- Last Updated: 2:50 AM, April 8, 2012
- Posted: 11:28 PM, April 7, 2012
After five months of solid gains, the Labor Dept. upset the rosy-scenario crowd with word on Friday that only 120,000 new non-farm jobs were created in the month of March — about 90,000 fewer than economists had expected and the White House had hoped.
If this sounds familiar and worrisome, it’s because we’ve seen this movie before, with the economy sputtering in the springs of both 2010 and 2011 as “green shoots” turned brown.
But it’s not just the quantity of jobs available that should have Team Obama and the rest of us on edge, it’s the quality of the new positions being created. The simple fact is that even at the anemic pace of job growth we saw last month, the US labor market is increasingly being driven by low-wage positions.
Take a look behind the numbers: Over the past six months, 70 percent of all new jobs came from lower-paying sectors such as leisure and hospitality, health care, retail and temporary services, according to a recent study by Bloomberg.
Yes, 70 percent, even though those sectors accounted for just 25 percent of the job losses during the Great Recession. And despite the mainstream media’s recent obsession with “Made in America” and the comeback of the high-paying, high-benefit factory jobs, the math on US manufacturing tells a different story. Since the bottom of the recession in January 2010, manufacturing jobs in the US are being created at just a paltry 17,000 per month.
Yet the administration continues to tout small business as the panacea for the jobs crisis in America, while simultaneously dumping on “big oil” or “fat-cat Wall Street firms.”
On Thursday, President Obama signed legislation that will help small business raise capital, saying that it will be a “game-changer” for entrepreneurs with visions of starting the next Microsoft or Facebook.
“When their ideas take root, we get inventions that can change the way we live. . . . when their businesses take off, more people become employed,” the President went on to say.
Nothing wrong with that — and the nation’s vibrant venture capitalists are already eager to deploy their billions. But to ignore the 17,000 “big companies” that employ 51 percent of US workers seems short-sighted at best.