Free Markets, Free People

employment

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 8 Sep 13

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Republican-led House’s decision to fully fund Obamacare, the economy, and the Obama Administration’s Syria-related stupidity.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.


The upside down country

Among all the distractions, scandals and foreign policy failures, we’ve sort of lost track on how the economy is going.  And that’s one small favor I assume the administration is happy about.

For instance the jobs picture.

Behind Wal-Mart, the second-largest employer in America is Kelly Services, a temporary work provider.

Friday’s disappointing jobs report showed that part-time jobs are at anall-time high, with 28 million Americans now working part-time. The report also showed another disturbing fact: There are now a record number of Americans with temporary jobs.

Approximately 2.7 million, in fact. And the trend has been growing.

And dependance:

The number of Americans receiving subsidized food assistance from the federal government has risen to 101 million, representing roughly a third of the U.S. population.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a total of 101,000,000 people currently participate in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal year 2012.

That means the number of Americans receiving food assistance has surpassed the number of private sector workers in the U.S.

Oh happy day.  We now have more people receiving food assistance than are working (other than regulations, what do government workers contribute to the economy?).  That’s obviously something that can’t continue, can it?  Reminds one of Social Security, which is approaching the same problem.  Not enough workers to support those drawing SS.

So who is going to pay for all this?  Those temp workers?

But not to worry, we have ObamaCare on the horizon which will mean “less costly” health care, right?  And there are stringent checks to ensure that  only those eligible for “government funded subsidies”, aka taxpayer funded, will get them:

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the Obama Administration will get rid of verification requirements in ObamaCare to determine whether or not applicants are eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies to purchase health insurance coverage from the state exchanges.

“The Obama administration announced Friday that it would significantly scale back the health law’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status,” wrote Sarah Kliff and Sandhya Somashekhar at the Washington Post. “Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place.”

Wait, what?  2015 … maybe?  In the meantime, free-for-all, just apply and you’ll get it, because, you know, there’s no such thing as fraud (*cough* 60 billion in Medicare each year *cough*).  And besides, all those young folks who don’t want or need health insurance will be picking up the tab anyway.

~McQ


Don’t drink “the employment picture is much better” Kool-aid

Why?  Because it isn’t really better.  Oh, it may be marginally better than it was a year ago but that’s not saying much at all.  In terms of real progress?  Yeah, not so much.  The National Journal says:

The U.S. jobs picture is bleaker than the most recent jobs reports may make you think. The economy added 175,000 jobs last month, but at the rate things are going, it would take almost a decade to get back to prerecession employment levels. A Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics digs in on the bad news: The number of job openings in the U.S. actually fell by 118,000 in April to 3.8 million.

How bad can 3.8 million job openings be? The Economic Policy Institute looks at the number and sees that “the main problem in the labor market is a broad-based lack of demand for workers—and not, as is often claimed, available workers lacking the skills needed for the sectors with job openings.”

Here’s a chart they put together to visually make the point:

An economy on the mend is generating jobs at such a pace that it is competing for workers.  As is obvious, that’s not the case in this economy, nor has it been the case for quite some time.

In a word, the employment picture sucks.  Anyone pretending otherwise is doing exactly that – pretending.  And they can toss around all the numbers they like, the bar charts above tell the real picture – business is not hiring and the reasons are multiple, most having to do with government intrusion (see ObamaCare for one example).

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 07 Oct 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


August employment report in one word? Awful (UPDATE)

Of course the spin will be that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1%.

Unstated is the fact that the reason the unemployment rate dropped is because 368,000 more Americans left the labor force.

In fact, the labor participation rate in the US is at its lowest level since September of 1981. Had we not seen 350,000 dropped from the labor force last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4%. And if the labor participation rate was the same as the day Obama took office, unemployment would be at 11.2%.

96,000 jobs, while better than nothing, isn’t even close to what is necessary to get this economy going again. And don’t forget, the average monthly gain in 2011 was 153,000 a month. In fact, the U-6, which includes part-time workers looking for full time work, is at 14.7%.

I keep telling you that when you talk about jobs or lack thereof and what that means to individual Americans, it’s personal. While they may care or not care particularly who has the best record in foreign policy or whether or not abortion is something they believe in, being jobless, struggling, and/or knowing someone in the family who is, has much more of a direct effect on a potential voter than the other issues.

14.7% fall into that category with probably twice to three times that many effected by what those 14.7% are struggling with. Believe what you will about the polls right now, but if history is any indicator, Obama isn’t going to get a round 2.

Oh, and just as a reminder of the depth of the failure:
RomerBernsteinAugust-600x352.jpeg
UPDATE: Meanwhile at the Ministry of Truth the “Spin-o-matic” is in overdrive:

While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

It does?  Wow … who knew?  Certainly not the 350,000 who dropped out of the labor force this month.  But hey, be happy, don’t worry … and ignore the chart.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Indicators: Enthusiasm among critical voters down for Obama

So the question of the week is can the DNC via Obama reignite the “magic” of 2008 in dispirited voters?

Charlie Cook, the dean of Democratic strategists, takes a look at three demographic groups critical to Obama’s 7 point margin of victory in in 2008. While he finds one of the groups, African-Americans, still with Obama in numbers similar to 2008, two other groups are not at all showing the same enthusiasm they had then. They are voters 18-29 and Latinos. Obama leads comfortably in both demographics. However, the question is, will they vote in the numbers necessary to push Obama over the edge.

Cook says it doesn’t appear so.

In each case, the percentage who say they will definitely vote is significantly lower than it is among other demographic groups who view Obama less charitably.

Groups among those who see Obama “less charitably”, as Cook puts it, includes seniors (65 and older):

Voters ages 65 and older favor Romney by a 15-point margin, 54 percent to 39 percent, and 86 percent of those in that oldest cohort say they definitely plan to vote, compared with just 61 percent of those ages 18-29. Romney has a statistically insignificant 1-point edge (46 percent to 45 percent) among those 30 to 49 years of age, but 80 percent of them say they will definitely vote. Among the 50-to-64 age group, Romney leads by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent, with 86 percent of that cohort saying they will definitely vote.

Cook believes it is a matter of enthusiasm, or lack thereof:

But the study also found “consistent evidence that President Obama’s 2008 first-time voters are less supportive than other Obama voters, reflecting a decline in enthusiasm among a key voting bloc in the 2012 elections.”

Note, both polls are those of “registered voters”, however, the point is clear – enthusiasm for Obama isn’t at all near the fever pitch it was in 2008 and experts like Cook know that. As he says, there’s “consistent” evidence Obama’s support among those groups has eroded when it comes to enthusiasm. Cook also knows what has to happen for Obama to again grab the edge and win. How critical is the Democratic convention to that?

Very. It is there the spark needs to be lit again, where a message that resonates and energizes the same demographic groups that put him over the line last time.

Will it happen? Well that’s the “big question”.

And behind all these problems isn’t the “war on women”, “race” or “inequality”. It’s the economy. If, in fact, the Democrats concentrate on the diversion of the first three, the likelihood of them reenergizing their voters isn’t high. It may, however, even further energize the other side.

So you may see them tip-toe around mentions of the economy and attempt to push it off on Bush again. They’re already trying out “the Bush recession”, “the Bush economy”, etc. That’s unlikely to impress many (most polls have indicated that voters think, after 3 years, Obama owns the economy now), but it’s about all they have in that arena.

Of the two conventions, the DNC is likely to be the more interesting of the two by a long shot.

~McQ
Twitter: McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Jobs, jobs, jobs …

We’ve been told for months now about all the jobs that have been created by the laser-like focus on jobs that Barack and Sheriff Joe have given us.

Of course the inconvenient statistic that keeps dogging their claim is the unemployment rate.

As for the jobs themselves? Well, per the New York Times, not so hot:

While a majority of jobs lost during the downturn were in the middle range of wages, a majority of those added during the recovery have been low paying, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

[…]

Lower-wage occupations, with median hourly wages of $7.69 to $13.83, accounted for 21 percent of job losses during the retraction. Since employment started expanding, they have accounted for 58 percent of all job growth.

Another of those indicators. Again something that effects voters personally. Not only are those in the 8.2% unlikely to be particularly happy about the current economic situation and those in charge, but those that are employed but earning far less than they were are unlikely to be very happy either.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Obama: The private sector is doing fine

When I first heard this I thought, “I want what he’s smoking”.  Because you have to be high on something and totally unaware of reality to make a statement like that.

So, I thought, it has probably been taken out of context or shortened or something, because even understanding that it is being attributed to Obama, no one would be that out of touch. 

Giving him the benefit of the doubt I waited until I could get a transcript of the whole exchange.

Boy was I wrong.  Not only can someone be that out of touch, it was indeed Obama:

Question: What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies?

President Obama: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.

The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

And so, you know, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry? Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the — to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more.

If you’ve ever wondered what word salad looks like, feast your eyes.

The way back to prosperity is creating jobs in the government sector?  More spending?  I’m sorry, that’s just ignorant.  The whole answer is incoherent.  Don’t they know better than to let him loose without his teleprompter?

Nick Gillespie is as stunned as anyone else:

The stammering, halting, tentative delivery of Obama strikes me as symptomatic of a whiskey priest who’s dying for a drink right after saying Mass. He doesn’t believe what he’s saying but also doesn’t have a clue as to how to move forward or address his failings. Yes, the private sector is doing fine, if by fine you mean pretty goddamned awful.

Oh, and fyi, it looks like the fight is going to be a little different this time around.  Already out?  An ad with the remark.

Nice.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 May 12

This week, Bruce and Dale talk about what the Trayvon martin case says about the media.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Are the recent employment gains real?

Over the last several months, we’ve seen moderate gains in non-farm payroll jobs, with the rate of job creation running at about 200,000 jobs a month. That’s seems good, as does the continuing drop in initial claims for unemployment to around the 350,000 level weekly.

The thing is, how real is this job creation, in an environment where the past year showed a rate of GDP growth of 1.8%, and the most optimistic forecasts for this year indicate a 2.5% rate of GDP growth? Those rates of growth are significantly below the long-term trend rate of growth for the US economy, which is between 3% and 3,5% per year. How is employment increasing when GDP growth is so slow?

Well, the answer is, it may not be.  Take a look at the charts below, They are taken from the historical A tables of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) household survey. This is the survey where households provide employment data.

The first chart shows the number of people in the Household survey who’ve declared themselves to be employed since January of 2002.

AChart1

That does indeed indicate a moderate rate of employment growth since January of 2010. So far, so good.

The next chart, however, shows those who are employed as a percentage of the civilian, non-institutional, adult population.

AChart2

This provides a far more negative picture of employment. Essentially, the percentage of the population that is employed has crashed, and the percentage of employed was lower in 2011 than it was in 2010. As a percentage of the adult population, peak employment has declined every year since 2007.

Essentially, a additional 4% of the adult population is now jobless, compared to 2007, and that jobless percentage has been increasing, not decreasing, over the last two years, despite mild declines in the official unemployment rate.

~
Dale Franks
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