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My Economy

What the jobs report doesn’t tell you

Sean McHenry Jan 23, 2019
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The good numbers in the December jobs report don't tell the whole story.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.


The December jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed lots of job growth and more people entering the work force — signs of a healthy economy. Data though, doesn’t always tell the whole economic story. Javier Cabo does marketing for a tech startup in Washington, D.C., and wrote in with his story about the forces drawing people back to the work.

When the jobs report came out it seemed to be all sunshine and everything was great news. Unemployment was up but that’s because there were so many more job seekers in the market and they didn’t really touch on why those people were entering the market again.

In my world I know that my mom has re-entered the job force kind of unhappily. She’s working as a cashier at a retailer. It’s not because she wants to be working but because she can’t make ends meet and so she has to have a job now in her retirement as she approaches 70 to just be able to pay the bills and try to keep up with medical expenses. She has to constantly be on her feet. And as somebody that’s getting older it can be really hard on her.

Javier Cabo’s mother, who is approaching 70, had to re-enter the job force as a retail cashier to make ends meet.

On the one hand I feel really blessed right now in that I have a job that I love. I’m making good money and I’m able to strive towards a lot of the goals that I have in life. At the same time I have massive student loan debt and it’s really unclear what my parents’ expenses are. I try to do my part. I pay for their cell phone and help them with their cable bill. But when it comes to things like giant dental expenses or ongoing pharmacy costs it’s really something that I can’t plan for.

At the same time it’s really a ginger exchange because she feels uncomfortable and maybe a little ashamed about her situation and it’s hard for a child to be telling his parent what to do. I think that what the jobs report doesn’t communicate is all of the personal losses that are coming from having to be in a situation where you’re looking for a job. People entering the workforce has a real personal cost that’s never measured in any of the reports. 

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