back to article US job market still limp

The US economy added 103,000 non-farm jobs in December, but just as in November, American employers added significantly fewer jobs than economists had been expecting. In this case, those who make such prognostications had predicted 175,000 new jobs (net) to be created. The good news, according to the December jobs report …


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  1. Eduard Coli


    Take the figure reported by Uncle Sam and double it and you've got something cloe to the real unemployment figure.

    The corp. payola must be nice because despite the jobs crisis no one on the hill or in the media talks much about some of the biggest causes of unemployment in the USA, outsourcing and VISA abuse.

    1. Aaron Em

      'Something close to the real unemployment figure'

      The US Bureau of Labor Statistics actually does report that; in their scheme of unemployment figures, it's identified as U-6, whereas the usual "official unemployment rate" figure, cited by President, legislators, and media alike, is called U-3. U-6 includes a broader range of people who haven't been able to find work, and who've given up looking out of despair; it therefore usually runs around 1.5-2x the 'official' U-3 figure, which is probably why it doesn't get as much play in the news -- who wants to talk about 16% unemployment and bring everybody down? (I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies, I *do* believe in fairies...)

      Of course, you have to take any figures you get from the BLS with a grain of salt, because they cook the numbers. For example, that gain of 103,000 jobs we posted in December? That didn't actually, you know, *happen*, not as such; what actually *happened* is that the BLS removed about four hundred thousand people from the unemployment rolls entirely, as 'no longer part of the labor force' -- which of course means that they're no longer counted against the unemployment numbers. By my admittedly unsophisticated reckoning, it would appear that, had the "not in labor force" adjustment been made, we'd be talking about coming out of December three hundred thousand jobs behind, not 100k ahead.

      As for the rest: Corporate payola has become the fourth branch of our federal government, and most people on the hill and in the media (and in the White House) have little knowledge of and less interest in what it's like for people who don't live in Versailles-super-Potomac. Of course they're not talking about the real problems; they're much more interested in using the deficit and a so-called need for "austerity" to screw working people over that much harder.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Finding an IT job

    At the moment, I am a technical handyman, with a range of generalised IT skills in a bunch of unconnected technologies. Small amounts of programming experience (enough to find TDWTF amusing), and no formal qualifications worth mentioning, just a solid interest in tech and the ability to learn. In other words, not that employable on paper.

    Given how thoroughly shocking an inept some "qualified" IT staff can be, I was wondering if it would be worth my time emailing IT companies to ask for a trainee position as a programmer or sysadmin. Putting heavy emphasis on the fact that I can learn quickly to pick up whatever specialised technology they actually need. (Rather than wasting my time learning technology X and hoping employers want it at a later date).

    Would that work? Or am I barking up the wrong tree here? Is there something specific that I should be learning now to greatly improve my employability in future? I know I could just lie and reel off a list of the top 10 most popular programming languages on my CV and bullshit my way in like all the bad guys do. I can talk the lingo. But I would genuinely rather stack shelves than cheat my way into a job.

    Trouble is, does the honest approach work? (question not rhetorical)

    1. Aaron Em

      It sorta worked for me

      I started with my current employer as a phone support goober for $9 an hour, and moved to programming after showing I could do it by dint of an epic 13-hour hacking run to fix something that'd stumped the people working on it for weeks. (It took thirteen hours because I was learning how to PHP in the process. I already knew how to Perl, though, which was a pretty significant advantage as Perl:PHP::Legos:Duplos.)

      Actually, come to think about it, if I were to give you a single piece of advice on what to learn, I'd say this: spend some time picking up the basics of a few common languages such as C, Python, PHP, Perl, Java -- not working toward really in-depth knowledge of any of them, so much as giving yourself a broad base on which to build. This'll pay off more if you get a job with it, but I'd argue it's worth doing in any case, for at least a few languages; it's amazing how useful the ability to put together little programs, especially little interpreted programs in a language like Perl or Python, can be in just making a computer more pleasant and straightforward to use. I'd also spend some time getting acquainted with Linux and network administration, if you're interested in going for sysadmin-type jobs; as with the programming languages, it's not so much about getting super in-depth as it is acquiring a basic knowledge of how to get around and do things.

      Then, once you've got a survey-level knowledge of some technologies in common use in the fields you're looking to enter, you'll be able to combine the possibilities you listed: you can use the honest approach *and* rattle off a half-dozen languages and platforms in your CV, while also noting that your knowledge of them is at a level that'd make you a good trainee/intern/junior/dogsbody-level worker.

      My other advice would be: you're more likely to have success with smaller companies than with bigger ones. Applying to a place with a massive HR department is something like playing DDR on the super-extreme-heart-attack difficulty level; if everything in your CV isn't lined up exactly how they want to see it, it's very likely they'll round-file it and that'll be the end of that. The smaller the company (as long as it seems solvent and likely to remain so, that is), the better your odds of getting a chance to talk to a technically knowledgeable person and getting a chance to show that you have chops enough to be worth hiring -- and consider also, if you aren't able to find anyone looking to take on a trainee, that you might be able to take a support position or similar to get your foot in the door and a chance to show you know what you're doing.

      Well, hell, it worked for me, anyway. Here's hoping you find the kind of position you're looking for.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    no more government jobs

    Considering that the incoming Repulsicons and douche baggers are bound and determined to cut government spending I'm sure we can look forward to increased unemployment as they trim state and federal payrolls by the hundreds of thousands to balance budgets. It will be a minor consolation to those newly unemployed that these same "collect-a-check-aholes" are making plenty of bucks and have a very nice medical plan and retirement lined up whilst their unemployment payouts will shrink to new record low levels as Christian charity by the government nails them to a cross.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    @AC / Finding an IT job

    First, it definitely is not about a large number of technologies and languages. Rather, you should focus on developing your skills in one "ecosystem". Example: Python, Apache, Postgres and Linux. Or C++, TCP/IP, Postgres, BSD.

    While you apply with potential employers, develop an open-source project. As soon as you have an initial prototype, put it on line for the potential employers to review. Expect them to question your style, documentation and some constructs which might turn out to be security issues. Don't worry too much about the feedback, it will only help you improving your skills.

    But please don't sit around doing nothing. That will deteriorate your skills.

    Of course you can also extend existing projects with useful features.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Vote For Sarah Palin

    ..she will be able to finish the job George The Illiterate started. The dreams of the hillbillies of self-government will be fulfilled. No militia will have power for more than 10 miles to the north and to the west. The five million Americans will wear leather suits like the people did 300 years before them.

    Go Sarah ! Go For Stone Age !

  6. James Woods

    i'll tell you one thing

    If I hit the lottery tomorrow I would invest 0 into my online businesses. Why?

    Because our government feels they have control of the internet. I was told by our uplink the other day that youtube does nothing wrong (in regards to copyright) however we were not able to host a site that "may do the same thing youtube does".

    So it's good to see what kind of country we live in.

    Give me a million, i'll take the 500k after taxes and dump that sucker right off-shore. I know it's pennys compared to what the bankers with our tax money have but it's 500K that will never be spent here.

    So why start or fund an internet business only to have the government meddling it's hands in it? Let the government manage what it does best. The USPS, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, social security, all real winners.

  7. ratfox Silver badge

    Lawyers have it bad too, it seems

    Is Law School a Losing Game?

    Schadenfreude ist die reinste Freude.

    What? No comment yet about the awesome title and subtitle to the article?

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