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

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

No robo

You can hardly look at Twitter without reading something about the impending AI revolution: robots are coming for your job. I’m a skeptic. By that I don’t mean to argue that IT and AI and all the other abbreviations and acronyms aren’t changing our world profoundly. They are. Tech affects everything—work, play, love, politics, art, all of it. But the maximalist version, where robots, equipped with artificial intelligence, are going to replace human workers, is way over done. No doubt they will replace some. But not all. Back in 1987, ancient history… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): September 19, 2019 Sam Gindin on the UAW’s strike against GM, and the possibilities for the green repurposing of a plant GM is abandoning • Robin Einhorn on the role of slavery in shaping tax politics in the early US (article here)

Glum job prospects, say officials

On December 8, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its employment projections for the next decade (or 2014–2024 to be precise). They don’t make for happy reading. The Bureau projects GDP growth of 2.2% a year over the decade, well under the 3.6% average that prevailed from 1950–2000, and lower even than the 2.4% average from 2000–2007, a period that contained a recession and the weakest expansion in U.S. history. And they also project that labor force participation (the sum of the employed and those actively looking for work, aka the officially… Read More

Radio commentary: compulsory patriotism, saggy job report

[I haven’t been posting my radio commentaries for while, for no particular reason. Here’s one from yesterday’s show. Audio soon to follow….] rituals of compulsory patriotism I’ll get to the May employment report in a moment, but first I wanted to say something about the Chris Hayes controversy from Memorial Day weekend. On his MSNBC show on the Sunday of that weekend, Hayes filed some objections to the use of the word “heroes” to refer to our soldiers, saying among other things that the designation was a way to sell unpopular wars…. Read More

Employment laggard: the public sector

Paul Krugman notes that public sector employment has declined under Obama—a sharp contrast with his two predecessors, under whom it grew (with Republican Bush ahead of Democrat Clinton). How does recent experience stack up on a longer view? Very unusually. Graphed below is the behavior of employment—total, private, and public—around business cycle troughs and recoveries. The darker lines are the averages of all the cycles since the end of World War II; the lighter lines, the most recent period, around the June 2009 trough. (Click on the graph for the full-sized version.) As… Read More

The February job market: not bad by recent standards

And now for the major economic news of the week, the U.S. employment report for February. It was another solid affair—the third month in a row of over 200,000 job gains, with plenty of supporting details. I do have some worries about the quality of these new jobs, not to mention their durability, but for now things are looking better than they did even a few months ago. The headline gain of 227,000 came with upward revisions of 61,000 to the back months (41,000 to January and 20,000 to February). Gains were widespread through… Read More

That jobs report

[This was my radio commentary for the January 7 show. Audio here.] Friday morning brought the release of the employment stats (Employment Situation News Release) for December. It was a strong report, though not quite as strong as it looks on the surface. Many of the gains are likely to be reversed in January, but the trend of modest, steady improvement continues—and manufacturing had its best year since 1984. Now some details, edited for radio. Employers added 200,000 jobs in December. Over a fifth of that gain, 42,000, came from couriers and messengers—meaning all… Read More

Radio commentary, March 5, 2011

[The Dean and Rogers interviews referred to below are part of this show. The version of these comments delivered on that show, however, don’t include the analysis of the February employment report, which was written just for this “blog.”] contribute to KPFA It’s been a while since I’ve done this—it’s good to be back. Because of some traveling, work deadlines, and other scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to do any fundraising stints here as I usually do. I regret that—I wish I could have done my part to beef up KPFA’s cash… Read More

StimPak still stimulating

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is out with its latest estimates of the effects of the stimulus package—officially the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)—on employment and incomes. For the fourth quarter of 2010, the CBO estimates that ARRA: raised real GDP by 1.1–3.5% lowered the unemployment rate by 0.7–1.9 points increased the number of people employed by 1.3–3.5 million increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by 1.8–5.0 million above what would have happened without ARRA These are substantial numbers. Take GDP. The midpoint of the estimate is 2.3%. Real GDP is… Read More

Radio commentary, February 5, 2010

January employment: droopy A few words on the employment report for January. As I always point out when doing these reviews, the monthly employment release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is based on two very large surveys, one of 300,000 employers, called the establishment survey, and one of 60,000 households. For more, see here.) And as I often point out when doing these reviews, the numbers are not cooked, as many conspiratorial sorts want to believe. You might take issue with some of their definitions, particularly of unemployment, but the work… Read More

Radio commentary, May 8, 2010

Truther follow-up Before commenting on the economic news, a brief follow-up to last week’s comments about the 9/11 Truthers. It provoked, if not a flood, more than a trickle of emails and bloggy complaints, about evenly divided between the patronizing and the hostile. Perhaps my favorite was an email from someone signing him or herself a variant on Sky, who counseled me to learn patience, and disclosing that 9/11 is a spiritual matter. Nothing makes me want to scream more than being told to be patient; I hate it, for example, when… Read More

Radio commentary, April 1, 2010

March employment First, a few words on the U.S. employment report for March, released on Friday morning. While the headline job gain of 162,000 looked pretty decent, especially after the huge declines of 2008 and early 2009, 30% of the gain came from temporary workers hired to conduct the Census, and another 25% came from temp firms in the private sector. So more than half the gain was in jobs designed not to last. There were a few bright spots. Manufacturing added 17,000 workers, its third consecutive monthly gain—a sterling performance for… Read More

Radio commentary, Feburary 6, 2010

[Sorry for the delay. Better late than never, I hope.] suburban poverty In our national imaginary, suburbs are places of affluence, and even a complacent isolation from social problems. As is often the case with received wisdom, this one’s in need of a fact-check. In a new paper, Elizabeth Kneebone and Emily Garr of the Brookings Institution find that suburbs are home to the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. Before continuing, I should note, as I always do when I talk about our official poverty line, that… Read More