What is going to happen to society when robots are able to do just about everything better, faster and cheaper than human workers can? We live at a time when technology is increasing at an exponential pace. Incredible advancements in robotics, computer science and artificial intelligence are certainly making our lives more comfortable, but they are also bringing fundamental changes to the workplace. For employers, there are a lot of advantages to replacing human workers with robots. Robots don’t surf around on Facebook when they are supposed to be working. Robots don’t need Obamacare, lunch breaks or vacation days. Robots never steal from the company and they never complain. Up until fairly recently, human workers could generally perform many tasks more cheaply than robots could, but now that is rapidly changing.
For example, a coffee shop has just opened up in San Francisco that is manned by a robot instead of a human…
Tired of your barista misspelling your name on your morning cup of joe? Perhaps a robot could do better. On Monday, Cafe X opened its very first robotic cafe in San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center. Promising “precision crafted specialty coffee in seconds, the way the roaster intended,” Cafe X thinks that anything a human can do, its machines can do better.
Specifically, one very special machine. Nicknamed Gordon, after a Cafe X employee, this robot mans, or robots, two standard professional coffee machines in order to serve up espressos and lattes. In the San Francisco location, customers can grab a cup of coffee with beans from AKA Coffee, Verve Coffee Roasters, or Peet’s. While the coffee itself may not make Cafe X stand out from the competition, the startup hopes that the robot’s efficiency will.
If that coffee shop demonstrates that it can be much more profitable than a coffee shop with human employees, it is just a matter of time before human baristas start to be phased out all over the nation.
A similar thing is happening in many supermarkets. Personally, I hate the “self-checkout lines”, but you are starting to see them everywhere these days.
And according to the Sun, Amazon is playing around with a concept that would employ hardly any human workers at all…
In the case of Amazon’s automated retail prototype, a half-dozen workers could staff an average location. A manager’s duties would include signing up customers for the “Amazon Fresh” grocery service. Another worker would restock shelves, and still another two would be stationed at “drive-thru” windows for customers picking up their groceries, fast-food style.
The last pair would work upstairs, helping the robots bag groceries to be sent down to customers on “dumbwaiter”-like conveyors, a source said.
With the bare-bones payroll, the boost to profits could be huge. Indeed, the prototype being discussed calls for operating profit margins north of 20 percent. That compares with an industry average of just 1.7 percent, according to the Food Marketing Institute.
During the recent presidential campaign, much was made of the fact that we have shipped millions of good paying jobs overseas over the past several decades.
We can certainly try to make some laws that would keep American workers from losing jobs to foreign workers, but pretty soon workers all over the world are going to be losing millions of jobs to technology, and it is going to be just about impossible to make laws to prevent that from happening.
Just check out what is happening in China. Many big firms had moved manufacturing to China because labor was much cheaper over there, but now a lot of those cheap Chinese workers are being replaced by robots…
Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, in fact, has already begun automating certain work that was previously done by hand. A Chinese government official told a Hong Kong newspaper in May that Foxconn had replaced 60,000 workers with robots at one factory there. And the company is receiving incentives north of Shanghai in the eastern-central Jiangsu Province to accelerate investments in robotics to replace human labor, according to Chinese state media organization Xinhua.
Sadly, this is just the beginning. According to one study, 49 percent of all activities currently performed by human workers could already “be turned over to some sort of machine or robot”…
About 49% of worker activities can be turned over to some sort of machine or robot, increasingly helped along by artificial-intelligence software, according to consultancy McKinsey.
About 58% of CEOs plan to cut jobs over the next five years because of robotics, while 16% say they plan to hire more people because of robotics, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.
And Carl Frey of Oxford University has determined that some professions have more than a 90 percent chance of becoming automated in the coming years…
The revelations that dependable office jobs such as insurance workers and real estate agents have a more than 97% chance of becoming computerised could now spark fears among the middle class workforce.
‘While low-skilled jobs are most exposed to automation over the forthcoming decades, a substantial number of middle-income jobs are equally at risk.’ Frey told The Times.
Other jobs that feature high on the ‘risk list’ are credit analysts who have a 97% chance of losing their jobs to robots, postal service workers at 95% and lab technicians who have an 89% chance of seeing their role become automated.
So what in the world are we going to do with billions of human workers around the globe that are no longer needed when technology takes virtually all of our jobs?
Some have suggested that the idea of “work” will become a thing of the past, and that society will evolve into a socialist utopia where everything we need is provided for by the government. In fact, the concept of a “universal basic income” is already being promoted in Europe and elsewhere.
But others see a dystopian future where the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” grows greater than ever before. Humanity has always been plagued by poverty and greed, and everyone agrees that the gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us has been growing very rapidly in recent years.
Where there is nearly universal agreement is on the fact that big changes are coming. Workers are going to be displaced by technology at an accelerating rate in the years ahead, and this will present a tremendous challenge for us all.
Why are so many men in their prime working years unemployed? The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment is low in this country, but that is not true at all. In fact, one author quoted by NPR says that “it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940″. Most Americans don’t realize this, but more men from ages 25 to 54 are “inactive” right now than was the case during the last recession. We have millions upon millions of strong young men just sitting around doing nothing. They aren’t employed and they aren’t considered to be looking for employment either, and so they don’t show up in the official unemployment numbers. But they don’t have jobs, and nothing the Obama administration does can eliminate that fact.
According to NPR, “nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked” in the 1960s.
In those days, just about any dependable, hard working American man could get hired almost immediately. The economy was growing and the demand for labor was seemingly insatiable.
But today, one out of every six men in their prime working years does not have a job…
In a recent report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said 83 percent of men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce.
“One in six prime-age guys has no job; it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, an economic and demographic researcher at American Enterprise Institute who wrote the book Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis. He says these men aren’t even counted among the jobless, because they aren’t seeking work.
So why is this happening?
If you look at the inactivity rate for men in the 25 to 54 age bracket, it was sitting at just 8.1 percent in January 2000.
In January 2008, right at the beginning of the last recession, it was sitting at 9.2 percent, and by the end of the recession it had risen to 10.3 percent.
Today, it is sitting at 11.5 percent.
Remember, these are men that don’t even count toward the official unemployment rate. They are not working, but they are not considered to be “looking for work” either.
So what are these men doing?
You may be tempted to think that many of them have decided to stay home and raise the kids as their wives go off to work. But according to NPR, that is not what is happening…
What the missing men aren’t doing in large numbers is staying home to take care of family. Forty percent of nonworking women are primary caregivers; that’s true of only 5 percent of men out of the workforce.
We do have the largest prison population in the entire world by far, and without a doubt that does play a role in these numbers. However, a far bigger factor is the millions of men that have become content being dependents of the federal government. More than 100 million Americans receive money from the government each month, and a lot of people (both men and women) have found that it is just easier to sit back and collect government checks than it is to go out and try to work hard for a living.
But of course the number one factor is the lack of jobs available. I personally know people that have been looking for work in their fields for years and have not been able to get hired. We have a major employment crisis in this nation, and it is only going to get worse in the years ahead as we continue to lose jobs to technology and millions more good jobs get shipped overseas.
And a lot of the “jobs” that have been created during the Obama administration have been very low quality jobs. Since December 2014, we have gained about half a million jobs for waiters and bartenders, but meanwhile we have actually lost good paying manufacturing jobs. If we continue down this road, the middle class will continue to shrink.
In addition to everything that I have just shared, here are some other facts that are pertinent to this discussion…
-Right at this moment, there are approximately 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.
-Nearly one out of every five young adults are currently living with their parents.
-The Wall Street Journal recently declared that this is the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.
-Barack Obama is on track to be the only president in U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent.
The economy is far weaker than you are being told, the employment crisis is far worse than you are being told, and as I mentioned yesterday, the stage is clearly set for a new financial crisis of epic proportions.
And if we are going to see markets crash, this time of the year is a good time for it. In fact, CNBC says that history tells us that this is the “worst period of the year for stocks”…
The worst period of the year for stocks has just begun — at least based on market history.
Over the entire 120-year history of the Dow Jones industrial average, Sept. 6 to Oct. 29 tends to be the worst period for the market. And more specifically, the last few weeks of September have been an especially bad time.
Someday when people look back at this time in history, they will not be surprised by how horrific the coming collapse will be. The truth is that anyone with a lick of common sense can see that the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world is going to end badly.
No, what is going to amaze them is that the system was able to hold together as long as it did. It truly is incredible that the debt-based, fiat currency Ponzi scheme that the central banks of the world have been desperately trying to prop up has been able to keep chugging along all the way to the middle of 2016.
How much longer can they keep the magic going?
I don’t know, but history tells us that time is not on their side…
Happy days are here again? On Friday, the mainstream media was buzzing with the news that the U.S. economy had added 255,000 jobs during the month of July. But as you will see below, the U.S. economy did not add 255,000 jobs during the month of July. In fact, without an extremely generous “seasonal adjustment”, the number of jobs added during the month of July would not have even kept up with population growth. But the pretend number sounds so much better than the real number, and so the pretend number is what is being promoted for public consumption.
Why doesn’t the government ever just tell us the plain facts? Unfortunately, we live at a time when “spin” is everything, and just about everyone in the mainstream media seemed quite pleased with the “good jobs report” on Friday. However, as Zero Hedge has pointed out, the truth is that the “unadjusted” numbers tell a very different story…
As Mitsubishi UFJ strategist John Herrmann wrote in a note shortly after the report, the “jobs headline overstates” strength of payrolls. He adds that the unadjusted data show a “middling report” that’s “nowhere as strong as the headline” and adds that private payrolls unadjusted +85k in July vs seasonally adjusted +217k.
In Herrmann’s view, the government applied a “very benign seasonal adjustment factor upon private payrolls to transform a soft private payroll gain into a strong gain.”
He did not provide a reason why the government would do that.
Every month, the U.S. economy must create at least 150,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth. According to the unadjusted numbers, we did not hit that threshold, and so the employment situation in this country actually got worse last month.
In America today, there are 7.8 million Americans that are considered to be officially unemployed, and another 94.3 million working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.
When you add those two numbers together, you get a grand total of 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
Rather than focusing on the headline “unemployment” figure, we get a much fairer look at the employment crisis in the United States when we examine the employment-population ratio. The following chart comes directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it shows that the percentage of Americans that are employed has never even come close to getting back to where it was just prior to the last recession…
Over the past couple of years we have seen a slight bump in this number, and that is good, but normally after a recession ends the employment-population ratio goes back to at least as high as it was before. Unfortunately, this has not happened after the last two recessions. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
The ratio always drops during recessions, but before 2001, it always climbed to higher highs during the recoveries. The 2001 recession and subsequent recovery changed this. For the first time, the ratio never fully recovered, never got even close to fully recovering. That was a new phenomenon: employment growth could no longer keep up with population growth.
When the Great Recession hit, the ratio plunged from its lower starting point at the fastest pace on record (going back to 1948). The Fed’s efforts were all focused exclusively on bailing out bondholders, re-inflating the stock market, re-inflating the housing market, and generally creating what had become the official Fed policy at the time, the Wealth Effect (here’s Bernanke himself explaining it). This has re-inflated asset prices – many of them way beyond their prior bubble peaks.
But the Fed’s astounding focus on capital accelerated the already changing dynamics of the economy, at the expense of labor.
Even the Wall Street Journal admits that we are in the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949, and now there are lots of signs that we have entered a brand new economic downturn. Here are just a few examples from Chad Shoop…
- Ford, GM and Chrysler — three of the U.S.’ largest auto companies — reported sales for July that missed estimates: down 3%, 1.9% and up 0.3%, respectively.
- Delta Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world, said revenue fell 7% in July as part of its monthly performance update.
- Macy’s, the biggest department store company, reported a decline in sales for July, leading to more aggressive markdowns and an industry-wide sell-off.
And lots of ominous signs continue to pop up on Wall Street as well. For one thing, the Libor rate has surged to the highest level since the last financial crisis. If you are not familiar with Libor, here is a pretty good explanation of it from Business Insider…
The Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, measures the interest rate at which banks lend to each other at different durations, and its sharp jump was a harbinger of the financial crisis.
And according to that same article, the Libor rate is now the highest that we have seen since early 2009…
In the past month, the Libor rate has spiked to rates not seen since the first quarter of 2009, the heart of the banking meltdown.
Not to mention, the spread between the Libor and the Overnight Index Swap rate, which tracks the lending rate from the Federal Reserve, has widened, another potentially worrying sign.
But of course I have been quoting facts and figures like this for months, and yet U.S. financial markets continue to hold it together.
There are literally dozens of parallels between the global financial crisis of 2008 and what is happening in 2016, but Wall Street continues to defy the laws of economics.
Of course it won’t last forever, but it certainly has been a sight to behold.
And I am certainly not alone in my analysis. As I noted the other day, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach is entirely convinced that stocks “should be down massively”…
“The artist Christopher Wool has a word painting, ‘Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids.’ That’s exactly how I feel – sell everything. Nothing here looks good,” Gundlach said in a telephone interview. “The stock markets should be down massively but investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong.”
For the moment, investors continue to pay extremely irrational prices for stocks, and the mainstream media is just giddy about the state of the economy.
So let us enjoy this very strange period of stability for however much longer it lasts, but let us also protect ourselves from the horrible crash that will inevitably follow.
What you are about to see is major confirmation that a new economic downturn has already begun. Last Friday, the government released the worst jobs report in six years, and that has a lot of people really freaked out. But when you really start digging into those numbers, you quickly find that things are even worse than most analysts are suggesting. In particular, the number of temporary jobs in the United States has started to decline significantly after peaking last December. Why this is so important is because the number of temporary jobs started to decline precipitously right before the last two recessions as well.
You see, when economic conditions start to change, temporary workers are often affected before anyone else is. Temporary workers are easier to hire than other types of workers, and they are also easier to fire.
In this chart, you can see that the number of temporary workers peaked and started to decline rapidly before we even got to the recession of 2001. And you will notice that the number of temporary workers also peaked and started to decline rapidly before we even got to the recession of 2008. This shows why the temporary workforce is considered to be a “leading indicator” for the U.S. economy as a whole. When the number of temporary workers peaks and then starts to fall steadily, that is a major red flag. And that is why it is so incredibly alarming that the number of temporary workers peaked in December 2015 and has fallen quite a bit since then…
In May, the U.S. economy lost another 21,000 temporary jobs, and overall we have lost almost 64,000 since December.
If a new economic downturn had already started, this is precisely what we would expect to see. The following is some commentary from Wolf Richter…
Staffing agencies are cutting back because companies no longer need that many workers. Total business sales in the US have been declining since mid-2014. Productivity has been crummy and getting worse. Earnings are down for the fourth quarter in a row. Companies see that demand for their products is faltering, so the expense-cutting has started. The first to go are the hapless temporary workers.
Another indicator which is pointing to big trouble for American workers is the Fed Labor Market Conditions Index. Just check out this chart from Zero Hedge, which shows that this index has now been falling on a month over month basis for five months in a row. Not since the last recession have we seen that happen…
Of course I have been warning about this new economic downturn since the middle of last year. U.S. factory orders have now been falling for 18 months in a row, job cut announcements at major companies are running 24 percent higher up to this point in 2016 than they were during the same time period in 2015, and just recently Microsoft said that they were going to be cutting 1,850 jobs as the market for smartphones continues to slow down.
As I have been warning for months, the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the last major economic crisis are playing out once again right in front of our eyes.
Perhaps you have blind faith in Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve and our other “leaders”, and perhaps you are convinced that everything will turn out okay somehow, but there are others that are doing what they can to get prepared in advance.
It may surprise you to learn that George Soros is one of them.
According to recent media reports, George Soros has been selling off investments like crazy and has poured tremendous amounts of money into gold and gold stocks…
Maybe the best argument in favor of gold is that American legendary investor and billionaire George Soros has recently sold 37% of his stock and bought a lot more gold and gold stocks.
“George Soros, who once called gold ‘the ultimate bubble,’ has resumed buying the precious metal after a three-year hiatus. On Monday, the billionaire investor disclosed that in the first quarter he bought 1.05 million shares in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s biggest gold exchanged-traded fund, valued at about $123.5 million,” Fortune and Reuters reported Tuesday.
George Soros didn’t make his fortune by being a dummy.
Obviously he can see that something big is coming, and so he is making the moves that he feels are appropriate.
If you are waiting for some type of big announcement from the government that a recession has started, you are likely going to be waiting for quite a while.
How it usually works is that we are not told that we are in a recession until one has already been happening for an extended period of time.
For instance, back in mid-2008 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession even though we found out later that we were already in one at the moment Bernanke made that now infamous statement.
On my website, I have been documenting all of the red flags that are screaming that a new recession is here for months.
You can be like Ben Bernanke in 2008 and stick your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening, or you can honestly assess the situation at hand and adjust your strategies accordingly like George Soros is doing.
Of course I am not a fan of George Soros at all. The shady things that he has done to promote the radical left around the globe are well documented. But they don’t call people like him “the smart money” for no reason.
Down in Venezuela, the economic collapse has already gotten so bad that people are hunting dogs and cats for food. For most of the rest of the world, things are not nearly that bad, and they won’t be that bad for a while yet. But without a doubt, the global economy is moving in a very negative direction, and the pace of change is accelerating.
Those that are wise have already been getting prepared, and those that are convinced that everything is going to be just fine somehow have not been getting prepared.
In the end, most people end up believing exactly what they want to believe, and we are not too far away from the time when those choices are going to have very severe consequences.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
This is exactly what we have been expecting to happen. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. economy only added 38,000 jobs in May. This was way below the 158,000 jobs that analysts were projecting, and it is also way below what is needed just to keep up with population growth. In addition, the number of jobs created in April was revised down by 37,000 and the number of jobs created in March was revised down by 22,000. This was the worst jobs report in almost six years, and the consensus on Wall Street is that it was an unmitigated disaster.
The funny thing is that the Obama administration says that the unemployment rate actually went down last month. Almost every month since Obama has been in the White House, large numbers of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time are shifted from the “unemployment” category to the “not in the labor force” category. This has resulted in a steadily falling “unemployment rate” even though the percentage of the population that is actually working has not changed very much at all since the depths of the last recession.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by 664,000 from April to May. If you believe that, I have a giant bridge on the west coast that I would like to sell you. The labor force participation rate is now down to 62.6, and it is hovering just above a 38 year low.
When you add the number of working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” (7.4 million) to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (an all-time record high of 94.7 million), you get a grand total of 102.1 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.
This is not a game.
So far in 2016, three members of my own extended family have lost their jobs.
According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoffs at major firms are running 24 percent higher up to this point in 2016 than they were during the same time period in 2015.
It was only a matter of time before those layoffs started showing up in the official employment numbers, and I fully expect that this trend will accelerate in the months ahead.
And here are some other brand new numbers for you to consider…
-Since Barack Obama entered the White House, 14,179,000 Americans have “left the labor force” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-The quality of our jobs continues to deteriorate. In May, 59,000 full-time jobs were lost, but 118,000 part-time jobs were gained.
-Since September 2014, 207,000 mining jobs have been lost.
-We just learned that U.S. factory orders have declined once again. This marks the 18th month in a row that this has taken place, and we have never seen such an extended decline outside of a major recession.
-JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have just soared to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.
Needless to say, the financial community is pretty horrified by all of this news. They were expecting a much better jobs report, and many of them are not hiding their disappointment. Here is one example from the Wall Street Journal…
“This was an unqualified dud of a jobs report,” said Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, noting “the unemployment rate fell, but for the wrong reason as labor force participation declined for the second consecutive month.”
And here is another example that comes from David Donabedian, the chief investment officer at Atlantic Trust Wealth Management…
“We can’t find a positive nugget in today’s job report. If we were looking for signs of strength in this report, there is nothing to hang onto here.”
But of course the mainstream media is doing their best to put a positive spin on these numbers. For instance, CNN just published a laughable article entitled “America’s economy is stronger than weak jobs report“.
And the White House insists that this new employment report really isn’t that big of a deal…
The White House doesn’t get “too disappointed” over the number of unemployed and underemployed Americans.
“I’ve been reacting to jobs numbers here at the White House for more than seven years, and what is true today has been true in the past, which is, we don’t get too excited when jobs numbers are better than expected and we don’t get too disappointed when jobs numbers one-month are lower than expected,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told CNBC.
But of course the truth is that it is a really big deal. We just received major confirmation that the U.S. economy has slipped into recession mode.
For months, I have been writing about how virtually every other indicator has been screaming that a new economic crisis had already begun.
But the employment numbers had remained fairly decent up until now. Employment is typically considered to be a “lagging indicator”, which means that it isn’t one of the first places we would expect to see signs of a recession show up. However, it is inevitable that the official unemployment numbers will reflect an economic downturn eventually, and that is what we are starting to see now.
What this means is that you probably have even less time to get prepared for what is ahead than you may have originally thought.
The U.S. economy has already entered the early chapters of the next great economic crisis, and most of the population is going to be caught totally off guard and will suffer tremendously.
If our leaders had made better decisions since the last crisis, things could have turned out differently. But instead, they continued to conduct business as usual, and now we will reap what they have sown.
*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*
Should we be alarmed that the number of job cuts announced by large U.S. companies was 35 percent higher in April than it was in March? This is definitely a case where the trend is not our friend. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. firms announced 65,141 job cuts during April, which represented a massive 35 percent increase over the previous month. And so far this year overall, job cut announcements are running 24 percent higher than for the exact same period in 2015. Meanwhile, on Thursday we learned that initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up dramatically last week. In fact, the jump of 17,000 was the largest increase that we have seen in over a year. Of course the U.S. economy has been slowing down for quite a while now, and many have been wondering when we would begin to see that slowdown reflected in the employment numbers. Well, that day has now arrived.
At this point, U.S. firms are laying off people at a rate that we have not seen since the last financial crisis. Here is what Zero Hedge had to say about these latest numbers…
While one can debate the veracity of the BLS’ seasonally adjusted data, one thing is certain: when a company announces it will layoff thousands, it will. So for all those who suggest that all is well with the US jobs picture based on initial claims reports, here is the latest report from Challenger according to which the pace of downsizing increased in April jumped by 35% to 65,141 during the month of April, from the 48,207 layoff announcements in March.
Looking further back, in the first four months of 2016, employers have announced a total of 250,061 planned job cuts, up 24% from the 201,796 job cuts tracked during the same period a year ago. This represents the highest January-April total since 2009, when the opening four months of the year saw 695,100 job cuts in the aftermath of the biggest financial crisis in modern history.
So what is causing this?
Why are firms laying off so many people all of a sudden?
My readers are very well aware of the pain that the energy industry is experiencing at the moment, but surprisingly it was not the energy industry that announced the most job cuts in April…
Computer firms announced 16,923 job cuts during the month; the highest total among all industries. That total includes 12,000 from chipmaker Intel, which is shifting away from the traditional desktop and laptop market and toward the mobile market. To date, computer firms have announced 33,925 job cuts, up 262 percent from a year ago, when job cuts in the sector totaled just 9,368 through the first four months of the year.
Yes, the U.S. energy industry has lost well over 100,000 good paying jobs since the beginning of last year, but the downturn is so much broader than that. All over America corporate earnings are down, and when earnings fall it is inevitable that layoffs will follow.
As I have written about previously, earnings for companies listed on the S&P 500 have fallen a total of 18.5 percent from their peak in late 2014, and it was being projected that corporate earnings overall would be down 8.5 percent for the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.
And in the chart that I have posted below, you can see that corporate profits after tax have been falling precipitously since peaking in mid-2015…
As this new economic downturn intensifies, the layoffs will accelerate.
In plain English, that means that a whole lot more people will be losing their jobs.
Unfortunately, a very large percentage of Americans didn’t learn anything from the last crisis and are living on the financial edge. In fact, the Federal Reserve says that 47 percent of all Americans cannot even pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without borrowing the money or selling something.
So just like back in 2008, we are going to see huge numbers of people unable to pay their bills when they lose their jobs. Foreclosures are going to skyrocket, and lots and lots of families are going to be put out into the street.
This is why I have been preaching the importance of having an emergency fund for years. It is absolutely imperative to have an emergency fund that can cover your bills for at least six months in the event that there is a job loss or some other sort of major disaster strikes.
If you have not done this already, you are probably already too late.
The cold, hard reality of the matter is that it would take most families quite a while to save up a six month emergency fund if they are starting from zero.
So if you are in this position and you lose your job, you may have to move in with family or friends when your money runs out.
I don’t mean to be cold, but this is the situation that we are facing. The next employment crisis is already here, and it is going to get much, much worse. No matter who becomes “the next president”, job cuts are going to accelerate and good jobs are going to become exceedingly difficult to find.
I am certainly not advocating that anyone give up. If you still have a good job for the moment, tighten your belt and use this time to feverishly prepare the very best that you can.
Sadly, tens of millions of Americans believed that this bubble of false prosperity would keep on rolling, and so they wasted immense amounts of precious time and resources. Now the day of reckoning is here, and vast numbers of our fellow citizens are going to discover the horror of being unprepared.