Just when the headline news about the economy was beginning to look good and the talking heads were beginning to sound good, along came a barrage of bad news that was so bad that it couldn’t be covered up. Gallup began with the news that in January nearly 20 percent of the U.S. workforce “lacked adequate employment”, which was worse than the numbers reported by the Labor Department. According to Reuters, these “findings appear to paint a darker employment picture than official U.S. data,” with about 30 million Americans “underemployed.” And Gallup misses the mark by at least 2 percent, according to John Williams of ShadowStats.com.
“Core consumer prices” fell by a monthly 0.1 percent in January, reported the Wall Street Journal on February 19, noting that the last time core consumer prices fell was in December 1982. However, noted the Journal, citing the U.S. Department of Labor’s statement, the seasonally adjusted consumer price index rose 0.2 percent during the same month, the increase caused mainly by higher energy prices.
"The art of economics," economist Henry Hazlitt wrote nearly seven decades ago, "consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
January’s unemployment numbers were released late last week. According to the official report, unemployment fell from 10.0 to 9.7 percent last month. Employment fell in such areas as construction and transportation, while we saw the now-familiar gains in such areas as services and retail.