Flooding Unemployment

We feel relief and entertain hope as flood waters continue to rise but at a slower pace. That’s the reaction to May’s unemployment report just released by the Labor Department.

“Only” 345,000 jobs were lost in May, making it the first month since October 2008 that the economy has shed less than 500,000 jobs.

In a 6/6/09 WSJ article, Justin Lahart examines the underlying labor data that reveal some trends in the US work force. Constituting 86% of the labor force, service jobs represent almost all of the US economy, nearly completing a decades long shift to a service economy. In this sector, May’s job loss of 120,000 was about half of April’s 230,000 job loss. Since this recession started in December 2007, the Labor Dept reports an all time record of service jobs lost. Some historic records are better to read about than live through.

Although manufacturing jobs are less than ten percent of the work force, companies let go even more factory workers than service workers in May.

In American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips notes that, in the past four hundred years, the decline of all leading economic powers, the Spanish, Dutch and English, have been marked by a pronounced shift in their economy away from producing goods to finance and services. Maybe it will be different this time around.

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