Investment Contrarians

Please Help Me! I’m Looking for Work

By for Investment Contrarians |

Looking for WorkI love baseball, but when the commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) Allan H. “Bud” Selig makes $19.0 million annually along with half a million dollars for expenses, you have to wonder about the sanity of the value assigned to various jobs. Then there is Vikram S. Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup, Inc. (NYSE/C) who was recently forced to resign. In 2011, the bank was saved by the government and was recovering, but Pandit still made around $14.0 million. I’m sure Pandit will not be hurting for money or needing to work to pay the bills.

Then there are the 22.7 million or so Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, with about 13 million fully unemployed, all looking for work. These are not good jobs numbers, as many of these people are taking minimum-wage jobs just to fight off the creditors and put food on the table. President Obama and Governor Romney have both emphasized the need to drive up the jobs numbers in their campaign and debate speeches. I hope they are serious in their intentions.

The key non-farm payrolls jobs numbers for September were good, with the unemployment rate breaking below the eight percent threshold; albeit, the reading is still much higher than it was in the pre-recession era. We not only need jobs; we also need good skilled jobs numbers.

The official unemployment rate is 7.8%, but I wonder about the validity of the jobs numbers as far as an accurate reflection of the nation’s jobs situation. My thoughts are that the unofficial unemployment rate is most likely much higher than the reported rate. The reality is that there are likely millions of Americans who have dropped out of the labor force, tired of pounding the pavement to get shut out of jobs or working at minimum-wage jobs and losing confidence.

As I have written in my past commentaries, the millions of jobs that have vanished from the U.S. landscape to faraway places, such as China, India, Mexico, and Latin America, are gone for good. The average hourly wage of factory workers in southern China is around $2.50 per hour, which is much lower than the comparative unskilled worker’s average wage in the U.S.

Similar jobs numbers comparisons are found in the other poor developing countries. The fact is wages are relatively high in this country for jobs to come back home. Global companies selling mass-market goods need low wages in order to compete on price while also delivering results to shareholders who demand profits, however it’s done.

President Obama suggests he will add taxes to U.S. multinational companies that employ cheap labor, but I really don’t think it will have a major effect on the jobs numbers. Adding to the cost of American manufacturers by adding taxes could backfire, as it would increase the price of the goods sold to Americans, which is counter-productive and inflationary.

The bottom line is that there must be a strategy to increase the jobs numbers.

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  • sharonsj

    The only way to increase jobs is for (1) the CEOs to stop making 500 times what a regular worker earns, (2) stop sitting on billions and spend it on R&D, rather than give the shareholders a few more pennies, (3) stop being so damn shortsighted, greedy, power hungry, and annoyed because the 99% is dissing you.