for labor from employers, and wages are rising. Lots of companies are desperately short on labor, and as their customer, you can see and feel it.

      In terms of supply of labor, well… There is a lot of reluctance to look for work, and to work for a company.

      Ageism is also a huge problem, so many older workers with good tech skills, for example, cannot find a job in tech because that 35-year old boss doesn’t want to have a 60-year old employee. And they don’t need to work at Walmart. So they’re not working. So there is that.

      There are many other issues on the supply side.

      And lots of people are doing their own business or gig and whatever. This is really a big thing. I see a lot of it. And that’s great if it works.

      • John Eck says:

        Read your book. Who is your wife?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The hero. My theory that I laid out at the end of the book worked. But it took many years and almost total failure when I lost contact with her when I was in Africa and she moved to the US (this was before global smartphone connections and cloud-based email systems, and she didn’t even have email at the time). It was her most gracious dad, whom I’d never met before, that re-made the connection after I contacted him by fax.

  5. Catxman says:

    Those numbers will be adjusted as the volume of start-up businesses shrinks due to failure. What is the figure for successful business start-ups? Something like 20% make it, the rest being failures? Once burned, twice shy. They’ll stick with the private sector and lick their wounds once they come out of that precarious situation into the promised land.

    • Lynn says:

      In northern California I’m going to guess that a lot of the “front” businesses that were actually based on black market weed will also be failing. Probably a small percentage of businesses when viewed nationally, but it is or was a good chunk of the economy in the northern part of the state. Possibly the southern part as well, IDK. Wholesale weed prices have plummeted and will continue to do so with more industrialized farms. It’s probably easy to underestimate how many small family black market businesses have gone broke. These businesses which paid their employees well are being replaced by larger companies that eventually will be moving out of the areas and the pay rate seems to be shrinking rapidly.

      • The resource industries are played out as well. I speculate there are a lot more front businesses than anyone imagines. The illegal drug trade is always one step ahead of decriminalization, and therefore always profitable. Now its fentayl. Wonder how much is in those containers at port of LA? Do you think they check?

        • Lynn says:


          Actually, people in the illegal weed trade are loosing their shirts right now. As are mid sized legal farms. Large amounts of weed can be as low as $300 pr lb wholesale- several sources. The very large growers are operating at a loss in order to gain control over the market. & competing over market share with each other- last one standing sort of thing. They’re held up by stocks and corporate investments. Weed is very labor intensive- although I imagine it will be grown in the valley at some point using large turbines and harvesters.

          How can they check the ports for fentanyl? It’s such a small amount in pure form. I’ve heard there is another analog that is even more potent. They must have to identify people first and follow the trail.

          I would think it’s easier for them to bust people when it’s in pill form. I would imagine the importers of meth and fentanyl don’t let the pure form out very often- they’d kill all their brain damaged dealers. I’m not saying that as an insult- just a fact. The meth manufactured now does a good deal of real damage in just 6 months to a year. IDK about the fentanyl, but it sure doesn’t seem all that healthy..

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Please read the article I linked in the first comment and also, for your convenience, here — it addresses those issues you raised:

    • Stonedwino says:

      Only 5% of small businesses are still in business 5 years after being established…

      • Wolf Richter says:


        5% = Fabricated BS. Sheesh. But given your scree name… :-]

        About 50% end within the first 5 years, and the other 50% are still there after 5 years.

        Even among those 50% of the businesses that are gone after 5 years, many business owners simply changed their business activity to another business activity, and some of them retire after making enough money, etc.. This is not a “failure, but just some other thing they’re doing. Read the article I linked above. It explains this.

  6. MiTurn says:

    “These are mostly tiny businesses with the owner as the only person working in it, as people have struck out on their own.”

    I know that college students are not counted as ‘not working’, but I wonder if there has been a similar dip in the number of students attending 4-year colleges — besides the imposing costs, questionable return on time and money spent — and have also ‘struck out on their own?”

    Makes sense to me. Some entrepreneurial types have dropped out of college and made a good go of it, why not now?

    • otishertz says:

      I don’t know the implications of this but like 70% of current college students are female and competing for the same diminidhing pool of air conditioned jobs.

      As college experience relates to the future labor force it’s a good question to ask where are all the men these days?

      • MiTurn says:

        My son went through a four-year electrician’s apprentice program in Texas at a very large refinery operation. There were scores of apprentices, new ones added every year. He said that he never once saw a woman in the program.

      • Lynn says:

        If they’re smart they are going to a trade school instead of a college in order to make $85 to $140 an hour as a mechanic or plumber or $150 pr for fixing propane appliances or welding. That’s something that pays as a single employee business.

  7. Marcus Aurelius says:

    There is a line that goes something like this:

    It’s hard to go back on the farm after you’ve been in Paris.

    I believe it came from World War One, when the soldiers “experienced” Paris. (Moulin Rouge, et. al.)

    So, it is hard to go back to being a wage slave, when you’ve enjoyed months of being human and “free”.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      ”midwestern” story, like for eva!::
      “How ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm, once they been to LA (Los Angeles);;;
      heard it dozens of times from dad who never did go back to the ill noise area except for brief visits…

    • Ed C says:

      I went from wage slave with hellacious corporate politics and mistreatment as an older engineer, to very pleasant and favorable office politics as an engineering contractor, to now retirement. I often have work related dreams but actually returning to work as a direct employee? Never. As a contactor? Maybe. Nah. Unless inflation becomes so horrible as to make my retirement account next to worthless I’m content to stay retired and see what I can do as a ‘gentleman investor’.

      • LK says:

        How does someome get started asan engineering contractor?

        • Cynical Engineer says:

          There are many paths. The big two are working through an agency/broker/headhunter, and the second is to do-it-yourself.

          Agency is the easy path. Find out which agencies in your area work with your particular specialty. For engineering, I’d avoid the traditional temp agencies (Adecco, Kelly, Volt, CTG and Randstad) and focus on the smaller firms that specialize in engineers. They will hire you as a W2 employee of the agency and sell your efforts to their client on an hourly basis. Big advantage here is that you are normally paid hourly and can bill for ALL hours worked. Downside is that you won’t get paid vacation/sick leave and may not get benefits (health insurance, etc). Some agencies offer benefits, but they tend to be on the crappy side with lengthy delays before you’re eligible. Most engineers make enough money that the companies don’t have to pay you time-and-a-half for overtime, but you don’t have to deal with the nonsense of being asked for work 80hrs/wk for the same paycheck you’d get for working 40hrs/wk.

          Do-it-yourself is more complex. You have to be both engineer and sales/marketing/lead-gen. Success on this path is usually determined by how many people you know and your reputation. Most engineering consulting jobs are filled word-of-mouth/somebody knows somebody.

          If you don’t have a strong network, working for agencies can keep you from starving while you build contacts.

          I also draw a distinction here between “contracting” and “consulting”. To me, “contracting” is when you hire out for a specified time period and expect your customer/client to tell you what they want done. “Consulting” is usually more task-oriented (“make me a widget that does X”). Consulting can be fixed price or done on a time & materials basis. For someone new, my advice is to stay away from fixed-price…you’ll lose your shirt. Successfully making your living as a consultant is a complicated business, and your first step should be to get your hands on many books on the subject and read them all.

    • Old School says:

      You will go back if you run out of money.

  8. Peanut Gallery says:

    So… what’s going on with Turkey and the Lira? Any opportunity there?

    • Rowen says:

      The Global Financial Elite like to remind developing countries to stay in their lanes. Mexican Peso Crisis 1994. Asian Financial Crisis 1997.

      Erdogan has pissed off the rest of NATO mightily by courting Russia. It’s gonna be wild if this crisis leads Turkey closer to the RMB.

      • fajensen says:

        Turkey has pissed off Russia too.

        It seems that in Turkey’s political culture one is a shrewd operative when one makes deals and then screw over the people one made the deal with as soon as “something better” comes along.

        Outside people remember and carry a grudge.

    • Apple says:

      The Turks are all buying dollars.

      • Frederick says:

        And apartments, land, houses and gold and silver as well Anything tangible and not fiat

  9. Rowen says:

    I know 3 people who started OF accounts during the pandemic. They’re doing pretty good, and will never go back to a regular 9-5 until they age out.

    • Cobalt Programmer says:

      The oldest profession in the digital age. Who could have guessed?

    • Jake W says:

      of account?

    • Ed C says:

      OF — online futures?

    • otishertz says:

      Are they selling hints of or private pictures of their pee pee?

      • Cobalt Programmer says:

        Such pics can be found online everywhere for free. The main selling point of OF is one on one interaction. Lot of men (single, no GF) has no meaningful emotional interaction in their lives. They may be going to office and interact with people for business purposes but nothing personal. The sales pitch involves making the man special and have one on one contact which every man craves. Its like talking a vitamin pill even-though he ate a full meals all day long. Called “lonely fans” for a reason.

        • otishertz says:

          Never marry, don’t co-habitate, get a vasectomy and don’t tell anybody.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      Didn’t even know this even existed until you just brought it up. That is extremely sad. What is wrong with people these days?

      • LK says:

        Isolation, alienation, a frayed social fabric, displaced in one’s own culture, watching from the sidelines as the world marches towards a cliff fueled on leverage, fraud, and greed? The only comfort and excitement found in drugs both virtual & real and the embrace of a woman… virtual or real, depending on the amount of money at your disposal and your willingness to be intimate and rebel against social programming that shames and demeans you for liking what you like?

        No idea what’s wrong with people.

    • Kurtismayfield says:

      A local high school had two recent grads start doing that, and info about it got put all over the local FB. Why work 9-5 when you can do what they are doing for 1-2 each day?

  10. Lynn says:

    In many areas in coastal California there is a severe crisis in hiring workers. Many many workers have left areas because they cannot find affordable housing.

    Some have gone to Oregon, but prices there are increasing as well. I don’t know if all of those people that are migrating will be able to find jobs in places they can afford to live.

    There’s a good article out there that uses a Colorado ski town as an example of the process- “How to Save a Ski Town”.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      Speaking of skiing. Back in 1977 I was 14 years old. I was able to pass as a 12 year old and was therefore able to get away with a child’s lift ticket. It cost me $5.50 for a day of skiing at Mammoth Mountain. I paid for this with my paper route money. I don’t know what it would cost today but it’s got to be well over $100.00. Those sure were good times!

      • Lynn says:

        Wow, just looked, it’s $172.38 on a Sat and $131.58 on a Monday for a lift ticket. Really? I haven’t skied since I was a kid either. I think in the area I was in it was $20+ for a day in the mid-late 70’s. I had no idea it cost that much now for a day. Would rather go to a concert and a mosh pit.

        • Seneca’s Cliff says:

          When I was a young teen back in the 70’s we could get a round trip bus ride to the mountain and an all-day lift ticket for a crisp $20. Back in those days we regularly had so much snow on Mt Hood they had to dig out trenches for the lifts to run in, plus we could ski till Fourth of July.

        • lenert says:

          All the ski resorts are now owned by about 3 or 4 PE firms. Your lift ticket now has to cover the financiers’ tax: management fees, carried interest, private jets, etc.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        When me and my brother were in our teens (16 & 17), my old man would take us (family of 4) to the movies and buy tickets for our mom and the two of us. He would always say two adults and two children. The dopes at the ticket areas, who were paid $1,25/hour back in those days never questioned the obvious age discrepency. I could not hold back my laughter every time we got away with this and almost gave it all away. These were my fond days growing up.

      • Marcus Aurelius says:

        Actually, the price is the same.

        I realize we went off the Gold (and Silver) standards by 1977, but let us use the Silver standard. A 90% Silver Mercury Dime, or even a 90% Silver Roosevelt Dime, can show this relationship.

        You paid $5.50 in 1977. That would be 55 Silver Dimes.

        Today, each dime is worth about $2.00 paper notes. Thus, do the math, you paid about $110 in todays paper notes.

        Same price.

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      Well, here we are on December 3, 2021 with Taos having 7 inches of snow at the top and Alta having a 30 inch base, saving the ski towns may require saving the planet from global warming.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      Also, regarding “How to Save a Ski Town”. Mother Nature might ultimately be the biggest hurdle for ski towns and the ski industry. No snow == no skiing.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        You need cold temps and enough water, and you can fire up the snow cannon and put down some man-made snow. Done all the time.

        • Ed C says:

          But some times it takes a long legal battle against the local tribe and their ‘sacred mountain’ … unless they own the mountain. The way it was in Arizona.

        • RockHard says:

          That article is about Crested Butte. You want to run down International full out on man made? Why not just have someone blow out your knees for you?

          I guess if you don’t really like alpine sports, warming doesn’t bother you.

        • water law professor says:

          Wolf, yes, it has been done all the time to make fake snow, but as less snow has been falling on the Sierras and Rockies for the last 20 years, that means there is also less water available, so ski resorts won’t always be able to access water to do this since there are water rights pre-established regulating who gets to take the water out of the stream 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. That is prior appropriation law in the Rockies. In California, Oregon and Washington the water laws are much more complicated about who gets water in drier times since all three states have different hybrid water laws. In any case, for the entire 11 western states, more ski resorts will increasingly have trouble making enough snow in the future.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, but I commented about snow for skiing, and the practice of using snow cannons, and I didn’t comment about the drought. Topic switcheroo here.

        • Harry Houndstooth says:


          It is the experience that counts!

          You can make snow angels in man blown snow.

          But we need the snow for water.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, big time.

      • Lynn says:

        The article actually has very little to do with skiing.. Could easily be a beach town or an urban center. Or even Dallas.

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          Yeah, sorry about that. You mentioned skiing and I just ran with that. I did read the article though and agree, it could apply to most any resort town.

  11. Augustus Frost says:

    There are many supposed reasons people aren’t returning to work but it’s only really one. They don’t want to and can (supposedly) afford not to do so.

    In the real world, people go back to work when they have to, whether they want to or not. COVID makes no difference, childcare availability makes no difference, and preferring to “self-actualize” doesn’t make any difference either. Those who don’t starve unless someone else supports them.

    Fake wealth from the mania from those who have it and government handouts were the two existing but now expanded funding sources since March 2020.

    • Juicifer says:

      From research I did a while back now, I discovered that if you decide to go on Welfare, there are 14 states in the US where the government dole pays higher than what the Democrats are demanding as a “living wage”, if the benefits are divided into an equivalent number of 8 hour workdays.

      In 30 states, 30, the average hour equivalent of gathering for oneself the available government benefits is over 10 USD per hour. The more kids you have, the more money you get, too. Two parents plus three kids, and we’re talking the equivalent of pulling in 25 USD per equivalent work hour of free money…or quite a bit more, in the vast majority of states now. All funded by the nonstop printing of “debt”.

      Now, you and I might balk at such paltry sums, but it’s pretty obvious that most of these “new” jobs being created don’t pay squat, either. And the conditions in said jobs suck, to boot. And as was thoroughly documented by Charles Murray way back in 1984 (in his book Losing Ground), the more incentives you offer people not to work, the harder it is to ever get them back to work. And we’re actually talking about what, 59,000,000 Americans on the various types of dole by last count (almost 1 in 5). That’s a whole lotta “needy” people out there!

      Perhaps – with a major American party now committed to a policy of “buying” new voters by hooking them forever onto the ever-flowing teat of the Guber-Mint – perhaps that’s the point!

      • phleep says:

        “Fake wealth from the mania from those who have it and government handouts were the two existing but now expanded funding sources since March 2020.”

        We will pay doubly because that fake wealth is driving prices up, and driving a labor shortage, until it is spent.

        Two guys I knew in high school who were some of the biggest screwups have generous payoffs for life from Uncle Sam. They wrecked their bodies playing hard in the surf, and convinced a benefits worker they need to be taken care of. Meanwhile the rest of us worked, and now it is actuarially as if they had earned a big pile, something they never even bothered to think about. Similarly a distant relative got 3 hots and a cot for life, for ambushing and murdering 3 innocent people. Meanwhile I (have transitioned from self-employ for some incredibly hard-working decades to teaching college part time) haven’t seen even a nominal raise in 15 years. So glad I thought ahead though, I have some modest buffer.

      • perpetual perp says:

        Jucifer: sComplete nonsense. The facts don’t support the theories you spout off about. If wages had kept pace with profits, the average wage to day would be close to $100,000 per year. My take is it isn’t so much that the wage earner doesn’t make $100,000 but it shows that the folks at the top are the ones banking ‘free money.’

  12. endeavor says:

    A few boomers I know are working for their former companies in retirement on a as needed basis. They are doing work that is so critical to the companies that they are setting the terms for their former employers as contractors. It is a lack of skilled replacements that is driving much of this. Every one of us in my modest circle of friends have been approached at one time or another.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      As one of the last of the boomers (born in 1963), I am hoping that this lack of skilled workers will keep me from aging out of my Engineering job for a while.

      • Guess Who says:

        I’m a retired engineer. Be glad that you don’t work for a big company that starts with the letter ‘H’. Age discrimination is alive and well at that company.

        • otishertz says:

          Ageism is the untold inequity story of the century.

          Anyone for equity… Kiss my butt.

          I’m for equality. Equity is subjective. Equality is quantitative. There’s the rub.

          I went down to a punk rock bar down the street on my bike years ago. Sat down for a draft and saw a bigly scrawl on the wall that said, “No Old Heads.”

          I asked the beer pourer, what’s an old head head? He said, you. Then I pointed out the posters of sid vicious and the ramones on the walls and asked how old “they” thought they were. I just got frowny face and mean mug.

          The dissonance in general but in particular in the younger generation used to be baffling but then I realized that I was also once that young and dumb and an asshole.

          They were vegan though.

    • Stonedwino says:

      Some employers are getting the message…

      I’m in my mid 50’s and have been selling wine wholesale in the NY market for over 3 decades. I always stayed in sales. Most guys my age are in Management. I have experience, contacts & relationships unlike 99% of sales people in our business. I just started a new job in June, basically hired as a high prized free agent by someone I worked for back in the 90’s to build sales with their brand new NY distribution set up. They are letting me do my thing 95% of the time. Almost complete independence. Having a blast, kicking ass and taking names. They keep having to move the goal posts, since I’ve been building sales so well. As long as I stay healthy and it continues, I could do this another 10 years. #OldGuysRule

  13. Michael Gorback says:

    “Take this job and shove it” is the prevailing sentiment. It’s right there in the household vs establishment graph.

  14. D Wallace says:

    People are still losing jobs to vaccine mandates, and I personally know at least one who lost his job and is now doing AC repair on his own hoping he can get enough work to make ends meet. He already had the training to do it on the side. His job was related to healthcare, but he was a driver.

    So at least some of them are opting for self employment and hoping the mandates blow over and then they’ll go back.

    A substantial percentage of adults are still unvaccinated and at least part of them won’t budge even at the risk of losing their job.

    • Jeremy Wolff says:

      the substantial percentage is below 41% and Walgreens/CVS announced earlier this week they may re-institute requiring appointments due to strong demand for the vaccine. Federal jobs, city jobs, many fortune 500 companies require it. I agree that many people won’t budge and many people will be able to go back to work without the vaccine. But I think the percentage of Americans (including kids) who are remain unvaccinated will be single digits, and the number of jobs that will remain open to the unvaccinated will be small. Covid may go the way of the Flu and not be a required vaccine in schools, but every day your point of “substantial” gets smaller and smaller.

    • OutWest says:

      Good for him for starting his own business however he may find that his potential AC repair customers won’t work with him if he is unvaccinated.

      I’ve been self employed for 8 years and my best customer required that I be vaccinated. I would have been an idiot to refuse because my other referral sources require it as well. I’d have become an unemployed pariah exercising my right to be a sour couch potato.

  15. The Real Tony says:

    Two totally bogus jobs reports as usual one out of America the other out of Canada. Looks like the Fed didn’t want a stronger dollar thus the weaker jobs report. The bias is always thick for day traders meaning if the dollar is strong the jobs report will come out weak and if the dollar is weak the jobs report will come out strong. There’s always ways to play the total fraud. As for Canada they still want to push all the Chinese out of the housing market due to immigrants not being able to come to Canada due to the cost of living driven through the stratosphere by the Chinese. At least that’s the way I see both jobs reports.

  16. VoltaMom says:

    How many people who died from Covid-19 would have been in the workforce today?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      In total, 800,000 people in the US died of Covid by now. Excess mortality is about 100,000 over that. Many of them were elderly and no longer in the labor force. Now younger people are dying that would be in the labor force.

      But the numbers of those people who’d be in the labor force isn’t big enough to explain the drop in the labor force.

      • RockHard says:

        I don’t think there’s one explanation and you’ve done a good job enumerating some of them. How about this: people are homeless. In Denver and Boulder, it’s much worse than 2 years ago. I’m in Portland, OR today and it’s kind of breathtaking how many homeless are here. I’d guess that if one went and asked, many of those people were employed 2 years ago today.

  17. Michael Engel says:

    1) JP will raise RRP. JP will not repeat his 2018 mistake by trying to save the German 3M @(-)1%.
    2) Cyber Mon sales sunk NDX. Next Mon SPX might start it’s Xmas rally, a counter trend wave II to a lower high. The peak is probably behind us after 13 years bull run.
    3) Under the banner 3 of 3 consumers will balk against higher prices.
    4) Car sales peaked 22 years ago, in 2000, at 22M units. In Oct & Nov 2021 car sales are shrunk by 9M to 13.4M units. Last year, in Oct 2020 17M units. Y/Y : (-)3.6M / 17M = (-)21%.
    5) In china car sales are falling for 5 years.
    6) Due to chips shortages Manheim is selling MBT Armata T-14 tank against the looters.

  18. Michael Wald says:

    I know it is tempting to try and reconcile the CPS and CES data especially on days like today when the job creation rate seems to slow even as the unemployment rate declines, but these are really two separate surveys using different methodologies and should not be compared to each other.

    BLS reports that the number of self-employed workers, unincorporated, changed from 10,201,000 in October to 9,997,000 in November. Interestingly, the peak in the last 12 months came in July when this group totaled 10,279,000 (All data are seasonally adjusted.).

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Michael Wald,

      No one is trying to “reconcile” anything. As I pointed out explicitly, they’re surveys of households v. surveys of establishments. The household survey is far broader than the establishment survey because it includes workers that are not employees, such as the self-employed and entrepreneurs.

      They should always be looked at together because they present the labor market from two different points of view. If you only look at the establishment report, you miss a big part of the labor market.

      It would have helped your understanding if you had actually read the first few paragraphs.

  19. Gordon Hogg says:

    I remember being just out of university in the 80’s working in tech and started buying calls in the company I worked for. I made more money trading than I did working.

    I spent more time watching the markets than I did my job “in the office”.

    Had I been “working at home”, wow! What a gift that would have been. Instead of skulking around the office.

    Buying the dips, IMHO, is people buying calls, making a couple of grand, selling and waiting for the next dip.

    If it works and you make more money than your day job, then quit and become a day trader. A hero. A reddit wannabe.

    I’d love to see these job numbers by age group. That would say a lot.

    • Bet says:

      A lot of calls went up in smoke this week. It works until doesnt.

    • otishertz says:

      I’ve noticed a strong correlation between those who work at home and those who don’t give a cheesy hooter about anything outside the scope of their home office window, while petting a cat.

    • Eugene says:

      Only 1% of option traders have luck.

  20. Truckman says:

    A year ago, I had to complete the Canadian household jobs survey. The online form wouldn’t allow me to enter the actual number of months I’ve been looking for work, and it’s an offense not to complete it. I eventually discovered that 2 years was the most it would accept. Presumably you don’t exist, statistically, if you’ve been looking longer than this. I know similar things are true in the UK. The simple fact is that the government stats are meaningless because of these stealthy fudges bureaucrats have put in over the years to hide their masters’ problems. The US will be the same.
    Another favorite is the ‘We’re hiring’ advert, that actually turns out, sometimes after the interview, to be sub-contracting. Even the big political parties do this, when their official position is that they are opposed to it. The UK Labour Party and the Canadian Greens would be examples.
    Then we can add in all the HR illegalities, like excluding every applicant over 50, or who is “overqualified”, or whatever else they do to ensure they only get highly compliant slaves to choose from.
    Chuck in all the job ads for jobs that don’t exist, or they’ve already hired the boss’s cousin but need to make up the numbers at interview, or are only advertised so they can reject everyone and hire H1Bs (or equivalent).
    The job numbers, none of them, mean anything. It’s easy to prove by looking at how much the workforce participation % magically jumps around every month for no reason.
    Then, all of a sudden, when the foreigners/illegals are no longer available, there are real job offers out there. Employers are begging for workers. Though not actually putting wages up to match inflation, or treating you decently, or giving you full time hours, or lifting voluntary mask mandates, or..
    There is no employee shortage. There is a huge slave shortage.
    What’s driving it around here isn’t Covid oddly enough, but the total lack of accommodation, and rentals through the roof. Even sleeping 15 to a house the immigrant labor can’t make it pay, so they no longer come.

    • Lynn says:

      Agree. This country has shot even business owners in the foot with asset inflation. No one can afford to work in an area when it’s a net loss.

    • Dave Kunkel says:

      They can’t find enough people willing to work for what they’re willing to pay.

  21. Swamp Creature says:

    I don’t believe any of these government figures on employment. They are mostly lies. I am working practically full time helping Ms Swamp do her appraisal job. I work for free, and since I’m off the radar screen I am not listed as being in the workforce. No one from the government has ever called me to ask me whether I’m employed or not. And I don’t want to hear from anyone from the government. If they did call me I would probably hang up on them. END OF STORY.

    • OutWest says:

      “No one from the government has ever called me to ask me whether I’m employed or not.”

      Out of curiosity, why would you expect to receive a call? There are, after all, over three hundred and thirty million Americans.

      Rest assured, you’ll probably never receive a call…

  22. tom15 says:

    More good news. We need their drive & creativity.
    I wish them great success.

  23. Matthew Scott says:

    As an aside it is amazing to see that construction jobs never reached there peak from 2008 again

  24. Nevnej says:

    I think also a lot of two income couples realized that the second income does not add much and may even be negative after paying marginal tax rates on the entire gross, child care, commuting, clothes, convenience and time saving lifestyle costs, and added stress and lower quality of life.

    • Ron says:


    • tom15 says:

      I have had a lot of young families as clients the past 2yrs.
      I would also add to your list…home schooling.

    • Swamp Creature says:



      I figured 42% marginal tax rate on the additional income. (Fed, State, Self Employment taxes) That’s why we just took off the entire month of December, to keep us in the lower tax bracket. The hell with working just to pay the government more taxes.

      • DougP says:

        So you gave up a large percentage to avoid paying a small percentage?

        While I agree in theory, you lost money.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Other factors other than taxes are in play, but that’s one of them. Who needs the money that bad to take on work in the Swamp in December, a high crime month where there have been a record 200 homicides this year, and no police Just so some lemming can refinance and walk away with 500K in cash out. Let them find some other sucker to do the job. I lot of people I know are refusing to work in the District of Columbia . Others are charging a surcharge of 20 to 30% for any contractor work, like landscaping and locksmiths. Its become a hell hole nearly overnight. That may explain some of the loss in jobs this past month.

    • billytrip says:

      Exactly. These jobs that pay near minimum wage are useless to second earners with kids. And Covid taught these workers that these jobs are a waste of time, after you net out the required expenses you make almost or even less than nothing.

  25. DR DOOM says:

    I hope it works out. Big fan of striking out on your own. I pulled it off 3 years out of college. I lived in a tent for a while. I knew even then it was the thing to do. I love to watch a dream come true. Whether it is mine or another it is what makes life great and advances the human condition. It’s what we do. We humans have paid some terrible dues and are still here. We have been attacking c19 while it has been attacking us. Omnicron is the surrender flag. Pulled its teeth and now it can live with us in a genetic truce of sorts.

    • Old School says:

      I got to thinking if people really wanted to know how this thing got started the US government or multi-billionaire should offer up $1 billion dollars to the person who can definitely prove it. Somebody would talk or do the research to figure it out. Society deserves to know the truth.

    • otishertz says:

      I always worked for myself after college. It’s no walk in the park. It’s Hotel California. Check out any time but you can never leave.

  26. SocalJim says:

    Many people have stopped working because they have given up on America. The only way to fix this is to get the in your face corruption out of the political system. If November 2022 is another corrupt event, this country will be in real trouble. That is the reality of the situation.

    • Alku says:

      Jim: I don’t get that. You have to pay the bills anyway.

      • El Katz says:

        The goal is to just have smaller *bills* to pay.

      • SocalJim says:

        A lot of the best and brightest have pleanty of money if they live within their means so they are quitting and sitting it out at the beach. Both political partiies are so corrupt that many feel the country is on a downslide. The hope is gone. After Nov 2020, it is clear that both parties have been rigging the system for years. That is really hurting the confidence in the USD and is a big driver of inflation.

        • It may be the dollar is losing purchasing power while rising in the forex markets. We print more dollars, while DMs write debt in dollars, it translates to international trust. Which is what Reagan said? People want to leave this country? Hundreds of thousands are waiting to get in. Let the record show the 2020 election was above board. Inflation is always a concomitant of growth. Growth is good.

    • Sierra7 says:

      Good comment!
      Our country is not in a good spot now. Politically and socially. Forget foreign policy which only has one aim, “Full Spectrum Dominance” for the USA and is getting huge pushback.
      Possibly Covid was the straw that is weighing on our “traditional values” of hard work, etc., etc.
      US has lost millions upon millions of the good paying organized labor jobs and also others that did pay decent wages and had defined bennies and retirement packages. Millions of workers white collar or otherwise have been experiencing a real downturn being thrown onto a more “free market for labor” environment.
      Crazy hours, low pay, tied to a cell phone for short turnaround schedules, no decent down time home life, etc, etc.
      Many are just plain fed up and want something more than the “junky consumer” life.
      Politically it doesn’t take a genius to see how divided this country is now. More than possibly since the Civil War.
      Another commenter above mentioned the homeless as not being counted as “in the labor force”. How many of those homeless are really “in the work force” working those crazy jobs with no “light at the end of the tunnel”?
      Even market changes are drastic.
      Support of the “markets” no matter what is not a market economy. It’s brainless and self destructive.
      Our economy needs to re-adjust to it’s “mean”.
      Our society must try to resolve it’s now apparent dis-allusion with the consumer society as an ends to it’s means.
      We need “meaning” to our lives.
      Thus it appears there is change in the air.

  27. Depth Charge says:

    Those thousandaire “retired” Robinhood crypto shills will be re-entering the workforce shortly. The bottom just fell out in the price of their e-tulips. Some lost 30% in the past day.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      More like 25% from the recent peak, but yes I get your point…

      Very curious what the end game for crypto is in the US. Countries abroad are moving far quicker than the US in terms of banning crypto.

      • Anthony A. says:

        It’s not really used for anything here other than just price gambling. Don’t really need to ban it.

  28. roddy6667 says:

    A small business has very little chance of surviving during normal times. I wonder how many of these new ones will have more than a snowball’s chance in hell.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      You keep posting the same nonsense about small businesses. It’s time to do a reality check. Most small businesses do just fine. Including mine. If someday the owner decides they’re better off doing a new business, they shut down the old without drama and start a new business. Or if the owner decides to retire, they shut down the business, after making a nice living for many years. No big deal. But the fact that the old business no longer exists is often interpreted as a “failure,” which is BS. This idea that small businesses are doomed to fail is total nonsense. This article sheds some light on the discussion and has some numbers in it too:

      • roddy6667 says:

        I can’t picture a small business owner shutting down a profitable business.

        • Tom19 says:

          When it comes time for me and the mrs to shut our business down and retire….we will.

          Sell it? Sell our name and reputation? Nope.

          I have friends that are on their 3rd attempt at training a successor to sell their business to.
          Would have been easier to auction the equipment and sell the land and buildings.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I’ve seen it many times. For all kinds of reasons, including an even more profitable business with more opportunities, health of the owner, age, moving to a different place and starting a new business there, etc.

          I have no idea where all this nonsense about small business is coming from.

    • Frederick says:

      I started building houses after losing my office job with a large contractor in 1982 and did great. Lots of long days and 7 day work weeks but I loved it. If your hearts in it you will do fine Of course that was then and perhaps it’s tougher today

  29. Anthony says:

    I guess the only real way to find out who is actually working, is to look at the income tax amounts the Government gets in. If that drops off a cliff (adjusted for inflation, of course) then you may have the answer….

    • Wolf Richter says:

      No problem…

      • Beardawg says:

        Wow !! Fed govt tax receipts have DOUBLED in 10 years and the USA still can’t come close to paying its bills. Embarrassing.

        • Anthony says:


          Obviously it looks like spending has gone up more than twice, far more than 2 probably 5 ????? no idea myself…..

      • Whatsthepoint says:

        Wolf, I’m a total tax moron, but what conclusions do you draw from that graph? Does it represent tax on high income individuals who remain employed and have pricing power, or are capital gains included? Where’s all the money at?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          This is income taxes paid by individuals on their tax returns, whatever the source of income. Yes, it includes capital gains. And pay has gone up. And most of the job losses since March 2020 occurred at the lower wage levels, as the higher-wage employees shifted to work from home or were working in the trades that continued. California, which disproportionately relies on capital gains and income taxes — instead of property taxes — is swimming in money.

      • David Hall says:

        “US budget deficit hits $2.77 trillion in 2021, 2nd highest” AP News 10/22/21

      • otishertz says:

        Income taxes are paid on unemployment benefits.

  30. otishertz says:

    Something tells me these labor statistics are not reliable, that they are scarier than advertised. Perhaps it’s because millions of people stop being counted for some convenient reason or another.

  31. Michael Engel says:

    1) Cyber Mon suck. Demand is falling. If online Xmas sales slump y/y, there will be a change of character in 2022.
    2) AAPL weekly : a large selling tail, demand for IPhone 13 is falling. FB, Meta, got support from the weekly cloud.
    3) Oct and Nov job reports indicate that gov hiring keep falling the most, cutting cost. Oct leisure and hospitality spike is fading. Something is wrong.
    4) Cooks and waitresses became difficult due to high inflation and shortages. They feed themselves, families and friends at restaurants expenses. They might barter food for other services, like uber. They do everything to make a buck. They work hard, in crowded places, at pandemic peek, but they save money.
    5) Retail trade is falling, because transportation and warehousing is rising.
    AMZN is hiring 150K temp. UPS is hiring temp, at higher cost, due to a looming union strike. Profit margin will fall for both.

  32. Crush The Peasants! says:

    Trending jobs for 2022:

    Rap instructor
    Click salesperson
    Social media image consultant

  33. Peanut Gallery says:

    Related to this, I found the latest OECD report to be interesting – it talks about labor shortages around the world. Apparently Europe’s labor shortage / decrease in participation is even worse than the US.

  34. Michael Engel says:

    Crypto : BTCUSD BB#1 : Jan 8/ 10, 41,616/ 31,842. // BB#2 : Feb 9/11:
    48,004/ 44,444.
    Price plunge to the space between #1 and #2, bounce back up > #2,
    leaving behind a large buying tail, to start the Xmas rally.

  35. Pelican says:

    Powell: we’ve got the right medicine for this problem. More liquidity for the markets.

    Won’t be too surprised if these shady characters end up doing it.

    • Depth Charge says:

      They are breaking the entire system and tearing the social fabric apart. The asset price bubbles have destroyed the standard of living for the masses. These deranged lunatics need to be stopped at any cost.

      • Swamp Creature says:


        They won;t be stopped. They will continue until the whole system blows up and takes everyone with it including you and me.

  36. Stonedwino says:

    Going forward millions upon millions of people with ‘Long COVID’ will be a massive problem for employment, the size of which no one can even imagine at this stage of the pandemic and I have yet to read even one article talking about the long term effects of ‘Long Covid’…

  37. gorbachev says:

    If you can bring in the minimum wage on your
    own why wouldn’t you? It’s not like the employers
    are offering good health care or god forbid pensions.

  38. Maf says:

    Hopefully I didn’t miss it but have you analyzed the recent change in conforming mortgage limits – by 18%. I don’t know enough to fully understand the ramnifications but seems like this will fuel over leveraged home purchases and further inflating the housing bubble.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The government guarantees for mortgages have always been raised to meet rising home prices. This is nothing new. What’s different this time, and what caught a lot of media attention, is that the top limit breached the $1 million mark in the most expensive markets where $1 million won’t buy much, and that the increases were so big, in line with the huge home price increases.

  39. Michael Engel says:

    Dr Xtalina Georgeva IMF : cut spending, raise taxes pay debt.
    1) The tax chart above : tax collection is up.
    2) US gov debt fell from $28.589T to $28.487T in nominal terms, from Q2 to Q3 2021.
    3) The payroll report : US gov trimmed it’s labor in Oct & Nov.

  40. Trailer Trash says:

    No matter how hard the US system tries to starve people into going back to work, the labor shortages won’t end. “Essential workers” continue to be treated as disposable while the epidemic rages on and bewildered analysts ask, “Where did the workers go? Why don’t they go back to work?”

    Death isn’t the only outcome of Covid. Many missing workers are at home in their sickbeds and a large number will never be well enough to work full time ever again. Long Covid is devastating US society yet few even notice.

    Forbes [1] estimates “an incidence of Long Covid in the workforce ranging between 1.5 to 4.5% of all employees”. Reports from the UK estimate that 4% of their workforce has been affected.

    Millions of workers have already had their lives wrecked by the poverty that results from chronic illness. People who claim poverty is a personal moral failing will be pleased to know that most people with Long Covid will not receive adequate social support, financial support, or even decent medical care.

    Instead of support or effective treatments (there are none) they will be told to exercise and get the magic cure-all “CBT” psychotherapy. Graded exercise programs will make many Long Covid patients much worse, perhaps even bed-bound, in a dark silent room, for years.

    The US is still recording about 100,000 new cases EVERY DAY. That means 10,000 to 30,000 new Long Covid cases every day. These are huge numbers that demand attention and effective public health policies. But as long as investors can still make money in their sleep, it’s all good.

    [1] “How Long Covid Will Help Define The Future Of Work”

  41. MonkeyBusiness says:

    This is not an America only phenomenon. I was reading an article from QQ (Tencent) earlier this morning and the gist of it is more and more Chinese people are taking on freelance work. Many people simply can’t or no longer willing to put up with all the BS that comes with office work from long hours, long commute and office politics.

    A seismic change is happening all over the world, and I would say it’s about time. The company I work at is overall decent, but there’s one or two people who just gets on my nerve. Good thing I am making a change next year.

  42. gametv says:

    Wolf – It would be real interesting if you linked the job losses to small business failures. Small business is the driver of so many jobs, and I think that large businesses are doing fine, while some small business got taken to the cleaner in the recent past.

    Applications for a business license is not really a measurement of small business activity.

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