Thursday, January 3, 2008

Monster Jobs

I have been following the Monster Employment Index for several months now because it tracks online employment adverts, unlike the more traditional newspaper want-ad index which has been losing importance, with job postings moving increasingly to the Internet. Its latest reading for December 2007 was just released and it shows a very sizeable drop from 183 to to 169, only part of which can be attributed to seasonal factors (the index is not seasonally adjusted). Growth in job postings has been dropping steadily and is now down to 1.2% versus last December.

Add the rising number of claims for initial and continuing unemployment benefits, and the employment picture is darkening fast. With the "shopping-madness that wasn't" holiday period now behind us, I expect significant job reductions in the retail segment as stores adjust to lower growth. Retail jobs at 15.4 million account for 16.4% of all private service jobs, one of the largest groups in the employment universe.


  1. Easy fix: cut military (defence and offence spending by 75%). Use the saved money (about 750 billion) on renewable energy, public transit, and related.

    Would create many permanent jobs.

  2. Retail jobs at 15.4 million account for 16.4% of all private service jobs, one of the largest groups in the employment universe.

    And one of the most poorly paid.

  3. mane the mean:

    You'd just be moving jobs from one sector to another.

  4. "Easy fix: cut military (defence and offence spending by 75%). Use the saved money (about 750 billion) on renewable energy, public transit, and related."

    "Would create many permanent jobs."

    Typical Euro-think. Uh, don't you think that the companies making hardware and other support functions employ people. And don't you think that, possibly, you cut their revenues by 75% that they MIGHT lay a couple of people off? But hey, the government can then hire them, or even better, pay unemployment and let them suck the teet without producing anything! Finally, when the Islamo-nuts kill off some more you won't even need to expand public transportation because there will be less people taxing the system...and hey, don't you guys believe there are just too many humans on this planet straining ol' mother earth anyway?

  5. Hellasious, happy new year! As always I love your blog. The employment numbers are indeed a little troubling.

    I was hoping to continue discussions on your postings of the last few days...

    Have you ever read the book The Origin of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker? (

    If not, I recommend it. Amongst other things, Beinhocker nicely summarizes the modern view of how evolutionary theory applies to economic systems.

    You commented on Darwinism in your posting 'Creative Dustruction vs. Interest Rates' the other day. Yet as a regular reader of your blog, I have been left on several occasions that you (may?) slightly misunderstand evolution as applies to economics.

    More specifically, are you familiar with the research of:
    1) Joshua Epstein and Robert Axtell of The Brookings Institute

    (type 'Sugarscape' into Google)


    2) The Swedish physicists Kristian Lindgren of The Chalmer's University of Technology?
    (type 'The Game of Life and Lindgren' into Google)

    They work in a field known as 'Complex Adaptive Systems'. specifically they 'grow' artifical societies' on a computer and have made some starteling conclusions. And though their work can never be seen as 'proof' their conclusions are correct (just as the theory of evolution cannot ever be proven, though it has NEVER been contradicted), still their conclusions are haunting and potentially quite relavant to how one looks at these events.

    In the interest of brevity, I will not discuss them here unless you/others express interest to continue discussion on this thread.

  6. Anonymouses:

    yes, it would move jobs from one sector to another. The fact is that the US and other countries need new energy systems and public transit systems much more than they need new weapon (systems).

    Having the government supporting new industries is much better than having the government paying for needless weapons.

    And by the way, I am sure that the USA would be able to deter any islamists, confutseanists, or any other nists by just investing 250 billion annually... do not you not think so?

  7. Hellasious,

    I wonder if the Monster index is adjusted for the growth of job postings that is shifted from newspaper to Monster online?

    If it is not adjusted, and taking out this continue shift from newspaper, then I think we already seeing negative job growth.

  8. Mane the Mean-

    The only reason to answer hysterics is as an exercise to bring rationality to a society gone mad.

    Islamonuts? Let's do the math, 250,000 odd people killed by handguns more than that number killed on our highways since 9/11. Preventable? Very. Now where would a rational person's concern for safety be placed? With the overwhelming evidence of danger out there, not with hysteria AKA giving in to terrorism.

    Let's see, develop new means of energy independence or continue to waste national recourses exporting terror and death by technology? We know where the wingnuts stand. They want to remain intimate with their bogeyman, people absorbed with hate need the object of their passion.

  9. In reply to thai mcgreivy, I for one would like to read your thoughts regarding evolution and its application to economics. Please edify.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Thai McGreivy

    "Markus, have you considered that other countries are really outsourcing their military to the US and that we actually make money patroling/policing the world?
    I am unsure if you read Niall Ferguson's post in the FT on New Year's day"

    By making money do you mean all of the cheap oil flowing from our "stabilization" of Iraq?

    Unfortunate thing about oil, such a large and easily tampered-with commodity unlike--the prize of old--gold.

    Unfortunate also that unlike empires of old the US has a foundation in the rule of law, ironic and cruel joke lately, with the cynics now in power but the US citizens still hold that hope. Your post shows an unbelievable lack of any sense of ethics for an American? citizen.

    Please explain what states are shaking in their boots at the awesome display of American impotence, exposed in this monumental failure of military "strength" ongoing in Iraq?

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. "And by the way, I am sure that the USA would be able to deter any islamists, confutseanists, or any other nists by just investing 250 billion annually... do not you not think so?"

    Not sure I understand the point you are making? Are you suggesting that the 250bn should be used to bribe people to go away? I do agree, if this is what you mean, that we should invest to reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East as an energy source and that this would reduce the levels of conflict.

    Sure you could argue that too much is spent and that the armed forces are not being used in a wise fashion (disasterous invasion of Iraq) but I do not see how you can claim the US does not need armed forces at all.

  14. Thai:

    Remember, the use of force is the ultimate means by which anyone can enforce their wishes. Who is capable of enforcing their will on us should we default?

    The first word that comes to my mind when I read this is "hubris."

    By the way, I can't see what you are doing wrong in regards to your hyperlinks, but you are leaving something out.

  15. Thai

    "Why would you turn this into a personal attack?"

    Please don't be so sensitive. I just find it amazing that someone who is obviously intelligent enough to put a sentence together could not see the blatant lack of ethics you have revealed in your posts.

    To wit:

    "We have offloaded 50% of our national debt to foreign governments to date (no small act of trickery if you ask me)... give the spin doctors enough time and we might unload a much larger share in coming years."

    "Imagine the rest of the world had 90% or 100% of our debt. When the default does occur, who will be the real looser, the Americans who offloaded their IOUs, or the foreigners holding our worthless IOUs?"

    Threaten and intimidate "looser" "foreigners" with our military in accepting default? Fraud is about the best word I can come up with to describe this thought.

    "Whose ethics are you referring to?

    What makes an American to you?"

    The practice of transparency in my business dealings with others and belief in the Constitution and the rule of law.

    "I am certainly not claiming anyone is 'quaking in their boots', but there are a lot of countries with their own issues that like the American military to 'hang around?' not the least of which includes Saudi Arabia and most of the major gulf states."

    So you want me to risk my life or the life of my fellow countrymen to protect these various monarchs? Let them pay Blackwater.

    Now that I've answered your questions please answer my original question. What financial benefit are you referring to in return for our massive military spending and intrusion into other sovereign states? Cheap oil?

  16. Okielawyer:

    At some level I may agree with you. Having said that, it does not invalidate my point; I prefer to think I am a 'realist' (may be my own self denial, who knows).

    Certainly my views are no different than Niall Ferguson's/Brad Stetser's, and they get paid to say this stuff.

    May I assume from your
    name you are an attorney?
    If so, I would point out that at some level, the only ultimate way laws are enforced in society is through implicit use of legalized force... the police and courts are really just an extension of a nation's legalized monoply on the use of violence. This cannot be a new idea to you.

    Also, please be careful not to infer too much additional 'baggage(?)' into my views. I am a lifelong student of evolutionary science/evolutionary psychology. One thing I have come to learn very clearly is that 'risk is infinitely scalable'. If you understand the implications of scalablility/fractals and power laws in evolutionary systems (I thought I saw that one of the readers/poster of this blog is writing under the pseudonym 'fat tail' -- a clear refrence to Cauchy statistics and scalability) you quickly learn the safety implicit in power (hubris) is clearly an illusion (which any good Christian could have said in much simpler language).

    I am not in favor of defaulting on our foreign investors (I would not choose America's current economic policies either--but few people are interested in my opinion). I am simply betting it will occur whether I want it to happen or not.

    As for the posts, I do not know how to put html links into my comments so I just made them bold and underlined them and hoped you would just 'cut and paste' into your browser.
    Did Hellasious turn off the ability to allow HTML tags in comments avoid spam/pornography? If not, what is the tag?

    Also there was a flaw in the last link I posted (there should not be a 'y' at the beginning of the thread. Instead it should read

    Please cut and paste.

  17. Fred S. said...
    In reply to thai mcgreivy, I for one would like to read your thoughts regarding evolution and its application to economics. Please edify.

    Fred, I will add something tomorrow


  18. Markus said... "Fraud is about the best word I can come up with to describe this thought". You hit the nail on the head. Hasn't this whole CDO mess taught you it is a 'buyer beware' world we live in?

    Markus said... "The practice of transparency in my business dealings with others and belief in the Constitution and the rule of law".

    Am I reading you correctly? This is how you define what an American is?

    Are you also an attorney? If so, why do attorney's exist other than to expedite conflicts/disputes/lies/deceits and misunderstandings? Last time I checked, America had a VERY active legal system. This would not be my definition of what makes an American (it is a free country so I support your right to believe this).

    Markus said... "So you want me to risk my life or the life of my fellow countrymen to protect these various monarchs?"

    Where on earth did I say this?

    Markus said... "Now that I've answered your questions please answer my original question. What financial benefit are you referring to in return for our massive military spending and intrusion into other sovereign states? Cheap oil?"

    I think you are mixing several issues which are obviously related but never the less separate: America's projection of military power in the Gulf and The Iraq War.

    Do you read Brad Stetser? He writes a daily blog on . RGE Monitor is linked on the front page of Sudden Debt. If he is to be believed (he seems believable) foreign private investors have completely stopped investing in America. Our lavish lifestyle is now being completely funded by foreign governments which are really the sole remaining large buyers of U.S. government treasuries (Hellasious you can correct me if I have this wrong).
    Foreign governments do this for their own reasons, however one clear reason the Oil Block nations do this is 'to rent' the American military. These governments have learned that it is better to hold onto power by outsourcing their military than to actually have their own military: too much risk of military overthrow (like in Pakistan). The Gulf Nations have apparently been doing this for centuries; they did it with the Ottoman Empire and later with England before America took the role. These nations are only all to happy to use America as a pawn for their own internal purposes (remember that which is important to America (whatever 'that is') is not necessarily that which is important to a foreign governement). America in turn receives a 'tithe' for its protection. This 'rent' has taken many forms over the years (and we have never had to intimidate anyone to get it, these nations have been only all to happy to 'pay us' for our military for reasons joe six pack has never completely understood until recently.

    Currently we get this 'tithe' in the form of oil block nation purchasing US governement debt at below market rates. Make no mistake about this, these countries are not stupid. They are well aware they will eventually loose a fortune as the dollar devalues). But the ruling classes of these countries are terrified by the thought of the potential loss of American 'stability'. Witness the recent intervention by the King of Saudi Arabia to stop the Saudi finance minister from de-linking their currency to our dollar (instead they opted for a 'single adjustment').

    I would really prefer not to talk on the war in Iraq. I am not a spokesperson for American foreign policy, just a witness to events as they happen. I treat soldiers recently wounded on the battlefield on an almost weekly basis. I am well aware of its human costs.

    But from a financial standpoint, on the costs vs. receivable of America's military/empire/foreign projection of power: 'Yes' Iraq will cost upwards of a trillion dollars-- its just I think the jury is still out on the receivables. Accounting is a funny science, especially in matters of empire. It may well be that America's receivables do not add up, I have been following this issue for a few years now and it is really hard to tell to date... but make no mistake, revenues from US military interventions abroad are much larger than commonly understood. Empire can pay for itself.

    Neither the US military, nor the the Iraq war, are America's biggest culprits when it comes to explaining her debt. That title goes to healthcare, plan and simple. We are in the midst of the largest reverse generational transfer of wealth--from young to old, the world has ever seen.
    Eliminating the US military (something I do not endore) and all our foreign interventions would help somewhat, but only just that, somewhat. Healthcare stands buy itself as the king bubbles.

    If you are looking for a little reading on this subject, I again refer to Niall Ferguson and his book :Colossus or you can watch him debate these issues on his website at

    The BBC has made up a whole series for TV on the subject.

    As for my origianl intent today, I wanted to talk about economics and evolution, a subject I think Hell gets a little wrong periodically.

  19. "As for my origianl intent today, I wanted to talk about economics and evolution ......"


    You should start your own blog.

  20. Thai:

    First let me give you some help on posting links:

    type < then a href=" (no spaces between the "<" and "a href=" ")

    then your linked page (no spaces), i.e.:">

    Then (no spaces) type a description of your link viz. >Go to this page

    Then add your anchor which is < / a > (take the spaces out)

    and voilĂ , you have a link.

    And yes, I am an attorney. "Okie" means Oklahoman.

    I am too tired right now to write a long post critiquing your assertion of force as the basis of law or your seeming support of Social Darwinism (something that I vehemently oppose).

  21. Okielawyer, if it is about Social Darwinism, don't do it for me as we agree, I too vehmently oppose the racist 'pseudoscience' of Social Darwinism to justify the current status quo. Social Darwinism and evolutionary psychology are very different. Do you know/understand the difference?

    Read up on the difference if you do not (type into google 'The Prisoner's dilemma)

    Hellasious' posting the other day bordered on Social Darwinism... I was actually going to point point that out.

    If you are going to argue that that power of force is not backing up the courts, I am all ears. I had to work with 3 seperate police officers 2 days ago on 3 seperate violent events, I sure did appreciate their assistance. I am curious as to how you will do this.

    I have no interet debating a poistion I do not support.

  22. Okielawyer,


    I have been trying to figure out how to leave links for days. Please let me know if these give you any trouble.

    The first link:
    google posting of the origin of wealth

    The second link: link to Axtrell's book

    The third link NYT article on how humans deny the world around them, particularly their own 'shortcomings'

    This is a classic tennant of evolutionary psychology. Actually Freud is creditied with originaly recognizing this.

    The fourth link:Niall Ferguson's blog

    I added a fith link: NYT article on how people reach different conclusions looking at exactly the same information

    I wonder if you think you are hear me tapping one song, when I am really tapping another?

    I am NO Social Darwinist. The idea makes me sick.

    As an old professor of mine used to say "that which the mind does not know, the eye cannot see"

    Open your mind

  23. If I understand Thai's point, I think people are coming down too hard on him. The basic point, as I understand it, is that the US is unique in its ability to project military force around the world, and this ability generally is valuable to many other countries (generally--which doesn't mean they want us squandering lives and money in Iraq, or that they will support anything the US does). Because of this, the argument continues, those countries are willing to subsidize US military power by purchasing US debt, even though they understand that this debt may not be fully repaid. Ultimately, of course, the power of coercion underlies the ability to enforce anything, and no country (or group of countries) could compel the US to repay debt it refuses to pay (although whether the US could absorb the indirect consequences is another question). But the main idea, as I understand it, is a symbiotic relationship in which US military strength is underwritten by purchases of US debt by countries that understand that it is in no one's interest to push the US to the wall.

  24. Anonymous


    I would further add (if it is necessary to help clarify) that neither the US, nor the foreign governments who subsidize America, completely understood the long term implications of their actions when this first all began (remember "life is lived forward but understood backwards").

    To be fair, I don't really think anyone/any nation 'completely' knows what they/it are doing (really one of those metamphysical discssions).

    In the early years they thought "this is great". As time went on however, and both parties came to understand the broader implications/consequences of their relationships, they began to change their views: Americans are increasingly recognizing the cost of deluding themselves that they are morally superior/have a better system of governement/need to prostheletize their views to the rest of the world. Foreign governments are increasingly recognizing the cost of outsourcing their military to America may have been much larger than they initially anticipated.

    Smells a little like the mortgage mess at some level doesn't it? Bubbles are fundamental to everything in evolutionary systems.

    Elizabeth Kubler-Ross developed a model to explain the different stages of loss/grief. Using this model as a benchmark, I would say we are somewhere between stage 1 and 2 (I don't think these foreign governments really thought they would loose as much money as they are likely to loose until recently).

    Buyer beware.

    Who knows, maybe I am too much of a cynic. I may be wrong and Americans may finally admit they are living too profligate a lifestyle and finally decide to start saving/investing in the future.... but given that I just watched the other day a 28 year old woman making $100,000/year ask her 60 year old father making $50,000/year to pay for her $50,000 wedding (he will do this by borrowing against his 401k worth $115,000 five years before retirement), I sometimes think we are all doomed.

    If people will do that to their own parents, what will they their fellow citizen?

  25. Thai:

    OK, I just boned up on evolutionary psychology and a lot of it sounds too academic to me.

    As to the society's ultimate appeal to force as justification for justice. I don't accept this. In law school we were taught that the law is based on reason and logic.

    "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war."

    There are undoubtedly societies where power is an end unto itself; but that is not the American way. For that matter, it is not the Western world's way. The whole point of the Rule of Law is to get away from rule by brute force and one of "consent of the governed."

    I understand your argument -- and it even has some basis in fact -- but it is the cornerstone of Western Civilization that power is only invoked to carry out justice or defend the existence of these institutions.

    One way of looking at it is: "We are not just because we have power; we have power because we are just."

    I hope that I have not muddied up the water too much.

  26. Thai McGreivy said (along with a whole lot of other stuff)

    'As for my origianl intent today, I wanted to talk about economics and evolution....'

    Not sure what others think but I feel you are coming close to hijacking Hellasious blog and moving away from the content of the posts...

  27. Occamsrazors

    I agree and apologize

    Move on

  28. Thai McGreivy said...

    I agree and apologize

    Move on"

    Thanks Thai for being magnanimous about it, many wouldn't be