Whenever times get tough, you often hear about how laid-off workers took advantage of their involuntary freedom to get entrepreneurial and start businesses. You also hear about folks who lost their jobs but found themselves. The SoCal economy is struggling with joblessness that's much higher than the national rate — 12.4 percent in L.A. County versus 9.1 in the U.S. — so you might expect the entrepreneur story to be running hot here.
But you have to be careful about these things. There are definitely arguments on both sides. At the Atlantic, Sara Horowitz is kicking off a series on the freelance surge and how it could transform work. She's not holding back:
Jobs no longer provide the protections and security that workers used to expect. The basics such as health insurance, protection from unpaid wages, a retirement plan, and unemployment insurance are out of reach for one-third of working Americans. Independent workers are forced to seek them elsewhere, and if they can't find or afford them, then they go without. Our current support system is based on a traditional employment model, where one worker must be tethered to one employer to receive those benefits. Given that fewer and fewer of us are working this way, it's time to build a new support system that allows for the flexible and mobile way that people are working.
The BLS jobs report that hit this morning was…how to put it? Demoralizing? Particularly headed into a holiday weekend that's supposed to celebrate the American worker. As some commenters have already pointed out, that fact the U.S. economy added zero — yes, zero — jobs in August is both depressing and symbolic.
Depressing because it came in well under even worst-case scenarios produced yesterday by the likes of Goldman Sachs, which had anticipated a fairly demoralizing 25,000 jobs to be added (Take that, starry eyed Goldman optimists!). I guess you could throw up your hands and say, Well, at least we didn't drop into negative territory! The national unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent (and presumably, the California rate will stay stuck at 12 percent, with L.A. County above that at 12.4 percent — that data will come later in the month).
The official August employment numbers will be released by the BLS tomorrow. But a few other notable sources have already provided data:
- ADP reports the the economy added 91,000 jobs, a decrease from July
- Goldman Sachs cut its estimate from 50,000 jobs added to 25,000
Meanwhile, the economic consensus is expecting something in the neighborhood of 100,000 jobs added to non-farm payrolls.
The economist Peter Morici, who's been hammering away at the jobs problem for over a year now, summed up an unpleasant situation rather nicely at CNBC:
The economy must add 130,000 jobs each month to accommodate a growing adult population seeking work.
The key factor stifling jobs creation is sluggish GDP growth, which only advanced 1.3 percent in the second quarter and 0.3 percent in the first. Businesses can’t hire and pay new workers without more customers.
When I recently blogged about the struggles of the California porn industry, I cited a figure of $12.6 billion in yearly sales. I'd seen figures in this general ballpark before. But there's also a…let's call it a feeling out there that the porn business' numbers are unreliable.
So is it really a $12 billion-plus game? Ten years ago, a somewhat smaller number — $10 billion — was being questioned by Forbes:
The idea that pornography is a $10 billion business is often credited to a study by Forrester Research. This figure gets repeated over and over. The only problem is that there is no such study. In 1998, Forrester did publish a report on the online "adult content" industry, which it pegged at $750 million to $1 billion in annual revenue. The $10 billion aggregate figure was unsourced and mentioned in passing....For the $10 billion figure to be accurate, you have to add in adult video networks and pay-per-view movies on cable and satellite, Web sites, in-room hotel movies, phone sex, sex toys and magazines--and still you can't get there.
At this point, it's looking like the economy won't fall back into a recession — but it is going to continue its anemic growth pattern. Against the backdrop of this malaise, we have a long-term unemployment problem: uninspiring jobs data is scheduled to be released tomorrow, with our national rate expected to stay around 9 percent and the California rate to remain at or above 12 percent. Can you say "stagnation?"
In Washington, President Obama and Republicans in Congress are playing chicken with legislation that would extend federal transportation funding. Obama says 4,000 jobs are at stake. And this is just an extension of funding that's due to expire on Sept. 30. Another fight looms over the cost of a long-term bill. Democratic Congresswoman Lois Capps of Santa Barbara argues that the parsimonious GOP plan would cost the state 51,000 jobs.