Wednesday, August 20, 2008
One speculation I would make -- and I'm still trying to nail down the research on this -- is that the number of local government workers lost is quite large. Statewide, there were 540 fewer local government education jobs in July 2008 over July 2007. I thought perhaps the St. Cloud numbers were a reporting issue. Local government jobs (not broken between education and other) fall every July, but this year the drop was not more pronounced:
So that's not really it. Retail trade and wholesale/transportation were very soft, belying the supposed benefit of the stimulus checks. Otherwise it simply looks like a slow month in the sectors that were expanding, with continued declines in manufacturing. If we are pulling out of whatever you call these last eight months, July probably wasn't the month the new leg up began.
In a related note, the St. Cloud Times announced twelve positions to be cut last Friday. According to one person I spoke with, the eight people being laid off were notified by this morning. One of the data we use in the Quarterly Business Report is the Times' help wanted advertising linage. Ad revenue generally (for example in autos) is down precipitously, and has been for years. Even a relatively small, relatively unharmed market like St. Cloud's is not immune.