Don't Try This at Home

"New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week, pointing to a painfully slow improvement in the nation's job markets…A [labor] department official said there were no exceptional factors to account for the rise in last week's claims."

--Stubborn Jobless Claims Still Keep On Climbing Higher, May 26, 2011


Gotta love that last sentence: "A department official said there were no exceptional factors to account for the rise in last week's claims."

In other words: it's just business as usual, folks. Business overseas as usual. Now back away from the Department of Labor statistics. Nothing going on here for anyone to gawk at. Everyone just take a deep breath and head on over to the unemployment office. Your checks (99 weeks of them), mandated by Congress and paid for by taxpayers, are waiting. But it's a bit of a car wreck here on the statistics front, so please don't watch. Let's just keep it moving.

Yes, our current unemployment stands at nine percent. We may be a tad underemployed here in the good ol' U.S.A. But that's to be expected. The good news: you'll find plenty of affordable China-made cell phones, swimsuits, t-shirts and sunglasses--summer's almost here!--to wear to the beach or pool while you await those job call-backs.

The thing to remember is that, here in America, we are above low-paying jobs. At least that's what we keep hearing from economists. And they're smart. They tell us we should be relieved to let China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico, Lesotho, you name it, have those creepy factory gigs because we are so over those. Who would want them? Yuk. We are way too educated for those jobs. What's that you say? 78 percent of our population doesn't have college degrees? And 50 million Americans are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid? And maybe a factory job would provide a good place to begin to earn a living? You're so silly.

And yes, we've lost over seven million manufacturing jobs since the late 1970s, but experts like University of Michigan professor Mark J. Perry say many of those losses simply indicate we've gotten so darned efficient at making things. Now don't go off and start thinking too hard about this. It's really not something you should try to do at home. Just leave the thinking to professionals. Don't ask yourself why--if we've gotten so efficient and don't really need manufacturing jobs--Chinese factories employ many millions of workers to make the products we want to buy. Don't over-think this. Take a break. Go to Target. Get your self a nice big flat screen TV. Watch some movies. Get your mind off this nonsense.

Here, read this. It'll make you feel better (and now that Oprah's show has ended, we need to learn how to do this on our own): "The truth is that America still makes a lot of stuff, and we're making more of it than ever before. We're merely able to do it with a fraction of the workers needed in the past." See? Professor Perry knows what he's talking about. Just relax. It'll be fine. We make "stuff."

Whatever you do, don't start asking questions like: since American workers are so productive and efficient, how come America's own computer, electronics, appliance corporations like General Electric, Apple, Inc, Dell and H-P, to name a few, manufacture their products anywhere but here? Since we're able to accomplish so much with only "a fraction of the workers," couldn't a small, efficient group of us here in America be employed making, for example, millions of iPads and iPhones for the same price as the one million workers currently employed by Hon Hai Pecision Industry Co. / Foxconn in China? It wouldn't have to be a million workers. It could even be like 1,000 workers, or even 100. And wouldn’t those workers infuse capital into our economy? And wouldn't that capital infusion benefit us all?

Oops, started thinking too hard again. Like I said, back away from the statistics, folks. Let's keep moving along. Nothing to look at here. Just business as usual.