Archive for Uncategorized

Commentary on the January 2014 BLS Jobs Report

The anemic recovery of the labor market proceeded apace in January, with unemployment ticking down by only a tenth of a point, from 6.7 to 6.6% (10.2 million people.) Job creation sputtered along at little more than half the rate that prevailed in the autumn, with only 113,000 jobs added. That is only just enough to keep up with population-driven growth in the labor force. Taken together with the even weaker job-creation performance in December (a mere 75,000 jobs added) it once again raises doubts about the depth and durability of the recovery that started in June 2009. It is no small irony that the January report, which documents the persistence of historically high (35.8%) levels of unemployment lasting over half a year, was released only a day after a Senate filibuster blocked the approval of extended unemployment insurance payments to the long-term unemployed.

It is well known that that the standard unemployment rate tells only about half the story of the shortage of jobs. Ignored by the official statistics are those who have had to settle for only part time work, and those whose efforts to find work over the previous 12 months have not included explicitly “looking” for work in the past week. Counting these officially uncounted job-seekers would give us an overall unemployment rate of 12.7% (20 million people).

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Commentary on the June 2013 BLS Jobs Report

The June unemployment situation, as depicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its July 5 report, looks like May redux: Unemployment rate stuck at 7.6%; number of persons unemployed stuck at 11.8 million; number of persons unemployed for at least 27 weeks stuck at about 4.3 million or 36.7% of all unemployed persons. Even the increase in the number of persons employed (195,000 vs. 175,000 in May) was far too small to force a change in the long term trajectory of job creation, which has averaged 182,000 per month over the last year.

This Lesser Depression has, indeed, been devastating, especially for the less educated, for African Americans, and for Latinos. After 4 full years of economic “recovery” the number of unemployed persons is still 5 million greater than it would be if the unemployment rate had dropped by now to its eve-of-Lesser Depression low of 4.4% (May, 2007.) And it should be noted that 4.4% unemployment is higher than its historic lows and probably does not represent “full employment.”

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“The Height of Outrage”, an Open Letter to President Obama on Chained CPI from CPEG’s Ron Baiman

Dear President Obama:

Please stop pretending that switching to a “chain linked’ CPI is, though unfortunately likely to reduce benefits, more “technically accurate” than the current “fixed basket” method of adjusting for the impact of inflation on social security benefits. It is not. It is more likely to result in an even greater underestimate of true cost of living increases for seniors than the current “fixed basket” method. You need to be honest with the American people and call this a “cut” and not try to camouflage this as a “technical fix” that more accurately implements the intent of the exiting Social Security program, as this is a “technical corruption” rather than an improvement of the method for estimating the impact of inflation on Social Security benefits for seniors, see Technical Postscript below.

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