County loses jobs, unemployment rises

Up only half a percentage point, but that's 19,000 people

San Diego County's unemployment rate in January was 4.5 percent, up from 4.1 percent in December. The county lost 19,000 jobs in the month.

Retail lost 6500 jobs, as people working in the holiday season were let go. Accommodation and food services dropped 2700 jobs, some of which were seasonal. However, job losses in government (3200), education and health services (2100), professional and business services (500), and construction (500) were not so easily explained by seasonality.

Between January of 2016 and this January, the county gained 32,000 jobs, or 2.3 percent.

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Perhaps the minimum wage 10% increase had something to do with food service jobs too.

FJL: The minimum wage went up 50 cents to $10.50 in June of last year and up $1 to $11.50 in January of this year. Some economists have predicted jobs would drop as the minimum wage went up. This would make a good study. Best, Don Bauder

Full service, sit-down restaurants are falling by the wayside. We have had about three of them close up here in Vista in the past few weeks. Coincidence? I doubt it. More and more of the eateries in this area are of the "menu on the wall" variety, even when the prices seem steep.

But the larger issue is the fact that this "recovery" from the 2008 financial crisis is really weak, Huge numbers of qualified people just cannot find a decent job during this "boom." Well, the boom is restricted to a few areas of the nation, where it is white hot, while the rest of the areas and industries languish. I'm not surprised by this news, although I am most disappointed.

Visduh: Yes, some areas, such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Austin, are booming. San Diego is hardly booming. Best, Don Bauder

Those phenomena would make an interesting study; simple gain/loss stats are almost meaningless in of themselves.

Look for more big chains to close. Bricks and mortar retail is dying. As computer programming gets more and more refined, fewer and fewer programmers will be needed. "We" will reach a point where the "customers" have no money to buy stuff.

The takedown of the Constitution is already in process. Several states are passing anti-protest measures, some in sheep's clothing, some blatant. The police increasingly are becoming goon squads--that will trim the population down to "size." Mass slavery, "wage" or otherwise, will serve the "winners" whose chief already has pronounced, "Tax retuns--tax returns? I don' need no stinkin' tax returns!"

Flapper: Yes, retail is hurting. Look at troubles of J.C. Penney, Macy's, Target, et al. For the most part, they are losing business to online operations-- greatly Amazon. So if one is blaming increased unemployment in retail to the rise in the minimum wage, caution is in order. Best, Don Bauder

I apologize, it's my fault.

I buy more and more from Amazon and less and less in my own community (just spent another $200+ at Amazon today). I know this is wrong, but I just don't get out to shop much and the internet is so easy… I never go to bars, restaurants, theaters or any entertainment venues any more (never did much).

I do support farmers' markets, my independent Ace hardware store, and a few locally owned businesses in Hillcrest & North Park. I support various arts groups, homeless support groups and political action groups.

There was a time when Americans were encouraged to 'Buy American', but that's almost impossible now. And it has always been a good idea to support business in your own community, but that's not so practical as it once was.

swell: Some specialty retailers, such as those selling CDs, are all but gone. One can get a much better selection buying CDs over the internet. Local bookstores have been slaughtered, but, believe it or not, they are making a kind of a comeback. Best, Don Bauder

I NEVER buy from Amazon. They tried to screw me. They screw their employees and treat them like the slaves they are.

This does not mean that I hold anything against others who do; I'm not self-righteous about it. We are all caught up in this "web of life," and, I should add, the web of culture from which we can't really escape.

Swell, you are a swell person. I try to buy local as much as possible, and try not to buy new stuff. I give to people, not organizations. I'm too poor to worry about write-offs. Still, I have waaay more stuff than I need.

If we treat others kindly, but not patronizingly, the positives will spread and multiply. When I was a kid, the measure of a person was how well they came through when the chips were down.

Flapper: What bugs me is towns subsidizing Wal-Mart. They do it to bring in tax money. But they take away sales -- and potential tax money -- from local retailers. Best, Don Bauder

Not all towns subsidize WalMart. Not far from you, Pagosa Spriings, CO resisted Wally for many years. About two years ago, WalMart managed to get a big spread there, will out of town and the business district. After all the time that the town tried to keep WalMart out, I doubt it succumbed to the sales tax scam.

Visduh: Yes, there are municipalities that reject Wal-Mart's blandishments. Those towns not only won't subsidize Wal-Mart, they won't let them in town even without a subsidy. Wal-Mart is China's U.S. outlet. Wal-Mart mistreats its employees --disgracefully low pay, irregular hours that prohibit the workers from moonlighting elsewhere. Best, Don Bauder

"US suspends expedited processing of H-1B visas" Is today's news. Trump administration is clamping down on H-1B visas. I hope it goes further to end them.

Ponzi: The attorney general -- perhaps soon to be the ex-AG -- has been a foe of H-1B for a long time. Trump's anti-immigrant stance is consistent with an anti-H-1B position.

However, I am one who believes that H-1B is being abused, and is holding down salaries of American engineers. But I definitely do NOT take the anti-immigrant stance of Trump. Best, Don Bauder

I agree about the abuse. The original concept of the H-1B visa is good. If they are truly getting a talented scientist, engineer or doctor. But my experience with programmers and web designers is they displace Americans who are qualified. The abuse also discourages Americans from pursuing the STEM education.

American college students must study about American history and other subjects whereas most of the Indian students focus on the engineering studies.

Ponzi: H-1Bs are coming in at low salaries, replacing American engineers with tenure and experience. (This is not supposed to happen, but it does.) The widespread use of H-1Bs tends to lower the salary levels of American engineers, and as you say, discourage American young people from majoring in engineering. Best, Don Bauder

I too wonder why any US student would be pulled into a STEM field now. Oh, it's the latest/greatest thing, and it does require far above-average academic ability to succeed. But to what avail? Your hard-earned spot in the labor force is given to some foreigner on an abusive visa.

There is a partial explanation for STEM as the preferred area. Simply put, the old liberal arts education qualifies most students for nothing at all in the way of career paths. That is just part of the whole destruction of the middle class, and the lifestyle that it provided.

It seems to be increasingly difficult to find any path for a young lower or middle class person to make a decent life for themselves with just intelligence and hard work. Graduating American STEM students face great competition from H1B workers and offshoring. Frankly, as you say, it requires FAR above average academic ability, difficult education, and long hours to be successful.

ImJustABill: However, H-1Bs are not the best and brightest. They tend to be average or below, but get low salaries, so big American companies want them. So the American student who wants to make a bundle of money in a STEM field should not be frightened off by H-1Bs. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: In Silicon Valley, the American-born engineers have another reason to seek STEM jobs: the chance to get in on the ground floor of an emerging company, and get in on founders' stock in a hot IPO. But that is a very long shot . Best, Don Bauder

The original concept of the H1-B is not good. Anyone who is brought in as a "temporary" worker with a lot of rules and restrictions will automatically be at a severe disadvantage in negotiations and will automatically bring overall salary levels down.

A better concept would be giving higher priority to highly skilled individuals who wish to emigrate to the US permanently.

ImJustABill: Highly skilled people from foreign countries stream into the U.S. However, the real, unstated purpose of H-1B is to permit companies to hire lower level foreigners at low salaries, and displace Americans with tenure and higher salaries. This permits profits to rise, and top level (CEO, CFO, COO) pay to rise from ridiculous levels to utterly absurd heights. Best, Don Bauder

We're fat, dumb, and happy. East Indians, for example, not only work cheaper, they are intelligent and well-educated.

I recently bought a battery back-up unit by a company in Rhode Island. When I called tech support, the dimwit who couldn't understand a simple but crucial distinction was located "at the factory" in the Philippines. I got stonewalled. So what else is new in retailing?

When I was in retailing, the customer was king.

Flapper: But hooking up with a dimwit who doesn't understand the situation, and can barely speak English, is quite common in internet retailing. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Was it possible to take it back? Best, Don Bauder

Tim Cunningham: A fairly-constructed unemployment rate would be much higher than 4.5 percent, but not 20 percent. That's too high. Best, Don Bauder

Whatever it is now, the unemployment rate (the real, true rate) is scandalously high. If you want to understand the Trump phenomenon, look no farther.

Visduh: As we have discussed in the past, the understated unemployment rate doesn't give the most relevant information. You have to look at median household income. For about four decades it has dropped, adjusted for inflation, while incomes of the upper 1 to 5 percent have zoomed. The collapse of the middle class has been a result of government policy. I agree: this was a factor in the rise of Bernie Sanders and the election of Donald Trump.

Trouble is, Trump's policies will worsen the income inequality greatly. Best, Don Bauder

Trump is proposing tax and financial regulation policies which will likely worsen income inequality - as has been the norm for most recent administions.

He is also proposing trade and immigration policies which will likely lessen income inequality - policies which have been called for by the middle class for a generation but ignored by the elite political / media class.

ImJustABill: I'm not sure the political/media class can be called "elite." Much of the media, such as newspapers and magazines, are dying. Media salaries have always been low, except for certain TV positions. Politicians' salaries are also low, but, of course, they have ways to grab money from underneath the table.

However, you make an important point. The media are doing an excellent job pointing out Trump's pathological lying, his massive conflicts of interest, and his direct connection to Russian oligarchs. However, he keeps attacking the media, and his followers don't pay attention to the revelations. Best, Don Bauder

To me the elite are those who don't seriously consider the concerns of the American middle class. I'm not sure that Trump's followers don't pay attention to his lying or if they consider it the lesser of 2 evils. Trump's numerous lies may not be as bad to some people as being told that free trade, illegal immigration, and green energy policies won't hurt their job prospects . Trump clearly lies a lot - bu I am still optimistic that Trump will eventually learn to do a better job of self-fact-checking before he says things. The media are inherently much more honest than most politicians, certainly more so than Trump. But the media are also overwhelmingly left wing (only 7% of reporters identify as Republican per http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/05/survey-7-percent-of-reporters-identify-as-republican-188053). As such the press - perhaps unknowingly - go out of their way at times to present the left wing side of the issue. It is difficult to find major news sources which are not heavily biassed to the left although there are a few outliers like Fox heavily biassed to the right. I really don't think there is any straight-up non-biassed news coverage anymore (Although I think KNX 1070 in LA does a pretty good job IMO). However, I think it's inappropriate for the President to criticize the media the way Trump does - arguably he is violating the press' 1st amendment rights by intimidating them the way he does.

ImJustABill: I doubt that Trump will become a more adept liar. He either doesn't have a good memory (an essential for a liar) or he doesn't know a lie from the truth. I believe it is the latter. All politicians lie (as do all people who rise to important positions, as well as many who don't), but Trump's lies are very easily disproven. The other day he was saying he didn't know Putin. But TV stations easily went back and put on two instances when, before a camera and audiences, he boasted how he knew Putin.

Almost all his lies are like that -- easily disprovable. This suggests to me that prevarication is deeply inculcated in his personality. He simply does not know a lie from the truth. He says whatever goes over with his audience, or whatever helps him wiggle out of tough media questions, and probably isn't aware that he has said exactly the reverse a few days earlier. That is what I mean by pathological lying. It is dangerous.

Incidentally, I registered Republican in 1960. At that time, I was in advertising /PR. I joined the media in 1964 and remained a registered Republican until 2004, when I went Democratic, primarily because of the Iraq war and the escalating wealth and income maldistribution. But I don't disagree with you. Probably 90 percent of reporters and editors in mainstream media are Democrats, or left-leaning independents. Best, Don Bauder

All fair statements Don. Thank you.

It does seem quite possible to me that Trump has had enough successes in business and politics and become so good at covering prior lies with more lies or bullying tactics that perhaps he doesn't even know he is doing it. I do hold out optimism - maybe foolishly - that someone he trusts (perhaps Ivanka) will somehow convince him of the danger of weaving a more tangled weave of deception.

ImJustABill: Big American banks won't do business with Trump. One reason is obviously his bankruptcies. But my guess is that a big reason is that the bankers know he is a pathological liar and a bad risk.

It bothers me greatly that some important financiers and chief executives are backing Trump, yet they must know he is disturbed. But they look the other way because they believe they will get tax cuts and cutting of regulations. It's a case of profits before patriotism. Best, Don Bauder

Trump is also prioritizing employment of middle class American workers ahead of reduction of greenhouse gasses. That may turn out to be a mistake in the long run. But clearly this is another thing Trump is doing for the American working class.

ImJustABill: Yes, he is playing up to coal interests and planning to eviscerate, if not eliminate, the EPA. The consequences of that will hit the nation long after Trump is out of office. Best, Don Bauder

Trump was "right" about one thing--everything is rigged.

I'd like to know, should pollsters ever care to ask useful questions, what percentage, for example, of Trump voters bought lottery tickets versus non-Trump voters.

Students need to be taught how to distinguish bullshit from reality, for example.

Flapper: I will bet that, overwhelmingly, Trump supporters play the lottery. They also fall for multi-level marketing and Ponzi schemes. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: There are many webs of deceit around, aren't there? Best, Don Bauder


Still, there are little sparks of being true . . . and in just being so beats the hell out of swords and missiles of outrageous fortune. (Sorry, but the great poets must be drummed and drummed (and Hammersteined) into our dear little ears.)

Flapper: I think you are alluding to the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune, which along with sister publications Time and People, is looking for a buyer. Best, Don Bauder

Methinks I will bring my gang of cutthroats, loaded to the gills with slangs and errers, to CO and surround your mansion.

When rags and mags die, good writing will likely be tossed into the hole with them.

Flapper: Hell hath no fury like an unflappable Flapper flapped at last. Best, Don Bauder

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