David Kirkpatrick

March 9, 2009

Is the US economy shifting?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:08 am

The continued unemployment suggests just that. Some businesses will likely fundementally change and some of those lost jobs just are not coming back.

From the link:

The unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent, from 7.6 percent in January, its highest level in a quarter-century. In key industries — manufacturing, financial services and retail — layoffs have accelerated so quickly in recent months as to suggest that many companies are abandoning whole areas of business.

 

”These jobs aren’t coming back,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. ”A lot of production either isn’t going to happen at all, or it’s going to happen somewhere other than the United States. There are going to be fewer stores, fewer factories, fewer financial services operations. Firms are making strategic decisions that they don’t want to be in their businesses.”

This dynamic has proved true in past recessions as well, with fading industries pushed to the brink during downturns before others emerged to create jobs when economic growth inevitably resumed. But with job losses so enormous over such a short period of time, some economists argue that the latest crisis challenges the traditional American response to hard times.

For decades, the government has reacted to downturns by handing out temporary unemployment insurance checks, relying upon the resumption of economic growth to restore the jobs lost. This time, the government needs to place a greater emphasis on retraining workers for other careers, these economists say.

The grim scorecard of contraction in the American workplace released by the Labor Department on Friday largely destroyed what hopes remained for an economic recovery in the first half of this year, and it added to a growing sense that 2009 is probably a lost cause.

Most economists now assume American fortunes cannot improve before the last months of the year, as the Obama administration’s $787 billion emergency spending program begins to wash through the economy.

”The current pace of decline is breathtaking,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist at the research and trading firm ITG. ”We are now falling at a near record rate in the postwar period and there’s been no change in the violent downward trajectory.”

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