The year 2010 is nearly over. What happened? A fair number of celebrities died, a few videos went totally viral, and a few trends were established. That’s what I get from the nooze, at least.
But what happened economically? It turns out to be not much. That is what everyone is complaining about, too. I’ll do my best to explain just what nothing looks like as colorfully as possible because what we all expect from 2011 is something. Not that anyone knows what it is, just that it won’t be this blah.
I’d like to start with what everyone is (finally!) focusing on, jobs. Here is the total employment in the US from 2000 on, thanks to the brilliant Federal Reserve of St Louis and their FRED system:
I apologize that the y-axis does not start at zero. But you can still see from this chart that we lost about 8M jobs since the peak of 146M from 2008-2010, but gained back 1M. We spent the last year very stable overall, at a level of total jobs roughly equal to 2005. Why isn’t that good enough?
This is the story of 2010 that no one wants to report because it’s so troubling, but it’s very true. What is happening to us right now is not just about the Managed Depression and the ability of those who are in charge to keep us on an even keel – this is about long term demographic shifts.
The problem is that the Millenial generation is entering the workforce and not finding jobs at all. Even if we could conjure up 7M more jobs the way we do US Dollars, it still wouldn’t be enough – we need more like 10M to absorb the unemployment we have.
That’s right, I just said that all the young talent in the workforce is a problem, not an asset. If you want to argue that this is an entirely backwards, wrong-headed way to look at it I’d almost certainly agree with you, too.
There is a story buried in the news that has been reported in 2010 and the news that was ignored this year. Today, the last Barataria piece of 2010, is my summary of what happened over the last year and I wanted to frame it through this story that no one is willing to talk about. There is a generational change moving through our economy and politics that has yet to be fully defined. What we do know is that the Managed Depression has hit the young far harder than any other group.
There have been other economic stories of great importance in this year when we bounced back the tiniest sliver of what everyone was hoping for and then stayed put. We certainly learned in 2010 that our leaders were panicking far more (and far earlier) than anyone has ever thought. But the real story is that the stability that they were able to give us is both very real and clearly inadequate.
A summing up of 2010 on Barataria can be found by following the links provided. Why it wasn’t enough is a different story, however. Here’s hoping for a bit more realization in 2011.