Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gold Rolex?

The monthly US employment report was released yesterday (Friday May 7th) and two internals continue to catch my attention. The first, U-6 measure of unemployment. Some regard U-6 as the true rate of unemployment as it accounts for the unemployed looking for work, those working part-time that would accept at full-time position, and finally those unemployed whom are discouraged and no longer looking for work. This broad unemployment measure is stubbornly high at 17.1%, resisting to come down even though we have now seen four months of positive jobs gains. The second internal, duration of unemployment continues to suggest the long-term unemployed are not finding new jobs. The average duration in weeks rose from 31.2 in March 2010 to 33.0 in April 2010. Seasonally adjusted, those unemployed for 27 weeks or more is 46% of the total 15.3 million jobless Americans.

These two statistics signal that the US unemployment situation is structural by nature. By defining unemployment as a structural issue, this means who lost jobs in the financial, insurance and real estate industries are now without the proper skills or opportunities to find new work. This will keep the unemployment rate stubbornly high.

What I would like to focus on is that new trends will be born out of such a structural problem, not the problem itself. Will work be redefined in such a way that Americans will be forced to occupy multiple jobs? Maybe these jobs will target productivity as opposed to the paper shifting industries which have become so prevalent over the last 30 years. At the same time, inadvertently such a shift would, in my mind, target the psychological multitasking nature of our society.

At one point in America's corporate history, employees with a certain duration of service to one company received a gold Rolex upon retirement, now they may receive a more productive fulfilling lifestyle.