Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

January 7, 2011 1:37:20 PM PST
There's an old adage that you should have six months worth of living expenses in the bank, just in case.

For millions of people, if they had been lucky or smart or whatever-enough to have saved that kind of dough, that cushion is about to run out.

Lost in the supposed good economic news of the economy adding 103,000 private-sector jobs last month were several other numbers with lots of zeroes that are gaspingly bad. Consider this: More than 14.5 million people were out of work in December, and that includes 6.4 million who haven't had a job for at least six months. Their cushion, if they ever had one, is about to run out. It's crisis time for them.

And turning the unemployment stats into a funny-number equation is this nifty bit of data: The labor force actually declined by 260,000 last month. That means you take that quarter million or so peeps out of both the numerator and denominator for figuring unemployment and the 9.4% rate that a few people are applauding (because it's the lowest rate since a year ago July) is suddenly not as pretty as the applause would suggest.

There is a variety of reasons, I suppose, that the labor force declined ? maybe someone had a baby, or went back to school, or, much more likely, just decided to drop out of the workforce because they couldn't find a job after x-number of years of looking.

But any jubilation over the drop in unemployment and the increase in jobs has to be a tad tempered by the real-world view of the numbers.

I'm just sayin'.

And one more sobering note, which comes from the Brookings Institution. If the U.S. doubled the number of jobs added in December every month into the future, which means creating 203,000 jobs a month, it would take until 2022 to match the number of Americans employed at the beginning of 2008.

Wow. This isn't a glass half-full or half-empty situation. It's just the reality that we have a long way to go.

And paralleling the tough times for Americans these days is a rosy picture for American corporations or at least the biggest of them. Fourth quarter profits, which will start getting reported in the next few weeks, are predicted to be higher than any other quarter in the past 19 years. And with the stock market continuing to rise, it means that the recession is way over on Wall Street and in the corporate boardrooms, but still lingering in the living rooms of most Americans.

We'll have the latest on the economy, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we'll take a look at how Mayor Bloomberg and New York City, so slammed for an inadequate response to last week's blizzard, were ready for the storm that passed to the north today. The plows were ready. I even saw chains on a sanitation truck, (with a "third term?" sketched in the dust) ? the workers seemed ready. But in the end, they weren't needed.

We're also up in the northern 'burbs, where snow did fall, and the clean up begins.

And Nina Pineda tonight has the story of a 34-year-old Wall Streeter who his leaving his lucrative investment banking job and joining the Army, bound for Iraq or Afghanistan. The why's-he-doing-this isn't the story. The why-isn't-his-building's-management-company-letting-him-out-of-his-lease is.

Khalil Jackson had asked to get out of his lease early, to join the military ? and in fact federal law gives recruits a pass on car and house leases. But Khalil had to call Nina and get 7 On Your Side to get the leasing company to follow the law.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with the weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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