Who’s not getting vax’d and why

This is hardly an exhaustive treatment of a complex topic—just a quick attempt to illuminate who isn’t getting vaccinated against covid-19 and why. I started looking at these stats after a Twitter exchange and I thought I’d share the resulting graphics. The stats are drawn from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey—health table 5a, two-week period ending December 13, for those who are keeping score at home. First, vaccination rates by income. Almost 80% of people in the lowest income category,  report having gotten at least one shot—51% have gotten two and… Read More

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

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

Strikes plumb the depths

Although there have been plenty of reports of rising labor militancy in the US—teachers’ strikes, tech and delivery app organizing—it’s sadly not showing up in the strike data. In its annual release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were just 7 major “work stoppages” (which include lockouts as well as strikes) in 2020, tied with 2017 for the second-lowest number since 1947, and beaten only by 2009’s 5. What strike action there was, says the BLS, was mainly against state and local government employers (5 of them), not private… Read More

Pandemic boosts union density

Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—rose in 2020 for the first time since 2007 and 2008. Before that, you have to go back to 1979 to find another uptick. Those four years are the only increases in density since the modern BLS series begins in 1964. Sadly, though, the rise wasn’t the result of any organizing victories. Union membership declined by 2.2% last year—but the pandemic drove down employment even more, 6.7%. As a result, density rose from 10.3% to 10.8%, bringing it back to where it was in… Read More

Miserable numbers

Even non-connoisseurs are reeling from the miserable second quarter GDP numbers released this morning. Between the first and second quarters of this year, GDP was off 33% after adjustment for inflation. That’s by far the biggest decline since quarterly numbers begin in 1947. That 33% figure is at an annualized rate, meaning GDP would be off by a third if it declined at the second-quarter rate for a full year. The US is unusual in annualizing the data; most other countries report the quarter-to-quarter change without annualizing it. If we did that,… Read More

Measuring the carnage

When Trump promised to end “American carnage” in his inaugural address, he had no idea he’d end up presiding over mass death and economic collapse, but history can be a brutal ironist. Here’s a look at the bloodletting in the job market, which is central to most people’s economic well-being. Most of the time, the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is of interest mostly to econogeeks, but the April 2020 edition, released on Friday, May 8, was like no other since the end of World War II. The… Read More

Miserable employment report

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 701,000 jobs disappeared in March. Economists had been expecting about a third that number. Hardest hit were bars and restaurants, accounting for 60% of the loss. Also hit hard: retail, temp work, and, shockingly, health care. One reason job loss expectations were relatively low was that the survey of employers on which the count is based is done during the week containing the 12th—in this case, between March 8 and 14. (No one is expecting anything but a torrent of bad news in… Read More

The hits keep coming

Goldman Sachs attracted a lot of attention with its forecast that US GDP will be off 34% in the second quarter of this year. That is a very big number. It’s three-and-a-half times the worst quarter in US economic history since quarterly GDP stats began in 1947. (That quarter, by the way, was the first of 1958, the onset of a sharp recession, which featured, among other things, an “Asian flu.”) Here’s a little perspective on that number. That 34% figure is annualized, meaning it’s what the total decline would amount to… Read More

Unemployment claims surge

Last week, 3.3 million people* applied for unemployment insurance. That’s five times the previous record weekly number, a series that goes back to 1967. Compared to monthly averages and expressed as a percent of employment, which is how it’s shown in the graph below, that’s over two-and-a-half times the previous record. As of the previous week, 1.8 million people were drawing unemployment insurance, so the number of new claimants is almost twice the number already on benefits, or 182% as many, to be precise. That ratio has never exceeded 26% before. This… Read More

Explaining the rot

In my article about fighting the coronavirus and economic crises yesterday, I said: We also need to invest in the physical and social infrastructure of this country. For decades, civilian public investment net of depreciation has hovered just above 0, meaning that we’re doing little better than replacing things as they decay. Here’s some more detail on that, which updates a September 2017 post. Graphed below are histories of net public investment in the US, from the national income accounts. (The source is table 5.2.5, here.) “Net” means after accounting for depreciation, aka… Read More

Union density: yet another low

Preparing to write up the 2019 union density statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I looked at last year’s and was tempted just to copy–paste. Here’s the lede, as we say in journalism: Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—fell to 10.5% in 2018, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the data in its modern form in 1964, down from 2017’s 10.7%. The only edit I’d have to make in this bit is to change “10.5% in 2018” to “10.3% in 2019.” Similar things could… Read More

Responding to Rasmus’s response

Jack Rasmus is out with a response to my critique of his analysis of the April U.S. employment numbers. Enlightening Rasmus looks to be a hopeless case, but since there are may be some onlookers who wonder what’s up, here are a few comments. As with yesterday’s post, his comments are quoted and italicized (though the formatting doesn’t show up on an iPhone unless you choose the desktop version—sorry!). What is significant is that Henwood thinks the CES (Current Employment Survey) is more important and accurate than the CPS (Current Population Survey)…. Read More

Misreading the latest jobs numbers

Z Communications’ resident statistician Jack Rasmus is out with some fresh disinformation about the economic news. It’s been a while since I took his nonsense apart, so this seems like a good opportunity, since his latest looks to be making the rounds. The problems start in the first paragraph (Rasmus is in quoted italics, my comments in Roman.) The just released report on April jobs on first appearance, heavily reported by the media, shows a record low 3.6% unemployment rate and another month of 263,000 new jobs created. But there are two… Read More