Paying the bills: a closer look

 Yesterday’s post about how people were finding it harder to pay the bills didn’t get into any demographic detail. Time to do just that. According to the Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey, as of the two weeks ending October 11, 47.7% of adults were having no difficulties paying their bills, down just over 2 percentage points from May, which was the best period in the covid era. The numbers bounce around some from one survey to the next, no doubt an indeterminate mix of noise and trend, so it’s a good… Read More

Household money supply tightens

Since April 2020, the Census Bureau, in collaboration with several other official statistical agencies. has been conducting a biweekly survey of people’s material well-being called the Household Pulse Survey. It asks questions about employment, income, food availability, mortgage and rent status, health, and the ease of paying bills, among other things. There’s a lot in these surveys, but for now I want to take a look at just a couple things: how hard people are finding it to pay their bills and where the money is coming from. There have been several… Read More

How recovered is the job market?

Between February and April 2020, the US economy lost over 22 million jobs, almost 15% of total employment. That was by far the largest job loss since the early years of the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1932 or 1933 (depending on whose numbers you use, since there are no solid, official stats), 20–25% of jobs disappeared (again, depending on whose numbers you use). Since World War II, however, the worst contraction, the Great Recession of 2008–2009, killed just over 6% of all jobs—a big number, but well short of 15%. Since… Read More

Wild times in the job market

Millions of unfilled job openings, workers quitting en masse, soaring wages (at least in some sectors)—wild time in the job market. Here are some graphs to make the point. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does a monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that queries employers on unfilled openings, hires, firings, and quits. August’s data was released this morning, October 12. Here’s a graph of openings, expressed as a percent of current employment, in the private sector as a whole and in accommodations and food services (hotels, casinos, restaurants, and bars, hereafter… Read More

Cutting UI early hurt job growth

Employers, right-wing politicians, and the pundits who speak for them have been claiming that the expansion of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to counter covid woes was hurting job growth. By making it possible to refuse crappy jobs, or maybe even not to work at all, that sort of public sector generosity was making the working class too picky. They’re a lazy lot, you know, and need a good kick in the ass to get them to perform their class duty of laboring for the boss. Problem is there’s just no evidence that… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): October 7, 2021 Nancy MacLean, author of this paper, on how Milton Friedman’s war on public education fit nicely with Southern massive resistance to desegregation • Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist, on how we can live with rising seas and heavier rains

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): September 30, 2021 Patrick Wyman, author of this article (and this earlier Substack version) on provincial elites • Duc Hien Nguyen on queerness, social reproduction, and capitalism