Today's release of the October jobs report showed the loss of another 190,000 jobs had pushed the official unemployment rate to 10.2%, only the second time since the Great Depression that unemployment was quoted in double digits (factoring in workers who had given up job hunting altogether or have settled for part-time work would push that rate to 17.5%). That didn't stop Wall Street pundits from trying to fashion a silk purse of this sow's ear. The 'green shoots' crowd focused on the slowing pace of job losses, the nascent economic 'recovery' (even if it is jobless), and the projected improvement in 2010. No mention was even made of the quality of what few jobs were being created.
The analysts completely ignored the continued trend of replacing goods-producing jobs with those jobs that require production from other sources. For example, we lost 61,000 manufacturing jobs last month, but added 45,000 jobs in education and health services. In particular, the addition of health workers is nothing to celebrate. Just as a family's economic position is not improved by higher medical bills, the country as a whole does not benefit from increased health-care spending. Until this trend reverses, our unbalanced economy will not regain its stability, a real recovery will never take hold, and the overall job outlook will get much bleaker.