This morning at 5 a.m. I picked up our copy of The Columbian and sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee before heading to the Portland Airport. The headline read: "Job growth withers for third spring in row." When I landed in Seattle Ipicked up a Seattle Times and the banner headline across the top of the front page read: "Monthly job growth plunges."
When I checked into the hotel in Washington, D.C., I picked up copies of the New York Times and the Washington Post. The NY Times headline read: "Feeble U.S. Job Growth Stokes Fears of Global Slowdown" and the Post headline read: "Weak jobs report fuels fears of global slowdown--U.S. unemployment edges up to 8.2%---stock market plunges as Europe's crisis deepens."
The news caused U.S. stocks on the New York Exchange to plummet. The 275 point loss wiped our the 2.2 percent market gain in 2012.
The United States gained a net 69,000 jobs in May, for an average of 96,000 over each of the last three months. That is down from a 245,000 gain on average from December through February. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 in April, though largely because more people began looking for work. And there was more bad news: job gains that had been reported in March and April were revised downward.
Seattle Times commentator John Talton wrote: China and India are slowing. Much of the eurozone is already in a recession and on the verge of a breakup and breakdown that will make Lehman Brothers look like a community bank failure. And the U.S. economy is rapidly decelerating. The job growth was half what's needed just to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force, much less find new work for 12.7 million unemployed. Worse, all the new jobs came from part-time positions.
Now that is a scary situation and has Americans from sea to shining sea worried. And, even though the election campaigning is in full swing, people are tired of incessent finger pointing. Remember, when you point the finger at someone and blame then, there are three fingers pointing back at you blaming you even if you live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave;
Don C. Brunell, President (DonB@awb.org)