This is the economic recovery that won’t get out of its own way.
Every time one sign points to a light at the end of the tunnel, the light just turns out to be an illuminated sign, pointing to another dim and winding path. Whenever unemployment numbers drop, it’s only about a week before we find out the economy actually lost jobs. When we hear the economy gained some jobs, we soon find unemployment actually ticked up. And now that a economists have rejoiced over better retail sales from a year ago, we get a report those sales actually took a pretty big tumble last month, which could mean just about anything … except impending economic recovery.
According to a government report, retail sales dropped 1.2 percent from April to May. There could be many reasons for the drop, ranging from weather to the timing of Labor Day, but the biggest one is most certainly high unemployment, which is really the only measure of economic recovery right now that matters to most people. Executives and major stockholders will get more excited over productivity and the GDP, but 99 percent of people won’t jump for joy until that translates into a thriving job market.
Since domestic sales account for more than two thirds of the U.S. economy, maybe executives and stockholders would best serve themselves by undertaking a united mass hiring; after all, unemployment is the real thing keeping the economy down. It would be like a private sector stimulus operation. Aren’t they the ones who say the private sector can do anything better than the government? Maybe they should prove it. Instead, companies are leery of any substantial hiring until a recovery begins, but it won’t. Nobody’s hiring.