Poor Job Numbers but Subtle Positive Signs

The August Job Report is coming out tomorrow and everything points to another shrinkage in the job market – possibly a big one. No one expects the trend to change until next year. So that leaves 2008 as a lost year for the American worker. Well at least from the perspective of having many opportunities. But there are some positive signs floating around.

The first is the global economy is slowing. Everyone else thinks this is bad because the export business will finally take down the US economy. I see this as a good thing. I’ll use a sport analogy. Suppose your team never makes the playoffs and year after year the team keeps making moves thinking it will get closer to that goal. Well eventually the team does make the playoffs and everyone is excited. Unfortunately the team loses in the first round. It still beat expectations. But now suppose you are a team that makes the playoffs every year and lately you get beat early. Your expectations are to win the whole shebang, not just make the playoffs. At some point you know a new approach is needed to win the whole thing. That is what is happening with the world economy and the US economy. The world economy is just pumped to make the playoffs but the US knows it now needs to take a different approach. This soul searching will deepen what was thought to be a resilient business landscape.

The second is a combination of the service sector growing (came in with a reading of 50.6 from 49.2), productivity improved to 4.3% (revised from 3.2%), and labor costs did not rise on an inflationary basis. These three factors make me believe that when the next cycle begins (seems like everyone is gearing to January ’09) it will roar. There are too many innovations currently taking a back seat to the sour economic times.

Finally, even though more and more people are losing their jobs (and even more are going without work for longer periods), those with jobs are at least somewhat satisfied with the job.  An article by Christopher Kirkpatrick in the Charlotte Observer called Never Mind the Economy Job Satisfaction’s Up points to a Gallop poll conducted in early August that revealed 48% of Americans “completely satisfied” and another 42% are “somewhat satisfied.” You can derive that the employee is enjoying the work. When you factor in the first two positive signs I observe with the engaged and committed US worker you see rapid development – all of it earned as well.


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