Uh Oh: The Number Of Job Openings In The U.S. Dropped By More Than Half A Million In Just One Month

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in the United States just plunged by the largest amount we have seen in nearly four years.  The latest JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings has declined by 538,000, and that is a really big number for just a single month.  But we shouldn’t be surprised by this at all, because it is perfectly consistent with all of the other dismal economic numbers that have been coming in recently.  An economic slowdown is here, and many believe that it is just getting started.

Very briefly, let’s review some of the reasons why we should expect to see the employment numbers get worse.  As the economy slows down, goods begin to pile up in our warehouses, and that is precisely what the numbers show.  In fact, the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has now increased for five months in a row.

Fewer sales should result in less stuff being shipped around the nation by freight, rail and air, and this is yet another thing that we see happening right now.  Overall, U.S. freight shipment volume has dropped for three months in a row.

Once businesses realize that economic conditions have changed, then they start reducing the number of job openings and laying off workers.  That is why employment statistics are often referred to as “trailing indicators”.  The employment numbers don’t usually start to go down until other indicators start dropping first.

And without a doubt, the employment numbers are starting to move.  Continuing jobless claims have been rising at the most rapid pace in 10 years, and U.S. businesses have been adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

With all of that in mind, we should not be surprised at all by this latest number

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, tumbled by 538,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, report on Tuesday. The drop was the biggest since August 2015.

That is a really dreadful number, and there is no way to spin it to make it look good.

One factor that is shifting the employment environment is all of the minimum wage laws that are being passed around the country.

A number of liberal enclaves have raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, and as a result a lot of small businesses have been forced to let workers go

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.”  Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

My very first job was flipping burgers for McDonald’s, and I made $3.35 an hour doing it.  As a teenager, I was grateful to have such a job, but now such minimum wage jobs are in danger.  Wal-Mart and other major corporations are already making extensive use of robots to perform basic tasks, and making human workers more expensive is going to hurt those at the bottom of the economic food chain the most.

But for the moment, things are still relatively stable.  Most Americans still seem to believe that the bubble of debt-fueled economic “prosperity” that we are currently enjoying is going to continue for the foreseeable future, and they are spending money as if tomorrow will never come.

According to Zero Hedge, U.S. consumer credit has now surged past the 4 trillion dollar mark…

After a few months of wild swings in mid 2018, in February US consumer credit continued to normalize, rising by $15.2 billion, slightly below the $17 billion expected, following January’s $17.7 billion increase. The continued increase in borrowings saw total credit storm above $4 trillion, and hit a new all time high of $4.045 trillion on the back of a America’s ongoing love affair with auto and student loans, and of course credit cards.

We better hope that the U.S. economy is able to pull out of this new slowdown, because most of us are living right on the edge financially.

Sadly, we never seem to learn.  The same mistakes that we made last time around are all happening again, and Americans are completely and totally unprepared for what is coming.

And the warnings are all around us.  On Tuesday, the IMF downgraded their forecast for global economic growth for the third time in six months.  Commenting on this downgrade, IMF executive director Christine Lagarde noted that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy…

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s executive director, said the global economy is in a “delicate moment.”

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing,” Lagarde said, according to the text of a speech she’s due to give at the US Chamber of Commerce. “For this year, we expect 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth.”

It is not often that I agree with a globalist like Christine Lagarde, but she is quite right in saying that this is a “delicate moment”.

Global economic numbers have not been this bad since the last financial crisis, and many believe that we have now reached a major turning point.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Economic Slowdown Confirmed: Here Are 14 Very Alarming Numbers That Reveal The Current State Of The Economy

The economic numbers just continue to get worse and worse, and at this point it has become exceedingly clear that an economic slowdown is happening.  In fact, even the chair of the Federal Reserve is using the term “slowdown” to describe what is taking place.  But of course many are still hoping that the U.S. economy can pull out of this slump and avoid the sort of crippling recession that we experienced in 2008.  Unfortunately, that may be really tough because the entire global economy is slowing down right now.  Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and what happens on one side of the planet is invariably going to affect the other side of the planet.  Some parts of the globe are already mired in deep economic problems, and the U.S. appears to be following down the same path.

If you still think that the economy is in “good shape”, please read over the following list very carefully.

The following are 14 very alarming numbers that reveal the true state of the economy…

#1 Continuing jobless claims are rising at the fastest pace in 10 years.

#2 U.S. businesses are adding jobs at the slowest pace in 18 months.

#3 General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler all reported sales declines of at least 5 percent on a year over year basis in March.

#4 Tesla vehicle deliveries were down a whopping 31 percent during the first quarter of 2019.

#5 U.S. consumer confidence fell more than 7 points in March.

#6 Manhattan real estate sales have now fallen for six straight quarters.  That is the longest losing streak in 30 years.

#7 London real estate sales just dropped by the most we have seen in 10 years.

#8 The owner of Kay, Zales and Jared jewelers just announced that they will be closing 150 stores.

#9 Retail layoffs are 92 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

#10 U.S. freight shipment volume has fallen for three months in a row.

#11 The inventory to sales ratio in the United States has risen sharply for five months in a row.

#12 At this point, almost half of all renters in America spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent.

#13 The real median net income for Minnesota farmers was only $26,055 in 2018, and that was before many of them were absolutely devastated by the recent flooding.

#14 Overall, U.S. economic numbers are off to their worst start for a year since 2008.

We didn’t see economic numbers like this last year.

But now things have clearly changed.  It is starting to feel more like 2008 with each passing day, and this is a point that Mac Slavo made in his most recent article

The signs of yet another economic recession are everywhere. In fact, it seems hard to find any positive economic news anymore, even though a mere few months ago, it was difficult to find a report signaling the United States might be headed for some turmoil.

These days, many people get offended at the thought that the U.S. economy is heading for trouble.  But the truth is that we have been heading for trouble for a very long time.

Our economy is built on a foundation of sand.  More specifically, we have borrowed our way into “prosperity”.

The other day, I wrote an article about our $22,000,000,000,000 national debt.  It is the biggest single debt in the history of the world, and we continue to add to it at a rate that is absolutely insane.  In fact, our 234 billion dollar deficit in February broke the all-time record for a single month.  If we continue to do this, there is no way that our story ends well.

But that 22 trillion dollar debt is only a fraction of our overall debt.

When you add up all forms of debt in the United States, it comes to a grand total of more than 72 trillion dollars.  And that doesn’t even include a single dollar of our unfunded liabilities on the federal, state and local level.

When Ronald Reagan took office, the total amount of debt in the U.S. was less than 5 trillion dollars.

When historians look back on this time in history, they will not be surprised that our society ultimately collapsed.  What will surprise them is that it took so long for it to do so.

Sometimes I get criticized for urging people to get prepared.  But those that really deserve the criticism are those that are assuring everyone that everything is going to be just fine.  If we got the smartest minds in the entire country together and treated this like a major national emergency, perhaps we could find a way to engineer some sort of a soft landing when this debt bubble bursts.

But as it stands, there is no plan and our long-term problems get worse with each passing day.  Our economy is headed for a crash of epic proportions, and it isn’t going to matter who is in power in Washington when it happens.

And at the rate that our economy is currently slowing down, America may become an economic horror show a lot sooner than many people had anticipated.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

New Numbers Confirm That The Global Economy And The U.S. Economy Are The Weakest They Have Been Since The Last Recession

Even mainstream economists are admitting that economic activity is slowing down.  And at this point that fact would be very difficult to deny, because the numbers are very clear.  We haven’t faced anything like this in a decade, and many are deeply concerned about what is coming next.  Will it be just another recession, or will it be an even greater crisis than we faced in 2008?  According to Bloomberg Economics, the global economy experienced a “sharp loss of speed” over the course of 2008 and global economic conditions are now “the weakest since the global financial crisis”…

The global economy’s sharp loss of speed through 2018 has left the pace of expansion the weakest since the global financial crisis a decade ago, according to Bloomberg Economics.

Its new GDP tracker puts world growth at 2.1 percent on a quarter-on-quarter annualized basis, down from about 4 percent in the middle of last year. While there’s a chance that the economy may find a foothold and arrest the slowdown, “the risk is that downward momentum will be self-sustaining,” say economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik.

This is definitely the worst condition that the global economy has been in since I started The Economic Collapse Blog, and I am personally very alarmed about where things are heading.  The tremendous economic optimism of early 2018 has given way to a tremendous wave of pessimism, and the speed at which the economic environment is changing has stunned a lot of the experts.

In fact, Bloomberg economists Dan Hanson and Tom Orlik openly admit that they are “surprised” by how quickly the global economy has shifted…

“The cyclical upswing that took hold of the global economy in mid-2017 was never going to last. Even so, the extent of the slowdown since late last year has surprised many economists, including us.

Of course the U.S. has not been immune from the changes.  The U.S. economy is rapidly slowing down as well, and this is something that I have been heavily documenting on my website.

And now we have just received more confirmation that the economy is decelerating.  The Atlanta Fed has just updated their GDPNow model yet again, and with this new revision they are now projecting that the U.S. economy will grow at a rate of just 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2019…

Moments ago we got another confirmation of this, when following the latest retail sales report which saw a dramatic cut to December retail sales even as January surprised modestly to the upside, the Atlanta Fed slashed its Q1 GDP nowcast, and after rebounding modestly from 0.3% to 0.5% a week ago, it has once again slumped, and is now at the lowest recorded level, and just 0.2% away from economic contraction.

This is how the AtlantaFed justified its latest Q1 GDP cut, which as of March 11 was just 0.2 percent, down from 0.5 percent on March 8: “After this morning’s retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the nowcast of first-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth declined from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.”

In other words, we are just a razor thin margin away from entering an economic contraction.

Last week, we learned that U.S. job cut announcements were up 117 percent in February when compared to last year.  All of the economic momentum is in a negative direction right now, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to avert a recession at this point.

And of course a lot of analysts believe that what is coming will be a whole lot worse than just a recession.  The greatest debt bubble in the entire history of our planet is in the process of bursting, and the consequences are going to be absolutely horrific.  I really like how financial expert Egon von Greyerz recently made this point

People must understand that the world has never faced risk of this magnitude. We are now in the final seconds of the global mega bubble, the likes of which the world has never seen before. What will happen next will be worse than the fall of the Roman Empire, much worse than the South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles, and will create a disaster that will dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The problem is simple to define and is all based around debts and liabilities. At the beginning of this century, global debt was $80 trillion. When the Great Financial Crisis started in 2006, global debt had gone up by 56% to $125 trillion. Today it is $250 trillion.

There is no way that a 250 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst in an orderly fashion.  Essentially, we are looking at the sort of apocalyptic financial scenario that I have been warning about for a long time, and most people have no idea that it is coming.

And if people only listened to the financial authorities, it would be easy to get the impression that everything is going to be just fine.

For example, Fed Chair Jay Powell just told 60 Minutes that the outlook for the U.S. economy “is a favorable one”.  The following comes from Fox Business

Jay Powell, the head of the Federal Reserve, says he does not see a recession hitting the U.S. economy anytime soon.

“The outlook for our economy, in my view, is a favorable one,” Powell said Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes.”

If you are tempted to believe Powell, let me remind you of what former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told Congress in early 2008

“The U.S. economy remains extraordinarily resilient,” the U.S. central bank chief said in answering questions after testifying before the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Bernanke added that growth will be worse this year. “We currently see the economy as continuing to grow, but growing at a relatively slow pace, particularly in the first half of this year,” he said.

Of course we all remember what happened next.  The U.S. economy plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and we are still dealing with the aftermath of that crisis to this day.

Nobody is going to ring a bell when the next recession starts.  It is just going to happen, and just like last time, most Americans are going to be blindsided by it.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

U.S. Job Cut Announcements Rise 117 Percent To The Highest Level That We Have Seen In More Than 3 Years

We have not seen anything like this since the last recession.  Layoff announcements are coming fast and furious now, and the speed at which workers are being laid off is shocking a lot of people.  In this day and age, big companies have absolutely no loyalty to their workers.  The moment it becomes financially advantageous for them to start laying off employees, most of them will do it in a heartbeat.  I personally know someone that was an extremely hard worker and that put in extra time and effort for his company for many, many years, but he was just laid off because that is what the number crunchers determined was the right move.  It is a cold, cruel world, and as we witnessed back in 2008, job losses can occur at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking when a recession strikes.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been documenting the numbers that indicate that a major economic slowdown has begun, and we may have gotten the biggest one so far on Thursday.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of job cut announcements in February was up 117 percent compared to the same period last year.  The following comes from Fox Business

While many experts and investors are eagerly awaiting data on status of the labor market Opens a New Window. to be released by the government on Friday, a new report shows U.S. employers cut more jobs Opens a New Window. last month than they have in the past 3.5 years.

Even though it is the shortest month of the year, U.S. employers announced plans to cut 76,835 jobs last month, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a 117 percent year-over-year increase, and a 45 percent increase over January’s numbers.

You have to go all the way back to 2015 to find a month that was as bad as February.

Are you starting to see that the momentum for the economy has clearly shifted?

The economic news just keeps getting worse and worse as we roll through 2019, and the retail sector is being hit harder than just about anyone else.

In fact, retailers announced more job cuts in February than any other sector did

The retail sector had the most planned job cuts, with 41,201 so far this year – the highest January-February total since 2009. The industrial goods sector – including some manufacturers – followed with nearly 32,000 cuts announced during the same time period.

The primary reasons employers cited for eliminating positions were restructuring and bankruptcy.

This is being called a “retail apocalypse”, and we are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year.

At this point, retailers have already announced the closure of more than 5,300 stores.  The following list of retailers that have announced that they are shutting down at least 10 locations comes from Business Insider

Payless ShoeSource: 2,500 stores
Gymboree: 805 stores
Family Dollar: 390 stores
Shopko: 251 stores
Chico’s: 250 stores
Gap: 230 stores
Performance Bicycle: 102 stores
Charlotte Russe: 520 stores
Sears: 70 stores
Destination Maternity: 42-67 stores
Victoria’s Secret: 53 stores
Kmart: 50 stores
Abercrombie & Fitch: 40 stores
Christopher & Banks: 30-40 stores
JCPenney: 27 stores
Beauty Brands: 25 stores
Henri Bendel: 23 stores
Lowe’s: 20 stores

And that list doesn’t even include the fact that Amazon is closing all 87 of its pop-up stores.

I have repeatedly warned that we will be facing a future of boarded up windows, empty retail stores and abandoned malls, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Of course it isn’t just the retail industry that is rapidly laying off workers.  Here are just a few of the highlights from the workforce reduction announcements that we have seen in recent days…

-Tesla continues to struggle, and they have already laid off 8 percent of their entire workforce.

-Microsoft is cutting approximately 200 jobs in their commercial sales business.

-JP Morgan is steadily shutting down bank branches in lower income neighborhoods.

-We Work has announced that they have let 300 employees go.

-Devon Energy is eliminating about 200 workers.

-Whole Foods is cutting back worker hours.

-Encana has announced that it is laying off 274 workers in the Houston area.

-In North Carolina, Duke Energy has eliminated 1,900 positions.

-Ocwen Financial is planning to lay off approximately 2,000 workers over the course of 2019.

And in my article yesterday, I noted that General Motors is shutting down four major production plants this year.

It’s really happening.

The bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that we have been enjoying is disappearing, and the road ahead is going to be really rough.

On Thursday we also learned that U.S. household wealth has been plummeting.  In fact, the fourth quarter of 2018 was the worst quarter for household balance sheets since the last financial crisis

Americans’ net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet.

Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a decrease of $3.73 trillion from the third quarter, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The fall amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent.

An increasing number of families are feeling financially squeezed these days, and many of them are accumulating large amounts of debt as they attempt to keep things going.

But for a lot of Americans that are currently drowning in debt, the end of the road has already been reached.

In an article that I posted yesterday, I noted that an all-time record 7 million Americans are behind on their vehicle payments, 37 million credit card accounts are considered to be “seriously delinquent”, and 166 billion dollars worth of student loans are now in the “seriously delinquent” category.

This is a consumer debt crisis that already surpasses the numbers that we witnessed during the last recession.

Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.  This is very much a developing story, and I will share new numbers with you as I get them in.

We haven’t experienced anything quite like this since 2008, and most Americans are completely unprepared for a new economic downturn.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Here Come The Robots – And They Are Going To Take Almost All Of Our Jobs

Robot Human Hand - Public DomainWhat 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.

The Average Age Of A Minimum Wage Worker In America Is 36

Dollar Stacks - Public DomainDid you know that 89 percent of all minimum wage workers in the United States are not teens?  At this point, the average age of a minimum wage worker in this country is 36, and 56 percent of them are women.  Millions upon millions of Americans are working as hard as they can (often that means two or three jobs), and yet despite all of their hard work they still find themselves mired in poverty.  One of the big reasons for this is that we have created two classes of workers in the United States.  “Full-time workers” are entitled to an array of benefits and protections by law that “part-time workers” do not get.  And thanks to perverse incentives contained in Obamacare and other ridiculous laws, we have motivated employers to move as many workers from the “full-time” category to the “part-time” category as possible.  It may be hard to believe, but right now only 44 percent of all U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week.  But to get any kind of a job at all is a real challenge in many parts of the country today.  As you read this article, there are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed in any capacity.  And according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the federal government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate would be sitting at 23 percent.  That is not an “employment recovery” – that is a national crisis.

The following infographic comes from the Economic Policy Institute.  I certainly do not agree with a lot of the things that the Economic Policy Institute stands for, but I think that these numbers do accurately reflect what “part-time America” looks like today…

Minimum Wage - Economic Policy Institute

So what is the solution to this problem?

Most Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage would fix this.  But as Zero Hedge has pointed out, it isn’t quite that simple…

Last week, we noted that Democratic lawmakers in the US are pushing for what they call “$12 by ’20” which, as the name implies, is an effort to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over the course of the next five years. Republicans argue that if Democrats got their wish and the pay floor were increased by nearly 70%, it would do more harm than good for low-income Americans as the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of employers cutting back in the face of dramatically higher labor costs would offset the benefit that accrues to the workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.

Yes, raising the minimum wage would make life better for many minimum wage workers in America.  But a large number of them would also lose their jobs completely, and a lot of small businesses would deeply suffer financially.

Ideally, what we would love to see happen is for the U.S. economy to be producing so many good jobs that the only people that are looking for entry-level part-time jobs would be teens, people just starting out in the workforce, etc.  Back when I was a teen, I remember walking into a McDonald’s and getting hired on the spot because they were in dire need of workers.  Sadly, those days are long, long gone.

Over the past several decades, millions of good paying American jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions more have been lost to advancing technology.  And as I wrote about the other day, Barack Obama is deeply betraying American workers by working on a global economic treaty that would destroy millions more good paying jobs.

Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, there is now intense competition even for minimum wage jobs at this point.

We keep hearing about an “employment recovery”, but it is a giant lie.  Posted below is a chart of the civilian employment to population ratio.  As you can see, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is much, much lower than it used to be…

Employment Population Ratio 2015

In recent months, we have seen the employment-population ratio move slightly higher.  But can this be called “an employment recovery”?  Of course not.  We are still way, way below the level that we were at just prior to the last recession, and now the next recession is just about upon us.

Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as more Americans are being pushed into “part-time work” with each passing year.

Since February of 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people.  But during that same time frame, the number of full-time jobs in this country has actually decreased.

And at this point, the majority of American workers simply do not make enough money to support a middle class family.  The following income numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration

-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.

-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.

-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

Are you starting to see why I am so fired up about all of this?

We have developed a business culture in this country which does not care about workers.  In business schools all over America, future executives are taught that a corporation only has one goal – to maximize wealth for the shareholders.  Taking care of those that are part of your team is treated as an afterthought at best.

As corporations have gotten bigger, they have shown less and less concern for those that work for them.  These days, employees are generally regarded as “expensive liabilities” that are to be discarded the moment that their usefulness has come to an end.  And news of layoffs is often rewarded by Wall Street by a surge in the stock prices of the companies making those layoffs.

In the old days, more businesses in America were family-owned, and employees were often regarded as almost “part of the family”.  Unfortunately, those days have disappeared forever.

Now, employees are treated like scum by many big companies, and if they don’t like how they are being treated they are told that they can leave.  For example, just consider what was going on at a security company down in Florida

Jose Molero worked as a site inspector for the company, which provides security for neighborhoods and companies across the country, for more than a year.

Molero says when he went to the Kensington Golf and Country Club guardhouse, he found wooden paddles on a desk, some with staff names on them and one reading “for staff discipline.”

He says there was also what is called a “Wall of Shame,” where the supervisor points out and posts reports that contain grammatical errors.

When Molero complained about these things to his district manager, he was told that if anyone was offended “maybe they shouldn’t work here”…

Molero contacted his operations manager, who told him to speak with the district manager. He says the district manager sent him an email response that said, “if that hurts their feelings then maybe they shouldn’t work here.”

Do you have a similar horror story to share?

Most of us do.

The U.S. economy is absolutely dominated by cold, heartless corporations that have no interest in listening to the little guy.  If they could find a way to do it, many of them would operate with no low-level employees at all.  And as technology continues to advance, they will replace as many of us as they can with robots, drones, machines and computers.

I’ll be honest with you – the future for workers in America looks really bleak.  The competition for any jobs that can’t be shipped overseas or replaced by technology is going to become even more heated.  This means that the middle class is going to get even smaller, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to explode, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is going to become even greater.

So what is the solution to this giant mess?  Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

The Robots Are Coming, And They Are Replacing Warehouse Workers And Fast Food Employees

Robot 2014There are already more than 101 million working age Americans that are not employed and 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that has a job.  So what in the world are we going to do when robots start taking millions upon millions more of our jobs? Thanks to technology, the balance of power between employers and workers in this country is shifting dramatically in favor of the employers.  These days, many employers are wondering why they are dealing with so many human worker “headaches” when they can just use technology to get the same tasks done instead.  When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems.  Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late, they never waste time on the Internet and they always do what you tell them to do.  In addition, robotic technology has advanced to the point where it is actually cheaper to buy robots than it is to hire humans for a vast variety of different tasks.  From the standpoint of societal efficiency, this is a good thing.  But what happens when robots are able to do just about everything less expensively and more efficiently than humans can?  Where will our jobs come from?

And this is not something that is coming at some point in “the future”.

This is already happening.

According to CNN, there will be 10,000 robots working to fulfill customer orders in Amazon.com warehouses by the end of 2014…

Amazon will be using 10,000 robots in its warehouses by the end of the year.

CEO Jeff Bezos told investors at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that he expects to significantly increase the number of robots used to fulfill customer orders.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Amazon.  And if robots can get me my stuff faster and less expensively that sounds great.

But what if everyone starts using these kinds of robots?

What will that do to warehouse jobs?

PC World has just done a report on a new warehouse robot known as “UBR-1”.  This robot is intended to perform tasks “normally done by human workers”…

The UBR-1 is a 4-foot tall, one-armed robot that could make warehouses and factories more efficient by performing tasks normally done by human workers.

Unlike the industrial robots widely used in manufacturing today—usually large machines isolated from people for safety reasons—this robot can work alongside humans or autonomously in a workspace filled with people.

This little robot costs $50,000, and it can work all day and all night.  It just needs a battery change every once in a while.  The creators of this robot envision it performing a vast array of different tasks…

“We see the robot as doing tasks, they could be dull, they could be dirty, they could be dangerous and doing them repetitively all day in a light manufacturing environment,” said Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics CEO and co-founder. Those tasks include stocking shelves, picking up objects and assembling parts.

The UBR-1 isn’t designed for small component assembly, but it can manipulate objects as small as dice or a Lego piece, Wise said. Unbounded Robotics is targeting companies that want some automation to speed up their manufacturing process, but can’t afford to fully automate their businesses.

To many people this may sound very exciting.

But what if a robot like that took your job?

Would it be exciting then?

Of course you can’t outlaw robots.  And you can’t force companies to hire human workers.

But we could potentially have major problems in our society as jobs at the low end of the wage scale quickly disappear.

According to CNN, restaurants all over the nation are going to automated service, and a recent University of Oxford study concluded that there is a 92 percent chance that most fast food jobs will be automated in the coming years…

Panera Bread is the latest chain to introduce automated service, announcing last month that it plans to bring self-service ordering kiosks as well as a mobile ordering option to all its locations within the next three years. The news follows moves from Chili’s and Applebee’s to place tablets on their tables, allowing diners to order and pay without interacting with human wait staff at all.

Panera, which spent $42 million developing its new system, claims it isn’t planning any job cuts as a result of the technology, but some analysts see this kind of shift as unavoidable for the industry.

In a widely cited paper released last year, University of Oxford researchers estimated that there is a 92% chance that fast-food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades.

It is being projected that other types of jobs will soon be automated as well

Delivery drivers could be replaced en masse by self-driving cars, which are likely to hit the market within a decade or two, or even drones. In food preparation, there are start-ups offering robots for bartending and gourmet hamburger preparation. A food processing company in Spain now uses robots to inspect heads of lettuce on a conveyor belt, throwing out those that don’t meet company standards, the Oxford researchers report.

Could you imagine such a world?

When self-driving vehicles take over, what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living?

Our planet is changing at a pace that is almost inconceivable.

Over the past decade, the big threat to our jobs has been workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

But now even those workers are having their jobs taken away by robots.  For example, just check out what is happening in China

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

Perhaps you think that your job could never be affected because you do something that requires a “human touch” like caring for the elderly.

Well, according to Reuters, robots are moving into that arena as well…

Imagine you’re 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you’re widowed. You have a live-in aide – but it’s not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.

And robots are even threatening extremely skilled professions such as doctors.  For instance, just check out this excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly“…

Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies — not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctor’s offices for $150 per procedure — cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.

And this is just the beginning.  In a previous article, I discussed the groundbreaking study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University which came to the conclusion that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.

47 percent?

That is crazy.

What will the middle class do as their jobs are taken away?

The world that we live in is becoming a radically different place than the one that we grew up in.

The robots are coming, and they are going to take millions of our jobs.

So what do you think of this robot invasion?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

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