Archive for Unemployment

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Recovery

Funny strange, not funny ha-ha:

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since March. The increase may reflect volatility around the Thanksgiving holidays.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average jumped 13,250 to 343,250, the second straight increase.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Last month, they fell to nearly the lowest level in six years, as companies cut fewer jobs. But two weeks ago, they surged 64,000 to 369,000.

Economists dismissed that spike, saying it likely reflected a Thanksgiving holiday that fell later in the month. That can distort the government’s seasonal adjustments. But if the trend continues it would be a troubling sign of rising layoffs.

“We are inclined to ignore the recent claims data,” said Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank. “We see little evidence to suggest that the labor market trend of the past few months has meaningfully changed.”

Easy for him to say. He has a job.

Maybe he knows what Rush knows:

Now all of a sudden, on the heels of magnificent news on the employment front, now we’ve got this unexpected, massive in applications for part-time. The Associated Press is gob-smacked. They don’t understand it. “The number of people seeking US unemployment benefits rose 68,000 last week … the largest increase in more than a year. The surge in first-time applications could be a troubling sign,” they say, “if it lasts. But it likely reflects the difficulty adjusting for delays after the Thanksgiving holiday.”

That’s not what this is at all. You know what this is about? The Democrats are upset that the budget deal does not contain any extension for unemployment benefits. That’s all this is. I’ll lay you a dollar to a doughnut they put this number out to further the idea…

Rush said this when the budget was still in negotiation, but the issue of unemployment benefits is only just below the surface.

You think Rush needs to reline his tinfoil hat?

You need to check your memory:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

Hey, what do I know?

I know this: the criminal regime in the White House routinely uses government agencies to further its own nefarious ends; that they manipulate data, the press, and the low-information voter to get their way; and that they never, ever give up until they “succeed”.

Tell me where I’m wrong. We’ll see.

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Jobbed

After 4 1/2 years of “recovery”, we’ve finally had a decent jobs report. You’d think the Democrats would hoot and holler in exaltation.

You’d think wrong:

House-Senate negotiators are close to a modest budget accord to avoid another government shutdown, but suddenly the White House is introducing a last-minute demand. Five years into an economic recovery that President Obama often hails as miraculous, he wants to extend unemployment benefits one more time.

That would add some $25 billion to the deficit with no compensating economic benefit. The Administration claims that every $1 of jobless benefits creates $1.80 in economic growth, based on the notorious “multiplier” in Keynesian economic models. This is the theory that you can increase employment by paying more people not to work, and that you can take money out of the private economy by taxes or borrowing without cost. If that theory worked, the government should pay everyone not to work.

Alan Krueger, President Obama’s former chief economist, coauthored a 2008 study reviewing the amount of time that unemployed individuals in different states and countries spent looking for a new job and found, among other things, that “job search is inversely related to the generosity of unemployment benefits.” Other studies have found that laid-off workers ineligible for unemployment benefits spend more time looking for a new job than those who get checks.

Right-wing fascist.

Just like this guy:

“Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,’ the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.”–”Macroeconomics” by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, second edition, 2009

Like raising the minimum wage, unemployment benefits depress employment. But good political luck with that point of view. Democrats will trade jobs for votes every day—and twice on election day.

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Good News, Bad News

First, the good news on unemployment:

There were a net 204,000 new jobs created for the month…

Good news indeed, but that’s all there is, there ain’t no more. Now, the bad news:

[T]he unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent and households reported a huge drop in employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. A separate measure that includes the underemployed and those who have quit looking also moved higher, from 13.6 percent to 13.8 percent.

The numbers easily topped economist expectations of 120,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs for the month, though it matched estimates for a slight increase in the headline jobless rate.

“I find this bizarre,” Moody’s economist Mark Zandi told CNBC. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets revised to some degree…down.”

Not so fast:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +193,000 to +238,000, and the change for September was revised from +148,000 to +163,000. With these revisions, employment gains in August and September combined were 60,000 higher than previously reported.

Enough with the good news. Let’s get down and dirty with the bad:

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.0 percent), adult women (6.4 percent), teenagers (22.2 percent), whites (6.3 percent), blacks (13.1 percent), and Hispanics (9.1 percent) showed little or no change in October. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.1 million in October.

The civilian labor force was down by 720,000 in October. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent over the month. Total employment as measured by the household survey fell by 735,000 over the month and the employment-population ratio declined by 0.3 percentage point to 58.3 percent.

Those are wretched, awful, terrible numbers—completely at odds with the notion of robust job creation.

Let me draw you a picture:

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See that little upward blip around January 2010? That’s the “recovery” kicking in. The economy started growing again in June ’09; jobs, a lagging indicator, followed six months later.

And then what happened?

Let me draw you another picture:

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Lindsay Vonn couldn’t handle that slope!

One last picture:

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I ask you: what has this president done right with the economy?

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Barack “Heartless Bastard” Obama

Strong, maybe. But how else would you describe someone who takes money away from “folks”?

Starting Friday, Joyce Lewis and her family will lose $44 from their monthly food stamp benefits.

The food stamps buy a lot of economical rice-based meals for the family — four adults and a grandson who live with Lewis in Spring Hill, Florida.

Occasionally, when her grocery store is running a deal, Lewis indulges the family with spare ribs or chicken.

The benefit — totaling $800 for four adults — never lasts Lewis and her family a full month.

“When I get to the end, we always run out. I try to go to all the food pantries,” Lewis said.

Food stamp benefits will be trimmed by $5 billion starting Friday, when a temporary bump-up enacted during the recession expires. Millions of families will be affected.

What about that free money he once gave away in Detroit from his “stash”?

But you may have noticed something hidden in the language. It’s not a cut; it’s an end to a increase (a “temporary bump-up”). This was all part of Obama’s “stimulus” package. Nancy Pelosi and Obama defended these payoffs as job-creators. Hey, someone’s gotta stock those packages of Doritos and Slim Jims.

Do I sound heartless myself? If the shoe fits… But at least I never promised you could keep your doctor. And I would just ask those receiving these benefits: how you liking your recovery? We’re into our fifth year of it, but you-all know how that feels:

Enrollment in food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has soared.

Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15% of the population, get them, according to September federal data. That compares to 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, in 2007.

If the extra few bucks are job-creators, why doesn’t Ms. Lewis have one? Why is she still on food stamps, and why are there now two of her for every one there used to be?

Forty-seven million people get food stamps; 93,000,000 may lose their health insurance plans. You know what Stalin called people like that? A statistic.

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Ninety Million Unemployed Americans on the Dole…

Ninety million unemployed Americans.
If one of those Americans should jump in front of a train,
89,999,999 unemployed Americans on the dole!

Maybe the Bureau of Labor Statistics should have skipped a month because the belated September jobs report it issued Tuesday after the government shutdown wasn’t worth the wait.

Payrolls rose a humdrum 148,000 in September, the unemployment rate fell a tick to 7.2%, and wages were up slightly. But once again the number that stands out is the 136,000 Americans in September (following the 516,000 in August) who joined those “not in the labor force.” The labor force participation rate stayed at its lowest level since the 1970s at 63.2%.

The U.S. now has 90.6 million “non-institutionalized” men and women over the age of 16 not working—an all-time high. That’s 10 million above the 80.5 million when President Obama took office. With total employment at 144.3 million, for every three Americans over the age of 16 earning a paycheck there are two who aren’t even looking for a job. That’s an ugly portent for American prosperity.

So not only is the entire population of Vietnam not working, under President Ohoover, that number has increased by the population of Bolivia (third world associations very much intended). This way Haiti lies.

It doesn’t have to be this way:

To get more private jobs requires faster economic growth, and the Obama Administration could do worse than listen to those who do most of the hiring in America. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, two big concerns are regulation and ObamaCare.

“Consumers and small business owners are pessimistic,” concludes NFIB from its latest survey. They aren’t “expecting a ‘crash’ in the economy, just accepting the notion that growth is going to be sub-par and that their government is likely to continue in dysfunctional mode.” Q.E.D.

But then again—in a random (certainly unintentional) act of journalism from CNN—maybe it does have to be this way:

Less than 78% of people aged 20 to 34 either have jobs or are looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from the peak of 83% in 2000, and the lowest since the 1970s.

The biggest thing keeping young people out of work is the weak economy.

Recessions are particularly hard on the young, with last-in, first-out policies at many organizations and a preference at firms to freeze hiring before they start laying off employees, which hurts recent grads.

But there are other reasons as well — what economists call “structural changes” — that could mean a permanent shift in workplace demographics.

But wait. Didn’t the Grecession (my abbreviation of the Great Recession) end in June 2009? (Hint: it did.)

Seventeen quarters of economic growth equals ten million more unemployed? In what field of math does that make sense? (Hint: Obamath. Fuzzy Obamath.) Sic transit gloria Americana.

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It’s Unchanged!™

One could hardly say this news is Unexpected™:

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — SEPTEMBER 2013

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in September, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent, changed little in September but has declined by 0.4 percentage point since June. The number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, was also little changed over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.1 percent), adult women (6.2 percent), teenagers (21.4 percent), whites (6.3 percent), blacks (12.9 percent), and Hispanics (9.0 percent) showed little or no change in September. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

In September, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.1 million.

Both the civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment population ratio at 58.6 percent, were unchanged in September. Over the year, the labor force participation rate has declined by 0.4 percentage point, while the employment-population ratio has changed little.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was unchanged at 7.9 million in September.

Among the marginally attached, there were 852,000 discouraged workers in September, essentially unchanged from a year earlier.

Leave it to your ol’ friend BTL to find something that changed. Unemployment rate among black men, 20 and over:

August ’13: 13.5%
September ’13: 14.0%

President Obama wins reelection; black men hardest hit.

PS: Needless to say, CNN waves the pom-poms:

But the good news is the unemployment rate fell to 7.2%…

Heckuva job, Wolfie!

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Fox Butterfield, Is That You?

Until James Taranto shuts me down for copyright infingement, I’m going to hit this theme over and over.

This time, Obama’s (lack of) popularity:

Despite President Barack Obama’s renewed focus on the nation’s economy this summer, he scores worse with Americans on the economy than he did in June. His approval rating on the issue, now 35%, is down seven percentage points, and his ratings on taxes and the federal budget deficit are each down five points.

Come on, how hard is this to figure out? The public can be fooled only so many times (almost inexhaustible when it comes to Obama) before they realize what a flim-flam man the president is. Anyway, how stupid is it of him to remind them of how poorly things are going?

In interests of full disclosure, first-time layoffs are down. Aggie’s hamsters may have more to say later.

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It’s Unexpected!™

Aggie’s gerbils, Barney and Frank, have been put into a medically-induced coma until this infernal heat wave passes, so…

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, although the level still appeared to point to healing in the nation’s job market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

That’s “healing”? Sure! It could have increased by 20,000!

The four-week moving average of new claims, which is considered a better measure of labor market conditions, increased by a more modest 6,000 to 351,750.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 340,000 last week. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Even with the increase, the number of layoffs remains in the range of the levels seen over the last year, and is consistent with a continued drop in the unemployment rate.

Okay. If you say so. Though this is on Fox Business’ site, it’s a Reuters story. That might explain the outright cheerleading.

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This Ain’t Your Daddy’s 7.6%

More ominous signs behind that “rosy” emploment news:

The disappointments include a big jump of 247,000 in the number of “discouraged workers,” those who have stopped looking for a job. This could be a one-month anomaly given the other increases, but it bears watching.

Also disappointing is the big jump in the number of Americans who want to work full time but could only find part-time work. That number leapt to 8.23 million, a 322,000 one-month increase. Total part-time employment rose by 432,000, more than double the total number of net new jobs.

The broadest measure of unemployment—which includes discouraged workers and those who can’t find a full-time job for economic reasons—still totals more than 20 million Americans and the rate unexpectedly rose in June to 14.3% from 13.8%.

It’s Unexpected!™

One explanation is almost surely ObamaCare. The law requires employers with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance to all employees or pay a $2,000 penalty per worker. The law also defines a full-time job as 30 hours a week. All of this gives businesses that operate on thin margins—and that’s most businesses—an incentive to hire more part-time workers.

Well, that certainly can’t be unexpected. Any dunce with his finger lodged up his nostril could have seen that coming. Which explains…

Look at that U6 number again—March, 13.8%; April, 13.9%; May, 13.8%; June, 14.3%! The last time it was that high was February! To paraphrase a comment by Aggie, June is the new February.

Now, how about by race? More unexpected bad news. The unemployment rate for black people “ticked” up by 0.2% to 13.7%. The good news is that for black men, that number fell from 13.5% in May to 13.0 in June. The bad news (aw, come on, you knew it was coming) is that among women it rose from 11.2% to 12.0%. The worse news is that for black teens, 16-19, the unemployment rate jumped a full point, from 42.6% to 43.6% (compared to 20.4% among white kids). Just in time for a hot summer. Oh goody.

Thanks, Barack!

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It’s Unexpected!™

Aggie has taken the hamsters, Barney and Frank, to the beach for the day (they love rooting around in the washed-up seaweed), so it falls to me to try to make sense of the latest layoff numbers:

More Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, as the job market continues on its choppy and slow path toward improvement.

About 354,000 people filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Labor Department. That’s 18,000 more initial claims than in the prior week, and higher than economists had expected. The number was still below the 386,000 who sought help in the year-earlier period.

But the numbers each week continue to be volatile. The four-week moving average, which economists use to smooth out the swings in the readings, increased by 2,500 from the week earlier.

Meanwhile, that guy working next to you? Whatever happened to him?

The “participation rate” for men ages 25 to 54 stood at 97.7% in early 1956, but drifted downward to a post-war record low of 88.4% at the end of 2012. (It ticked up very slightly at the start of this year to 88.6%.)

So where have all the men workers gone?

Some went into prison. Others are on disability. And still others can’t find jobs and have simply given up looking.

The Great Recession accelerated the trend, pushing the participation rate for men in their prime working years below 90% for the first time. It has yet to recover, even as the general economy improves.

What’s a lefty news organization to do? How can they cheerlead an economy when there’s no crowd to cheer to? They’re all at the physical therapist’s or in jail.

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“It’s Unexpected!”™

Aggie’s still got the hamsters, Barney and Frank, at their fat farm—sorry, rodent spa—so it falls to me to analyze the latest employment data. (I’m no gerbil, but I play one on the Internet.)

Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, pointing to more slow and choppy improvement in the job market.

About 346,0000 people filed initial jobless claims last week, 11,000 fewer than a week earlier, the Department of Labor said.

Typical expertise says that’s good news. Eleven thousand fewer Gloomy Gus-es moping around than we might have expected. But this is no typical blog:

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Forget the unemployment rate. The employment rate — the percentage of adult Americans who hold a job — has barely budged in the past three years.

It’s hovering near its lowest level in three decades, and it’s unlikely to improve when the Labor Department releases its May jobs report on Friday.

About 58.6% of the civilian population over age 16 had a job as of April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate — officially called the “employment-population ratio” — has been stuck in that range for several years. The last time it was this low was in 1983.

Earlier today, I noted that President Obama shared negative traits with all previous presidents, except Ronald Reagan. Guess I was wrong.

Just to gloat—observe, rather—we’ve been in “recovery” for four years now. And we’re still at the bottom of a Reagan recession. To reinforce the point:

“The unemployment rate is really not that helpful right now in understanding trends in job opportunities because we’ve had so many dropouts,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group.

The employment-population ratio isn’t perfect either.

Over time, it’s expected to decline as the U.S. population ages. Eventually, a wave of Baby Boomer retirements will leave a smaller proportion of the U.S. population participating in the workforce.

But once you strip out the retirement effect to look at the employment rate only for workers ages 25 to 54 — those who should be in the prime of their careers — the story of stagnation remains. The employment rate for that population was 75.9% as of April. It, too, has barely changed over the last three years, and matches levels not seen since 1984.

Last point:

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are expecting a slight slowdown in hiring. They’re estimating that employers added only 158,000 jobs in May.

But even that disappointing number, which barely keeps up with population growth, looks like pie-eyed optimism:

The first of a few signals leading up to Friday’s official jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the four-year stagnation continues. ADP and Moody’s Analytics calculates the overall growth of private-sector jobs, and usually (but not always) overshoots the BLS figures by a considerable amount, which makes their 135,000 figure look even weaker.

We’ll know tomorrow.

Take that you wascally wodents!

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Hey, Europe, Wanna Get a Job?

Say it with me: Ich bin ein Wiener.

Unemployment in the eurozone has reached another record high, according to official figures.

The seasonally-adjusted rate for April was 12.2%, up from 12.1% the month before.

An extra 95,000 people were out of work in the 17 countries that use the euro, taking the total to 19.38 million.

Both Greece and Spain have jobless rates above 25%. The lowest unemployment rate is in Austria at 4.9%.

That sounds suspiciously racist to me.

Libs love to point to Europe as a model of… whatever. Socialized medicine, endless vacations, retirement at 50—why can’t we be more European? We’re getting there, my lib friends, we’re getting there.


Labor Force Participation Rate (63.3% last month)

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