Surprising Jobs Report Threatens Further Stimulus Spending

Dianne Hermann
Published Jan 15, 2024

In late May, almost every expert in the world of finance and in print journalism was furiously writing a variety of essays, op-eds and articles about the looming disaster that would be revealed in June, telling the story of how America's economy ended in May. Though love or hate Trump, blame him or don't, this is the first President in the history of America to seemingly be able to open the flood gates of the job market with a snap of his fingers. Rather than losing another 10 million jobs in May, as most experts suggested, America actually rebounded and added 2.5 million net jobs. Simply put, this means that if 10 million jobs were lost, 12.5 million Americans got new jobs, or their old jobs back.

In most contextual situations, this would be outstanding news. After all, before the Covid-19 crisis, America's unemployment was remarkably low. More women were in the workforce than at any other point in American history. African American unemployment was at an all-time low. The numbers across the board were amazing. And then they weren't. However, it's the regular Americans out there who are more worried now that the market is rebounding, and many want to know why consumer confidence is so low with the economy on the mend.

What has a lot of Americans worried is that they're afraid they will not receive any more government money handed to them by way of a stimulus package. In the months and years to come, economists will release tons of reports, many of which will seek to pass judgment on the people, as in questioning if they're greedy or just want free money. Though for right now, the fact is that most people don't realize that "employed" does not mean you still have a full job. What it means in tens of millions of cases is that those workers, while technically still employed, are only receiving pay for partial hours, so they were relying on another stimulus.

It's rather the odd set up. If you were an American who outright lost their job, not only do you get 70% of your paycheck via state funds, but you get an additional $600 every week from federal funds. So if you were laid off, or your business just shut down, and you were making $800 per week, you would be getting a total of $1,230 every week in unemployment. Though for people who kept their jobs but only got half the hours, they were only getting half the money, and maybe, if they qualified, partial unemployment from the state level to hopefully just make up the difference.

This is why the stimulus checks were such a huge success. It actually wasn't the unemployed lined up for miles at the food banks. Most media will not tell you, because they cannot figure out how to sensationalize the story, but it was the working poor lined up; people who had jobs but weren't getting enough hours for a full paycheck. They were the ones relying on the stimulus money, not the people getting the extra $600 per week. And they're the ones relying on the next round of stimulus spending.

What the Jobs Report Doesn't Tell You

The jobs report is a case of a binary; two extremes. Along that continuum between those extremes exists a lot of variation and gradation. Somewhere in the middle between the rich 1% who don't struggle, and the people who lost their jobs entirely, are the people whose hours were cut back because of partial shut downs, or who were missing a few days a week, etc. Millions of more Americans lost hours than lost jobs, though these are the ignored suffering masses, about whom media never speak, and economists never report. In doing so, they would have to contend that being unemployed with federal funding isn't the worst fate, therefore losing the angle that the sky is falling due to unemployment. And no matter where you stand politically, you know media will not run anything in the mainstream unless they can fearmonger.

So, where do we stand? Plus 2.5 million jobs, or losing another 10 million, what is going to ultimately tell the tale of our economy is the vibrancy of the industries still remaining open and active. If they can come back to solvency and start giving people their full hours, for the full workforce, then it's a sign we're bouncing back. Until then, it's just a numbers game for the sake of ratings, not people.

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