Help (Still) Wanted

"This is a very strong labor market," Jerome Powell said last week, addressing reporters following a second consecutive "unusually large" rate hike. "It doesn’t make sense that the economy would be in a recession." There are other (better, even) arguments to support the contention that "recession," whatever it means, isn't the right word if what you're describing is US economic activity over the first and second quarters of 2022. On the NBER's definition, it almost certainly isn't the right w
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4 thoughts on “Help (Still) Wanted

  1. If Q2 GDP had risen by .01% the administration would be arguing that we do not yet meet the “technical definition” for a recession. I know they want to avoid the “r-word” at all costs, but I think the good news is that if we are now in a recession, it is a very shallow one. If the Fed is going to manufacture a shallow recession in order to get inflation under control (and stick the fabled “soft landing”) this is what you would expect to see, isn’t it? (The hard part comes later when they want to stop the recession altogether and prove unable to do so.)

    I also think that the post Fed meeting rally in stocks this week was at least in part about bond investors gaining some confidence in the Fed. I know I did.

  2. Recently I’ve spent a little time looking into what kind of jobs are being offered when you see all of those “we’re hiring!” signs.

    A nearby Duncan Doughnuts is, indeed, looking to fill jobs … … 4 days a week for the closing shift. (Safely under 30 hours, of course.)

    I stopped to peruse the help edited sign at the entrance to our preferred supermarket. Of the five positions offered, four were for part-time positions, including some with odd shift times. The fifth was for a position which promised full and part time schedules available.

    Anecdotal nonesense perhaps, but not outliers from what I’ve seen.

    Sadly, most Fed governors appear oblivious about these “subtle” issues.

    Do the JOLTS figures break out full vs part time positions? Asked the lazy bastard.

    1. I had the same thought, and it is my personal non-rigorous belief that the total openings are, in fact, significantly skewed by part-time openings, in large part to avoid paying benefits.

      Here are the BLS definitions which confirm that all of full-time, part-time, permanent, short-term, seasonal, salaried, and hourly employees, whether working or on paid vacation/leave are counted.

      In addition, openings are for expected starts within 30 days and the assessment of whether a company is an “Applicable Large Employer” (subject to the ACA requirement to offer essential health insurance benefits) involves converting total employment to full-time equivalents to determine whether the 50 employee threshold is met.

      And finally, based on random anecdotal experience, I have seen desperate employers exclusively hire multiple part-time workers to fill fewer full-time positions, then, despite still needing coverage, will neither expand the weekly/monthly hours of those part-time employees towards full-time levels, nor allow them to elect to work fewer than normal hours or take time off.

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