September 2010 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for September 2010 (based on the job report):

Net loss
of 95,000 jobs in the month

  • Census workers accounted for a loss of 73,500 workers and government hiring as a whole lost 159,000
  • Private sector payrolls increased by 64,000 (July revised to a gain of 117,000 and 93,000 last month)
  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 18,000
  • One year ago the US lost 225,000 jobs
  • August was revised to a loss of 57,000 from an original reading of a loss of 54,000
  • July was revised to a loss of 66,000 jobs from a revision of 54,000 jobs and an original reading of 131,000 lost jobs
  • 6.1 million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term unemployed) – virtually unchanged from August

    • 41.7% of the unemployed are long term unemployed
  • Businesses
    (private sector) have now added 863,000 jobs since the start of
    2010, after cutting 8.5 million in 2008 and 2009 combined

Unemployment rate stayed at 9.6%

  • Analysts predicted it would be 9.7%
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.5% – unchanged
  • The U-6 report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), rose to 17.1% from 16.5% two months ago (it had held steady for a few months)
  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 54.4% and the 17th consecutive month of readings over 50 percent.
    Anything above 50% means the machines are running, but the rate has been declining

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing lost 6,000 jobs
  • Construction lost 21,000 jobs
  • Retailers added 5,700 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services grew by 38,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 159,000, Federal losses were 76,000
  • Education and Health Services grew by 17,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 32,000

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 14,000
  • Mostly added by the 16.900 jobs added in Temporary Help

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average weekly paycheck (seasonally adjusted) is $639.85 – an increase of 32 cents
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.10 – an increase of a penny
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.5 hours

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Report Stats Summary

Inspiration and Institutions

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of several best sellers including a favorite of mine The Tipping Point, wrote a New Yorker article last week about the bonds of Social Networking tools like Twitter and Facebook. To explain his point he describes the fears and risks of the “sit in” generation of the 1960s. Social change at that time required a particular type of nerve: courage and restraint. It was needed because the threats, occasionally deadly, were often carried out. They knew they had to endure because their weakness would lead to weakness in others. Gladwell calls these strong bonds.

6.2 million people have been unemployed for more than six months. Being without work for that long is troubling to the mind. Being available in case something comes up and the instability of simply not knowing is tough. Plus it’s lonely. But 6.2 million is a big number and it means there’s probably someone within your community who is in the same predicament. That is where a site called comes in. It’s a means for those without work to exchange messages, thoughts, and prospects. But besides the fringe benefits of venting, it’s a market for helping each other. That’s the genius of it, these people have time and unused skills available. And this is just the short term benefit. Strong bonds might be the long term benefit.

When I was about eight years old, I remember the pull the professional wrestling. “Who won Wrestlemania?” I’d ask my dad because it was too late for me to stay up. This was the ’80s and wrestling wasn’t obvious about the scripted action yet. People like Hulk Hogan would get the crowd going with their back stage interviews. In the late ’90s a resurgence followed and people could smell what The Rock was cooking. The camera would pan the stands and see signs with clever sayings like “Hogan was a Flintstone” and “This Space for Rent.” Everyone would chant the catch phrases and nothing would be better than Jerry Lawyler’s high pitch announcement of a surprise wrestler “WHAT?! That’s Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music!” Simply exciting.

But this type of connection is weak. It’d only last while the entertainment was going and then it was time to move on to something else. I think this is what Gladwell was trying to get across with his New Yorker piece. That Twitter and other Social Networks are forms of entertainment and have no lasting kinship. But we are also in a society where the threat of an act is all that is needed. It’s pretty powerful. So getting a few thousand signatures via facebook isn’t the same as a “sit-in” but it sends the message to the offending party that they could be in a costly confrontation. And then they have to decide if it’s worth it.

I mention all this because I think a real test of these tools is underway. The US election cycle for 2012 will begin in about six weeks. About a year later we’ll begin to see a lot of movement around a third party candidate. Thomas Friedman in the NY Times writes about the idea in a Op-Ed piece called Third Party Rising . He should have used a former wrestler as an example – Jesse Ventura ran a grass roots campaign in the mid ’90s, about the time the Rock was cooking, and became governor of Minnesota. Michael Bloomberg might give it a shot, we’ll see, but I don’t think a third party can win, but he can get close, and the mere threat should send shock waves to the Democrat and Republican Parties. From a business perspective, the time is right to capitalize on the on coming need and use of the strong and weak bonds.

Working Thoughts 10/4/08
September 2008 Jobs Report and Wages

Billions of Dollars: Giving, Spending, Fighting, Accumulating, Owing, Losing, and Earning

The smart people over to created something called a The Billion Dollar-o-Gram . Its a Treemap. I don’t visually get why its called that, but it’s the method for displaying heirarchical data by using nested rectangles.

What I like about it is the relationships. Understanding proportions when talking about big numbers is difficult, so an illustration like the one below helps immensely, especially when people mention a few billion spent on this or a few billion going on that.

I suggest checking out a book by them as well. It’s called The Visual Miscellaneum and it’s $17.81 over at .

One more item about their work, they provide a link to all their supporting data .

“The Gap is Between Doing Nothing and Doing Something”

Clay Shirky in the video below hits on themes that run throughout this blog. His 13:08 of audio/video is time well spent. He mentions:

  • Free Time
    • Couch Potatoes
    • Good at Consuming
  • Creativity – People like to create
    • Cats
  • Intrinsic Motivations
    • Kenya
    • Design for Generosity
  • Tacit Information
    • Crisis Map
  • Communal Value
  • Civic Value
  • Humor

The blog Information Is Beautiful did a fun illustration using a stat from the speech – 200 billion hours of Watching TV a year and the time spent working on Wikipedia. Quite the comparison.

What Do You Know about Your Produce?

My last entry talked about how the unemployment numbers were not evenly distributed across education bases. I don’t imagine anyone thought it would be, but my point is that those who lack an education, especially younger workers who lack experience, should be the focus of job programs. I’d like to see education and training programs help this group get meaningful jobs .

But the second part of my last entry was about how many illegal immigrants are doing agricultural work, specifically field work. There’s an idea that illegal immigrants take jobs from American’s. It’s true, but not in every case. The farming example is one where many unemployed American’s haven’t applied.

What I observed about my own thinking on the subject is that I had little idea how produce reaches my grocery store. Some of it could come from local growers and some can come from China or somewhere like that. I’m not trying to sound ridiculous, but for some reason I also think of farming like I do manufacturing – automated. For grains that is probably true, but for fruits it isn’t. Someone has to bend over and pick the strawberries, blueberries, or tomatoes .

I was recently reminded about a NYC law requiring menus at some eateries to display the calories of the dish. The idea being an informed public would make better eating decisions. The notion is correct but the implementation is off. If someone is out to eat, they are purposefully out to enjoy a meal. Calories are down the list of considerations.

What I’d like to see is a narrative on the produce like a label on a cereal box. A short factual story about how the fruit arrived at the grocer. For instance, if it came from 20 miles away I’d like to know. I;d like to know the day it’s picked. If the person who picked it is 34, a female, and works a 35 hour work week, I’d like to know that too. The idea is that if I compared a subsidized bag of apples from China, which is 30 cents cheaper to a locally grown bag, I’d probably go with the locally grown. Even if I’m price sensitive I’d still have to assume the local produce is fresher and therefore higher quality.

Narratives with data in it will help guide decisions. Once the market adjusts to this digestable (pun intended – ha ha) data format, the local demand should increase and jobs too. A win-win for everyone.

To Succeed in Life You Must Have the Ability to Accept Failure as an Outcome, Rebound From It, and Try Again.

Tonight one of my favorite movies was on. The Usual Suspects is a classic with the way it weaves the story telling. Every now and then I’ll look up some quotes from the movie just to remember their cool delivery.

Dave Kujan: First day on the job, you know what I learned? How to spot a murderer. Let’s say you arrest three guys for the same killing. You put them all in jail overnight. The next morning, who’s ever sleeping is your man. You see, if you’re guilty, you know you’re caught, you get some rest, you let your guard down.
Verbal: Then he showed those men of will what will really was.
Verbal: How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss? 
Verbal: After that my guess is that you will never hear from him again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that… he is gone.

This blog entry is about the second quote above. Having the will to accomplish something is perhaps the only real factor that matters. It enables perseverance and failure isn’t an end and more of a blip or a learning opportunity while success is just around the corner.

Tennis had it’s longest match ever this past week. The two players, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, played 980 points over 11 hours and 5 minutes. The match was contested over 3 days as neither guy could break the serve of the other, so they kept going and going. Energy waned and heart took over. They each demonstrated what it takes to succeed in life: the ability to accept failure as an outcome, rebound from it, and try again. has a blog entry called The Long of Coming Up Short by Whitney Johnson. She talks about how she missed an opportunity to learn about calculus, something applicable to her adult life, because she didn’t want to negatively impact her transcript. Getting a B was worse than not taking the course at all was her reasoning. She later regretted it.

I’ve spoken many times about the need for critical thinking. The ability to be creative while problem solving. But I wish I said this:

In the words of George Polya, a Hungarian mathematician and educator, we need to build processes into our work to find “a way out of difficulty, a way around an obstacle, attaining an aim which is not immediately attainable.”

And you have to have the will to persevere. It’s the only way to succeed.

Communication Skills are a Good Investment No Matter the Job Market

As a business man I’m interested in talented individuals. The free flow of ideas within a company is an advantage, but it needs good communication channels, both mechanically and culturally.

The news tonight ran a story that made me sit up and watch. It was about a Peruvian woman who has been in the US for six years. She is attending John Hopkins University in the fall to earn a PhD. In preparation for this education opportunity, she is investing in her speech by undergoing speech therapy. She practices speaking clear English everyday for an hour and once a week a therapist comes to her house for some coaching. This service costs about $120 a week.

As I thought about the news story it dawned on me what a win-win this service is. The student improves how well they are understood and the service provider can earn a fair wage providing a market need. The supply of speech therapists isn’t nil – there were several Google returns just for the Charlotte area – but I see this need growing, especially as India, China, Brazil, and Latin America grow in their engagement with the US.

The job market isn’t doing well right now and part of the reason is because the skills that are needed aren’t being taught effectively. Our schools are engineered to create direction followers and now the job market needs other skills. But those skills aren’t being offered in curriculum streams that are affordable. Programs like this speech therapy are the right starting point. It emphasizes person to person interaction and very few wouldn’t benefit from it. It could be it’s own cottage industry of entrepreneurs.

We Respond to Small Cues Very Effectively

I’m really into the potential of ubiquitous measurements. My last entry was about HP building sensors for everywhere and everything. It’s also know as the “internet of things.” The reason I think it’s coming and very powerful is because it let’s people know the impact of their actions in real time. Behaviorists have for years said that people are not rational in their decision making and I agree, but making data available is one way to change behaviors. We respond to small cues very effectively – just asking someone in marketing and advertising.

May 2010 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for May 2010 (based onthe job report):

Net gain
of 431,000 jobs in the month
(revised to 433,000 in June)

  • The largest one month gain in ten years (March 2000)
  • 411,000 jobs were added by the Federal government for the Census and the work will end by the end of summer (was that the same reason March of 2000 was so high as well?)
  • Analysts expected a gain of 540,000
  • One year ago the US lost 387,000 jobs
  • March was revised to a gain of 208,000 jobs from an original reading of a gain of 190,000 and last month’s revision of 230,000
  • April’s revision held at 290,000
  • The first five months of 2010 have seen 982,000 jobs gained
  • 6.8 million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term unemployed)
    • 46% of the unemployed are long term unemployed
    • The average length of time that people remained out of work grew to 34.4 weeks

  • Temporary work has added 362,000 jobs since September of 2009. Temporary workers appear to be catching on since the average workweek has been on the uptick (shown below) and the average weekly paycheck has increased as well

Unemployment rate fell to 9.7%

  • Analysts predicted it would be 9.8%
    • As employment picks up, the labor pool grows and the unemployment rate goes up or holds steady while this period balances out – this reading will be counter-intuitive for the next few months

  • The unemployment population is 58.7%
  • The U-6 report, which is a broader group to count, dropped to 16.6% from 17.1%
  • PMI, a measure of manufacturing pace, is 59.7%. Anything above 50% means the machines are running.

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing added 29,000 jobs
  • Construction loss 35,000 jobs
  • Retailers gained 6,600 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services grew by 2,000 jobs
  • Government sector gained 390,000, Federal gains were 411,000 (state and local gov contracted)
  • Education and Health Services grew by 17,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 13,100

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 22,000

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average weekly paycheck (seasonally adjusted) is $636.17, from $632.93
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $18.99
  • The average hourly work week rose to 33.5 reflecting a move to full time work from part time employment

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Report Stats Summary

Considering a Passionate Outlet: For You and Your Employees

Derek Christian worked at Proctor and Gamble for 12 years and decided he needed a new challenge. My Maid Service is his outlet. He’s organized a small business around cleaning the homes for the affluent of Cincinnati. But as it says in the story on Small Business section, Christian experienced customer satisfaction issues.

Cleaning homes requires a high level of trust. Trust is earned over a period of time, so not only did My Maid Service have to have competent employees, but it has to have trustworthy ones as well. And trust is in the eye of the beholder. The problem is that very few people aspire to be a maid. His workers did the job as an income bridge on the way to another job. This results in very high employee turnover, creating a constant erosion of valuable client trust.

Christian recognized this non-monetary part of the business and took the position of the employee. He recognized their desire to find a job more closely aligned with a career and came up with a win-win. The agreement is that an employee signs on for two years of service and during that time Christian pays for online and local classes in the field of interest.

Dan Bobinski, a Boise-based management consultant and author of Creating Passion-Driven Teams,says Christian’s training strategy is both uncommon and strategic.”He’s looking at their motivation and saying ‘If you stay with me doing these menial jobs, I’ll pay for what you really want to do.'”

That can deliver bottom-line benefits. Hiring and training entry-level employees costs an average of $2,000, so spending money on programs that keep existing staffers around longer is a smart investment, Bobinski says. And training is one of the best benefits a company, even a small one, can offer. The number-one reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel challenged, he says: “People,especially of this generation, want to learn new things.”

It’s easy for a boss to think their employees are as excited about the work as they are. But the truth is they rarely are. It’s important to understand what they are really passionate about and foster a mutually beneficial relationship.