By David Stockman
Yes, they are.....gone.
We are referring, of course, to all of the jobs created not only since the Great Recession bottom, but during the entire 21st century to date!
That’s right. The 20.5 million jobs plunge reported for April essentially wiped out the “strong labor market” brouhaha of the 244 “Jobs Friday” reports since January 2000.
In fact, the 131.072 million nonfarm payroll jobs reported for April 2020 were actually below the 131.124 million jobs reported way back in February 2000 when Bill Clinton was still scurrying around the White House looking for some place to hide the blue dress.
Total Nonfarm Payrolls, 2000-2020
Needless to say, embedded in the above disastrous chart is the boot heel of Lockdown Nation at its most vicious. That is, it has brutally monkey-hammered those channels of daily economic life that are based on social congregation—–bars, restaurants, hotels, malls, salons, gyms, movies, concerts etc.
In the case of the leisure and hospitality sector, for example, the lockdowns have caused an 8.2 million or 48% drop from the record level of 16.87 million jobs reported by the BLS just two months ago in February.
Yet that isn’t even the half of it. The 8.715 million leisure and hospitality jobs reported for April represented the lowest level since, well, January 1988 when the BLS recorded 8.66 million jobs in this sector.
So the foolish politicians in Washington can drop all the PPP money on the small business sector they can possibly compute with or without a Cray machine, but that’s still a drop in bucket compared to wiping out 32 years of jobs growth in the most labor-intensive sectors of the entire US economy.
Total Jobs In The Leisure And Hospitality Sector, 1988-2020
Well, actually, we are talking about the weakest employment report in the leisure and hospitality sector in 41 years. As we regularly remind, what counts for economic activity and paychecks is hours on the clock, not the head counts which make the headlines.
Due to tumbling average weekly hours in this sector, the hours index has plunged 56% during the last two months. At a level of 58.5 in April 2020, the hours worked index thus stands at the same level first crossed in November 1979.
Moreover, it’s not as if the leisure and hospitality sector is some marginal back-street of the US economy. Just 60 days ago some 17 million workers were pulling paychecks from the tens of millions of firms and establishments which comprise the sector.
The fact is, in these labor intensive businesses, the index of hours worked is about as close to a proxy for total activity or GDP in the sector as you can get.
So did any of the Donald’s economic policy geniuses tell him the Dr. Fauci’s insane plan to lockdown the economy and put most workers and customers in these businesses under house arrest would actually wipe-out 41 years of economic advance in hardly a fortnight?
Indeed, you can look at the chart below—-and many like and similar ones from other sectors which we display later—and call Lockdown Nation the economic crime of the century, and with no exaggeration whatsoever.
Index Of Aggregate Hours For Leisure and Hospitality Workers, 1979- 2020
In the case of social congregation up close and personal, which is to say the restaurant and bar sub-sector, the wipe-out was even more complete. Except in a few months during the Great Recession, there has never been a down month in this category since the BLS started tabulating the sector separately in January 1990.
Apparently, they started too late, however. The 12.301 million jobs in that sector reported for February instantly became a true case of “honey, I shrunk the kids”, given the young average age of the workforce in these venues.
So in April only 6.384 million bar and restaurant jobs were left standing. And that figure—wait for it—was the lowest ever recorded, including the initial 6.54 million tabulation back in January 1990.
So here is joined the central issue of the entire state-orchestrated prohibitionist campaign against the invisible coronavirus. If you really want to stop the spread of an infectious pathogen, or even stretch-out its migration thru the general population, you have to stop social congregation cold and on a dime.
That is, you have to deliberately and brutally crush commerce, business activity and paychecks to the heretofore unimaginable depth shown in the charts above and below. And you have to do so in an economic channel where workers and businesses alike function in a hand-to-mouth modality without rainy days funds or cash reserves and beneath the mill stones of prodigious debt, rents, leases and other inflexible obligations.
But why mount such a brutal assault on these brittle sectors in the first place?
The overwhelming share of both employees and customers in the socially congregating sectors—led by leisure and hospitality venues—consists of people under 65 years of age. Yet these people are no more in harm’s way than the day-in and day-out risks posed by illness, accident and self-inflicted harm in modern society.
To reprise the CDC’s own expansively defined WITH Covid-death numbers (63,469) through May 2nd, the share of total deaths and mortality rates for the three Nations of Covid were are follows:
• Kid Nation under 15 years: 60.9 million persons and 13 deaths (0.02% of total) or 0.02 per 100,000;
• Parents & Workers Nation 15-64: 214.5 million persons, 12,637 deaths (19.9% of total) and 5.9 per 100,000;
• Grandparents & Great Grandparents Nation 65 and older: 52.4 million persons, 50,819 deaths (80% of total) and 97.0 per 100,000.
In short, if you are thinking straight, you do not stop social congregation in the leisure, hospitality, personal services and retail sectors to protect the 276 million persons in the Kids Nation and Parent & Workers Nation, who comprise the overwhelming share of congregants there.
Their risk of death is tiny. Indeed, the mortality rate of 5.9 per 100,000 for the Parents & Workers Nation is barely above the mortality rate for suicide among that age group and less than 1% of the cohort’s total annual mortality rate of more than 600 per 100,000.
Likewise, the overwhelming share who do become infected with the Covid-19 either remain asymptomatic or experience spells of influenza-like illness or discomfort that are par for the course during the winter flu season.
So if the Fauci/CDC/IHME/Gates Foundation’s dragnet of house arrest is not really being done for their own good, what’s the purpose?
As we said, it’s a capricious Social Science Experiment of Brobdingnagian aspect. Apparently, these social planners think they can stop the spread of the kind of virus variation that has been circulating in the human population from time immemorial.
But such sweeping state intervention has never been tried or needed in the past, and has already failed this time around.
That is, the antibody studies cropping up around the nation and world indicate that 5- 20% of the population has already been infected, which amounts to 15-65 million people in the US alone.
Stated differently, the horse-of-Covid is already out the barn door. Continuing the misbegotten Social Science Experiment of an unelected camarilla of mad scientists, do- gooders and numbers geeks even a day longer is tantamount to criminal.
That’s the true meaning of today’s shocking jobs report.
For crying out loud, the places where Grandparents and Great Grandparents Nation congregates is not mainly the bars, gyms, hair salons, restaurants, malls, movie houses and Home Depots, anyway.
They could have easily been warned to stay away from said venues—especially if they also had serious medical afflications already.
And the places were they do typically congregate—retirement villages, cruise ships, tour buses, nursing homes, bingo parlors, shuffle-board courts etc. could have been targeted with enhanced measures of hygiene, testing, personal protection gear, isolation, treatment and generous financial assistance at a fraction of the trillions that are being destroyed by Lockdown Nation.
In fact, fully 19,800 or 31% of all the WITH Covid deaths reported by the CDC through May 2 were among the population 85 years old or older!
There are just 6.5 million persons in this category, meaning that their Covid-mortality rate has been 305 per 100,000. That’s 52X higher than for Parents & Workers Nation, and 15,000 times higher than for Kids Nation.
The utter irrationality of locking down the heart of social congregation venues fairly screams out from the CDC’s own data.
You almost have to believe that if someone had given Dr. Fauci a boot full of piss with a nursing home drown on the bottom, he still wouldn’t have recognized the real locale of the corona problem.
Total Jobs In Bars And Restaurants Sector, 1990-2020
Needless to say, the ultimate point of social congregation would be the airline business, and in that instance you could ask a simple question per the above Covid-19 mortality data. To wit, what would be the risk of death to anyone on a B-737 load of healthy under 65-year olds?
The answer, of course, is tantamount to none. Well, unless it was a Boeing Max!
Yet, here’s the nosedive of employment in the air transportation sector for April, and that’s just the warm-up. By the end of the month virtually 90% of commercial air travel had stopped, meaning that the 27% jobs plunge last month will be drastically eclipsed in May.
Moreover, the level of perhaps 100,000 jobs likely for May will be the lowest not only since the BLS started collecting the data separately in January 1990, but also since the airlines stopped serving lunch with silver and china and at no charge in the economy section.
Total Jobs In Air Transportation Industry, 1990-2020
For want of doubt, consider also some of the retail sector data that came out of today’s jobs report, where the decades of accumulated economic activity wiped-out in less than 60 days has been equally stupendous.
In one fell swoop, all the retail jobs created during the 26 years since May 1994 evaporated in the last two months.
That’s right. What had been recently called a retail-apocalypse has been turned into an outright economic Armageddon. We dare say that within six months the only retail chains which will not have filed for bankruptcy will be Walmart, Target and Nordstroms.
And that’s to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of remaining moms and pops who were hanging on for dear life from the Amazon juggernaut. Thanks to Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates, their euthanasia will soon be complete.
Total Jobs In Retail Sector,1994-2020
For instance, one remaining redoubt of small chains and independent retailers has been the furniture and home furnishings store sector. Yet in the last 60 days, 46% of the jobs that were reported in the February count have vanished, meaning that what is left is only a fraction of the activity level recorded way back in 1990, when this sector was first tabulated.
The point is, the plunging blue line below is not merely a measure of jobs; it’s an index of what has happened to the tens of thousands of small businesses and local and
regional chains which still offer consumers an alternative to Walmart, Amazon and the giant furniture warehouses.
Total Jobs In Retail Furniture And Home Furnishings Sector, 1990-2020
And speaking of coup d’ grace’ for small businesses, you have the same story with specialty stores for sporting goods, hobbies, books and music. The April figure of 351,000 jobs was down by 36% from the 550,000 jobs reported in February, and by 45% from the peak reached on the eve of the Great Recession.
Needless to say, in an honest capitalist market there is nothing sacred about the number of jobs or the number, size and modality of businesses which compete in any given sector of the economy. They are meant to rise and fall as competitive forces, consumer preferences and technological changes work their will.
But what you see in all of these charts has nothing to do with capitalism at work or the beneficent force of the unseen hand and its propensity for what Schumpeter called “creative destruction”.
By contrast, the virtual jobs obscenity reported for April was the work of the Very Seen Hand of the State, and comprised the pointless destruction caused by a camarilla of arrogant fanatics gone off the deep-end.
Total Jobs In Retail Sporting Goods, Hobby, Books And Music Stores Sector, 1990-2020
This article was reprinted with permission from David Stockman's Contra-Corner.
David Stockman began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. Stockman is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.