Tag: Unemployment

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An article in Wired says: The future of virtual reality is far more than just video games. Silicon Valley sees the creation of virtual worlds as the ultimate free-market solution to a political problem. In a world of increasing wealth inequality, environmental disaster, and political instability, why not sell everyone a device that whisks them away […]

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Chad Benson is in for Jim Geraghty. Today, Chad and Greg discuss the political insanity playing out in Portland, as the media and the mayor paint the violent mob as the victims now that federal forces are there to protect government property. However, Chad wonders whether Portland should be left to suffer the results of its own radicalism. They also dig into the congressional fight over unemployment benefits and wonder if another widespread COVID shutdown is on the way. And they have fun with the news that the “Washington Football Team” will not have a mascot for the 2020 NFL season.

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As a direct consequence of the lockdowns, more than a million Israelis have lost their jobs, and the country faces a 25% unemployment rate. Getting those individuals back at work is a national priority, failing to do so will not only destroy the lives of many families but also bring social unrest. Unfortunately, the government […]

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Two good martinis and one very bad one as we head into Mother’s Day weekend. Join Jim and Greg as they marvel at how well Florida has done thus far in warding off  virus that’s particularly rough on the elderly. They also shudder deeply as the U.S. lost a stunning 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate soared to 14.7 percent. And they welcome news that the percentage of positive COVID tests is declining at testing ramps up.

Jim and Greg shudder as 3.28 million Americans lost their jobs last week. They also recoil at an alleged plot to bomb a hospital full of COVID-19 patients. But they cheer the U.S. lowering the boom on Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro.

Don’t Like the Left’s ‘Jobs Guarantee’ Idea? Well, the Right Is Cooking Up One of Its Own


In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, researcher Max Gulker offers a harsh critique of a “federal  jobs guarantee.” Example: “Temporarily unemployed workers, along with millions of low-paid workers, would be diverted into a complex bureaucracy with no mechanism or incentive to put the workers’ skills and time to their best use.”

Oh, the idea has problems, such as the possibility of these permanent government gigs possibly crowding out existing jobs. (That and many other problematic issues are discussed in an excellent blog post by economist Timothy Taylor.) Still, some folks on the right are cooking up their own idea of a jobs guarantee. In the new book “The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America,” former Mitt Romney policy adviser Oren Cass argues for what he calls the “worker hypothesis.” This is the idea, Cass writes, that an American labor market “in which workers can support strong families and communities is the central determinant of long-term prosperity and should be the central focus of public policy.”

That’s not the way I would frame things. I think public policy should focus first and foremost on making sure American workers become ever-more productive since that is the key to higher incomes and higher living standards.  Labor productivity is the central determinant of a nation’s long-term prosperity. And if there is a mismatch between market outcomes and societal expectations, government has a role there in providing safety net programs such as the earned income tax credit, which promotes work and lifts people out of poverty.

The Last Time Unemployment Got This Low, the Economy Got Weird


The US unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in September, the lowest rate since December 1969. That’s even lower than the jobless rate during the 1990s internet and productivity boom. Other bits of good news in the report include decent monthly job growth of 134,000 — probably a depressed number because of Hurricane Florence. With upward revisions to the previous two reports, job gains have averaged 190,000 per month over the past three months. Such gains are consistent with “steady declines in the unemployment rate and solid increases in aggregate household income,” according to Barclays. There was also a 0.3 percent gain in average hourly earnings, a tick higher employment rate, and a 420,000 rise in the household measure of employment easily outpaces a 150,000 rise in the labor force.

Good stuff.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Chad Benson of Radio America celebrate a positive July economic report, as unemployment drops to 3.9 percent and the economy adds 157,000 jobs. They also criticize The New York Times for hiring reporter Sarah Jeong, who made racist comments about white people. And they break down reporter Bill Scher’s unappealing offer for Never-Trump Republicans to join the Democratic Party, as long as they accept that their policies will not win.

It’s Great Disability Rolls Are Finally Shrinking, But the System Still Needs Pro-Work Reform


Have Americans gotten way healthier over the past several years? Seems dubious. But the US economy sure has strengthened. And America’s hot job market seems to be finally draining a reservoir of hidden slack: disability rolls. The New York Times notes the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits has declined to 8.63 million from a September 2014 peak of 8.96 million.

Now there might be other things going on as well, such as the big expansion of Medicaid and the Social Security Administration tightening the approval process for benefits. But as interesting as all these numbers are, more compelling is the story of Christian Borrero, told at the end of the Times piece. Born with cerebral palsy, Borrero until 2015 received disability benefits as he worked at a part-time job answering phones. The salary was low enough that he still qualified for benefits.

Then Borrero was offered a full-time receptionist job at a landscape supply and waste-to-energy company. And what happened next illustrates some big flaws with America’s disability system. Twice Borrero turned down the job, “terrified” he would lose his benefits. Plus he had never had a job with “real benefits and real hours.” Finally, however, Borrero accepted the job and then, subsequently, lost his disability benefits. So he took a second job to replace those lost benefits, although eventually his full-time employer gave him more responsibility and bumped up his pay to cover the shortfall.

For First Time Ever, US Has More Job Openings Than Unemployed Workers


While the DC press corps worries whether Trump was booed at a White House event and curates elaborate conspiracy theories about Melania, a slightly more important story isn’t getting enough pixels. The economy is doing so well that, for the first time ever, there are now more job openings in the US than unemployed Americans:

With employers struggling to fill openings, the number of available jobs in April rose 1 percent to 6.7 million from 6.6 million in March, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s the most since records began in December 2000.

The figures underscore the consistent strength of the nation’s job market. The unemployment rate has reached an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. Employers have added jobs for a record 92 straight months. And the abundance of openings suggests that hiring will continue and that the unemployment rate will fall even further. Not since December 1969, when the rate was 3.5 percent, has unemployment been lower than it is now.

Jobs Are Booming, and Democrats Are Puzzled


Is it overstating things to say the US economy is, well, booming? After all, the May jobs report was pretty impressive, including a) 223,000 new jobs, b) an uptick in average hourly earnings growth to 2.7% from a year ago, c) a downtick in the jobless rate to 3.8% —  at 3.755% unrounded, the lowest since 1969 — and d) a two-tenths decline in the U6 underemployment to 7.6% — its lowest level since 2001. JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli titled his Jobs Friday report this way (while alluding to President Trump’s controversial pre-report tweet): “The secret’s out: job growth is booming.” And some economists think a jobless rate with a two-handle is hardly out of the question.

True, overall economic growth is still stuck in Two Percentland. That’s the other, less-encouraging two-handle. But maybe not for much longer. GDP estimates for the second quarter are rising across Wall Street, and this report may boost that momentum. “Nearly all aspects of this report were positive and consistent with solid growth of wage-and-salary income in the second quarter,” notes the IHS Markit econ team. “The details in this report added one-tenth to our forecast of Q2 GDP growth, which now stands at 4.1%.”

Now superfast growth isn’t sustainable — deficit-financed fiscal stimulus will fade — unless we eventually see higher productivity growth, and that doesn’t seem to be happening yet. (Though there is AI-driven reason for optimism on that front.) The 1990s boom was particularly notable in that it was driven by massive productivity gains. But other than productivity growth — and I don’t mean to skip past it — how else would a boom skeptic quibble with the US economy right now? Probably like this analysis from left-learning Center for American Progress:

Long-term, persistent joblessness is the great American domestic crisis of our generation. In our 2017 special issue, “The Shape of Work to Come,” City Journal grappled with the problem, and our writers continue to explore it.

City Journal recently convened a panel of experts to talk about the future of work. Audio from their discussion is featured in this episode of 10 Blocks.

Just How Tight Is the US Job Market?


If I were funnier, I would do a classic Johnny Carson call-and-response, “How hot is it” joke on the job market. “How tight is it? It’s so tight….” So tight that it’s at full employment? Well, that’s the debate. Goldman Sachs, for one, points to a host of factors suggesting the job market is beyond full employment. From GS:

This assessment rests less on the sub-4% unemployment rate—there’s nothing special about round numbers—than on the whole range of indicators that now signal a historically tight labor market, which also includes the underemployment rate U6, job openings, quits, skill shortages, and household job market perceptions. These signals refute the still-widespread belief in large amounts of labor market slack hidden in a depressed participation rate. Just to pick one example, it is all but impossible to reconcile that belief with the fact that the net share of US households—including both labor force participants and nonparticipants—who say that jobs are “plentiful” as opposed to “hard to get” now stands at +23pp, a full 10pp above the peak of the prior cycle in 2007.

Indeed, as the WSJ reports, “The number of unfilled jobs U.S. employers had at the end of March rose to a record high of 6.55 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. There were just 6.59 million unemployed Americans that month, creating the narrowest gap between available jobs and those actively seeking work in nearly two decades of record keeping.” By the way, record keeping began in December 2000, when the job market was pretty tight with a 3.9% jobless rate just like today.

Thinking About (Much) Better Pro-Work Ideas Than a Cartoonish Federal Jobs Guarantee


The idea of a federal jobs guarantee, perhaps last seen in the enjoyable 1993 film Dave, is the hot-take economic policy on the left at the moment. (Sorry, universal basic income, your 15 minutes appear to be up.)

Now there are many, many problems with a federal jobs guarantee. In a recent blog post, economist Timothy Taylor highlights lots of them, at least regarding the undercooked Bernie Sanders version. There’s a government managerial problem, a jobs-skills mismatch problem, a geographical mismatch problem, a worker displacement problem, a worker discipline and incentive problem, a “what happens to existing anti-poverty programs” problem, and, of course, a budgetary problem. Lots of problems. You really can’t hand-wave these away.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America unload on President Trump for even saying he wants to see most aspects of the Democrats’ gun control agenda in a comprehensive bill and for apparently having little regard for due process rights.  They also discuss the resignation of White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and how the West Wing seems to be in a constant state of turnover.  And they close with good economic news, as new reports show wages rising – especially for low-income workers – and that the number of jobless claims filed last week were the fewest since 1969.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the lowest number of weekly jobless claims since 1973 as yet another sign the economy is on a serious upswing.  They also examine the Republican National Committee’s winners for worst fake news in 2017, with a look at the choices and the RNC being unprepared for the traffic on its website.  And they call out MSNBC’s Joy Reid for her vile attack on National Review’s David French and for her later retraction of the smear, which proved she never actually read his article in the first place.

December Jobs Report: Maybe America’s “Great Stagnation” Isn’t So Bad


When you’re nearly nine years into an economic expansion, it’s probably asking a lot for job growth to accelerate. Steady-as-she-goes seems a rather more reasonable expectation. And that is pretty much what the December jobs report delivered.

While net new payrolls underperformed Wall Street expectations — 148,000 actual vs. 190,000 forecast — everything else was business usual. No change in the jobless rate, participation rate, employment rate, or wage growth. And even the payroll number wasn’t so bad if you smooth it out. Over the past three months, jobs gains have averaged 204,000. (For the year, the US economy added 2.1 million new jobs, just a tick below 2016.) And if you are looking for a new reason to be optimistic, you can’t do much better than the continuing rise in the prime-age employment rate — despite all those great, distracting video games. What’s more, JPMorgan notes, “The gap between white and African American unemployment rates narrowed to 3.1%, the lowest on record going back to the early 1970s.”

So if this is “stagnation,” perhaps more of it wouldn’t be so unwelcome. What the expansion has lacked in vigor, it is somewhat compensating for with duration. Now, this isn’t to say things couldn’t be better, such as faster wage growth. But certainly ok overall, especially if the jobless rate starts falling deep into the threes.

A Downer of an August Jobs Report. But Maybe Not for Trump.


Consensus opinion is that the August jobs report was lousy. For starters, the 156,000 net new jobs created by employers last month missed the consensus forecast of 180,000. Payroll gains for June and July were revised lower for a net loss of 41,000 jobs. The jobless rate ticked up to 4.4% even as the participation rate stayed steady and the employment rate ticked lower. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1% month-over-month, the weakest since November 2016. “August’s employment report was disappointing across the board,” is how Capital Economics put it.

But I wonder if Team Trump sees things the same way.

July Jobs: After Another Strong Employment Report, What Does the US Economy Really Need Right Now?


Good stuff! The US economy generated 209,000 jobs last month. That’s a bit stronger than analyst expectations and above the average monthly jobs gains so far this year.

Think of it this way: The current expansion is the third-longest ever with 82-straight months of job growth. And while job growth is slowly easing back — at 179,000, the average monthly gain over the past six months is slightly weaker than 2016’s 187,000 average — it’s still on a 2-million-a-year pace. Not bad at all.