The amazing invisible, jobless, benefits-less, low-wage, government assistance-less "recovery".

07 Feb

I dislike posting an article which is mostly quotes from elsewhere, but as the man in the movie said, I have much to do and less time to do it in.  (I think that was said by Cary Elwes in “Robin Hood, Men in Tights”.)

At the beginning of January, the talk was all about whether or not Congress would extend long-term unemployment benefits, which had expired on 31 Dec.

3 Jan., ’14

Congress went home for Christmas without extending long-term unemployment insurance, leaving 1.3 million people in the lurch. The damage, however, extends far past these unemployed Americans. State economies lost $400 million in one week thanks to Congressional inaction on unemployment benefits, according to a new report from the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. […]

California lost about $65 million this week. Illinois, Florida, New York, and New Jersey also took eight-figure hits. Texas, which lost nearly $22 million, can thank its senior senator, John Cornyn (R-TX), for blocking a vote to extend benefits twice.

The long-term unemployed already struggle more than others to get back to work, as research suggests prospective employers won’t even look at resumes of people who have been unemployed for more than six months. Even after managing to get hired, the period of unemployment will suppress their earnings for the rest of their lives, as well as hurt their chances at future homeownership.

If unemployment benefits are not restored, the Congressional Budget Office estimates a loss of about 200,000 jobs this year due to reduced consumer spending.

Congress brought the issue up for a vote yesterday and sure enough, once again  failed to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.  This was despite the Democrats offering to have everyone in the U.S. form a line and then let the Republicans shoot each fifth person.  Or whatever the hell the Democrat’s concessions were this time around.

The US Senate failed to move forward with a three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits yesterday, leaving 1.7 million long-term unemployed workers without any cash assistance.[…]

Including family members, some 5 million people have been affected already by the December 28 expiration of extended benefits, a number that is growing by close to 1 million every month. […]

The two parties are engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the jobless benefits, including discussions over other social cuts to pay for them and the introduction of changes that will further restrict access. Both parties are carrying out a strategy to use the unemployment crisis to blackmail workers into accepting poverty-level wages.

The proposal that failed in the Senate Thursday would have paid for the estimated $6 billion cost by reducing the amount of money corporations are required to pay into pension plans. This would have the effect of boosting corporate profits and increasing taxable income. The end result would be to short-change corporate pension funds, which would be used to justify pension benefit cuts in future years. This procedure is euphemistically called “pension smoothing.”

After initially putting on a show of opposing the Republican demand that any extension of jobless benefits be paid for elsewhere, the Democrats are now fully committed to balancing an increase in social spending with equal cuts targeting the working class elsewhere.  […]

Any extension will likely include further restrictions in eligibility and a reduction in the duration of benefits for those who qualify.

Also being discussed behind the scenes are proposals to “reform” the unemployment benefit system. In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama referred in passing to the need for “reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy,” without indicating what reforms he was talking about. Various measures are being discussed, including stricter rules to force workers to accept low-paying jobs.

When people say that the jobless need to just go find a job, I would ask, “Where are these imaginary ‘opportunities’ available for the unemployed you speak of?” And by the way, these lay-offs are taking place to boost profits, which are already at all-time highs for the corporate sector.  These companies are making money; they just want to make more money.  Idiotically, the CEOs  don’t seem to be able to figure out that if the population has fewer jobs there will be less money being spent at their stores.

20 Jan., ’14

[…] JC Penney, the department store retailer that operates 1,107 stores across the United States, will eliminate 2,000 jobs and shut down 33 stores between now and May. Additionally the company will move 3,000 workers off a salary system and onto a commission pay system. […]

Penney, however, is just one of many retailers whose sales have been affected by the sharp fall in income and living standards for the majority of Americans. Best Buy, for instance, experienced a 2.6 percent drop in sales in the 2013 holiday season, the period defined by economists as the nine weeks between early November and early January. In this same period Sears experienced a 9.2 percent decline and Kmart a 5.7 percent fall from the previous year. In total, 2013 Thanksgiving weekend sales dropped relative to the year previous for retailers. This was the first time this has happened in seven years.

JC Penney is not alone in its cuts. Just the week before, Macy’s announced that it would be laying off 2,500 workers. Moody’s Investment Services actually suggests that, even though the company has been struggling, Penney might actually have had better sales than many of its competitors. […]

In 2008, 28.2 million people in the US received food stamps. At the beginning of 2013, 47.7 million people received food stamps, an increase of 70 percent. At the same time, there have been major cuts to the food stamps, pushing a sixth of the nation’s population deeper into poverty.

Meanwhile, Intel has announced a “trim” to its 107,600-strong workforce. By the end of the year it aims to rid itself of 5 percent of its workforce, or 5,380 workers. The company says that it does not plan to lay off people directly, instead relying on attrition and other methods. According to CNN, Intel’s spokesman “said the cuts will come as a result of people retiring, redeployments, or people leaving voluntarily.” That being said, Intel has put aside $200 million for restructuring charges, “a portion of which,” the Financial Post claims, “could be earmarked for severance pay.” […]

Intel’s 5 percent workforce reduction comes on top of a factory closure last September in Massachusetts, which led to the layoff of 700 workers. Additionally, Hewlett-Packard Company, another tech giant, will eliminate 34,000 jobs over the course of 2014, 11 percent of its workforce.

Outside of tech manufacturing, call center operator Teleperformance USA announced that it will lay off the entirety of its Ann Arbor, Michigan workforce, 430 employees. Additionally, this past week Citibank announced it would cut 650 positions in Maryland, and Flagstar Bancorp Inc. said it would lay off 600 workers.


Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it is eliminating 2,300 workers at its Sam’s Club division as it reduces the ranks of middle managers in a bid to be more nimble.

The layoffs, which cut 2 per cent of the membership club’s US employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam’s Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.

The cuts come as Sam’s Club strives to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like’s Prime membership service.

They also follow layoffs announced by several other major retailers in recent weeks that include Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney and Target Corp.

Bill Durling, a spokesman at Sam’s Club, says that a little less than half of the cuts were aimed at salaried assistant managers.

The cuts are also eliminating some hourly workers. He says that each of the clubs had roughly the same number of workers regardless of how much revenue each store generated. […]

For the year ended January 31, 2013, Sam’s Club generated revenue of $56.4 billion or 12 per cent of Wal-Mart’s net sales of $466.1 billion.

Big profits.  Fewer employees, so even bigger profits.  It only works until it doesn’t any more.   Companies consider this a “win/win” for themselves, the phrase “win/win” having changed its meaning over the years.   “Win/win” used to mean that both sides in an arbitration got something they wanted; i.e., both sides “win” something.  Now it means that one side won everything.   How many regular working stiffs had to lose/lose so these companies could win/win?  I mean, seriously, net/net, think about people losing/losing their only source of income and hopes for future employment so that the already absurdly wealthy CEOs and non-tax-paying corporations could increase their profits/profits.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Private-sector employers started 2014 with slower hiring, missing analysts’ expectations, with unseasonably harsh weather cutting job gains, according to data released Wednesday morning.

Last month the private sector added 175,000 jobs — the lowest result in five months — down from 227,000 in December, Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported. However, longer-term trends show some improvement: over the three months through January, private-sector employment rose by an average of 230,000 jobs per month, slightly up from 220,000 a year earlier.

“Underlying job growth, abstracting from the weather, remains sturdy,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which prepares the report with ADP data. “Gains are broad based across industries and company sizes, the biggest exception being manufacturing, which shed jobs, but that is not expected to continue.” […]

Strengthening employment is key to broader economic growth, including a continued rebound in the housing market. [Teri’s note: the “rebounding housing market” is a complete fiction.  The rebound is entirely driven by speculators investing in homes being converted to rental units, at rents that are, in many cases, higher than a mortgage would be.  This is a bubble that is going to burst pretty soon.  The “experts” will be at a loss as to how to explain it.  It will be “totally unforeseen”.]  Although nonfarm employment finished 2013 on a weak note, annual employment gains were steady, with the economy adding 2.19 million nonfarm jobs last year, just about matching 2012’s result, and slightly up from 2011. Despite those gains, the economy has almost 1.2 million fewer jobs than when the recession began at the end of 2007.

Looking at details of ADP’s private-employment report, small businesses added 75,000 jobs in January, medium businesses added 66,000 and large businesses added 34,000. By sector, service providers added 160,000 jobs, while goods producers added 16,000.

Look at that final paragraph again:

“Looking at details of ADP’s private-employment report, small businesses added 75,000 jobs in January, medium businesses added 66,000 and large businesses added 34,000. By sector, service providers added 160,000 jobs, while goods producers added 16,000. 

In other words, the jobs creators, you know, the big businesses who get all the subsidies and tax breaks because they need those incentives to provide jobs, only added half as many jobs as the Mom and Pop businesses.  Oh, and all these new jobs are in the services sector.  Janitorial, waitressing, hotel cleaning, and designing web sites to sell some homemade crafts or some such shit.  The big banks, on the other hand, who live on the largesse of the continuing trillions being poured in via the Fed QE4evah and other bailout programs, are slashing jobs right and left.  The big corporations are likewise cutting jobs each quarter.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who works at a bank, but here it is: Banks are still laying people off. A lot of people, actually.

Financial companies announced nearly 61,000 job cuts in 2013, up from 41,000 in 2012, according to a report released Thursday by the consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. That was more than any other sector, accounting for 12% of all announced job cuts. […]

Banks like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. have been cutting jobs because they no longer need all the extra workers they hired to deal with foreclosures and troubled mortgages — which might be good news for society, but not for the employees getting pink slips. Banks are also cutting traditional mortgage jobs, as higher interest rates scare away some potential homebuyers. Morgan Stanley last year got rid of (expensive) senior managers, in a bid to raise its return on equity. […]

Going by third-quarter numbers, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley cut a combined 40,000-plus jobs compared to a year ago, or nearly 5% of combined workforces. The bulk was from Bank of America, which cut nearly 25,000 jobs, or 9% of its roster.

Even Wells Fargo & Co., which added jobs year-over-year in the third quarter, won’t keep adding forever. The bank has recently announced that it will cut thousands of mortgage jobs.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. stepped up the pace of bank cost cutting, setting plans to eliminate 17,000 jobs by the end of next year and reduce expenses by at least $1 billion annually.

The move announced Tuesday by the New York company, the nation’s most profitable bank in 2012 and the biggest U.S. lender by assets, will reduce its staff by 6.5% in one of the most aggressive reductions to date amid widespread financial-industry cutbacks. […]

For 2012, J.P. Morgan reported net income of $21.3 billion, up 12% from a year ago and a company record. […]

J.P. Morgan said it would reduce its global staff by a net 4,000 jobs this year and 13,000 next, primarily in the consumer bank and the unit that handles home loans. The majority of J.P. Morgan’s cuts in 2013 and 2014 will come from its 45,000-person mortgage group. […]  [Teri’s note: how’s that rebound in home sales going again?]

[…]  More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. Some are looking for jobs; many aren’t. Some had jobs that went overseas or were lost to technology. Some refuse to uproot for work because they are tied down by family needs or tethered to homes worth less than the mortgage. Some rely on government benefits. Others depend on working spouses….

The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6% of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13%. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20% didn’t have jobs.

Although the economy is improving and the unemployment rate is falling, 17% of working-age men weren’t working in December. More than two-thirds said they weren’t looking for work, so the government doesn’t label them unemployed….

Economists who had expected the fraction of men working or at least looking for work to be approaching prerecession levels by now are dumbfounded. “It’s looking worse and worse,” said Johns Hopkins University’s Robert Moffett, who has researched the subject. “It’s unexpected.” […]

Mass layoffs hit North America, Europe and Japan

Deep-going job cuts are hitting the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, technology and retail sectors across North America, Europe and Japan.

Despite stagnant revenues, reflecting sluggish economic growth, companies are reporting booming profits. These profit gains are almost entirely due to a relentless assault on jobs, wages and working conditions being carried out by the ruling class.

The layoff of tens of thousands of workers comes amid news of unprecedented compensation packages for the heads of major US corporations. It is combined with ruthless austerity measures in the US and across Europe. As the chasm between rich and poor continues to grow, social programs and benefits upon which millions rely are being gutted.

  • Weatherford International plans to cut its global workforce by 7,000 by mid-2014. The oilfield services company, which currently employs more than 65,000 people, hopes to generate annual cost savings of $500 million with the job cuts.
  • Vehicle maker Volvo announced Thursday that it will lay off 4,400 employees in 2014, including a previously announced reduction of 2,000 jobs. CEO Olof Persson said the layoffs would affect workers worldwide.
  • Chemical maker Ashland Inc. will cut up to 1,000 jobs as part of a restructuring program being carried out under pressure from investors to boost “shareholder value,” i.e., share prices. With revenue remaining flat at $1.9 billion for the quarter ended December 31, Ashland aims to save $150 million to $200 million annually from the restructuring.
  • Swiss drug maker Novartis plans to eliminate or transfer up to 4,000 jobs. The plan will affect up to 6 percent of the company’s workforce and is part of a larger plan to cut costs, including the closure of production sites. Pharmaceuticals are under increasing pressure from investors to restructure in response to expiring drug patents and government efforts to cut health care costs.
  • British-Swedish multinational drug maker AstraZeneca has increased its job-cutting toll to 5,600, raising by 550 last year’s announced layoff of 5,050. The company expects the job cuts, to be completed by 2016, to bring annual savings of $2.5 billion.
  • Japanese tech giant Sony confirmed that it will sell its struggling PC unit to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners and cut some 5,000 jobs in its TV, PC, marketing and other departments.
  • A mass layoff program began this week at Dell Inc., the multinational computer technology company, with over 15,000 people expected to lose their jobs. A source speaking to the Register described the impending job cuts as “a bloodbath.”
  • US tech companies have also announced layoffs. Massachusetts-based EMC Corp. has approved a restructuring plan that will result in layoffs “similar in size” to job cuts of more than 1,000 last year.
  • Several hundred people will be laid off as early as this week at Disney’s Interactive group. The job cuts will come mostly from Disney’s Playdom unit, which produces games for social media platforms.
  • Time Inc., publishers of People, Time, Sports Illustrated and In Style, began job cuts on Tuesday expected to number about 500.
  • North American manufacturers are shedding workers as companies close plants and make across-the-board cuts. Five hundred workers will lose their jobs beginning next week as International Paper shuts down the remaining two paper machines at its plant in Courtland, Alabama and winds down production at the facility.
  • GenCorp announced Tuesday it is eliminating 225 jobs nationwide as it seeks to “eliminate redundancies and achieve efficiencies” following its $550 million acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
  • Pittsburgh-based US Steel is laying off nearly a quarter of the non-unionized workforce at its operations in Nanticoke and Hamilton, Ontario—about 175 workers. The steelmaker’s operations in Hamilton, which once employed 15,000, will be trimmed to around 820 workers.
  • Michigan-based Kellogg Co. said Tuesday it will close its Charlotte, North Carolina snack factory by the end of 2014 at a cost of 195 jobs.
  • Retailers in the US and Canada announced major layoffs along with store closures. RadioShack will close 500 of its 4,300 stores.
  • Best Buy in Canada is laying off 950 workers at stores in British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario.
  • Sears Canada announced layoffs Wednesday for the second time this month, eliminating 634 jobs. Two weeks ago, the company said 1,600 positions would go as it moved ahead with plans to close its Canadian call centers and reduce warehouse staff.
  •  United Airlines said last Saturday it would drop its hub in Cleveland, slashing many of its daily flights and eliminating 470 jobs. The hub formerly served Continental Airlines, which merged with United in 2010.Even as they continue to attack jobs and wages, the corporations, with the full backing of the Obama administration and governments worldwide, are sitting on massive cash reserves.  US corporations are estimated to be holding a cash hoard of 1.5 trillion.Instead of using this money for productive investment and an expansion of employment, the corporate-financial elite is using it to finance speculative operations and stock buyback programs that drive up share prices and further enrich corporate CEOs and big investors—at the expense of the living standards of billions of people around the world.

No job.  No unemployment benefits.  And no food stamps.

7 February 2014

Today, President Obama will sign a bill to cut $8.7 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, slashing almost $100 per month in benefits for nearly a million households. […]

It is the second cut in three months to a program that provides minimal assistance for the most vulnerable sections of society. The lie that there is simply no money for basic social programs is repeated even as new reports document the unprecedented rise in the wealth of the financial elite.

The cuts in food stamps are part of a broader attack on social programs.

They follow the expiration of extended jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers in the US. The percentage of long-term unemployed receiving cash benefits has fallen from two-thirds in 2010 to one-third today. The new bipartisan budget keeps in place $1 trillion in across-the-board “sequester” cuts over the next decade. The Obama administration has reduced domestic discretionary spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product to its lowest level since the 1950s. […]

In the 1980s, 60 percent of full-time private-sector workers age 25 to 64 in the US had a defined-benefit retirement plan. Now, that number has dropped to about 10 percent.


If you have a job, fewer benefits.  Blame it on Obamacare.  Although one might notice that the CEO of AOL seems to be offering an odd and fraudulent choice here, considering that 2013 was their most profitable in a decade:  increases in the employees’ share of health insurance costs, or losing some of their 401k benefits.

AOL became the latest company to blame Obamacare for cutting back on employee benefits.

The tech firm will now pay its 401(k) company match only to employees who are active on Dec. 31 of that year, as opposed to in their paychecks throughout the year. So those who leave the company before the end of the year will forfeit the match.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong blamed $7.1 million in additional Obamacare costs the company is facing this year. Had the company not made the change in its 401(k) payments, employees would have seen their health insurance costs increase, he told CNN Thursday.

Armstrong did not provide a lot of specifics about what aspects of Obamacare were pushing up the company’s health care costs, but said it was one factor affecting the 401(k) restructuring.

“The Obamacare Act and some of the changes that happened there had increases in our health care costs,” Armstrong told CNN. “We had to make a choice whether we pass those on or whether we took other benefits and reduce them.”

Some employees will still see their premiums rise, depending on the plan they picked, though AOL “ate a huge piece of the increase.”

The news came on a day when AOL announced 2013 was “its most successful year in the last decade,” reporting revenues of $2.3 billion.

AOL’s move makes it the latest in a string of companies to change their benefits because of Obamacare. A few weeks ago, Target  said it will stop offering health insurance to part-timers and instead help them buy coverage on the state and federal exchanges. Last year, United Parcel Service  and University of Virginia said they are dropping coverage for employees’ spouses that have access to benefits elsewhere because of Obamacare. […]


Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Congress, economy, Wall St and banks


9 responses to “The amazing invisible, jobless, benefits-less, low-wage, government assistance-less "recovery".

  1. Titonwan

    February 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    How you find the energy, I do not know. How you been, kiddo? Not much to report except workin’ on bikes and throwin’ wood at the stove.
    Oh, and I withdrew from the Huffing & Puffing Post because they wanted (demanded) that I join FaceFuck. Uhm no. I registered in 2007 and had many fans but no.
    Oh, and I got my fifth ‘comment deleted’ charge over ta Democratic Underground today for being too uppity. See, I’ve noticed a few of the high post count (over 10,000 types like Heru-Ur) were always pushing their Obama Love™, all the time and caught a few of those tags from their seething that I would look directly at the Sun God’s Eyes! The nerve!
    Well, anyways, I decided to post a thread yesterday and another today about Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald- just to remind them a democratic president is doing this to us. Oh the screeching!
    And now I am banned until the middle of March, alas. *weeping now*
    So, other that that I’m still grinning! Hope you are well, love. Peace out.


  2. Titonwan

    February 7, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Oh, and I go by the name of ‘Titonwan’ over that as everywhere. Look in general discussions or follow the latest thread I started (that I can’t even comment on now!). I’m sure you’d be amused at the goose steppin’. Love ya.


  3. Titonwan

    February 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    You can E-mail me anytime. I really am looking forward to this new ‘First Look’ website that Laura, Jeremy and Glenn are putting together.
    Hope springs eternal 🙂


  4. teri

    February 9, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Hi, Titonwan,

    Good to hear from you!

    Ah, the question isn’t where I find the energy, it’s why I bother.

    I’ve never visited Democratic Underground before. Interesting that a place with a name like that bans commenters for any reason. Ironic, to say the least. And HuffPo is just garbage now, so don’t waste any time feeling bad about that. I don’t much bother with commenting anywhere any more. There just doesn’t seem any point; people are getting more and more entrenched in their ideology and there is no real “discussion” going on. Just a bunch of primates flinging poo at each other. It’s really sad, and a bit scary, to see how quickly our society is failing now.



  5. Titonwan

    February 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I’m not banned from DU, just restricted from comment until my oldest ‘comment removed’ is 90 days old, then I can post again (that’d be the middle of next month). Each time one is 90 days old, it expires. (You have to get five in a 90 window to get restricted).
    Yes, it’s funny that DU is reluctant to post any news of Edward Snowden or Glenn Greenwald because they know there’ll be flame wars in the threads. That’s why I started two threads my self, lately 🙂 A few support criticizing the President’s policies but an alarming amount are just Democratic Cheerleaders who prolly loved Glenn when he was attacking Bush but seethe with hatred now he’s putting this President down.
    Oh well, just commented over at First Look. There’s already three articles up, over there.
    Peace, out! Love.


  6. teri

    February 10, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I sent you an email.


  7. Kitt

    February 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Hi Titonwan and hi Teri!
    Teri – your bit about the bastards buying up the houses to rent them out is something that I think needs to be widely published. I knew that was their plan and saw the aggressive beginnings of it a long time ago.
    Give First Look or The//Intercept a chance, Teri. I think it’s going to be helpful.
    If you still have the link to my little Ban Fracking!! shadow puppet play with banjo & harmonica extravaganza please send it along to Titonwan.


  8. teri

    February 12, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Hey, Kitt,

    I did go to The Intercept the other day. Looks like it’ll be a good site.

    Of course I still have the link to your fracking show. I’ll happily send it on to Titonwan – if I ever hear back from him. (Ahem.)

    Hope all’s well! I am outta here – errands to run and office to check in on before we get that foot of snow tonight. 😦



  9. Titonwan

    February 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Hi Kitt! Haven’t checked my E-mail yet, but look forward to it. I’ve already commented over at First Look just wishing Glenn, Laura, Jeremy and others good luck. (My only complaint is the font on the comments is too small). I don’t like the nesting of comments, but that’s just me (who’s got time to go back?).
    Any ways, peace and love- outta here.



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