151,000 Jobs-but Not the Right Jobs

151,000 Jobs-but Not the Right Jobs

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in October, reflecting job gains in mining and a number of service-providing industries according The Bureau of Labor statistics. Jobs are jobs these days, but these aren’t the jobs people really want for long term growth, and they aren’t the jobs America wants to drive innovation. (original BLS release here).

The number most closely aligned with the knowledge economy come in the 35,000 for professional and business services, employment in temporary help services continued to increase in October, with a gain of 35,000. If temporary workers look at their options, non-fulltime employment opens up the opportunity to be creative. Because they are temporary, they don’t have the loyalty overhead associated with working extra hours to get recognized for promotion. That said, some will do extra to try to get a permanent job. My recommendation: spend your time finding a way to make money from your passion, not from the passion of others (as in, don’t just work, work what you love).

Employment in computer systems design and related services increased by 8,000 in October and has risen by 53,000 since a recent low in June 2009. Anemic at best. The question is how do we get more private equity into the market to start funding exciting new companies?

Health care is up (+24,000)and will likely continue as the baby boomers age. Unclear the shape of the curve, but the curve is likely upward for the foreseeable future, unless the next Congress ravages health care reform and creates new uncertainty in that market. Fortunately for health care (and not so fortunate for the rest of us) people still age, get ill and hurt themselves, and the more people you have, the more you will have all of those things happen. In business, demand is demand and much of health care remains people-centric rather than automated.

With the holidays in swing, retail trade employment rose by 28,000. Auto dealers and electronics making the biggest gains. Auto dealers are getting a bit more optimistic, perhaps overly so, but like health care, cares age and breakdown, and if you can’t get a house, and you want a personal shopping endorphin boost, cars remain the best bet—followed by an iPad or Blu-Ray player with Netflix streaming. Keep watching into February and see if this continues, I doubt it will.

And in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-26,000) we see that out-of-work actors are now actually claiming to be waiters with food services and drinking places employment gaining 24,000 jobs.

The rising demand (and need) for precious metals and rare earths drove mining employment up by 8,000, continuing to a boom of sorts.

Employment in manufacturing continued to retreat after gains earlier in the year.

Elsewhere in the private sector, employment in construction, wholesale trade, transportation, information, and financial activities showed little change in October. Government too was little changed.

We continue to track employment as if a job is a job. We need to start looking at the jobs we want people to have and track those. Not the jobs that seem to be growth jobs because the pool is growing, but growth jobs because the engagement in that works helps move the world forward. We need to not only track those jobs, but figure out how to prepare people for them, and how to get people inspired to love the work. And yes, we need the BLS to figure out how to classify work in a way that reflects what people do in 2010, not what they could have done in 1970.

Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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