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

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

Work from home: mostly for the high end

Judging from the media coverage of the work from home (WFH) phenomenon, you’d think it’s become near universal. It’s not. In July, only about one in eight workers were teleworking—the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preferred term—and those are heavily concentrated in a few sectors and occupations, and among the highly credentialed. According to BLS stats, in July 2021, just 13% of workers are doing so remotely because of the pandemic, down from 35% in May 2020, the first month the numbers were collected. (See graph below.) And that initial 35% number… Read More

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): April 8, 2021 Jennifer Berkshire, co-author of A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, on teachers’ unions and school reopenings • Helen Yaffe on Cuba’s handling of COVID-19 and their impressive vaccine development (Counterpunch article here)

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

Employment report

As the job market loses steam, and Congress dithers over a new bailout package, Americans are having a harder time paying their bills. First the job market. Employers added 245,000 jobs in November, the least since the recovery from the March–April crash. As the graph below shows, that recovery has been losing momentum since June, when employment rose by 4.8 million. What looks to be happening is that the easy recalls after the initial shutdown have happened, and with the giant stimulus of the CARES Act receding, there’s not much fuel for… Read More

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): December 3, 2020 Thomas Sugrue, author of this essay, on COVID-19’s impact on cities • Kristin Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne, on gender, especially the masculine kind, in evangelical Christianity

Reflections on the current disorder

[This is the edited text of a talk I gave via Zoom, like everything else these days, sponsored by the North Brooklyn chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. It reprises and updates several things I’ve written recently, but it’s hard to be original these days. Video will be posted, but who wants to look at me? The Q&A was quite good though.] Before I get into the body of my talk, I want to celebrate our electoral victories and say how proud I am to be a member of DSA. If… Read More

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): July 23, 2020 Jason Wilson on the protests and storm troopers in Portland • Forrest Hylton on COVID-19, repression, corruption, and drug gangs in Latin America

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): July 16, 2020 Claire Potter, author of Political Junkies, on how our politics got so divided • Sonia Shah, author of this article, thinks about the pandemic in more than biomedical terms

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): June 18, 2020 Eric Reinhart on jails as COVID-19 spreaders (article here, AER article on pretrial detention here) • Erin Hatton on “coerced” workers, from prisoners to grad students [back after vacation break]

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): May 21, 2020 Vincent Bevins, author of The Jakarta Method, on the US-sponsored strategy of mass murder during the Cold War • Kyle Beckham, lecturer in education at the University of San Francisco, on schooling during the pandemic

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): May 7, 2020 Jodi Dean on The Crisis and its implications for the Communist horizon • James Pogue, author of this article (and this book), on guns, the left, and collective self-defense

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): April 23, 2020 Vijay Prashad on China (and Sinophobia), Kerala, and the crucial importance of social organization • Meagan Day and Micah Uetricht, authors of Bigger than Bernie, on Sanders, socialism, electoralism, and where it all goes from here.

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): April 16, 2020 Yanis Varoufakis talks about life under COVID-19, the economic crisis, vultures stripping Greece, and democratizing the EU (includes bonus audio clip of Jim Cramer recalling his Trotskyist past)