The headlines screamed this week – Jobs Cutbacks, Jobs Lost, Job Losses. The Labor Department has reported that total job numbers were down by 17,000 in January, the first monthly decline since August 2003.
Remember the wonderful children’s fable The Sky is Falling? This is an old tale about a chicken who believes the sky is falling. The phrase “the sky is falling” has become a popular cliché indicating a hysterical belief that disaster is crashing down on us.
In the original story Chicken Little is eating lunch one day when an acorn falls on her head. She mistakenly assumes the sky is falling, rushes off to tell the King, and along the way meets a lot of other animals who join in with her belief and the accompanying fear.
What this week’s headlines fail to announce with as much fanfare is that the unemployment rate actually FELL from 5.0 percent to 4.9 percent. AND – average hourly earnings ROSE to $17.75 in January – up 0.2 percent from December. How can the job loss be such a catastrophe if unemployment dropped and earnings rose? What the government figures can’t see are the thousands of people who are exiting traditional jobs in companies with 50 or more employees (the basis for the statistics) and finding meaningful, fulfilling work in the No More Mondays fashion. The exploding number of consultants, independent contractors, temps, electronic immigrants, entrepreneurs and eBay merchants are below the radar of traditional “job” tracking.
Sometimes I think the news media should just be called Chicken Little. How about Chicken Nightly Nonsense (CNN) All Boloney Chicken (ABC) and Nothin But Chicken (NBC). Incidentally, although I am not a man to wish anyone harm, in the fable the FOX ending up eating all the doomsayers.