WACO, Ga. — A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company’s trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:
“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”
“Can’t afford it,” explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”
Looman’s company is U.S. Cranes, LLC. He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, “about 20-to-one positive.”
But for some reason, one of the photos went viral on the Internet on Monday.
And the reaction has been so intense, pro and con, he’s had to have his phones disconnected because of the non-stop calls, and he’s had to temporarily shut down his company’s website because of all the traffic crashing the system.
Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive’s Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it’s that he doesn’t believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.
“The way the economy’s running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn’t be able to do any hiring,” he said.
Looman did receive some unexpected attention not long after he put up his signs and Facebook photos. He said someone, and he thinks he knows who it was, reported him to the FBI as a threat to national security. He said the accusation filtered its way through the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and finally the Secret Service. Agents interviewed him.
“The Secret Service left here, they were in a good mood and laughing,” Looman said. “I got the feeling they thought it was kind of ridiculous, and a waste of their time.”
So Bill Looman is keeping the signs up, and the photos up — stirring up a lot of debate.
“I just spent 10 years in the Marine Corps protecting the rights of people… the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment and the [rest of the] Bill of Rights,” he said. “Lord knows they’re calling me at 2 in the morning, all night long, and voicing their opinion. And I respect their right to do that. I’m getting a reaction, a lot of it’s negative, now. But a lot of people are waking up.”
“Until Obama is gone?”
Not everyone can afford to wait that long!
It wasn’t great, good or, depending on whether your glass is always half full or empty, even that encouraging. But there was nothing in the latest US jobs report that has had anyone borrowing the doom-laden language that Europe has had a recent monopoly on.
80,000 jobs were created in October, and the tally for August and September was revised upwards by a total of 102,000. According to the Bureau of Labor, people have been hired at a rate of 125,000 a month for the last year. There was a decline, too, in the long-term unemployed – a group you belong to in the US if you’ve been without work for more than six months. That figure fell 366,000 to 5.9m.
But don’t expect Americans to be celebrating. That’s not only because October’s figures don’t immediately change an extremely difficult jobs market. 13.9m people are still unemployed and a further 8.9m are having to settle for part-time work. It runs deeper.
A report published this week by the Pew Trust, a bipartisan research group, underlines what a new problem it is. Before spiking to its current level of 42.2pc of the total number of unemployed, the highest it reached since the 1960s was just under 15pc following the recession of the early 1980s.
In its analysis of long-term unemployment in the third quarter of this year – July to September – The Pew Trust report found that older workers were hit particularly hard. 43pc of those without work over the age of 55 had been for more than six months. A university degree did not offer that much protection – 34pc of the unemployed with a degree were long-term casualties, while almost every industry had 20pc long-term unemployment. [emphasis added]
The consensus among economists is that the majority of unemployment is what they describe as cyclical. In other words, as the economy recovers companies will hire more aggressively and those without work will find it. But at an otherwise dull press conference on Wednesday, Bernanke remarked that: “cyclical unemployment left untreated can, so to speak, become structural.”
The implication is worrying: a period out of work can turn a previously employable worker into one that will find it much harder to get a job. Skills atrophy, confidence plummets and the needs of companies move on. [emphasis added]
Read it all.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a grim quarterly report this week that found “the small business outlook on the U.S. economy continues to decline.” The percentage of small businesses planning to add a few employees declined from 18% to 16% in the second quarter, while those with plans to add “many” employees remained stuck at 1%.
This isn’t primarily due to flat sales. That was actually the #3 reason for holding off on making new hires… and it was virtually tied with dread of ObamaCare. The number of businesses citing ObamaCare as their top concern continued to grow.
Small businesses are the primary engine of job creation, as everyone right up to President Obama agrees. Their reluctance to hire anyone is a troubling sign of the long unemployment wasteland stretching ahead. Making things worse is the growing trend toward long-term unemployment. A rising number of people have become, in a word, unemployable.
The Economist has some terrible statistics:
Over 6 million Americans, more than 40% of all those unemployed, have now been out of work for more than six months. Most of these, 4.5 million, haven’t worked for a year or more. This crisis of long-term joblessness is unprecedented in the post-war period.
[…] Workers are escaping unemployment more slowly than at any time since 1948. The long-term unemployed are struggling most; in the year to June, the newly jobless were three times more likely to find new work in a given month than the long-term unemployed. Many of the latter have given up hope. For the first time in decades, jobless workers are more likely to drop out of the labor force (and cease to be counted as unemployed) than to get a job.
(Emphasis mine.) This latter point is important to keep in mind when considering unemployment news, because the widely reported U-3 measurement from the Bureau of Labor Statistics deliberately excludes those who have dropped out of the workforce entirely. For September, the “official” U-3 figure held steady at 9.1%, and made headlines. The real unemployment number, the U-6 measurement that includes discouraged workers, rose from 16.2% to 16.5%.
Peterson Institute visiting fellow Howard Rosen, quoted in a Politico article that notes the percentage of people unemployed for six months or longer hasn’t risen above 26% during the past fifty years, sees the U.S. work force contracting as the population increases:
“We have an immediate problem, which is that people are dropping out of the labor force,” said Howard Rosen, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It drains the potential of our economy to grow.”
The working-age population increased by 3.8 million over the past two years, but the net size of the labor force has declined by 768,000, he noted.
America doesn’t just need more “jobs,” it needs more careers. It needs more new careers.
Obama’s [recently-defeated] bill included an even stranger provision that would have allowed the long-term unemployed to sue businesses that refuse to hire them, if they could demonstrate the length of their unemployment was a factor in the decision. The resulting flood of frivolous lawsuits would have only made the publication of a want ad even more terrifying for business owners.
What we’ve got is a collapsing workforce, cherry-picked for recently unemployed, highly skilled workers by large corporations. Small businesses that might be willing to take a chance on younger workers, or those with less sterling credentials, are afraid to hire anyone. [emphasis added]
Obama’s solutions were foolish attempts to distort the price of labor without altering its value. The value of discouraged workers doesn’t change when little tax-credit carrots are dangled before prospective employers. As the overall demand for employees falls, it’s not surprising to find resumes ever more carefully fished out of corporate in-boxes. A smaller group of people gets hired and re-hired for all the good jobs, while the ranks of the unemployable swell. [emphasis added]
The only real answer is to increase the demand for labor, and provide more opportunities for those discouraged workers to re-enter the workforce. The value of their labor only changes when demand increases, to the point where employers who formally considered only the thickest and juiciest resumes are offering on-the-job training to get people in the door. History has shown that sort of improvement comes only with increases in our national gross domestic product: more companies selling more goods and services to a growing base of hungry consumers. Why would anyone expect to find opportunities for marginal workers anywhere except the margins of energetic growth?
Expanding markets, and creating job opportunities, is always a matter of risk taken in the pursuit of reward. What happens when arbitrary government power increases the risks and diminishes the rewards? The answer is written on millions of unemployment checks. The Chamber of Commerce small business survey had it exactly right. The best thing the Obama Administration could do for the unemployables is the one thing it will never do: get out of the way.
Read it all.
- Website: US Crane LLC
- The Blaze: Majority of unemployed have now been out of work so long they no longer get benefits
- UNDERemployment and the Greater Depression of 2010
- Why Employers Avoid Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed