Most Contorted Job Market Ever Struggling to Revert to Normalcy?

Last jobs report before next Fed meeting. Not giving the Fed any material for second thoughts about ratcheting up its rates.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Employers added 263,000 workers to their payrolls in September, according to surveys of employers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released today. Over the past three months, employers added 1.12 million workers.

This rolling three-month pace of adding W-2-type jobs, which has been in the same range since April, remains well above the range before the pandemic – despite a labor force that dipped in September and refuses to go back to pre-pandemic trend, and despite a labor-force participation rate that remains desperately low.

And we see this in other data too: Still aggressive hiring by employers, massive amounts of churn and job hopping, layoffs near historic lows, and those people who got laid off found new jobs before they could even apply for unemployment compensation, with applications for unemployment insurance still near historic lows.

But who are employers hiring? What we can see in the data is that employers in aggregate brought self-employed people onto their payrolls by offering higher pay, improved working conditions, better benefits, or the option of working from home.

And so the net gain in jobs of all types, including the self-employed, was much smaller, actually fell earlier this year, for part of the year was below pre-pandemic trend, and has only now risen to pre-pandemic trend.

That’s what the BLS survey of households tells us, also released today. It includes all types of workers, from W-2 employees to the self-employed and people who started a business.

The total number of workers of all types rose by 204,000 in September, and by 825,000 over the past three months, which was a big improvement of earlier this year: In April and June, the number of workers had actually dropped by over 300,000 each month.

The total number of workers of all types in September, at 158.9 million, increased over the past six months by only 478,000 with the dips in April and June, and with the stronger gains of 825,000 workers over the past three months:

The labor force… nope, not yet.

The labor force – people who either have jobs or are actively looking for jobs – is far from having fully recovered from the hit it took during the pandemic. There are lots of reasons for this phenomenon. But for whatever reasons, lots of people have left the labor force and haven’t come back; and many older workers, especially in tech, who want to come back are locked out by age discrimination; and new entrants into the labor force are too slow to overcome the gap.

The labor force dipped again in September, after a big jump in August, to 164.7 million, and remains stunningly far below pre-pandemic trend. This is the single-biggest and very complex issue that the labor market has – bringing people back into the labor force:

The labor force participation rate, which measures the labor force as a percent of the working-age population 16 years and older, really hasn’t recovered at all this year. In September, it dipped to 62.3%, same as in February:

The prime-age labor force participation rate – people between 25 and 54 years old, the most crucial portion of the labor force — excludes whatever impact boomers have on the labor force. It has fully recovered to the Good Times range. In 2019, it averaged 82.5%. In September, it dipped to 82.7%.

But to give us something intractable to ponder, here is the long-term chart:

Hourly earnings less hot.

The hourly earnings of regular workers – excluding executives, managers, and other supervisors – rose by 0.4% in September from August, same as in the prior month, but not as hot as last year’s increases. The range of nonsupervisory workers in this category spans the private-sector spectrum – coder, electrician, janitor, drywall specialist, barista, architect, lawyer, factory worker….

Compared to September last year, this measure of hourly earnings increased by 5.8%, the smallest increase in 13 months, and down from the 6.7% range in February and March.

The lower month-to-month increases in August and September show that some of the heat in this end of the labor market may be cooling as the month-to-month increases are touching the top of the pre-pandemic range.

That may remove some fuel from inflation, but it’s a really bad deal for the workers, and for the economy, when price increases out-run wage increases.

Some other highlights:

  • Number of workers part-time for economic reasons (could only find part-time work): 945,000, near multi-decade lows.
  • The number of unemployed (actively looking for a job): 5.75 million, down from August, and roughly the same as just before the pandemic.
  • Employment-population ratio (workers as % of working age population 16+ years old): 60.1% unchanged, compared to 61.2% before the pandemic.
  • Unemployment rate (narrowest definition): 3.5%, down from 3.7% in August, and same as just before the pandemic.
  • Multiple job holders, with primary fulltime job and secondary part-time job: 4.3 million, back in the range before the pandemic.
  • Multiple jobholders with both jobs part-time, at 1.92 million: back at pre-pandemic range.

Still the most contorted labor market ever.

The labor market over the past two years has been an amazing creature to watch. There are so many factors that changed during the pandemic that the labor market essentially got scrambled. And it is now trying to sort itself out.

For reasons related to the labor force, meaning supply of labor, this is still a hot labor market, with employers (demand for labor) struggling to hire people, and struggling to retain people, even as some of the money-losing crazy startups have begun the process of toppling and shedding people. But most of those people are then quickly absorbed by other companies.

This was the last jobs report before the Fed’s meeting on November 1 and 2, and there is nothing in this data that would give the Fed second thoughts about ratcheting up its rates. And the markets are figuring this out too, it seems.

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  154 comments for “Most Contorted Job Market Ever Struggling to Revert to Normalcy?

  1. rodolfo says:

    Job growth continues. Has to drastically slow down soon?

    • WA says:

      It may be that many big companies are holding back layoffs till midterms do as to not piss off the administration.

      If yes, we may see big announcements post elections.

      • Harrold says:

        Not everything is a conspiracy.

        Its hard to fathom we can have a recession with low unemployment that affects only the wealthy, but here we are.

        • joedidee says:

          well the job openings(worth having) are SKILLED ONES
          remember they said those over 60 that due to covid are no longer able to come back in IT
          due to age discrimination
          of course young have NO SKILLS, NO FUTURE and NO HOPE

        • Mike r says:

          The recession has not yet begun. When you have low unemployment, a partially inverted yield curve, it won’t be until the layoffs begin en masse, AND the yield curve begins to steepen. Probably around mid 2023, the US will finally fall into a recession. So this is why the Fed can keep raising rates, and will continue to do so until in reaches the 2 year yield, or that yield starts dropping, and the Fed fund rate gets met by the dropping 2 year yield. The Fed always follows the 2 year yield. There is zero magic to predicting Fed funds rate moves. Bond market is way bigger than the Fed. The Fed is the tail, that wags the dog,

      • Digger Dave says:

        That would be good. I’ve been tired of hearing that team Red is better on the economy when clearly they are not. This is not to say that team Blue is better. They’re both equally horrid with awful ideas. But the idiotic perception that Red is better needs a little more come uppance until the general public realizes they both suck.

        • Receo says:

          Smokin weed in the middle of the day, again, I see!

        • Böblingen says:

          DD, yes, they both suck, but there are degrees of suckiness.

        • Valerie from Australia says:

          Totally agree. At least Team Blue has critics within their own ranks questioning choices and decisions. No offence taken, Wolf, if this comment doesn’t make it past the moderators,

      • Augustus Frost says:

        Same thought on this as before.

        When stocks really tank and C-Suites are convinced it’s for real, the pink slips will start flying. About the same time (after stocks tank) missing EPS expectations will also be common.

        Happens in all bear markets.

        • Harrold says:

          Layoffs begin when a company sees sales go down. Stocks have nothing to do with it.

      • SWE Josh says:

        I can only talk about the tech companies but it seems that they routinely lay off the low performers (usually anywhere from 2% to 10% but rumors are swirling that Meta is looking at 15% this year) during their annual performance reviews. That will continue to happen this year but with the key difference that many of these same companies are no longer hiring. In the past these people would have been reabsorbed but I don’t think that will be the case this time. Many companies have their annual reviews at the end of the year or beginning of next year so I would expect the big “layoffs” but not really (since performance driven) will show up. Nothing to do with politics.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          There are many other employers of tech workers who are still struggling to fill open positions, having been outbid for over a year by the tech giants. Those tech workers will find good jobs, just maybe not in the heart of high tech.

        • Apple says:

          Those skin to be ex-Meta workers will have no problem finding new jobs.

      • TK says:

        I like “not everything is a conspiracy” It’s funny that the govt. is presently being blamed for inflation, yet we spent so much money that prices went up. We cashed the stimulus checks and those dollars velocitized (prob not a word) through our economy. Those stim checks and all the forbearance and rent pauses were a huge tax give back – to people that actually spend it! Maybe in your world we should just keep subsidizing private equity knowing that voters are too dumb to know they are the mark. I am worried that most folks don’t have a clue so we argue over emotional and unsolvable social issues to get votes. These articles are amazing and we are lucky to have them. But we have to read them objectively. Forget politics which is simply an altered version of reality with a corruption leaning. I wish you well my friend.

        • josap says:

          When you give money to the lower and middle class, they spend it. The money eventually ends up in the pockets of the 1% anyway.

          Just goes up hill. Trickle down doesn’t work.

      • NBay says:

        I have always disliked managers, and I have had MANY. Although we fought, when I was working for an engineer/chemist/physics guy (long ago, sadly), it was MUCH different. I could actually learn things from them, ask them questions relevant to THE JOB. The rest? What I would call, “highly paid pseudo professional back stabbing trash”.

        “All the real talent goes into the Arts and Sciences, and that leaves the dregs (managers….and I think I’d add lawyers, politicians and the like) to put things together” Bucky Fuller

        I submit just a small section of a “health manager” rag (from a huge outfit, covering other aspects of science) for your perusal. But PLEASE look around, you’ll get the idea…..about who is “putting it all together”, and one other many “tools” they can buy. Sorry but the only reference to finance at this financial site page I chose is stuff like “more efficient use of your (the manager’s docs, NOT your’s) doctors time”. So it probably won’t fly. But it sure is related to lay-off decisions, and resultant job jumping..and especially doc was just moved to another clinic…but I don’t know which of the many management systems out there his managers “decided” to use. That’s their job, right, “to decide”.

        I obviously like Wolf and his self managed biz, or I wouldn’t be here.

      • NBay says:

        Aww rats. Was gonna ad the rest of the picture. Here.

        I don’t think I fit Wolf’s current commenter model anymore.

        Well, good luck anyway.

        • NBay says:

          Mucho apologies to Wolf.
          I lost faith in the original “spill the beans” mission…thought my post was summarily deleted….it WAS gone for a while.

          My bad….and I bet it’s a PE company, but maybe not….so it may be investor relevant.


  2. J-Pow!!! says:

    We are nearing full employment! My mandate has been achieved!

    • WA says:

      WA – “But what about the 2% inflation mandate?”

      J-Pow – “Ho ho ho, That doesn’t affect the 1% I care about .”

      WA – “But the elections are around the corner.”

      J-Pow – “Ho ho ho, Elections are all about Abotion and Immigration. The poor don’t care about losing money, else why will they be poor to begin with!”

      WA – “So you call working class poor. They do care when they can’t eat good food.”

      J-Pow – “Ho ho ho, where will they go, both parties support me!”

      • Calvin says:

        Last exchange should read:

        WA – “So you call working class poor. They do care when they can’t eat good food.”

        J-Pow – “Ho ho ho, they can eat cake!”

  3. Depth Charge says:

    Companies are so desperate to find workers that I got an email from an employment agency – that I filed a resume with over 20 years ago in a town I no longer live in. I laughed out loud. They must never purge their records.

    • JeffD says:

      I’ve had three offers in the last week (Raytheon, Boeing, and TikTok), and I’ve been retired for six years! This, after a long period of crickets.

  4. WolfGoat says:

    Yeahhhhh… Participation Rates! Thanks Wolf! >;o)>

  5. WolfGoat says:

    So, the question becomes, does the Fed hike by 75 basis points, or only 50 to placate those who are so worried about the impact.

    Mr. Market seems to think 75 is baked in, but my bet will be on 50!

    • Depth Charge says:

      I’d bet on 100 basis points before 50.

      • sunny129 says:

        Wait for the inflation number next Thursday!

        Oil price is going up
        Shelter expenses are up
        So are the foods, medical/health care and education.

        Containing the inflation following a 41 yrs of deflation won’t that easy.
        Labor mkt will remain tight for the next several months, due to demographic changes (see my comment below)

        • cd says:

          data lags and oil prices in this release will show it going down….
          rent and shelter are now turning down….

          doesn’t matter much as it looks like 2900-3 on SPX and 8900-9100
          COMPQ is on radar, possibly this week. Banks may show way down…..IYR is going to 64 for sure, easy money to short it now….

        • rojogrande says:

          41 years of deflation? Isn’t it 41 years of lower inflation?

        • nsa says:

          Rojo: “41 years of deflation. Wasn’t it 41 years of lower inflation?”
          Even coined a new shiny word: DISINFLATION.

        • rojogrande says:


          Ha! Yes, but “dis” as a prefix means “not or none” and we’ve had plenty of inflation, just not like this. Many of these new words are an abomination to understanding and writing English clearly, but I freely admit I’m a curmudgeon.

    • ace says:

      50, bounce into Christmas, CPI services 7% year end, .75 Jan

      • Depth Charge says:

        That quarter point really doesn’t mean shit. It’s all too little, too late.

        • Gattopardo says:

          It doesn’t mean much in terms of impact on inflation, but +/- 25bps will mean a TON to the equity market!

    • andy says:

      So let’s say you figured it out. You know 75 points or 50 points. Then what?

  6. Gabby Cat says:

    We have had a lot of layoffs and no longer are backfilling positions of employees that left willingly. I am in IT and this reminds me of the .COM bust.

    • jon says:

      Most of the hi tech companies are either stopped hiring or laying of people.

      I thing big shortage at the lower spectrum of pay scale.

      • Sporkfed says:

        I agree, the problem is at the lower end, but, the businesses that require
        lower wage workers aren’t profitable
        with wage hikes. The only solution
        I see is a much more progressive
        income tax where lower wage workers pay next to nothing.

      • Harrold says:


  7. Seba says:

    Am I interpreting this correctly? It seems to me like a significant chunk of older workers may have cashed out on their inflated assets just in time and skipped town to retire in cheaper markets, possibly now hoping to have enough cushion against inflation.

    If that’s the case it would be a tough ask to expect millenials to fill the gap no? Looking at generations by birth (pew research) millenials roughly match boomers by birth, but with a growing economy since baby boomer labour participation peak it seems to me like a tight labour market might continue until an actual recession.

    BTW, I’m not trying to get into a debate on merits of immigration and growth at all costs etc.. I think that’s been debated in comments plenty of times, just trying to understand the situation.

  8. No figures on what Covid did to the workforce, physically and psychologically? What happened to the industry wide move to automate labor? We brought jobs back from China, now we want to kill them? Fed policy, raising interest rates on Main St business, is unconscionable. You really want to put people out of work? That is insanity. Inflation has a deleterious effect on consumer spending. Take away the jobs, expand the social safety net and deficit spending, reinflate the monetary base, and you have more inflation. I never give financial advice, but if the Fed pivots, and QE, not QT, then I will back up the truck on inflation bonds.

    • phleep says:

      We are at some degree of a zero-sum game, to back out of this inflation quagmire. The distribution of winners and losers has shifted a bit (with the Fed’s hand forced by the big breaking price stability), and maybe it is high time that happened. It was a runaway process that could not have continued in the direction it was, forever.

      We can’t have it all ways, this time. At least, I HOPE that message is sinking in amongst the Fed and the public. Else, we pivot into a slippery inflation chasm.

  9. Jackson Y says:

    Oil is up 15% this week. Crazy.

  10. master_crab says:

    Wolf, the green trend line in chart three and four above: is that a historical trend line based on previous data or is it tied to the nation’s population? I’d be curious to know if maybe the decrease in immigration or other population trends should be forcing that trend line down.

  11. sunny129 says:

    The elephant in the room:

    Work force between 2010 2021:55y or younger – 1.2 Million60y or above (65-75 dominant) 22.1 millions.
    The latter group will slowly exit in the next 5-10 yrs.
    Labor mkt will remain tight for the short term making Fed’s job harder to contain inflation.

    • Harrold says:

      I think the latter group is already exiting. 1959 was the peak year for births. They all started qualifying for SS last year.

      • Richard Rozanski says:

        Yep. I retired last December at age 65 1/2. I spent my last 11 years with the federal government. HR couldn’t handle all the thousands of employees retiring at once. I see them every day at Costco, Home Depot and Walmart. Every state park I visit is clogged with boomer retirees. Boomer retirements are huge numbers and certainly must be affecting the employment numbers.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      No one retires due to their age. That’s a myth which is widely shared in comments on this blog.

      Everyone only retires because they can financially do so, regardless of the secondary cause. It’s either on their own resources or someone else’s which is something else entirely.

      When the asset mania is confirmed as being over, many currently retired people will attempt to un-retire out of necessity, except that the job market will be a lot less favorable then. Not sure how many of these there are but it should especially apply to the recent FIRE crowd.

      This will be on top of the pink slips associated with falling or crashing stock prices and missing EPS estimates.

      The above combination will noticeably increase the labor force and unemployment, though depending upon other factors may not be enough to create GFC level unemployment.

      By all logic, it should at least. But then, maybe the USG will have one last shot at getting away with even more deranged fiscal policy before the markets start questioning its solvency as it did with the UK last week,

      • Apple says:

        I have know several family members that retired at age 65, when they qualified for Medicare.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Yes, but that’s part of my point. Someone else (other taxpayers) are partly supporting them.

      • Einhal says:

        Yes. The idea that people are entitled to a “comfortable middle class lifestyle” and a “dignified retirement” is a relatively recent one. It’s an accident of history in many ways, one that began after the end of WW2. No one is entitled to anything. And when economic conditions worsen, there won’t be enough production to pay for all of the entitlements.

        Yes, Social Security will still be there, but the amount of goods and services that retirees can get for the average sized check is destined to be a lot lower.

        • eric says:

          “Entitlement” because they paid into it all their working lives, now are entitled to withdraw from it…vs stimmnie checks, welfare, and other outright dispensations of taxpayer money that somehow are viewed more kindly by many.

      • FinePrintGuy says:

        Underscores the importance of rebalancing your portfolio towards fixed income when you retire. Getting caught short at 75 is the nightmare.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Yes, but this doesn’t apply to a society the size of the US in the aggregate.

          For the US, it’s never about how much “money” is available. Living standards depend upon real production, not fake paper “wealth”.

          If it was only about “money”, the USG could just “print” it. It makes zero difference whether it comes from “printing” or fake paper “wealth” from an asset mania. That’s why claims that Social Security funding can be solved by “investing” in the stock market are complete claptrap.

      • Syd says:

        Please stop using acronyms.

      • Syd says:

        What the heck is FIRE crowd and GFC?

        • Brianc - PDX says:

          FIRE – Finance Insurance Real Estate
          EPS – Earnings Per Share
          GFC – Global Financial Crisis

        • Trucker Guy says:

          I think fire in this sense means financial independence, retire early.

          You know, the type, a 30-something couple without kids buys a Mercedes sprinter, sticks an air mattress in it and drives around to national parks uploading videos to YouTube.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Yes, FIRE=Financial Independence Retire Early.

          It’s mostly 30’s and 40’s people using what I would describe as modest “nest eggs (up to several $MM) supplemented by “side gigs”.

          Most of these people are in for a rude awakening as their portfolios crash.

        • svengineer says:

          In the context used, I thought FIRE refers to the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement.

      • sunny129 says:

        Augustus Frost

        “No one retires due to their age. That’s a myth which is widely shared in comments on this blog”

        Health deteriorates as one gets older past 65-75y.
        Disability claim has been increasing based on facts or fraud.
        Covid pandemic unwrapped the lack of balance between work and life style. Quitting and quite quitting began.

        ‘Quiet Quitting’ Isn’t Just About Jobs; It’s About a Crumbling Economy”
        h/t Charles Hugo Smith/oftwominds

    • BS (ini) says:

      I’m in the category of old guy that can’t get a job in my field because of age. (Oilfield engineer with 43 years experiment but 65) have not worked since 2016 since that slowdown. Oilfield is getting automated with the factory shale business. Inflation and ZIRP has really hurt me house in East Texas flat price since 2006 for most part.

      • phleep says:

        > house in East Texas flat price since 2006

        An interesting contrast to out here in southern CA, with our two wild house price booms, one bust (2008), and it looks like a second one underway.

        Good luck! I’m 65, semi-retired, looks like I might be able to squeak through. But history is a tricky thing to live through.

    • Paul says:

      This was my question. How do demographics figure in? as percentages don’t seem to be the best way to measure this.

      There were always more Boomers than Xrs, and Way more Millenials than Gen Z. I mean when the kids born in 2020 are 18… I can see 100% employment and articles complaining “where are the teen workers?!”

      Also given the pure hatred of advancement and on the job training post 08, of course all sortsa roles are empty. But hey, you can go $20k in debt to learn a trade or spend 8 years under nepotism to get a license.

      I would be curious also at gender breakdown. Like how the low male participation rate (I saw like 1 outta 5 for my gen) is also playing out. In traditionally male roles the labor pool has got to be tiny. I know a guy who does slate roofing that would higher off the street for $75k PRE-Covid.

      I had a trade job as a mechanic, and no thank you. Wages were stuck in 1989 in 2004 and I would not want to survive another downturn on flag time…

      Learn a trade sent me to college. And i was like one of 5 men there. No complaints on that one.

      Final bit. I know so many young guys with fanilies, a mortgage, and a huge truck in construction and other things. I do always wonder… What if the economy sours?!

      But I’m old fashioned. My household is run single income so I always have quite the saftey net. Mechanics fix old cars so not having the $40k camery payment is a lot of savings over time.

      • Itsbrokeagain says:

        This. I was a mechanic for the longest time. Prolly 13 years full time, and still fix my own cars going on a total of 23 years now. Wages never really caught up, I was struggling just to make 60k a year.

        I got over my fear of heights and became lineman. Best trade I could’ve ever asked for, my only complaint is I didn’t start sooner. I just turned 40 and I’m older than some Chiefs in my dept.

        I love buying old cars and being able to buy something I like, fix it up, and drive it forever. Beats a $400+/month payment.

  12. Brant Lee says:

    I know the common labor minimum wage jobs are not being filled like before the pandemic. Literally every burger joint, eaterie and retail shop big and small have signs wanting help. I’m sorry but some of the employees I see working in fast food these days don’t make the food so appealing.

    It must be hard on the corporation business model of lining the streets with their fast food and retail joints but not paying squat to employees.

    • ace says:

      I ordered my small JJ sandwich today traveling and the cashier did not speak a word. I asked why it was way more expensive ($4), told me to look at the board. I scoffed, said whatever and figured inflation. I asked for the receipt and got looked at like I was an alien. Turns out he rung me for the big sandwich. Fine. $20 starting help wanted sign taped to the register. Christ.

    • Gen Z says:

      It’s because the wages don’t even afford to pay for a mattress to pay the propertied-class mortgage, as in Toronto.

      The supermarket near me hired a 13-year-old girl to work the cashier, and the older staff complained and reported the grocery store to the Labour Board.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      Most fast food are franchises, aren’t they?

      I know a company like McDonalds makes a boatload of money but never seen much data about their franchisees.

      The impression I have is that profitability varies widely (location) but generally have (much) lower margins.

      I don’t eat at fast food anymore. On CNBC this week, someone wrote a piece on their experience buying a McDonalds adult Happy Meal which they claimed cost about $13 and the regular combo about $11.

      I think it might have been in NY but that’s nuts for such “food”.

      My point is if the franchisee has to raise prices to pay higher wages, there is a limit to how much their customers will pay for such low quality “food”.

      I’m using McDonalds as an example, but the same principle applies to restaurants generally. Prices are already ridiculous. One way casual dining passes costs to their customers in recent years is by prompting for tips which I find annoying.

      • Einhal says:

        Yep. The problem is that, as rent, utility and labor costs have gone through the roof, the delta between “fast casual” and “fast” food has shrunk, as it mathematically must. People will pay $6 for the Big Mac meal when the Chipotle meal is $11. People will NOT pay $11 for the Big Mac meal when the Chipotle meal is $13.

        Obviously, this is dependent on one’s individual taste, but you understand my point.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Good Point E, to be sure; how some ever, the REAL point at this time is that ALL of the products one can access in ”almost” ALL fast food places is JUNK!!!
          While it is specifically doctored to taste good to some folks, that doctoring involves TONS of synthetic ingredients, frequently made from petroleum by products, etc., etc.
          There has been clear documentation that any wheat product can contain up to 85 different synthetic substances that do NOT have to be listed on label because they were originally derived from wheat, even though now produced synthetically.
          Many MD and other doctors have described these commonly used synthetic products and the very clear connections to the truly awful health issues they cause, especially the massive obesity of USA population.
          In spite of all the potential and ongoing social ”unrest,” the poisoning of the population will be the proximate cause of the demise of USA.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          You are correct but apparently, people like the poster I responded to can’t grasp this basic fact.

          There is this inference that all businesses are making huge amounts of money and primarily or only exist to provide employment at compensation someone else thinks should be paid.

          No business is a social services organization and no one is entitled to a “living wage” to be able to afford some arbitrary living standard simply for existing.

      • Michael Auten says:

        Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man how to fish and he will eat for a life. Everyone should cook and eat healthy for a life, and watch these unhealthy food sellers go bankrupt.

  13. cd says:

    really bad monthly candle on the COMPQ today….

    • eric says:

      Sept candle broke below the lower bb band, which is widening down. Oct candle back inside but it’s early. Price ready to chase bb band lower? That could be a cascade.

  14. JoshWx says:

    I work for one of the largest employers in the tech industry and we’re currently in a hiring freeze. Sounds like a lot of high tech is either laying off (in small #’s) or putting a lid on hiring. Lower end of the income spectrum is likely serving as a bedrock for the job market. Considering Amazon and Walmart are expecting to hire hundreds of thousands heading into the holidays, I’d expect the labor market to remain tight and the fed to remain hawkish through the end of the year. Maybe a post-holiday spending hangover will pave the way for a weaker job market in 2023.

  15. Patrick says:

    anecdotal – one of my acquaintances is a property manager – they manage nice properties in nice neighborhoods – virtually 0 vacancies – they have raised rents 8-12 % a year for the past 4 years – they cannot get maintenance done – now their contracted garbage service WM is missing pickups do to unfilled jobs – I checked their web site $24-per hour to start – $35- per hour within 18 months – full benefits including dental – $5000 sign on bonus – services inflation is exploding

    • Abomb says:

      Where is this? Sounds like great money for that job!

      • I Can't Do That Dave says:

        Definitely not in my neck of the woods. Starting pay for the upper end of the “low wage” market here is $14. A couple of corporations hiring in my market have put their national minimum at $15, and don’t appear to be in any hurry to raise that, even though service is suffering due to understaffing. For instance, there are always hellish lines at my local Whole Foods. They rarely have more than two to three cashiers at a time and no baggers to speak of, which seems odd to me for a store with an upscale reputation. It takes forever to check out. It’s not that the workers aren’t trying. I can see they are. They just don’t have enough people doing whatever. Now, whether that’s by corporate design to keep costs down, or a lack of people willing to work at that wage, I couldn’t say.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Had the same exact problemo in SoCal in years past Dave, and combined with the higher prices just stopped already shopping at Whole Pay Check and haven’t been back since.
          Had the opportunity to buy exact same product at small mom and pop that was HALF of WFs…

        • Sams says:

          I scanned and bagged at the automaten check out myself today. Paid with debet card and scanned the invoice to pass the barrier. No que, there is enough enough automats.

        • Anthony A. says:

          I’ll bet the checkout lines are even longer at Walmart where the poor people shop!

      • John Galt says:

        If WM is short for “Waste Management” then I have an idea where this job is. $24-$35/hr is way below what that job should pay to attract decent workers. Would you be a “trash guy” in a neighborhood where every home is $1.5+ million dollars, for $24/hr? No way. This is the wealth gap in perfect example, these people want their massive asset prices but they don’t want anyone to have a job that allows access to those assets. There is no shame in driving a trash truck, in fact it’s a much needed service. Same with bus drivers, truckers, etc. If we keep down this path of pushing these jobs into a lower class of compensation, we will further exacerbated our social divide.

        • Seen it all before, Bob says:

          My Trash people are very friendly and nice. They arrive on time so I’m not running my cans to the curb and they always put the empty cans partway up the driveway. I give them a tip every year in appreciation. This is great considering we are a trashy family with multiple cans every week.

          I was just discussing this with a neighbor this morning after sitting at my desk for 3 hours in meetings. We considered giving up our gym memberships to work outside in the sun lifting 30-50 lb cans all day. We figured we’d be in excellent shape by the end of the year.

    • Kurtismayfield says:

      Sorry.. $24 dollars an hour is 49k a year. Would you ride a trash hauler for that?

      I am guessing the housing costs in the same area are $30k a year minimum as well.

  16. Gen Z says:

    When the Fed hikes past 4%, but Canada’s job market is poor.

    15,000 applicants for an entry level data entry job in Toronto!

    The job market is TERRIBLE in Toronto. Canadians are moving to Alberta while the oil & gas boom lasts.

    • phleep says:

      Looks like maybe the asset price inflation in recent years has thrown the labor market and other things out of whack, into a condition of disincentives. I couldn’t afford to rent the worst unit in my condo property, but based on my buy-in long ago, I easily afford to own the best one.

      But I fear the angry poor will rise up at the ballots, confiscate what I have created (over many decades of discipline), and throw my kind out in the street!

      Maybe a rollback in asset prices will prevent this dire outcome.

      • josap says:

        Do you expect the poor to break into your home, steal all your stuff, empty your bank account and somehow deny your insurance claims?

        Such fear is not realistic.

      • Augustus Frost says:

        “Maybe a rollback in asset prices will prevent this dire outcome.”

        No, it won’t. While envy is a factor, the end of the asset mania also means that Americans’ ridiculously inflated living standard expectations cannot possibly met, especially for people who are already broke and lack sufficient skills to compete in a shrinking employment market.

        It’s going to be worst in urban cores. See summer 2020 for an example.

      • eric says:

        The wealth gap doesn’t close as the wealthy lose money on stocks. As Wolf points out, most people don’t have any financial assets. Falling stocks prices mean recession: they lose their jobs. Now they have no assets and no income. For them it’s lose-lose.

        Off-shoring exported jobs that were semi-skilled and unskilled: manufacturing.
        Trying to bring them back into the same inflation they were exported from should be interesting.

    • Syd says:

      The FED has nothing to do with Canada.
      Canada has a central bank but it is not known the FED.

      The following link has current data but it does not match Gen Z assertions

      • eg says:

        Strictly speaking you are correct, but the Bank of Canada never gets too terribly far from the Fed’s behaviour and US economic conditions are massively influential on Canada’s economy.

      • Mike says:

        Canada and America are highly intertwined.
        Gen Z is explaining that when the bank rate is lower than the US rate, the differential affects the Canadian dollar.
        The government stats tend to lie too. There was a Labour shortage in Canada, but not in Ontario.
        Alberta is booming right now.

  17. Greatvampire says:

    Wolf mentions age discrimination.

    This is one of the great shoot-yourself-in-the-foot flaws with capitalism. People are biased against experienced people who are a little too far along because they don’t like being around age. There is no rational reason for this. Gray hair and wrinkles turn many younger people off, even though that is their eventual destiny too. Young and middle-aged people want to hang around young and middle-aged people for socialization purposes. And, my point being, 50% of a job is socialization purposes.

    • SWE Josh says:

      I think your reason of not liking to be “around age” is only a small part of it. Older employees cost more to insure which can be an issue for smaller companies. They may also not be up to date on the latest technology. It may also be awkward for managers to manage people that are older than them (which I think lines up with your point). Older people also tend to make a lot more than younger employees which is probably the biggest factor.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Yes, older people should be put out to pasture like cows that stop giving milk. Maybe there should be a special place to have all hoarded into so they don’t cause any trouble or post stupid stuff on TicTok? /s

      • Ccat says:

        *WE* (boomers) *invented* the latest technology. You (kids) are merely users. You know how to do nothing. Layoff with the attitude.

    • Einhal says:

      At the risk of starting a firestorm, the real reason that people are biased against older people is that many older people are very set in their ways. That is fine for some things, but NOT fine in a service based economy very dependent on technology. We all know the people who insist on printing out every email and hand writing changes onto paper.

      Nobody wants to deal with that. Yes, this means that many qualified older people who do not act this way get the short end of the stick, but don’t pretend that it’s because people don’t want to be around age. That has nothing to do with it. What they don’t want is to have to spend hours picking up the slack of coworkers who refuse to do things the modern way.

      • TheRealMrDyno says:

        Look for the evolution of the hello world program.

        Then tell me the modern way is the efficient way.

      • Digger Dave says:

        I know plenty of young people that are pretty set in their ways and lack a lot of common sense and wisdom. Age is beneficial only insofar if the wisdom that a person has accumulated gets put to good use. But with age comes wisdom. All the workers are much more depth than anyone can realize. Ageism is 100% a factor in the United States of a backwards culture that discards and discounts old people. The knowledge to keep society going is dependent on aged wisdom. If The tech based economy ever completely crashes the younger generation is going to be completely flummoxed in trying to navigate a world where you can’t sell overpriced unnecessary services to people anymore. Better figure out how to get sustenance farming.

      • Happy1 says:

        I have to largely agree. As an older person. Too many people start to coast in their late 50s and not stay current in knowledge industries. Sometimes this is more than compensated by institutional knowledge and wisdom and mentorship, but more often it’s people hanging on until Medicare kicks in.

      • Mike r says:

        That’s why I started my own business before I got to be one of those ‘old people.’ I’m 60 now, and very much enjoying running my own business. The funny thing is there are no young people worth a damn that I’d ever hire, so those corporations I used to work for, can have all they want of basically worthless workers who don’t know squat, and are about 25% as productive as I am. I generate 7 figures in sales, and an equivalent business that has about 10 employees barely generates that, many of those employees under age 30. People these days just have no clue how to be productive, work smart, or make good business decisions. I have one part time employee, and I’ve trained her to handle a lot of the critical aspects of the operation in case I get sick. Corporations are largely bloated pigs, and so it’s inevitable the stock market has a long long way to go down, and the massive amount of layoffs that will begin in earnest in 2023, will keep on going for years. People are just going to have to get used to ever lower standards of living, as the $31 trillion in debt is going exponentially higher, as is all corporate and personal debt, due to increasing interest rates. The Fed is not going to whip inflation in services, taxes, government bloat, and will ultimately need an economic depression to deflate prices of hard goods. Before this is all over, rest assured the Fed will be abolished.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Good post

        • WolfGoat says:

          I don’t know about the abolishing Fed piece, but I sorta get the age-ism thing.

          I’m 66 and was raised to always do/try your best, because that defines your character and establishes your integrity. I live with ‘professionalism’ and CIVILITY.

          We’ve lost a lot of the civility in our country, not just because of ‘social media’, but because quite frankly, I think we teach our kids too much about grabbing what they think is theirs (me, me, me) and not about doing what’s best for society.

          Sad but true!

      • Biker Chique 01 says:

        Very humorous statement from someone most likely to be member of the age group that invented and practices “Quiet Quitting” and performing grudgingly even the bare minimum output at work.
        You should be happy to have someone older than you to pick up the slack created by a segment of a generation that practices Quite Quitting, hostile to work rules, like refusing to go into the workplace etc.
        As to technology, have no worries, in a decade or two, you may find yourself and or your job displaced by robots, automation, AI, machine learning, offshoring, etc.
        Much to your surprise, at times, ageism works in some curiously revengeful ways. Many from the age group you openly despise, end up in elected offices far superior and influential than yours, and even in spite of their advanced age end up making policy for you.
        “HAHA, GOTCHA”!
        ….”What they don’t want is to have to spend hours picking up the slack of coworkers who refuse to do things the modern way”.

        • Einhal says:

          To the extent that “quiet quitting” is going on, it’s because the Fed and Congress (and guess, what there are virtually no Millennials or Gen Z in those groups) have made work pointless. What’s the point of working if you can’t afford anything, because printing has sent assets (like houses) through the roof?

          When’s the last time you’ve worked in a workplace? While many older employees are hard workers, there are many others that expect tons of “support.” They’re the ones who refuse to book work travel or print things themselves. They send it to their “assistant” to do. I have never asked an assistant to do things I can easily do myself.

        • Lili Von Schtupp says:

          ‘Quiet quitting’ is a lame clickbait buzz phrase and more generational divisional nonsense.

          Most employees of the past 3+ decades realize, unlike during the WW2 gen, that when you work hard and competantly at a company, they reward you with even more work to do and less staff support to do it. Forget bonuses or yearly raises, they’ve done their best to withold what they can.

          My last company (large healthcare network) embraced the philosophy, “work smart, not hard!” And this was implemented by Boomer generation senior management for what it matters, and is embedded in employee training, leadership sessions, etc. What resulted was even more cut throat work culture as productivity & quality nose dived. Last I heard, the snakes are eating their own tails. Glad to be out.

          As far as generations in the work place, many larger companies hire or contract culture professionals, with titles such as Organization Culture Consultants or some such, who train management/HR and develop policies to adapt to the diversity and age of the workforce. Mostly it amounts to a lot of hot air and mind numbing Power Point presentations, but its not like companies are flying blind to who comprises their workforce.

          And they’re sure as hell tracking productivity in the age of WFH. Any idiot who thinks slacking off is now accepted and trendy is going to be first out the door in the impending downturn.

      • Ccat says:

        The real reason for discrimination against older workers is straightforward : we make more money. We know WTF we are doing and don’t tolerate fools (and bad ideas) lightly. Thus, we are first to get fired by dumbshit MBAs brought in to cut costs and straighten the path for stupid managers and nonsensical ideas.

        BTW, do you have any idea how little math an MBA degree actually requires? Very little, actually.

      • Ccat says:

        I will remind you that baby boomers invented the digital integrated circuit, designed and built the first and most all subsequent computers stuff, created All the programming languages we currently use, invented service oriented architecture SOA, the mouse and the GUI, the internet and most of its hardware, open source!, the jumbo jet plane, sent people into space, yada, yada, yada, ad nauseum, using simple affordable tools.

        Boomers remade the world.

        What have you done lately?

        • Random Youngsters says:

          Hehe, your emotional responses are just furthering some of the stereotypes.

          But seriously, enjoyed the article and the thoughtful responses by all.

        • Neel Kash & Kari says:

          Yeah they remade it allright – boomer CONgress and administrations remade the world into a debt laden chaos that ensures younger generations don’t have the same standard of living and opportunties they had.

          Boomers grew up in an era when there was something close to full employment almost all the time. Wages were going up with productivity, and productivity was going up very fast. Incomes were growing at the rate of 2 percent a year, something that we haven’t seen since.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Hey wait a minute… The “Silent Generation” runs the show in DC, and the boomers get blamed? WTF?

          Silent Generation leaders in Congress: Speaker Pelosi (D), Majority leader Steny Hamilton Hoyer (D), Senate Minority leader McConnell (R)

          Silent Generation in the White House: Biden, and Trump (1946) was on the edge between Silent and Boomer.

          Boomers in leadership: House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R), Senate majority leader Schumer (D)

          Your imagination in what era boomers grew up in is very fanciful. Boomers had the same unemployment rates as we have today. Except with boomers, women joined the work force in large number, thank god. And men had to compete with women for jobs, which was new at the time.

    • Freedom1789 says:

      And that has nothing to do with “capitalism”. Outside of “capitalism” I could agree with your points. In true “capitalism” the “capitalist” would do whatever it takes to make the most profit. If that was hiring “old folks” they would.

  18. Biker Chique 01 says:

    Trying to find logic in the data relating to labor market, GDP, population growth.
    USA population annual growth is approx. 0.4%
    GDP last 2 quarters has been negative, -1.6%, -0.6%
    Labor force is approx. 165 million
    Unfilled jobs totals approximately 10.1 million
    If the population growth is a meagre .4% and GDP is negative, is realistic to expect adding another 5 or 10 million to the workforce?

    • Augustus Frost says:

      The low unemployment rate post GFC recovery is entirely the result of very loose fiscal and monetary policy.

      Everyone who has read this site enough is familiar with ZIRP and QE. Now, go look at the trend in the USG budget pre-GFC vs. post-GFC. It varies by year, but most years, most or all “growth” is mostly or entirely due to difference in the rate of change in the federal budget deficit/outstanding debt.

      Without this incremental fiscal and monetary stimulus and the asset mania and loosest credit conditions in history that go with it, “growth” would have been mostly zero or negative. for 13 years running.

      Let that sink in.

      • AD says:

        When I was listening to economist talking heads on CNBC back in August 2013, they said that half of the gains in the stock market since 2009 was due to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

        Notice the Fed (under Yellen) did not raise interest rates until around the second half of 2016.

        GDP only grew about 1.8% annually from 2009 to 2016 as the economy was recovered from the Great Recession.

        Inflation only averaged approximately 2% even with the Fed Funds rate at 0.25%.

        I am not sure what would have happened to the GDP growth rate if the Fed would have raised the Fed funds rate as early as 2013.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          “GDP only grew about 1.8% annually from 2009 to 2016 as the economy was recovered from the Great Recession.”

          In the aggregate, close to or more than 100% of this “growth” correlates to higher government deficits vs. pre-GFC.

          This is also the aggregate source of increasing domestic profits while concurrently, profits in China, the EU, and Japan also substantially or entirely came from fake “growth”.

        • Auto-outsider says:

          We will ever know how the economy would have grown sans the financial repression. Imagine what all the savers could have done had they been earning 5-6% on the rainy day funds. The current situation would have not been necessary.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      @Biker Chique 01

      “If the population growth is a meagre .4% and GDP is negative, is realistic to expect adding another 5 or 10 million to the workforce?”

      No, I don’t think so.

  19. Ed7 says:

    Office jobs of all kinds began to be exported in very large numbers roughly in 2000.

    The internet was robust enough, the software tools were there, and companies had learned during Y2K efforts that you could high Indian software engineers for cheap piece work.

    But it wasn’t just software. Call centers, accounting work, paralegal work, analysis of x-rays, hardware design, all kinds of back office work got sent overseas.

    (I recall being told by a new manager circa 2005 that we all had to work harder because Indian hardware designers were making so much less. He told all of his engineers that! And then retracted it. He meant “smarter”, he said a week later by email.)

    • phleep says:

      Re-shoring may be a slow boat. But it is a component of this year’s chip legislation and the “Inflation Reduction Act.” The USA did a re-calibration with Japan in the 80s on car manufacturing, so there is some precedent. It seems like the populists and labor movement types might find common ground on this, if they can stay out of the manipulated, channeled, pre-chewed grievance menu of the red and blue teams.

      • Prairie Rider says:


        Don’t forget the 1983, President Ronnie Reagan 45% “Harley tariff” on Japanese motorbikes over 700cc.

        The Japanese were not amused by this act of protectionism. So they ramped up production on smaller bikes — which then flooded the market with fine mid-sized bikes that were soon to be sold, as new, a few years after production, for pennies on the dollar.

        An ’83 Yamaha Seca 650 was my machine for a while. Well engineered and well made. Thanks to Ronnie’s ass kissing of Milwaukee, it was mine for $1,200 brand new in 1985.

        Two years prior, Ronnie had it in for the air-traffic controllers also. Unions? On strike? Not with President Reagan at the helm. Fired all 11,359 of them!

        • Freedom1789 says:

          A quick google search belies your point:

          Forty years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored a court order to return to work and banned them from federal service for life. It was a defining moment early in his presidency.

          Two days earlier, on August 3, 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) union declared a strike. President Reagan considered the strike a “peril to national safety” and ordered air traffic controllers back to work under the terms of the Taft–Hartley Act. That morning, he stated: “Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit when they accepted their jobs: ‘I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.’”

          President Reagan went on to say about the striking air traffic controllers, “they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.” When only 1,300 of the nearly 13,000 controllers bothered to show up for work two days later, he followed through with his warning.

          The members of PATCO had endorsed Mr. Reagan during the 1980 election, so his actions were not political punishment. Plus, Mr. Reagan had once been a union leader when he served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild. On the day of the firing, he said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for them. I certainly take no joy out of this.”

        • Prairie Rider says:


          Yes, PATCO employees had an obligation not to strike. President Reagan was in a difficult position, and of course it is a matter of safety to have airplanes properly guided by the control towers.

          95% of PATCO member voted to strike. The FAA was negotiating on the other end of the deal. Congress later said the real cause for the strike was autocratic management by the FAA. This added to the high stress levels that the air-traffic controllers were already under, and convinced 19 out of 20 of them to make the decision to strike.

          PATCO was represented by Robert Poli in the negotiations. When they announced they would strike, on 3 August, the FAA did not budge and did not change their final offer. Poli and Reagan definitely butted heads on this, and you’re quite right, it was a defining moment for President Reagan.

        • Apple says:

          How dare people not obey the authority of the government.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Apple, air traffic controllers were in violation of the contract they signed.

        • rick m says:

          The FAA was and is autocratic. Bend an airplane in their jurisdiction and you’ll find out. Contracts made with autocratic organizations are no less valid or enforceable. The writings of ATCs during the standoff betray their lack of confidence in their own position. I was proud of President Reagan for his response
          There’s a reason why most union membership is among government employees, what other employer keeps “unessential” employees around? They’ve got to protect their phoney-baloney jobs, harrumph!

  20. FinePrintGuy says:

    Not that it explains everything but automation is clearly being applied where it can. I’ve noticed my local grocer doesn’t have the regular checkout staffed anymore in favor of the self checkout. One guy monitoring four machines. Works in a higher trust level neighborhood. I’ve got no complaints about it.

    On the worker side – I’ve noticed a lot of the higher salary types at my mega corp retiring in their mid 50s- sayonara to the rat race! Maybe thanks to high wealth levels and some adaptability. Unfortunately their wisdom and experience is lost forever…

    • Harvey Mushman says:


      “On the worker side – I’ve noticed a lot of the higher salary types at my mega corp retiring in their mid 50s- sayonara to the rat race!”

      – Just curious, were they managerial types or technical types or both?

      “Unfortunately their wisdom and experience is lost forever…”

      I wonder if your company Knows this… I wonder if my company knows this?

      • josap says:

        Older workers cost more. Older workers have difficulty fitting in with younger workers.

        • tom20 says:

          Older workers easy to work with. Not woke, or worried if your offended. Their time off for doctors appointments is less than the youngsters days off due to “stress”.

        • Apple says:

          It’s like your saying our capitalistic medical care system penalizes older workers.

          Too bad it can never be changed.

        • RedRaider says:

          … Older workers have difficulty fitting in with younger workers

          Older workers aren’t willing to take as much crap as younger workers. The same seems to hold when % of women on staff starts increasing. I think with women it’s a matter of family second income. They’re not as career oriented as they are 2nd income oriented – much more willing to put up with crap. When the women move in it’s time for career oriented people to move out.

          This phenom seems to reach a fevered pitch at age 55. It becomes time to find another job or simply retire.

          My parents had 3 sons. 2 retired at 55. The third retired at 65. He was trying for the increased SS check at 67 but even he couldn’t stomach the crap coming his way.

        • RedRaider says:


          Older workers are clogging the corporate ladder (especially if we’re talking boomers. Advancement becomes difficult for the younger generation. And anger/resentment for the older worker builds. By the time you’re 55 the younder workers are ready to tar and feather you.

    • Immutable says:

      Tom20, So true.
      I was amazed by what I saw in the younger workers just before I retired.

  21. OTH says:

    I started looking for someone to hire as a helper for my carpentry business. After about 3 weeks I ended up with 3 people who were looking for a job. A 15 year old girl, a homeless guy, and a convicted murderer. Labor market is as tight as a frogs…

  22. Double Bluff says:

    Thinking of applying for a tech job since the job market is so tight. Still remember my DOS command to delete something: Control KB, KK, KY. If they don’t hire me it’s gotta be age discrimination.

  23. Ervin says:

    Read this in the Charleston SC newspaper. The articles was lamenting that the city had a budget for 27 full time employees at $30,000/ yr + benefits to help maintain the cities stormwater drainage systems but only had 7 people employed and at the writing nobody in line to be hired. Contorted Indeed.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Try $45,000 per year. That might work. $30,000 a year is about $15/hr. You think you could find a better job for $15/hr? Of find similar job for $20 to $30/hr? That is part of the problem.

      • Ervin says:

        What I left unsaid was, I’m 19 working on my GED living at at home. A city storm system, as you know consists of ditches, street drains and pipes. If a young person is willing to show up for work and wiling to sweat, they have a job. Plus medical, paid vacation, paid holidays. A city of 150,000 population and no takers.

      • Flea says:

        Went to Home Depot needed fence hangers for 2×4 young guy said I’ll get forklift ,to lower them from top shelf. Came back told me he was too busy,older employee walked by asked if he could help got a ladder lowered them down .Then proceeded to explain younger generation only wants to be on phone or loafing .Also mad about 15$ wage ready to quit ,asked why they don’t fire them ,replied no one to replace them . Management needs to get some balls. Flea

  24. david pare says:

    On Friday, the BLS disability survey showed that the number of disabled people (CNP 16+) (FRED: LNU00074597) jumped by 907,000 this month.

    That’s up 3.2 million since 2021. Curiously, self-reported disability fell by 1m people during 2020.

    Note: there are now more disabled women than disabled men CLF 16-64 (LNU01076960 vs LNU01076955). First time ever this year. Something appears to have disabled 142k 16-64 American CLF-women just last month. And notice how the 16-64 CLF group (men, women) lines up directionally with the 16+ CNP group? So this disability effect isn’t just among “old people”. And it started screaming higher in 2021.

    I have this friend of mine, a relatively in-shape 20-something with no underlying conditions, who is now having heart troubles (pain, and a racing heart) when he exercises. This started in 2023. He is not disabled – not yet anyway. This anecdote lines up with the data series. Do you guys have any anecdotes of surprising “new health conditions” that line up with the rise in disability shown in these series?

    My prediction: as long as labor force disability continues to dramatically increase, the job market will remain tight. Even in a recession, if you remove 300,000 people from the CLF (labor force) in just one month, the labor market will remain tight.

    And – if we don’t follow the data where it leads, we will end up being more and more surprised by the outcomes. And surprises can lead to capital market losses. Which (I’m told) can be disagreeable.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      david pare

      -You cite the total number of people with a disability — they’re NOT “disabled,” as you’ll see in a moment — Half of them were age 65 and over!! That’s what you get when you’re 80. You’re gonna have some kind of a disability (bad vision, for example, or hearing loss).

      – 38% of the people with a disability were in the labor force (compared to 77% of the people without disability), DUH, they’re working or looking for a job. “people with a disability” (the correct term) doesn’t mean they don’t work.

      – but people with a disability have trouble getting hired, and their unemployment rate is higher = 8.3%

      – In 2021, 29% of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with 16% for those with no disability.

      – Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. Because they’re having trouble getting hired by employers.

      • david pare says:

        Wolf – I referenced three different series in my comment, not one.
        I agree with your assessment on the first series (CLF 16+), but not with your assessment on the other two series. Just in case you missed these other two series, they are: LNU01076955, and LNU01076960. That’s CLF 16-64 men & women, with a disability.

        Note that 64 (and that’s the top end of the range) is substantially lower than 80. This underscores that these are working age people.

        But ultimately, I don’t care about the specific number of currently disabled. What I care about is the INCREASE in disability over the course of the last 18 months.

        Even if only 50% of the 16-64 “people with a disability” are in fact unable to work, that represents a massive decrease in the CLF. It would explain – using a numerical series, rather than just speculation – why CLF16OV hasn’t gone anywhere, while CNP16OV continues to move higher. (And, by the way, this is happening while US lifespan continues to decline, now down 0.9 years in 2021 alone).

        Flip this around. Explain the change. Explain why the number for both CLF 16-64/disabled series jumped so dramatically – to new all time highs – if there were no actual underlying increase in disability.

        Did America just suddenly decide to lie on the survey in 2021? Or was it something else? Like, maybe, an increase in disability.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          david pare,

          Seems you don’t even know how to read what you cite.

          This series you cite LNU01076955 title = “Civilian Labor Force – With a Disability, 16 to 64 Years, Men” — These are men who are working or are looking for a job.

          This series you cite LNU01076960 title = “Civilian Labor Force – With a Disability, 16 to 64 Years, Women” — these are women with a disability who are working or are looking for a job.

          You still don’t get it. You keep using “disabled.” That is toxic braindead BS. These are people who are working or looking for a job DESPITE their disability. They are in the labor force.

          Read the goddamn titles of the charts that you cite!!! These people do not contribute to the shortage of the labor force because they are IN THE LABOR FORCE.

          The strong job market brought them back into the labor force: they got a job and are working, or are looking for a job. And that’s why they entered the labor force, and that’s why the labor force of people with a disability jumped. DUH.


  25. dougzero says:

    My labor anecdote from holiday on east coast.
    Restaurants that were open 6 or even 7 days a week for years are not now. 3 or 4 days only, starting on Wed or Thur. And/or they no longer serve lunch. Eating out costs a lot more than a year ago.
    We discussed this while eating out with relatives from Pittsburgh and they said the same was true there with their favorite restaurants. Until then I had thought the lack of labor was a local phenomena. The data presented here shine a light on the situation. Thank you.

  26. Richard Greene says:

    I prefer to compare raw data for one month with the same month in the prior year

    September 2021
    Raw data: +704,000 new payroll jobs
    Reported adjusted data: +194,000 new payroll jobs

    September 2022
    Raw data: +431,000 new payroll jobs
    Reported adjusted data: +263,000 new payroll jobs

    My analysis:
    If +704,000 new jobs in September 2021 resulted in
    +194,000 new jobs reported to the general public,
    then it makes no sense to me that only +431,000 new jobs in September 2022 resulted in +263,000 new jobs being reported to the general public.

    The seasonal adjustments for September 2022 must have been very different than the seasonal adjustments for September 2021.

    I see no logical reason for such large differences in seasonal adjustments from year to year. Therefore, I must dismiss the reported adjusted payroll numbers as being worthless.

  27. james wordsworth says:

    – If you are a 20 something and you have a choice (as you will with a tight market) do you really want to work at McDonalds? In tight markets the “unattractive” jobs are going to be hard to fill. That’s why the big shift to self checkout, self ordering. Any rational person is going to go for the best pay with the least work (or more attractive work conditions). A lot of low end service jobs are NOT attractive. I mean – who wants to work in a call center – that’s why if I ever call quickbooks all their call center folks are in the Philippines.
    -But there are a lot of jobs where automation has not kicked in – primarily service jobs. Think teachers, nurses, retail. A lot are/were primarily female filled. But now more than half of university students are female … so your pool to fill these from new females entering the workforce is reduced. Plus these work conditions have become less and less attractive as the worker shortage intensifies. Hence nurses quitting in droves.
    -We now have an automation versus people dynamic going on. In order for people to compete with increasingly “intelligent?” machines, people are having to work longer hours or faster, or smarter or all of those. This makes the work environment more stressful – and less enjoyable. People can not just add in an extra module and become better – so eventually machines will win in many functions. Older folks who can retire do, they just don’t want to put up with the increasingly toxic work environment driven more and more by efficiency at any cost.
    -Competition/capitalism drives companies to treat employees like crap (how many people do you know that “like” their job/where they work?). So quiet quitting is a logical response by a rational employee.

    -Americans seem to work to live. In a modern world this is increasingly stressful. There was a time folks worked 6 or 7 days a week. Now it is time to go to a 4 day week.
    -Bigger tax breaks for seniors that keep working, or come back into the work force. This is a huge pool of folks who will work the lower end service jobs if it pays.
    – Lower Medicare to 55+, making it cheaper to hold onto older workers.
    – Tax wealth more. Tax high income more.

  28. Tony 22 says:

    On Agism and local hiring:

    “You want me to spend money here? Hire people my age to work here as well as pay enough so my neighbors kids can as well.”

    Getting really tired of dealing with a Central American village when I go into my local bakery and try to interact with people that work there. Meanwhile the owner’s $100,000 Audi, with New York plates, is parked in the reserved parking place.

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