Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recession Fatigue

Take This Job and Shove It:

With 14 million people unable to find work and job prospects seemingly bleak, why are more employees calling it quits?

According to government data released last week, in the first nine months of the year, about 17.3 million people left their jobs by choice. That's up 9% from last year, when just under 16 million people called it quits through September. And that rate appears to be increasing. In September alone, just over 2 million told their boss they were taking a hike - the most since November 2008 - an 11% increase from a year earlier.

What's this? After four years of relentless doom and gloom, is recession as a form of social control finally ending? Are workers, tired of being exploited with "You should be thankful you have a job! This is the worst recession since the Great Depression! Double Dip is Coming! Europe is Tanking!" headlines, finally saying they've had enough? Is it a sign that (gasp) things are actually improving economically?

According to a report out from the Labor Department today, the number of people applying for new unemployment benefits last week dropped to its lowest level in seven months. What's more, people's opinion of their job prospects clearly seem to be improving. According to a recent survey by job-search site Snagajob, 44% of respondents who quit in the past year did so believing they would find a better opportunity elsewhere, up from 31% the year before. Movement in the workforce is a good thing. It puts pressure on employers to raise salaries so that they can retain workers.

Hilarious. Every first Friday of the month, Big Media goes into full social control mode over the new "jobs report" showing "anemic growth" and a measly 100,000 or so jobs being created. Fear and warning pervade, while American workers are told to stay put and hang on, "it's going to get worse before it gets better."

Now we know that collective whooshing you hear is the American workforce yawning. As I've been saying for more than three years now, recessions are psychological more than they are systemic. When the workers are straightjacketed with doom and gloom prognostications from economists, they pull back and hunker down. This causes consumer spending to dry up and credit to freeze up, which in turn leads to more layoffs, etc.

Now it appears workers are finally realizing their plight and saying they've had enough. If you've been reading the latest poverty statistics (with the newly calibrated supplemental measurement to include the benefits of social welfare programs), the one over-riding theme is that most people realize their bad state in this current economy and many are leaving jobs anyway.

Poverty itself is both lower and higher, depending on the measurements, but as I've lectured in class for over a decade now, when half of society lives at a working class wage or lower, you may not call that poverty, but it certainly is unequal. Now it seems as though the Census takers are catching on as well.

I also like the supplemental measurement because it shows the value of all those pesky "government handouts" the oldsters and anti-government cranks love to decry today (while busily cashing said Social Security checks, medicare reimbursements, etc.). Poverty, in other words, would be a helluva lot worse today were it not for these social programs.

None of this is to suggest that the world's economic problems don't exist or are simply a mirage. But a strong economy includes a safety net, new jobs, spending, cutting, and a workforce ready to go to work.

With more than 5-7 million job openings and another 2 million people walking out on their current jobs, I would suggest things are way better than Big Media and other outlets of social control would suggest.

Not happy days are here again, but the fear factor of this "great recession" is obviously waning, and people have simply had enough.


MRMacrum said...

I own my own business. My economic meltdown predated the national bottom dropping by at least 18 months. I have spent the last 3 years reinventing my business model and am finally comfortable with where it is headed. I have lowered my expectations, lowered my prices and concentrated on building customer loyalty based on service and price. Gross profit is down, but so are my payables. With less debt, I can get by on less business.

In other words, I never bought into the recession as I was already in one anyway. So things are looking up for me and my bike shop because I frankly just do not give a damn what happens on Wall Street, in DC, or anywhere else that does not directly affect my store. I deal with what is in front of me.

Todd Krohn said...

I think most small business owners, my wife included, would agree with you. Not only do you have to reinvent your business model, but you learn to tune out what politicians, from D.C. to your local county commission, say about how much they want to "help small business."

Clinton said something interesting the other day in an interview. The banks are sitting on roughly $3 trillion in cash. If they started lending again, the recession would be over yesterday.

Instead, know-nothing pols promise small business owners "tax breaks" which of course are useless if the business isn't there to begin with. Until credit starts flowing again, we're stuck in neutral.