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By Paul Craig Roberts
Baltimore Chronicle
Monday, February 13, 2006

http://baltimorechronicle.com/2006/021306Roberts.shtml

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll
jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG
Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001
through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don't
know what worry is.

Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The
U.S. economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up
with population growth. That's one good reason for controlling
immigration. An economy that cannot keep up with population growth
should not be boosting population with heavy rates of legal and
illegal immigration.

Over the past five years the U.S. economy experienced a net job loss
in goods-producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-
providing activities -- primarily credit intermediation, health care
and social assistance, waiters, waitresses, and bartenders, and
state and local government.

U.S. manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17 percent of the
manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a
single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.

The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with
a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-
economy that is "the envy of the world." Communications equipment
lost 43 percent of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic
components lost 37 percent of its workforce. The workforce in
computers and electronic products declined 30 percent. Electrical
equipment and appliances lost 25 percent of its employees. The
workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12 percent. Furniture
and related products lost 17 percent of its jobs. Apparel
manufacturers lost almost half of the workforce. Employment in
textile mills declined 43 percent. Paper and paper products lost a
fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products
declined by 15 percent. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco
products experienced a 7 percent shrinkage in jobs.

The knowledge jobs that were supposed to take the place of lost
manufacturing jobs in the globalized "new economy" never appeared.
The information sector lost 17 percent of its jobs, with the
telecommunications work force declining by 25 percent. Even
wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting
burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping
employment shrank by 4 percent. Computer systems design and related
lost 9 percent of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial
and supervisory jobs than five years ago.

In five years the U.S. economy created only 70,000 jobs in
architecture and engineering, many of which are clerical. Little
wonder engineering enrollments are shrinking -- there are no jobs
for graduates. The talk about engineering shortages is absolute
ignorance. There are several hundred thousand American engineers who
are unemployed and have been for years. No student wants a degree
that is nothing but a ticket to a soup line. Many engineers have
written to me that they cannot even get Wal-Mart jobs because their
education makes them overqualified.

Offshore outsourcing and offshore production have left the United
States awash with unemployment among the highly educated. The low
measured rate of unemployment does not include discouraged workers.
Labor arbitrage has made the unemployment rate less and less a
meaningful indicator. In the past unemployment resulted mainly from
turnover in the labor force and recession. Recoveries pulled people
back into jobs.

Unemployment benefits were intended to help people over the down
time in the cycle when workers were laid off. Today the unemployment
is permanent, as entire occupations and industries are wiped out by
labor arbitrage as corporations replace their American employees
with foreign ones.

Economists who look beyond political press releases estimate that
the U.S. unemployment rate to be between 7 and 8.5 percent. There
are now hundreds of thousands of Americans who will never recover
their investment in their university education.

Unless the BLS is falsifying the data or businesses are reporting
the opposite of the facts, the U.S. is experiencing a job
depression. Most economists refuse to acknowledge the facts, because
they endorsed globalization. It was a win-win situation, they said.

They were wrong.

At a time when America desperately needs the voices of educated
people as a counterweight to the disinformation that emanates from
the Bush administration and its supporters, economists have
discredited themselves. This is especially true for "free-market
economists" who foolishly assumed that international labor arbitrage
as an example of free trade that was benefitting Americans. Where is
the benefit when employment in U.S. export industries and import-
competitive industries is shrinking? After decades of struggle to
regain credibility, free-market economics is on the verge of another
wipeout.

No sane economist can possibly maintain that a deplorable record of
merely 1,054,000 net new private-sector jobs over five years is an
indication of a healthy economy. The total number of private-sector
jobs created over the five year period is 500,000 jobs less than one
year's legal and illegal immigration! (In a December 2005 Center for
Immigration Studies report based on the Census Bureau's March 2005
Current Population Survey, Steven Camarota writes that there were
7.9 million new immigrants between January 2000 and March 2005.)

The economics profession has failed America. It touts a meaningless
number while joblessness soars. Lazy journalists at The New York
Times simply rewrite the Bush administration's press releases.

On February 10 the Commerce Department released a record U.S. trade
deficit in goods and services for 2005 -- $726 billion. The U.S.
deficit in advanced technology products reached a new high. Offshore
production for home markets and jobs outsourcing have made the
United States highly dependent on foreign provided goods and
services, while simultaneously reducing the export capability of the
U.S. economy. It is possible that there might be NO exchange rate at
which the United States can balance its trade.

Polls indicate that the Bush administration is succeeding in
whipping up fear and hysteria about Iran. The secretary of defense
is promising Americans decades-long war. Is death in battle Bush's
solution to the job depression? Will Asians finance a decades-long
war for a bankrupt country?

---------------

Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the treasury in the
Reagan administration, associate editor of The Wall Street Journal
editorial page, and contributing editor of National Review. He is co-
author of "The Tyranny of Good Intentions." He can be reached at:
paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com. This article originally appeared at
counterpunch.org and is published in the Baltimore Chronicle with
permission of the author.

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