Some Americans have become saddled with credit card debt as rent and everyday prices remain high. “Americans held more than $1.05 trillion on their credit cards in the third quarter of 2023, a record, and a figure certain to grow once the fourth-quarter data is released by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. next month. A recent report from the credit rating company Moody’s showed that credit card delinquency rates and charge-off rates, or the percent of loans that a bank believes will never be repaid, are now well above their 2019 levels and are expected to keep climbing.”
“When are 335,000 new jobs not 335,000 new jobs? When Washington makes them up and the media dutifully report them with all due breathlessness.
But first, let’s look at how the media reported January’s job numbers.
If you go to the more usual suspects, you’ll see “Another shockingly good jobs report shows America’s economy is booming” from CNN, “Blockbuster Jobs Report Backs Up Fed’s Patience as It Waits to Cut Rates,” from the NYT, and this gag-worthy bit from NBC News: “The great American jobs machine keeps revving in an election year.”
With all those new jobs, why do Americans remain so glum about Bidenomics? Newsmax reported Sunday that “President Joe Biden hit yet another new low in his approval rating,” at eye-popping 37% according to the latest NBC News poll. Democrat pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates conducted the poll for NBC and called the results “damning” and described Biden’s as “a presidency in peril.”
Horwitt added, “On every measure compared to 2020, Biden has declined. Most damning, the belief that Biden is more likely to be up to the job — the chief tenet of the Biden candidacy — has evaporated.”
Ouch. But all those jobs, right?
Yeah, about those jobs…
For the dismal numbers behind the screaming headlines, let’s go to economics Ph.D. (and portfolio manager) Robert Barone at Forbes.
ASIDE: Be choosey before reading anything written by a Forbes contributor. Those two simple words — “Forbes contributor” — can mean anything from “sharp analysis” to “totally random crap produced by three hyperactive spider monkeys on two typewriters” and literally everything in between. But Robert Barone is usually quite good, and this piece is sharp.
Barone wrote, “The workweek, itself, contracted to 34.1 hours from 34.3 in December and 34.4 in November. This is the lowest number since March 2020 (the pandemic) and, before that, November 2008 (Great Recession).”
“Rosenberg Research calculated that, despite the job gains, total hours worked actually contracted.” [Emphasis added.] In fact, the Household Survey — “the one the media ignores,” as Barone put it — “showed up with a -31K headline jobs number, and a fall of -63K in full-time jobs.” Worse, the labor participation rate remains down. Americans are working more part-time jobs because there are fewer full-time jobs to go around — a sizable fraction of last month’s jobs went to people taking on a second or third job.”
h/t Stephen Green