The Job Market December 2016

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, and his views on the job market.

“I have been blogging about the job market in the US and around the world since August 2001.”

What I write is not designed to be political or critical; they are my observations and sense of where we are and where we are going.


December 2016

As we come to the end of the Obama Presidency, it seems like a good time to do a recap an analysis of the successes and failures of the past 8 years and come to some conclusions about the progress the nation has made.

CNBC recently reported that since the bottom reached in the US economy, the United States has created 5.7 new positions. Other surveys claim as many as 14 million new positions. That is fabulous news for those able to find work. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 94.7 million have given up looking for work. 14 million people now receive a disability check from the government.

However, when you start breaking down the nature of the work created, it seems much of the work has been in the form of “alternative work arrangements,” rather than full time or traditional jobs.

What the heck is an alternative work arrangement? It is a contractor or freelance work situation–it can be a contract technology consultant or Uber driver, a person who works on Upwork or a work from home employee attached to single firm. As a matter of fact, according to two professors, Alan B. Krueger (Princeton) and Lawrence Katz (Harvard), less than half of 1% (0,4%) of new positions fall into traditional work arrangements.

Yet, here is a basic fact . . . there is a disconnect in how people think and feel the economy is doing and what is being reported. It is the basic reason why our new President was elected. He tapped into the disconnect the fury that separated economic, political, urban and other elites from the rest of the country. Even though Secretary Clinton received many more votes than President-Elect Trump did, he won “fly over states” (Heartland of America states flown over by elites traveling from one coast to another) that rarely voted Republican (there are other reasons that have nothing to do with Russian hacking but that is for another time). He did so because he convinced people that he could improve the economy for people like them that had not benefited from the growth of jobs.

Diane Sawyer of ABC News did a show for “2020” called “My Reality,” that spoke to the conditions that many Americans experience. She traveled to Silicon Valley and elsewhere to speak with workers of different sorts about their experience. One heartbreaking story (at least for me) were the contract workers at Google who drove the buses in the morning and in the evening to shuttle Google employees to and from work. They were not paid for their time in the middle of the day when they were not driving so they slept in their buses and vans during those hours. Later, they went to another job for more work.

There were stories of the people who were working three part time job who dropped young children off at overnight day care where their children slept on mats with their blankies from home. Thus, when I read the December jobs report indicate 150000 new jobs created and the triumph on the face of politicians and financial pundits about an improving economy, I compare it with the report of the two academics and realize that may only be the equivalent of 50000 – 75000 new full time jobs created! GASP!

A friend who is a computer consultant told me about picking up three work-from-home gigs for firms in Texas, Washington, DC and Chicago. I asked a financial columnist whether these were treated as “jobs” in the report even though he was only doing 10-20 hours with each firm. Yes, three jobs were created for the purpose of the jobs report. Two governors and one mayor (DC, of course, does not have a Governor), claimed credit for his job.

Nick Corcodilos of “Ask The Headhunter,” recently wrote, “The jobs news is so contradictory that nobody knows — or will admit — what’s really going on. While the government, economists, banks and pundits spin a story that makes heads spin, I think the wisdom about all this is in the crowd. The people living, succeeding, failing, giving up, dropping out, scraping by and dying in this economy have a clearer picture of what’s really going on than what’s being reported.”

We are being hoodwinked and this is not unique to this presidency.

Until the US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the number of full time jobs AND part time/temp jobs in its headline report, instead of leaving it buried in the U6 report of people who would like to work full time but are unable to find full time jobs 

“American voters have spoken and this bitter election has come to an end. Many monumental tasks face our new president, the economy, our Veterans, rebuilding our depleted military, health care, re-negotiating trade deals and bringing jobs back to America. But the biggest task facing our new President is healing our nation and bringing us together as one. But this task doesn’t belong to just him, it belongs to all of us. We must work out our differences, respect one another even if we don’t agree, treat each other the way we want to be treated. The Lord said “love thy neighbor, as you love yourself” . It’s time we start doing that even if we don’t agree with one another. We live in the greatest nation in the world, enjoy the best freedoms & liberties, let’s now remember we ALL are Americans and start treating each other with kindness. God bless each one of us, God bless our new President, and God bless America, I pray he helps us heal our nation’s wounds.”

Please: No comments about the last quote. 


(©) Jeff Altman, Asheville, NC 2017


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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He now exclusively does executive job search coaching. is there to change that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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