More applicants are flocking to job fairs. Yet fewer companies participating. In Arizona, pretty much like everywhere else, employers adopt a wait-see attitude.

The Arizona Department of Commerce reported Thursday that the rate is up from 7 percent in January and on pace to reach 8 percent in two to three months. It remains below the national rate of 8.1 percent.

But the official unemployment rate tells just part of the story. Experts are increasingly pointing out that such rates undercount the number of people who really want a job. Discouraged workers who aren’t looking for a job and part-time employees who can’t find full-time work typically aren’t counted in the official unemployment rate.

When these discouraged workers are counted, federal estimates show that Arizona’s jobless rate could be closer to 13 or 14 percent, said Dennis Doby, research administrator at the Commerce Department.

“Companies are of a mind-set to just not spend money. Even though they need to hire and want to hire, they are waiting to see what is happening with the economy,” said Robin Bumgarner, senior regional vice president at Ajilon Professional Staffing in Phoenix.

Arizona and the Phoenix area continue to be among the leading areas for job losses in the nation. Among the nation’s 372 metropolitan regions, only Los Angeles, New York City and Detroit lost more jobs than the Phoenix area in January, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The job market has become so tight that employers can choose from the cream of the crop. Bumgarner and several other employment specialists said they have encountered a new twist on hiring: group interviews. A large insurance company had several staffing companies bring in candidates, who were all interviewed together in a conference room, she said.

“What they found is that by doing that, they got an overall higher-quality candidate because it’s so different when you interview in a group in front of people,” she said.

Message For Robin Bumgarner

I left the following message on the Ajilon Professional Staffing website.

I would like Robin to tell me exactly why it is corporation should be hiring, to do what?

What is it we need more? Walmarts? Pizza Huts? Nail salons? Strip malls? Auto capacity? Homes? Exactly why do corporations need to hire? To do what? Robin said they “need to hire”. I would like to know for what.

And if they “want to hire” then why are they firing?

Please clue me in Robin.

It will be interesting to see if I get a response. I suspect the only “need” to hire is to keep the commissions flowing in to Ajilon.

Wishin’ And Hopin’

Here’s the deal. I am not happy about this situation at all. I really wish there were more jobs. But the fact of the matter is there is not more jobs. Indeed, in the next 4 months I will be pleasantly surprised if fewer than 2 million jobs are lost. That’s how bad it is.

Pretending that corporations “need to hire” does not make it so. And the key fact is millions are A Paycheck Away From Ruin and millions more will be in that spot in a few more months. It does not help to sugar coat this as Obama and others are attempting to do. Indeed it’s counterproductive because people know they are being lied to and they resent it.

The fact that Bernanke’s Grand Experiment Continues Unabated is proof that things are even worse than they look. And things look pretty bad. You can now add “Group Interviews” as well as “Grand Experiments” to the list of things that suggest conditions are worsening. That list has been growing week by week.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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