Friday, August 21, 2009

Digging out

According to the website , there were just over four million births (in the US) in 1991. Why is that number interesting? Because those people will turn 18 this year, and 18 is the traditional age when Americans start working full time.

Some percentage will be stay-at-home moms (or dads), some will be unable to work because of health issues or physical disabilities. The actual number of people entering the work force each month is generally estimated at around a quarter of a million workers. This means that we have to create 250,000 jobs every month. We can create new jobs or fill existing jobs where workers retire or quit working for another reason; but 250,000 people need a first, full-time, permanent job every single month - forever.
This number should help you understand the news reports on the economy. Any month we don’t create 250,000 new jobs, we are loosing ground. Doesn’t matter which expert predicts that this month’s numbers show a trend, until we create 250,000 new jobs, we aren’t even close to coming out of this recession.

Economist (and reporters) use short forms for numbers because they work with such big numbers every day. One billion becomes 1 and nine hundred million becomes 0.9 with a note at the bottom “All numbers in billions”. That works for people who deal with it all the time – almost. The problem is that the number has no gut check value. It’s far too easy to loose sight of the human impact when you don’t write out the full number.

0.025 (billion) just feels like a small number while 250,000 makes it much easier to see the real, live people who need a job. Depending on the source, that 250,000 is open to debate, but whatever the number, until we crate that number of jobs EVERY month, we are nowhere close to coming out of this recession.

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