Did you enjoy your monthly dose of non-farms nonsense last Friday?
Gold and silver both erased Thursday's drop when the latest U.S. jobs figures were released. Set your gold or silver chart to one-week (1w) to see the silliness.
But were August's non-farm payrolls really so meaningless? Cutting the jobless rate is one-half of the U.S. Federal Reserve's mandate (the other is beating inflation – or whisking it, perhaps, after folding in egg whites). And whatever he does (or doesn't do) to quantitative easing at next week's much-awaited policy meeting, Fed chairman Bernanke has made a 7.0% jobless rate a key condition for any talk of raising dollar interest rates from zero.
Last month's tick down to 7.3% in the unemployment rate, however, showed that other things are happening to U.S. jobs beyond hiring and firing. Most notably, people are quitting the jobs market altogether. More notably still, men and women under the age of 35. Those under 24 have gone AWOL.
Losing young earners to welfare is bad; losing them to college is good, or so everyone thinks. No one's quite sure which of paths Generation Why has chosen just yet. But even education, sadly, is another dead end. At least as we account it today, in dollars and cents, rather than merely for the good of knowing more stuff. Because now government has made college education a social goal, more equals better – and so all equals best – and it's just one more thing government can't help but screw up.
Student loans are a scandal, as Rolling Stone showed last month. They're also adding to America's personal debt burden (horribly so for the individuals trapped by the scam). At the same time, extending education long into the start of middle-age income capacity only worsens the dependency ratio of earning workers to idlers.
Even economics graduates are meantime figuring out that, if you keep pumping money into a market, its prices will keep rising. That goes double when the money is borrowed, as the subprime bubble showed. Data show the annual cost of attending college – in real, inflation-adjusted terms – rising two to three-fold in the last 30 years. Has the fun, education or benefit really grown three times greater as well?