Tag: Employment

Would Fewer High-skill Visas Really Mean More Jobs for Americans? Hmm…


As I write this, President Trump still hasn’t selected someone to chair his Council of Economic Advisers, much less filled all the CEA slots. That, even though Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council, recently said his boss has “every intention” of appointing a CEA chair. (Actually, it’s the law. The CEA was created by the Employment Act of 1946.) What’s more, the CEA chair apparently will not be cabinet-level in the Trump White House. Still, maybe now that Steven Mnuchin is on the job as Treasury secretary, a CEA pick will be forthcoming. Who knows?

But why does Trump even need a CEA? Some have suggested all the billionaire smarties in the Trump cabinet will supply all the economic wisdom Trump needs. I disagree, and outlined my counter argument recently in The Week. For more evidence, check out the recent IGM Forum survey question asked of top economists: “If the US significantly lowers the number of H-1B visas now, employment for American workers will rise materially over the next four years.”

August Jobs Report: The Most Boring Economic Expansion Ever Keeps Being Boring



As I tweeted about the August jobs report: “So 151,000 new August jobs, under expectations. Unemployment, employment, participation, and U-6 rates all stay the same.” I could also have tossed in the meh numbers on wage growth (slowed a bit, though keep in mind inflation is quite low) and long-term unemployment (stable but high).

IMO, nothing to change the presidential race or give the Fed reason to hike. Regarding the latter point, just slow enough. Indeed, odds of a September rate hike by the Fed have fallen to 18% from 24% yesterday. Certainly not everyone agrees. Barclays:

March Jobs Report Shows Labor Market Continues Its Slow March Forward


The recovering US job market continued to march forward in March.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 215,000 vs. a monthly average of 223,000 the previous 12 months. Just keepin’ on, keepin’ on. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.0% but for positive reasons as labor force participation continues to rise. Overall, the labor force grew by nearly 400,000. As Capital Economics notes: “…the labor force has now increased by more than two million in the past five months alone. The participation rate has jumped from a low of 62.4% last September to a two-year high of 63.0% this March. This is a remarkable turnaround in terms of both its speed and magnitude.”

If Trump Were Serious About Immigration


When looking back at the 2016 election, historians will undoubtedly be able to identify the principal fault lines that drove the tectonic shifts we’ve seen, particularly among Republicans. However, I’m not yet throwing in the towel on the idea that Donald Trump can be denied the nomination. I think his ascendence would be a disaster for the party and our nation, given that the best evidence available indicates that Trump will perish bigly in a ball of electoral flames like Sinclair in The Rocketeer. Sinclair's_death

That said, it seems clear that the proximal causes of these ructions revolve around immigration policy. Trump has promised to address this matter and some of his positions aren’t terrible. However, they miss the fundamental issue that bedeviles us. The reason why we have an immigration problem does not lie in the lack of a wall, but in economics.

Cartels and Concierge Bureaucracy Management


Several years ago I heard an amusing story on NPR’s Planet Money program. The story described an Indian entrepreneur who, frustrated with India’s local political corruption and red tape, started a new business: Concierge Bribery. For a fee, he would seek out and pay off all of the sundry local officials whenever a local business needed something done. I thought how lucky we were that America had not yet descended to that level. I was deeply wrong. We, in fact, have had concierge bureaucracy managers for some time.

While it is generally a good maxim to never ascribe to mendacity that which can be explained by incompetence, normal logic seems rarely to apply to any of the corruption and rot stemming from Obamacare (and for the record, I refuse to call it “The Affordable Care Act”, or ACA). The act seems explicitly designed, among other things, as a tool to force a cartelization of the entire medical industry. We see this in the rapid demise of independent practices, as they close up shop and merge into large provider networks — effectively regional medical cartels. What we are not yet seeing, or rather noticing, on any scale is the very similar effect Obamacare (when coupled with the many other business strictures in place) is having on general employment itself.

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When I got to that point in the Ricochet sign-up I had to stop and think. You see, I know how the Internet works. Every single employer I get from now to forever will google my name and see it associated with right wing ravings. Never mind that I don’t actually rave often; employers are […]

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Back in the summer, the Department of Labor announced a proposed rule change to overtime / hourly wages – effectively forcing all businesses to put any employee under their arbitrary threshold (Approx $50,500) on an hourly pay scale, regardless of their exemption status.  This was targeted to start in 2016.  Is this rule actually going […]

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I enjoyed a nice dinner (H/T to Al Biernat and his team) with two friends who are institutional sales brokers yesterday. We always talk shop and Friday morning’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Report was the hot topic. JR, the relentless bull called it a monster print and then ordered his third martini while I rolled […]

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The first Friday of most every month is widely followed in markets because the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Employment Situation report including private non-farm payrolls used to measure job creation. Additionally, other scrutinized statistics include employed population, unemployed, civilian labor force, unemployment rate, part-time, over time, etc. The report is the most widely followed and […]

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Working to Death


labor force participaion

It’s easy to be dismissive of the mindless cheerleading in the mainstream media as they crow about the ever-decreasing unemployment rate when it is obvious to anyone who has contact with the world outside of the Wall-Street-to-Washington Axis that the U.S. employment situation is not healthy. I’ve pointed out previously that, though U3 unemployment continues its bizarre march down, the labor force participation rate has never improved during this “economic recovery” and remains at multi-decade lows. Upon further reflection, and after witnessing yet another septuagenarian bag my groceries this week, I think I may have been overly simplistic and harsh when discussing the job market before. There are Americans who are finding themselves working more and more these days: the elderly.

I’m lucky in that — in exchange for an ice cream sundae after dinner last week — my four year old daughter agreed to let me stay in her basement when I age. Sucker. Unfortunately, not all Americans have such choices. From 2002 to 2012, as the labor force participation rate for 25 to 54 year olds dropped from 83.3 to 81.4 percent, the labor participation rate for those 65 and older increased from 13.2 to 18.5 percent (2012 was the most recent government labor participation rate data I could find broken out by age; perhaps they are too embarrassed to continue publishing this information as the situation has likely worsened since then). Now, you might be thinking, “Sure, there are more 65 year olds working, but 65 isn’t what it was back when Trog had to club wooly mammoths for a living so these folks are probably just socking away a bit more in that 401K before enjoying a dream retirement.” The problem is the labor participation rate for those over 75 also rose, from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 7.6 percent in 2012 and is forecasted to be 10.5 percent in 2022. Unless that cryogenic freezing works out, I’m not sure when these unfortunate folks are going to enjoy those golden years.

Jeb Bests Hillary in an American Worker Tweet-Off


Jeb Bush Hillary ClintonJeb Bush is right and Hillary Clinton is wrong. You can probably say that about a lot of things. But in this case it’s about the need for more part-time American workers to work full-time in order to improve their own lots as well as the lot of the economy.

The mini spat started when Jeb Bush short-handed the point that “people should work longer hours” in a meeting with New Hampshire’s Union Leader. Hillary Clinton — who doesn’t say anything to anybody – then tweeted, “Anyone who believes Americans aren’t working hard enough hasn’t met enough American workers.”

A few hours later, Bush clarified his position with his own tweet: “Anyone who discounts 6.5 million people stuck in part-time work and seeking full-time jobs hasn’t listened to working Americans.”

How Dirigiste Are We?


AAA red tape vs small businessThis CNNMoney list of the best jobs in America caught my eye. Obviously, it’s subjective, but someone thought these sounded like great bets for “big growth, great pay, and satisfying work.” Here’s the methodology they used.

Go through the list, and give me your best guess: What percentage of the week do these people devote, in some way, to dealing with the government? What percentage of their income comes in one or another fashion from the government? How many of these jobs exist for the purpose of navigating between citizens and the government?

  1.  Software Architect $124,000
  2.  Video Game Designer $79,900
  3.  Landman $103,000
  4. Patent Agent $126,000
  5. Hospital Administrator $114,000
  6. Continuous Improvement Manager $96,600
  7. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) $89,300
  8. Database Developer $88,200
  9. Information Assurance Analyst $96,400
  10. Pilates/Yoga Instructor $62,400
  11. Clinical Applications Specialist $84,300
  12. Portfolio Manager $123,000
  13. Dentist $152,000
  14. User Experience Designer $89,300
  15. Auditing Director $132,000
  16. Real Estate Development Manager $107,000
  17. IT Program Manager $122,000
  18. Project Control Specialist $86,600
  19. Pharmacist in Charge $125,000
  20. Quality Assurance (QA) Coordinator (RN) $69,300
  21. Strategy Manager $112,000
  22. Product Development Director $131,000
  23. Physical Therapy Director $87,900
  24. Emergency Room Physician $274,000
  25. Product Analyst $67,800
  26. Rehabilitation Services Manager $86,900
  27. Health Information Management (HIM) Director $81,900
  28. Product Management Director $148,000
  29. Practice Administrator $78,300
  30. Facilities Director $97,500
  31. Accounting Director $103,000
  32. Software Quality Assurance Manager $110,000
  33. Orthopedic Surgeon $410,000
  34. Clinical Services Director $77,600
  35. Clinical Pharmacist $117,000
  36. Anesthesiologist $340,000
  37. Biomedical Engineer $82,400
  38. IT Security Consultant $110,000
  39. Telecommunications Network Engineer $90,500
  40. Technical Consultant $101,000
  41. Customer Service Director $103,000
  42. Payroll Director $99,000
  43. Private Banker $86,500
  44. Operations Director $108,000
  45. Risk Management Director $121,000
  46. Construction Manager $88,700
  47. Research & Development Engineer, IT $108,000
  48. Business Development Director $136,000
  49. Proposal Manager $87,600
  50. Financial Accounting Manager $74,500
  51. Career Services Director $62,700
  52. Hand Therapist $83,000
  53. Strategic Planning Director $139,000
  54. Internal Auditing Manager $101,000
  55. Consulting Manager $130,000
  56. Alumni Affairs Director $64,200
  57. Finance & Administration Manager $74,300
  58. Analytics Manager $109,000
  59. Nursing Manager $82,400
  60. Web Analyst $72,300
  61. Health Care Administrator $81,000
  62. Business Development Manager $99,600
  63. Regional HR Manager $84,900
  64. Athletic Director (College/University) $70,500
  65. Product Marketing Specialist $67,600
  66. Implementation Consultant $91,800
  67. Network Architect $122,000
  68. Nursing Informatics Analyst $69,400
  69. Research Analyst $64,400
  70. Assisted Living Director $56,400
  71. IT Network Engineer $79,100
  72. Business Manager, eCommerce/Web $82,600
  73. Associate Partner, Consulting Services $196,000
  74. Healthcare Consultant $108,000
  75. Contract Administration Manager $77,400
  76. Regional Property Manager $80,600
  77. Principal Architect $132,000
  78. Practice Manager $63,900
  79. Analytics Director $142,000
  80. Civil Engineer $77,400
  81. Lead Physical Therapist $84,700
  82. Financial Reporting Manager $96,800
  83. Database Administration (DBA) Manager $120,000
  84. Marketing Consultant $90,700
  85. Biostatistician $98,800
  86. Athletic Coach $47,000
  87. Financial Analysis Manager $99,800
  88. Content Strategist $80,000
  89. Transportation Engineer $78,100
  90. Information Technology Auditor $88,200
  91. Assisted Living Administrator $55,500
  92. Systems Analyst $83,800
  93. Tech Support Engineer $75,400
  94. Public Relations Director $90,500
  95. Auditing Manager $90,900 13%
  96. Program Management Director, Human Services $55,500
  97. Environmental Health & Safety Director $114,000
  98. Database Administrator $89,100
  99. Structural Engineer $80,400
  100. Laboratory Supervisor, Medical/Clinical $66,900

What do you think? What do you imagine the ratio would have been 20 years ago? 50?

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I had the great pleasure yesterday of visiting a customer of mine.  You will probably recognize the logos on their vehicles as they are one of the 3 remaining large school bus manufacturers in the country.  This company puts out 30-50 buses a day, with a crew of around 1800 employees in Fort Valley, Georgia. […]

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Has the Internet Really Been a “Colossal Economic Disappointment”?


shutterstock_59508448That’s the strong claim made by venture capitalist and former Intel executive Bill Davidow for Harvard Business Review“For all its economic virtues, the Internet has been long on job displacement and short on job creation. As a result, it is playing a central role in wage stagnation and the decline of the middle class.”

I took issue with Davidow in a recent piece for The Week. It’s just too much. While there is little doubt that automation has driven job polarization — bad for clerical workers and those doing repetitive factory work — one also has to acknowledge that the US economy is creating gobs of jobs right now. And there is some reason to believe wages will soon be on the upswing. Also, Davidow doesn’t offer evidence that the Internet or robots or other smart machines are behind the sharp drop in labor force participation or the employment rate vs. demographics and the aftermath of the Great Depression. Oh, and what about the nearly million app developer jobs created by the Internet? What’s more, economist David Autor argues that the “the deceleration of the U.S. labor market after 2000, and further after 2007, is more closely associated with … the bursting of the dot-com bubble, followed by the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing financial crisis … and the sharp rise of import penetration from China following its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.”

Along the same lines, here is Ferdinando Giugliano in the FT on some new research:

The Power of Being Able to Do a Good Job at Tedious, Detail-Oriented Work


There is a growing body of research on the importance of determination, of grit, of stick-to-itiveness in kids becoming successful adults. In German, they call this staying-power quality “sitzfleisch.”  The etymology, according to the St. Louis Fed, alludes to the ability to stay seated for a long time in order to perfectly complete a task. And possessing a healthy portion of sitzfleisch can mean higher wages. From“What Sitzfleisch Has To Do with Wages” by economist David Wiczer:

How can we measure this advantage of persevering at a task, at staying seated until the task’s conclusion? It turns out that the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) includes a measure. The U.S. military designed this series of tests to help place new soldiers into jobs in the armed forces. Many of the tests cover straightforward topics such as “Word Knowledge.” However, one test stands out as peculiar: “Coding Speed.” Test-takers match words with numbers from a list in accordance with another separate key. This is a tedious exercise to do over and again, and returning and checking one’s answers is a true test of stamina.