The December 2021 job numbers just released — which showed the fewest jobs in a month of last year — is one of many pieces of evidence illuminating the not-so-great economy we’re in now. Or at least one that is far from normal. Meanwhile, the Omicron Covid variant also continues to rage in the US, taking a heavy toll on the economy in several ways. For example, staffing is an issue everywhere from restaurants to movie theaters and commercial flights. Inflation is also dangerously high. And despite everything, no one will be getting another federal government stimulus check anytime soon.
December jobs report what we alluded to above showed the economy added just 199,000 jobs last month. Economists had hoped for a figure twice as high. It should be noted that the ADP’s December jobs report showed just over 800,000 jobs added last month, which is pretty much the textbook definition of a mixed message here.
As for me, I am failing what I see around me with my own eyes. Which, again, is why I say – the numbers can show what they show. It’s definitely not normal yet. Imagine you’re an economist right now trying to read the job market closely, in light of everything from workers being laid off permanently or temporarily because Covid is keeping customers at home (or maybe the boss is just cutting their hours).
Then there’s the so-called Great Resignation, where people decide they want to do something more meaningful with their lives, in the midst of a pandemic, outside of a job they hate. All of these things play out very differently on a local level, depending on where you live. That makes it even harder to get a good picture of the U.S. economy as a whole. Moreover? Much of the job data is retrospective. This makes as much sense as looking at last month’s medical records of someone who passed away today — and then convincing yourself that these records prove that the person in question is quite healthy and alive.
Basic Income Experiments
We all said that to emphasize, again, that this is another reason why the picture around stimulus checks and payments will be anything but uniform this year. Because the economic picture is so strikingly different in regions across the country.
In the state of California, for example, reported 794,000 Golden State Stimulus 2 Checks worth a combined $568 million was sent to eligible state residents through December 31. Now only one batch of payments is going out. With that last mail-out ready for January 11, according to the state Franchise Tax Board.
Experiments with a basic income are also underway in other cities. With payments to residents there serving as their own kind of ‘stimulus’ to boost economic activity.
- The city of Newark, New Jersey, has expanded a UBI program there to 400 residents. Each of the participants will receive a total of $12,000 over two years. The participants are low-income and have to prove some kind of hardship due to the Covid pandemic.
- A similar program in Rochester, New York, gives 175 low-income families $500 in payments over 12 months. Then the same monthly payments go to another group of 175 families.
- And in Durham, North Carolina, 115 former inmates receive payments of $500 a month for a year under the city’s Excel pilot program. The target? “To evaluate, among other things, the effects of guaranteed income on recidivism and re-incarceration, employment, economic security and income volatility.