Today’s jobs report was, to say the least, strange. The first look was exciting—288,000 payroll jobs added! Now that is the kind of job growth that would get us back to a healthy labor market relatively soon. If we were to keep up this pace, we would get back to pre-recession labor market conditions by the end of 2016. Even I could live with that.
The second look was good, too—the household survey showed the unemployment rate plunged to 6.3 percent. But I should have stopped looking there, because the rest was pretty bad. It turns out the drop in unemployment was entirely due to people dropping out of the labor force. Employment in the household survey actually declined, and the labor force participation rate fell back down to its lowest point of the recovery. Our estimate of the number of “missing workers” (workers who are not working or actively seeking work but who would be if job opportunities were strong) increased to an all-time high of 6.2 million. If those missing workers were in the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent instead of 6.3 percent.
Continue reading News Roundup – Jobs Report, Egyptian pyramids, Stand Your Ground
As everyone should know by now conservatives have blocked almost every stimulus package that has been proposed over the last five years. No stimulus equals austerity. Austerity equals high unemployment. It is that simple. (European austerity failed.) We can argue about how long a stimulus should last or how low we should try to push unemployment (too low is bad), but the data is clear. Austerity has clearly slowed our economic growth.
Jonathan Chait makes a good point about the deficit scolds: whatever they may say, they have in practice played a key role in promoting short-run fiscal austerity and therefore in keeping unemployment high. Continue reading Austerity and Pro-Unemployment
I haven’t had an opportunity to talk about the fact that the “War on Poverty” has just turned 50. Instead, I’d like to spend some time talking about the economy. Towards the end of this post I will talk about unemployment benefits. Today we got the much-anticipated jobs numbers. Sometimes the jobs numbers are little hard to digest. This month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 74,000 jobs. If you think that number is somewhat low, you are in excellent company. The unemployment rate dipped to 6.7%. I don’t believe any of it. This number (74,000 jobs) is a three-year low. Last month, the month that should’ve been hit extremely hard by the government shutdown, the economy added 241,000 jobs. I’m not sure about that number either.
I have been following the labor statistics fairly closely for nearly a decade. There seems to always be one or two numbers that come out either extremely high or extremely low that are revised over the coming months. All of the economic indicators that we’ve seen over the last two or three months seem to show that the economy is continuing to pick up steam.
Continue reading The Economy and Unemployment Benefits