We keep hearing that the unemployment situation is going to begin turning around any minute now, and previous disappointing results have been dismissed and excused on the basis of weather and other factors. Now the latest weekly report shows an increase of 25,000 in new unemployment claims—instead of the decrease expected by economists.
Clearly, the economy continues to struggle with job creation, and I think that automation is playing a significant role. The fact is that businesses continue to invest in labor-saving technologies during downturns and then do not need to re-hire as many workers once recovery begins. I think there is a very real risk that unemployment will continue to outpace expectations and that the resulting impact on consumer spending will threaten long term recovery.
Here’s another article from Reuters on large layoffs in the manufacturing sector:
The number of mass layoffs by U.S. employers rose in April led by manufacturers who shed workers even as the economy began to recover.