Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kaiser Family Foundation

Healthcare: the absolute best authority on healthcare reform is the Kaiser Family Foundation or KFF. They are loaded with the best analysis of the current healthcare proposal including all the major bills. They also have a side by side comparison of the house and senate bills. Another interesting feature is the health insurance subsidy calculator.

U-3, U-6 and Black Unemployment

The unemployment rates for standard unemployment(U-3), total unemployment (U-6)and Black unemployment all dropped slightly in November. The moves were a surprise to forecasters. Non farm payroll dropped only (-11,000) which is pretty close to zero. There were jobs losses in manufacturing (-41,000) and job gains in temporary help(+52,000) and health care(+21,000).

Non farm payroll dropped by only (-11,000) which is a negligible amount. However, the cumulative job losses over the recession have totaled more than 7 million.

Note: Starting this month the Evil Black Economist will combine the three charts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nearly Half of Detroits Working Population is Unemployed

An article in the Detroit News explained that nearly half of Detroit's workers are unemployed. The article is a good lesson on how the government counts unemployment. It shows what the official rate is much lower than the real rate of unemployment. The real rate does not count workers who are working part-time and want full-time work, workers who have stopped looking, workers who have returned to school, early retirees, and corporate buyouts. When added up, all the factors lead to an unemployment rate that is nearly double the reported rate. Detroit's reported rate was 27%, so do the math.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Job Summit: Export Roundtable

This a summary of the job summit session "Expanding Job Opportunities for American Workers though exports".


Larry Summer's opening question: "What can the government do to increase exports?" got to the central theme of the session. There was some initial, self serving statements from Disney, Fedex and US steel to start the session but then it settled down. Ursula Burns from Xerox brought the group together around the lack of opportunity for overseas for US products that were competitive.

And Mr. Summers summarized well:
1) There are still structural barriers to trade overseas for example slow customs clearance. Some are the subject of trade negotiations.
2) Some of the problems are created by the US government such as tight controls on visas from Muslim countries and limited trade promotion by US embassies
3) US individualism may be hurting us in what is a "collective" game: exports. US business must work more collaboratively.
4) Credit, discrimination and tax policies are hurting exports. But products must be competitive regardless of whether they are exported or not.
5) US jobs can be created by import substitution. The US government should use it's spending power to buy "American"

The government must stay attuned to the export agenda.

Some details

The attendee's were:
Larry summers – Head of National Economic Council
Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen Furniture Company
Susan M. Collin – dean ford school of public policy.
Bill or Phil ossi – medimar corporation. Middle market ag research. Quality food products. Cedar rapids Iowa
Robert Iger, President and CEO, Walt Disney.
Ursula Burns – President and CEO, Xerox
W. James (Jim) McNerney, Jr – Chairman, president and CEO of The Boeing Company
Greg Bentley – CEO of Bentley systems. Compute software for design and construction
Jerrry Schib – Peterson institute- also ex-US trade negotiator, ex-head of presidents export council
Fred Smith – President and CEO, Fedex
Lawerence B Lindsey – consultant, ex-National Economic Council, George W. Bush.
John P. Surma, President – US steel -- $25 Billion
Jim Hoffa, Present, United States of Teamster Union – 1.4 million members
Raul Pedraza -- Magno international, LP – Logistics
Fred Hochberg Head of Import export bank

Other Notible comments

Larry Summers -- Domestic demand will not be enough, we need to increase exports.
Susan Collins -- The US is under performing on exports compared to other countries
Jim Hoffa -- US Trade policy has "shafted" the workers.
Ursula Burns -- We need to increase credit to small businesses.
Larry Lindsey -- Embassies need to be more business and trade oriented. They need to be more user friendly. They need to promote trade more. Our embassies have a seige mentality.
Hoffa - US Government should buy more US made goods.

The Billion Dollar Round Table

The Billion Dollar Round Table is an organization dedicated to supplier diversity. Members must commit to spending $1 Billion dollars with Minority and Women owned businesses.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Suburban Police and Fire Jobs are Subsidized Employment

I live in a well to do suburb of New York City. Well I think it is well to do, It is certainly better than where I grew up, but I didn't notice. Anyway, we are definitely over policed and over protected again fire. In fact, the number of police and firemen in our jurisdiction is astounding especially given the very low level of crime and the low number of building fires in our community. To me it looks like another hidden jobs program for non college educated males. And in our area, they are white males. Our force is more diverse than the surrounding areas but the fore is still overwhelmingly white. And male.

I have to find some non-biased statistics on the appropriate level of spending on law enforcement and fire protection relative to the actual crime or fire rate. The problem is the statistics are very hard to come by. They are generally kept in each municipality's library. And there is no cross community comparison so you cannot be completely sure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NPR: Black Men Hit Especially Hard by Unemployment

A discussion of Black Male unemployment featuring Harry Holzer, a long expert on unemployment.

The NPR discussion is Here

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jobs Summit Review: Opening Remarks

Well the jobs summit is over. The Evil Black Economist will have an in depth review of all seven tracks at the summit. The five tracks are: Innovation and Green Jobs, Small Business, Infrastructure jobs, Export Jobs, worker training, and "Encouraging Business Competitiveness and Job Creation. Plus opening and closing remarks. Today we look at the opening remarks.

Opening Remarks Analysis:

Well there really was not much in the opening remarks. Basically the President and Vice-President said: 1) there are limited resources to create jobs, 2) we had a major financial crisis and had to fix that, 3) we know it is bad out there for the unemployed.

What they did not mention:

The economy works in cycles and jobs will return naturally; but we cannot tell when or how many jobs will return. No one knows if the US is in the midst of a rise in the long term structural unemployment. There is almost nothing the executive branch of government can do about job creation. The two wars are costing a lot of money.

Opening Remarks Summary:

Joe Biden, the vice president opened the forum. He stated that there is limited resources in government to create jobs. He noted that economic bubbles have gotten the US into trouble. He discussed the large rate of job losses which bottomed out at 700,000 a month in January 2009 He then claimed credit for averting the financial disaster and credit for the jobs created by the ARRA 2008(The American Recovery Act of 2008). Biden said the Congressional Budget Office determined the ARRA was responsible for creating as many as 1.6 million jobs. He then circled back to say that the President, who has a lot on his plate from day one, was focused on creating good jobs.

President Barack Obama, welcomed the assembled crowd. He then talked about the personal effect of the jobs losses on the unemployed. He brought up the financial crisis, the ARRA and the loss of 700K in Jan 2009. He noted that the economy was growing, productivity was up, the stock market was rising and corporate profits were high.

President Obama posed the question at the center of the jobs summit, "How do we get businesses to start hiring again?"

He pointed out that the private sector was the key to job growth. Also that government was limited in what it could do because of reduced receipts and increased expenditures. He also said that he was listening for new ideas. He mentioned FDR's call for "Bold, persistent experimentation" was now required to resolve the crisis.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The "D" Word -- Discrimination in Employment

Discrimination is a word you don't hear about much these days. Yet racial and class discrimination still exists -- big time. Discrimination is intimately connected to racial disparities in unemployment. As the New York Times highlighted recently, unemployment rates for Blacks are almost double that for white across broad categories of education. Yet the article uses the "D" word only twice.

It is almost like the weather; it is taken as a given. Those who are not touched by it, assume it does not exist. And those affected by it, have no recourse but to accept it and move on. It has become more acceptable by the majority, using the justification of "hard times," to look the other way when discrimination occurs. It is acceptable to ignore the result or say "Tsk, Tsk, what a shame, but I am not like that."

Discrimination is the status quo, so combating discrimination requires a positive action away from the present state. It requires a change. (Note: I am trying not to use the phrase "affirmative action" which has been hijacked by the conservatives). It requires action by private citizens in millions of small, individual steps to say the current process is wrong, unfair and immoral. Fixing the problem requires moral courage, not just a class in business ethics.

Discrimination is still wrong. In these tough times, it is worse still to accept the advantages and privilages that discrimination may offer. Regular readers know to expect some solutions following the statement of a difficult problem, so read on.

The following recommendation would make a renewed progress toward ending discrimination in employment.

1) Active enforcement of the nations exist discrimination laws. Active, re-occurring, paired testing and monitoring programs in in front-office, high profile industries like NYC food service or highway construction. Creative use of media to publicize test results. You can review discrimination in the NYC food service here.

2) Increased and full funding of the EEOC, the US department of civil rights and the justice department.

3) Enforcement of employment laws at state and local level

4) Enforcement of fair housing laws. Residential segregation is a major factor in US discrimination.

5) Inculsion of a "discrimination case study" in all of the business ethics classes in undergraduate and graduate business schools.

6) Pressure on think tanks and politics to make public stands on issues like discrimination.

7) An additional think tank for discrimination studies. There is a dearth of information and data on discrimination. Very few of the newer statistical models and methodologies have been applied to the area of discrimination. In addition, discrimination studies provided the academic underpinning (along with moral persuasion) for effective legislation. Many law cannot be enacted with a strong technical support(check the doll studies used in Brown v. Board of Ed).

Even conservatives are forced to agree discrimination is wrong. They complain about the remedy's impact on freedom, liberty, big government, taxes. And then block any real solution. So Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP had the right strategy to force the legal system to act on moral principles at the detailed level in everyday life.


Friday, December 4, 2009

New York Times Article on Educated Black Male Unemployment Gap

"In the Job Hunt, College Degree Cannot Close Racial Gap" - NYT

Here is the link to the article on the disparity in employment for college educated Blacks especially men. Here

Also, make sure you read the comments. They can be better than the article.

November Jobs Report

Well, suprise, suprise, the jobs report had some slight good news. The general unemployment rate dropped to 10.0 percent. And the number of people unemployed decreased to 15.4 million. Black unemployment also dropped slightly to 15.6%. The biggest news was that non-farm payroll(NFP) dropped only by 11,000. Which is really good news since job loses have averaged 135,000 for the prior three months. NFP decreased by 125,000 in October.

Most economists had predicted a stable or higher unemployment rate. Temporary help hiring increased which is one of the first signs of an employment recovery.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Alan Blinder's supports job creating tax credit and Government Program

How to create jobs ???

Well, no one is really sure, but Alan Blinder of Princeton is in favor of a tax credit for new jobs and a government program to create employment. He does, fairly, worry about the deficit. You can read his post.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Opinion: Whitehouse jobs summit -- Hey kids, let's put on a show.

The whole White house jobs summit seems, to me, completely contrived and disingenuous. It seems like he had the jobs summit plan in Axelrod's back pocket and they were waiting to pull the trigger when the unemployment rate hit 10%. It is easy to think you have bigger fish to fry when you are running the world, but jobs and middle class economics are always in the top 3 for issues.

I can understand what the president is thinking. Hey's pretty smart. "There is very little I can do about jobs and unemployment. The Republicans in congress are screaming 'Debt' every time I float a stimulus proposal. I have to pass healthcare. Then education. Two issues domestic I can do something about. And both issues will help with long term unemployment. But I have to do something. Hmm, jobs summit."

Oh, you have to say jobs summit in the same voice as Mickey Rooney, "Hey, kids, let's put on a show."

America has some real long term issues around jobs and employment. Basically there is a long term mis-match between the US population and the US job market in terms of the size and education level required. Some good news is that financial shock absorbers like unemployment benefits, SSI, Medicare and aid to state and local municipalities help cushion the pain. There is very little the president can do unless things are really bad.

So for now let us watch the show. Right now the fun for us professionals is seeing who will be invited. I would think Stiglitz, Krugman and Ed Phelps would be a good start. It will be interesting to see what Conservative economist get picked.

Whitehouse Annouced a Summit on Job Creation

Less than a week after another bad employment report, the white house announced plans for a "jobs" summit at the white house in December. The forum will invite business leaders, economists and labor leaders to discuss job creation. Obama has said that his administration has taken steps to stop the recession by bailing out banks and stimulating the economy, but the slide in job losses has continued. Business are not hiring at any significant rate.

Employment Situation for October

The Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) released employment data for October 2009. The standard U-3 unemployment rate moved to 10.2 percent from 9.8 in September, a 0.4% jump. Non-farm payroll dropped again by -190,000 workers. A smaller decrease. Since the recession started, the unemployment rate has increase by 5.3% and the number of unemployed has increased by 8.2 million. That is, of the 15.7 millions currently unemployed there are 8.2 million additional workers who are now unemployed since the recession began in December 2007.

Women continued to have a lower employment rate that of men (8.1% vs. 10.7%). Black unemployment jumped 0.4% to 15.7. The Hispanic unemployment rate was 13.1 percent.

There was some small employment good news. Temporary help workers increased by 34,000 in October. Temporary help has been shedding jobs up until July. Average work week was at 33.00 hours (unchanged).

Wages (average hourly earnings) also rose 0.05 cents in October to $18.72 dollars and hour.

Finally, August and September's Non Farm Payroll job loses were revised downward. The august number was reduced from -201,000 to -154,000 and September was reduced from
-263,000 to -219,000.

And now for the graphics. Graphs make the data real !!! Graphs of the the Big-3: Unemployment, Black Unemployment and Non Farm Payroll

Standard U-3 unemployment rate

Black Unemployment Rate

Non Farm Payroll

Monday, November 9, 2009

Military as a jobs program

Once you have learned some of basic economic principals you start to see a lot of activities in purely economic terms. And it is hard to stop seeing things that way. What value is a newborn baby ?? Oh about $2.3 million in middle class suburban united states. But I digress.

Today, I was thinking about the fact that the cost of healthcare is almost exactly equal to the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hmmmmmm. I know it is just a coincidence but it does make you think. So what are we getting for that $1 Trillion dollars. Well we are getting a lot of jobs. Unfortunately the jobs are very expensive to produce and don't add very much to our Gross National Happiness other than in the security area. The Military contractors also produce jobs. But very little of the output contributes to better society. You cannot re-use or re-purpose an out of date tank. It must be scrapped. In fact with the many toxic metals in the electronics and other equipment, it is very expensive to dispose of newer military equipment. The Military is just going green. Off track again.

There are examples of military benefits in civilian life such as: The internet, or tang but they are few and far between. Overall the military is a huge waste of money. And a very inefficient job creation program.

Once, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought to necessary stalemate, it will be time to take a real hard look at our Military. I believe we can no longer afford such a large expense.

[Graph of Military related employment vs. Military spending]

Party of "No"

Conservatives and the Republican party have really come up empty several serious issues facing the country. Empty is probably too nice, it is more like vacuum of space, when it comes to ideas to solve the countries problems.

Their standard answer seems to be "No" without offering any specific counter proposal. Luckily, this a country based on progress. On moving forward. We all firmly believe things can be improved. That they can be done better.

So on Healthcare, Afghanistan, Jobs, Education and Improving the standard of living, I encourage our readers it figure out just what exactly the "No" means and who it benefits in the long term. The "No" is frequently a narrow minded, status quo, heck-with-everyone-else kind of "No" as opposed to a I agree with the goal, but not the method "No" and here is my alternative proposal to get there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Creating jobs by lowering the minimum wage

I live in the New York metropolitian area. And I listen to Bloomberg radio on 1130 am. Whenever a jobs report comes out they give the most extensive jobs coverage around. Sometimes they even have Edmund Phelps on to discuss the situation. He has long advocated government subsidies to businesses increase the quality and quantity of jobs.

Anyway, this time, they had a quick interview with a university of Chicago economist who is recommending cutting the minimum wage to increase employment. I had to laugh out loud. Even the host if the discussion was skeptical, dismissing the idea as politically impossible.

In theory, of course, the economists was right. Basic supply and demand says lowering the wage will let employers hire more workers. But it sounded more like he was offering the standard "free-market" line on unemployment.

But in 21st century democratic capitalism, such a reduction is close to impossible.

1) Wages are some what sticky. The impact on performance of lowering existing employee wages would offset any savings.

2) Government insurance means less employees have to take a lower wage.

3) High political costs. It would be impossible for an liberial or moderate to reduce the minimum wage. They would be called "Uncle Scrooge". Their committment to poor and work class people would be questioned. Their public image would suffer from being labeled as insensitive to the poor.

4) It could put downward wage pressure on middle class wages. The middle class would oppose the move vigorously.

5) Bad income distribution effects. It would benefit the rich at the expensive of middle and lower classes. It would reduce the amount of total income to the poorest citizens.

6) Highten social tension. Renew class tension. Government and corporations would be accused of getting rich on the backs of the poor.

Creating jobs is one thing; but creating good jobs is the real goal. Their are more equitable ways of creating jobs than lower the minimum wage. Job subsidies, training subsidies and extending employment benefits are better approaches for a better united states.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Unemployment Claims Continue to Drop

The number of new weekly unemployment claims dropped by 10,000 to 514,000 from 524,000 claims the prior week. The number is also 40,000 less than the two week old figure of 554,000 claims on September 26th, 2009. So a small bit of good news in the recession. However, one must be careful to the huge number of overall unemployment claims.

The long term trend is more disturbing. You can see the giant spike in unemployment claims during the recession when claims jumped from the low 300 thousands to over 600 thousand new claims.

Jobs of the Future

The President's Council of Economic Advisors release a report in July 2009 on where the jobs of the future will be. There is some good high level information but not much details.

Basically, health care is the number one area for job growth, now and for the foreseeable future. Manufacturing job loses will stop, but there will be no increase in manufacturing jobs. Construction job will dip but rebound.

Secondly, workers with post high school education or training will do better than average.

Here is the report.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Future Jobs

Just gotta get this one out there. It looks like we are coalesing around some ideas for future jobs. These jobs will provide products that have the following characteristics:

Green, customized(Market of One), Fast, Local, with a service or service component.

Green - Customers are demanding green and environmentally friendly products.

or they will be cheap.

Customized -- products will be individually tailored

Fast --

Local -- Service will be performed locally.

Job Creation Program Options

It is pretty amazing how few ideas there are for job creation. Creating good jobs almost seems to complicated for our political class. This post is summary of the most prominent options both liberal and conservative

1. Tax credit for new hires. A subsidy from the government for each new person hired.

Would create some jobs. Might not be the best use of the money. Programs have other problems such as the marginal employee problem. Who should get the subsidy; every new person hired or only those who would not have been hired. How long should the job last to get the subsidy ?

2. Federal Government Direct Job Creation program

Would create jobs.

Does the government select the best projects to fund ? How efficient and effective.

3. Federal Infrastructure projects

Jobs. Needed investments are made.

Create less jobs than direct job creation. Same down side, does the government select the best projects to fund. Is infrastructure really the best investment ?

4. Aid to State and Local authorities

Again creates or support existing jobs and services.

5. Education and Job Training

Pro: Jobs for trainers and unemployment office workers.

Con: Only somewhat effective. Results are hard to measure. The folks doling out the money should provide some transparency and Cost / Benefit analysis

6. Subsidized loans or investments in small businesses.

Cost: 300 Billion

During the recession, major job loses have come from the small business sector. In addition small business have drastically lost access to credit. A small business loan program would restore access to credit.

Now here are some conservative proposals are:

6. Cut minimum wages.

Cheaper wages would allow employers to hire more workers.

7. Eliminate federal or state employer mandates such as healthcare

Cheaper benefits or reduced mandates would allow employers to hire more workers.

8. Do not pass the Employee Free Choice Act

A bill to make joining the union easier. Potential members would check off cards saying they request a union rather than have a secret ballot.

9. Evaluate training and return to work programs more systematically

Here is one good convervative idea, but quite difficult to implement. Conservatives propose to be much more rigorous evaluation of unemployment training and return to work programs. However, the idea is couched in the usual mean-spirited effort to cut programs that don't work rather than expand any program that does work or to try to improve the effectiveness of the whole system.


Forbe's Article on Conservative Job Creation. Here.

One of the nice things about writing a blog is that you can go back a correct or update your work. v3

Where are the jobs right now ??

The current fields with the best job prospects accross the board are: Healthcare, Education, Government. Government and Education are showing small signs of weakness.

Another area to look at are fields where the pay is significantly above the median weekly earning of $350.00. Those fields typically require a college education. They are scientific, engineering and computer related.

But they also include certain building trades and construction jobs. These jobs do not require a college education but come with a long apprentice ship or training requirement.

Finally, one can compute a job quality index ("Good Jobs Index") with factors like pay and autonomy. Then add in the education component. Good jobs with low education requiements are in constructions and good jobs with higher education components are in Advanced Education, Law, Medicine.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

BLS unemployment reports

Thanks goodness for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Three cheers. Their monthly and weekly employment reports are the only thing that keeps unemployment and labor issues in the news. The constant drum beat of bad employment numbers is hard to ignore even for our pro business news media.

The weekly jobless claims report which comes out on Thursday and the monthly employment situation report are always headline grabbers.

Sooner or later the country will have to face up to the jobs crisis.

Unemployment Report for September

On October 2nd, 2009, the BLS released it's September unemployment situation report. Again the news is not good. The big story is job loses increased (-263,000 NFP Sep vs. -201,000 NFP Aug) by 24%. Pretty scary. If the recession were really ending, we would expect job losses to shrink rather than grow in September. The trend is in the wrong direction. Mostly likely the drop is due to variability as the country slowly climbs out of the recession. However, It could mark the beginning of a second dip in a double dip recession. Next months report is crucial for establishing the trend.

Black unemployment also jumped from 15.1% to 15.4%. 2,687,000 Black people were listed as unemployed. The Black unemployment rate as increased by and astounding 73% since the start of the recession in December 2007 (from 8.9% to 15.4%)

To complete the picture, the unemployment rate plus the working part-time/want full time rate hit 17%.

No clue on Unemployment

Unemployment Ignored

I cannot believe how one of the biggest crisis of our time, 10%, unemployment, is being ignored. Black unemployment is around 15%. Underemployment is at 17%. Youth unemployment is around 40%.

I cannot find a more basic, long-term problem in a democratic, capitalist society.

Unemployment is the dark, down side of our society.

Our brightest minds have no clue about what to do.

Even the NYT, which I will give credit for writing about the issue, is offering little in the way of suggestions. Here The editorial simply issues a generic call for leadership. The propose a job creation program or tax credits for hiring. Or, get this, "Or surprise us". In an editorial, that is pretty clueless.

Finally, Bob Herbert, wrote a piece asking if Obama understands the jobs issue. Here.

The rest of the financial media is almost complete silent on unemployment. Shame on Business Week, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune. Talk about being in the back pocket of business. I guess unemployment is not something their demographics care about.

I will give some credit to USA Today which is consistenly covering the issue.

I do have to give some credit

Monday, October 5, 2009

Model of economy

So, how does the economy work. Well a simple diagram helps explain a lot. The complex nature of the economy comes from the dynamic nature of the feedbacks loops and the external shocks. Dynamic in that a change in one input or output can have downstream effects on the other institutions.

The best current econometrics models are Dynamic Stochastic General Equlibrium (DSGE) Models which are used in forecasting the US economy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Job seekers vs. jobs

There is always another way of looking at unemployment. The New York Times has published a comparison of the number of job seekers vs. the number of open jobs. Here

The conference board publishes are more interesting break down of the online help wanted advertising by job category. Here. And the press release is here.

The conference board is a private institution and does not allow the free re-use of it's data. However they do have a very interesting chart that shows only medical practitioners and technicians and computer industry personnel have open jobs to job seekers ratios below 1.0. (More jobs than people).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Non Farm Payroll hints at jobless recovery

Ok, I say OK, a lot, because I write like I think. OK, I have the data set for non-farm payrolls from Jan 1948 to present. Basically, NFP, shows how many jobs were created over long periods of time by the economy. I have graphed NFP against the recessions periods. And like many other recession statistics, it does not look good. Basically, what you see is the makings of another jobless recovery with employment increasing payrolls very little.

You can also see that this recession is the longest and deepest since the great depression.

Graph of Non Farm Payrolls.

What kind of capitalism do we want ??

The recession is proving a great time to tackle some really tough issues that usually go unnoticed. The US has been so happy and fat for so long, that a reasonable discussion of inequality was impossible. Now that the economy has soured, many of the groups that believed they were doing OK, have begun to focus on their declining standard of living.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Outlook Handbook is the get a job bible. It projects by occupation where the jobs will be for the next ten year. It describes the training required, pay and project job increase over the next 10 years. It also covers what the daily routine job is like and the prospects for advancement.

It is a must read, at least for you own profession. Here

Weekly Jobless Claims Stable for September 12 report

The number of weekly unemployment insurance claims was dropped 12,000 to 545,000 from 557,000 the prior week, the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration reported(DOL/ETA). The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance increase by 129,000 to 6,230,000 persons. The drops was some small good news in that the recession job losses may be ending


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The last US manufacturing job will disappear in 2042

Well the manufacturing employment picture looks very bleak. Some of the data is almost unreal. In one year, between August 2008 and August 2009, we have lost 1,616,000 million manufacturing jobs. (I need to double check this because the number is just so huge). In other words, we lost 12% of all manufacturing jobs in one year. It is almost unbelievable.

But that is not the point of the post. Today's point is, we can predict when the last manufacturing job will leave the US. In a tongue in cheek kind of way. It is the year 2042. Through the magic of statistics we can use the data on manufacturing employment levels to predict when the level of manufacturing jobs will be zero.

Using simple regression techniques we can compute the slope of a line that best fits our data. The slope is minus 32,000 jobs. Meaning we lose 32,000 manufacturing jobs a month or 384,000 per year. So, if we are currently at 12,783,000 jobs and we lose approximately 400,000 per year, then in the year 2042 we will be at zero.

Here is the regression for the time period 1995 to 2009.

Here is the forecast to zero manufacturing jobs in the year 2042

I just wanted to make three notes. One, for many reasons regression analysis is at the heart of many of the analyses that economists use. Second, extending the time period out make the current job loses look severe in the 2nd graph. Third, The graph is further skewed because the year 1995 was a relative peak for manufacturing jobs, so any decline will look bad. However, 12% loss this year is crazy.

Version 2

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Recovery Act Job Creation

The executive branch of government released and estimate of job creation due to the fiscal stimulus package passed by congress as of May 2009. You can read the report here. However

The "true" measure of unemployment, U-6, has spiked.

The broadest measure of unemployment has spiked during the recession. U-6, which measures the unemployment rate, plus willing to work rate, plus working part time/want full time rate. It is consider by many to be the "true" rate. This rate counts everyone who wants to work but cannot due to the economy.

The rate has jumped almost 54% in the past year (Aug 08[10.9] to Aug 09[16.8] seasonally adjusted). A 54% increase in one year is a huge amount. It means millions of people want jobs and cannot find them. If the rate hits 20%, the country will have a major problem.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Unemployment gaps: White, Black and Hispanic

Black and Hispanic employment gaps are widening again

One of the more interesting unemployment trends during the 80's, 90's and 00's was the narrowing of the unemployment gap between Blacks and Whites and Hispanics and Whites. Now the gap seems to be widening. Up until the recession, the gap had steadily closed. In 2006, the gap was under one percent (1%) for Hispanics. And in 2007 the gap was smaller than 4% for Blacks.

Now the gap appears to be widening again. In August 2009, the figure was about 6% for Blacks and 4% for Hispanics.

Economists usually explain the reasons for the gap as geographic mismatch, skills mismatch, network mismatch(gotta find a better term) and discrimination.

So, what happened ?? Well in a tight labor market, demand forces employers to be more flexible in accepting workers. But now that things are tight, employers can be more picky and possibly discriminate more.

Any way here are the charts....

Chart of White, Black and Hispanic Unemployment Rate

Chart of Unemployment Rate Gaps

Saturday, September 5, 2009

August Unemployment Rate

Unemployment rate rises to 9.7%; Black Unemployment rate rises to 15.1%

On September 4th, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released it's data for August. The unemployment rate, which rose to 9.7%, was the highest in 26 years. The rate was 10.1% in June 1983(26 years ago). The Black Unemployment rate rose to 15.1% from 14.5%.

National Unemployment Rate

Black Unemployment Rate

Friday, September 4, 2009

Who controls the global economy ??

Well, it's a good headline, but no one controls the economy: US or global. The global economy is simply to complicated. The economy is the result of the dynamic interplay of consumer, business, social and political forces. It is well beyond the control of one person, organization or government. In addition, the economy, give a stable regulatory environment, is somewhat self correcting. It tends toward a long run equilibrium meaning a lot short run problems and news are temporary.

Now, whether the US or global economic system is fair, is another point all together.

However, if you want to see the thinking of the group comes about as close to controlling the economy as you can, check out the notes from Federal Reserve System's Open Market Committee (FOMC). Here. This is the committee that raises and lowers the interest rates.

It is somewhat funny, because they talk in a lot of qualified language (because they basically don't know either). But they definitely know a lot more than the average person(me).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Big Squeeze by Steve Greenhouse

Just finished reading "The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker" by Steven Greenhouse. Greenhouse is the labor correspondent for the New York Times. This book is a much need telling of the problems facing the middle and working class in the United States. The book outlines different areas where the low wage workers are struggling. He recounts stories of low pay, few benefits, cruel treatments and lack of job security.

Some of the stories and engrossing but a bit long. And they picture the very worst of corporations squeezing employees. Others describe discrimination and harassment. There is a story on health care problems. There are stories of targeting union organizers, locking sick workers in wal mart, companies exploiting immigrants and cheating low wage employees by altering time cards. Also, the chapter summaries is too short.

Greenhouse believes that we are at the end of the great social compact started after WW II. The compact was that wages would match productivity. However during the 1980's society and corporations have squeezed employees and kept more of the returns from work. Wages have stagnated ever since.

He believes that several factors have put the US working class in a poor position: globalization, corporate greed, shrinking unions and anti-labor government policies.

While most of the chapters cover problems, there is one chapter covering some companies that treat there employees well. These companies provide decent wages, health benefits and flexible work policies.

His last chapter lists his prescriptions for helping American workers.
1. fight wage stagnation by raising the minimum wage. He recommends linking the MW to the local minimum cost of living.
2. Stopping wage theft. Increasing enforcement against illegal workplace actions by management and corporations.
3. universal health coverage
4. increasing retirement security
5. encouraging the labor movement
6. having an honest discussion about globalizations effects on workers.
7. supporting education
8. and most importantly respecting workers

You can skip some of the anecdotal stories to save time but you must read the last chapter. I also like the chapter on companies that treat their workers well.
Overall is a good read the the problem facing american workers.

Weekly unemployment claims drop slightly for 3rd week of August

The weekly new unemployment claims (seasonally adjusted) stood at 570,000 as reported by the department of labor. The figure was a drop of 10,000 from 580,000 the second week in August.

Monday, August 31, 2009

TARP Money. Troubled Asset Relief Program

Every wonder what happened to all that TARP money the government invested to secure the US financial system. Well it looks like they might make money from the investments. They a pretty good web site detailing all of the investments and the returns. TARP Web Site

Slate also has an article about TARP breaking even. Here

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Okun's Law

Again unemployment is the big topic this week. Jobs will be on the radar for the foreseeable future. No one really has any idea how to create or sustain good jobs so the area is ripe for discussion.

One interesting topic continues to arise relating to unemployment: That is Okun's law, which states that every 1% increase in unemployment will lead to a 2% drop in GDP.

Jobs report show small decline in unemployment

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Is healthcare a true market ??

(Opinion) (Draft) Well, it is a little late, but the US is starting to debate whether the US healthcare system is a true market or not. And if they are subject to market force, will they respond in the optimal way. Can we design the right incentives ??

Many economists, both on the left and the right, believe that markets allocate goods in the most optimal fashion compared to other systems(such as cronyism, a dictator or communism)

However, the real question is whether there is a working "market" for healthcare ??

From econ 101, we define markets as 1) having lots of buyers and sellers with no buyer or seller being able to influence the market. 2) Perfect information. 3) 4). In real life there are few, if any, perfect markets, but it does not matter. Goods and services are allocated very efficiently.

However, in health care, there is notable lack of market fundamentals.

I don't believe the healthcare system can work as efficiently as government run program.

1) Size matters
2) Profit is the wrong incentive in healthcare
2) Profit costs someone
3) Government is efficient enough

Other examples: Police, Army, Courts


Kaiser Family Foundation

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit foundation focused on US health care system research. It collects, analyzes and publishes statistics and polls on US health system.

Probably the best site on the web for true health care information.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD is the leading source for comparison statistics on the the world's developed economies. It collects information on economic, finance, trade, development, healthcare, agriculture, tax and technology indicators. Key members include US,France, Germany, Japan, UK, Italy, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

When a country joins the OECD, it is considered to have "arrived" in terms of 1st world development. Mexico was admitted in 1994; Korea and Poland were admitted in 1996. BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries have been invited to join.

The organization has a reputation for promoting free market policies.

Headquarters is in Paris, France.


Presidential News Conference on Healthcare

I listened closely to the President's news conference on Healthcare. It was quite a masterfully performance compared to his predecessor. Obama comes off as very "teacher" like when he is explaining his point of view.

I am happy he continues to mention a government option to compete with private healthcare insurance. He continues to bring up the poll tested, feel good answers answers like: "it won't add to the deficit","We will pay for it by getting ride of waste", and "everyone can used the doctor of their choice." And he wants to cover everyone.

There was no mention of mandated coverage for small businesses. We will have to wait and see on that one.

I also like how he, in the great political tradition, completely dodged the question about what the American people would have to give up. The answer is simple: either pay more or give up the gold-plated healthcare we currently have. And who knows, we might be healthier in the long run if healthcare is limited by price or policy. At least we won't be broke.

The preseident and many healthcare economists and cost analyst frequently reference the OECD's health care data set. You can view some of the OECD Healthcare Data Here

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bad for Economy; Good for Economists

Well, the economy is still bad. The next national unemployment situation release is August 7th, 2009 by the BLS. This next report could be critical. May's report was for a loss of 322,000 jobs but June's unemployment report showed an acceleration of 467,000 job losses. If the new report of losses is above 467,000 (June), consumer confidence will take a hit. Above 322,000 is still very bad but less of a danger to the economy. My guess is for something around 350,000.

And the big question is when we will start with job creation ? When the the job numbers go positive ?? And in which sectors ??

We will also get a preview of unemployment situation on July 29th, 2009 with the release the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)which measures unemployment in the 310 largest metropolitan areas in the US.

Meantime, it is a great time to be an economist or economic commentator. Business is booming. Economists and economic stories are the stop stories now. Check the Economist cover story on economics. And Jack Welch has been replaced by Paul Krugman as the economy's chief commentator. Economic news is top of mind right now. People are starting to understand some of the basic principals of economics. Soon everyone will have a basic understanding of economic issues. And the country will better for it.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics the main US government collector of economic and labor statistical data. The BLS is part of the United States government department of labor and is based in Washington, DC. The BLS collects and employment data for the united states including the "official" unemployment rate and the consumer price index.

National Bureau of Economic Research

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER is a non profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA, USA. Its primary focus is on the economy and business cycles of the United States.

The NBER is known for it's business cycle dating committee. The committee determines when a recession and expansion “officially” begin and end. It is also know for the large number of nobel prize winning economists who have conducted research at NBER.

Long term unemployment rate and averages

Ok, Here is a chart of the unemployment rate since January, 1948. The data is the unemployment percentage of the civilian population for all persons 16 and older. It is taken from a data series at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This charts highlights a lot of interesting topics.
1) The current recession is longer than previous recessions. At 18 months, it is the longest recession since the great depression. The unemployment rate is about 4% over it's long term average.
2) The long-term unemployment averages (60, 30, 20 and 10 year averages) are generally between 5.2% and 6.1%. The current unemployment rate, 9.5%, is about 3.4-4.3% higher than the long term averages for unemployment
4) In the 80's, 90's and 00's the recessions were relatively mild and short.
5) There have been recent times, when the unemployment rate was low. In April and September of 2000 the unemployment rate was below 4% and in October 2006 is was below 4.5%.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Recession has almost wiped out all the job gains of past 8 Years

The jobs picture is getting very scary out there. It looks like the current recession has almost wiped out all of the job growth since the last downturn in 2001. And current recession looks like it will continue for another year or so.

Recessions are generally defined as two consecutive quarters of decline in the gross domestic product (a measure of domestic production). But the recession dating committee from National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is adding more weight to employment numbers. According to the NBER the recession started in December 2007 when non farm payroll reached it's peak.

From, November 2001 (the end of the last downturn) to the beggining of the current recession, the US has added over 7 million jobs. Now the current recession has wiped out 6.5 millon jobs. It will pass 7 millon mark in the next two months if the average monthly loss (-330,000) jobs continues.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Employment numbers drop again; unemployment up

Figure 1. General Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released it's monthly unemployment report for June on July 2, 2009. The big news was that non farm payroll employment dropped by 467,000 in June versus 322,000 in May. A 31 percent increases in job loses over the prior month. A sign pointing to a longer and deeper recession.

Figure 2. Non farm payroll

The general employment rose 0.1% to 9.5 while the Black employment rate decreased by 0.2% to 14.7% from 14.9%.

Figure 3. Black unemployment rate

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ghana Radio Ads supports Obama's visit

The government of Ghana is running radio before US president Obama's visit to the west african nation.

One ad says, ""First black president of the United States of America, you have become a shining star, and despite the height of your achievement you are still proud to be called a black man. Barack Obama is coming home. He is coming to Ghana, Gold Coast, the center of the world."

Obama's arrives in Ghana on Friday.

And the winner is: GHANA !!!

President Obama's first sub-sharian trip in African will be to Ghana. The other possible destinations were Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. But Kenya had a vicious ethnic battle and South Africa has plenty of time with the coming world cup and no real ploitical advantage. The race was really between Nigeria (150 Million) and Ghana (22 Million). And Ghana won.

Ghana, has several advantages over Nigeria that better fit the presidents agenda. It is a stable economically and politically. Ghana enjoys a high economic growth rate: 6.3%, per capita income and standard of living compared to the rest of Africa. Politically, Ghana recently completed the transition of power from one party to a another. Also there is oil.

Nigeria has a record of corruption, military repression and oil fueled violence.

In an exclusive interview with a journalist from website, Obama said, "part of the reason is that Ghana has now undergone a couple of successful elections in which power was transferred peacefully, even in a very close election. President Mills has shown himself committed to the rule of law, to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. I think that there is a direct correlation between governance and prosperity. "

Basically, they had a close election. They transitioned power peacefully and they should be rewarded for their success. Nigerial and Kenya had the opposite action when they held recent elections.

Obama arrives Friday Evening, July 10th, 2009 and will stay for a 24 hour period.

Sources Used:

News Sources

From time to time we are asked about our sources

Version 5 as of January 6th, 2010

LA Times
Jamaica Gleaner
China Daily

Black Daily Sources
The Root
black talkers
Maynard Institute for Journalism
All Africa

Black Weekly Sources

Google Alerts
unemployment, jobs, training, Blacks, education, unions, Hispanics, Latinos
Africa, Asian, race, labor, economics


The daily voice
The black world today
Philadelphia Tribune
Amsterdam News
NY Carib News
Jamaica Gleaner



Foreign Policy
New Yorker

Think Tanks

Government Sites

Consulting Companies

Academic Journals


Black Blogs
The root


The library of Economics and Liberty - Conservative

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Social Compact: Inner City Market Development

I just heard about Social Compact, a consulting company, on NPR marketplace. They produce market justification studies for corporate clients. They examine the "hidden" spending power of inner city and minority neighborhoods. The studies are paid for by foundations hoping to lure national chain stores into city neighborhoods. They hope the big chains will provide jobs, lower cost and higher quality goods, and increased local taxes.

Supreme court attacks anti-discrimination practices


Supreme court decision in New Haven Firefighter case deals a blow to protection against discrimination in hiring and promotion.

On June 30th, 2009, the United States Supreme court found that white fire fighters were discriminated against when the City of New Haven discarded their test results. The court decided that fear of a lawsuit by minority fire fighters was not sufficient justification to reject test results with a disparate impact.

The ruling was decided 5-4 by the conservative majority. The conservative court seems to delight in narrowing or overturning civil rights legislation. The also actively hunt for cases linke this to narrow the intent of the legislated law.

The court decided that New Haven erred when it threw out the fire fighters test results. The test results plus the current New Haven civil service policy would have led to only one member of a minority group being promoted to officer level. A clear disparate impact in a city that is greater than 50% minority. The court also ignored testimony regarding the test itself. The test was skewed toward written answers rather than oral answers. Traditionally, Blacks do better on the oral part than on the written part.

However, the court failed to consider the long history of employment discrimination in government and fire fighting. Reading the disent, the history of anti-discrimination laws were extend to state and local governments because of the acute disrimination in police and fire fighting ranks.

"In the early 70s, when New Haven was 30% Black, only 3.6 percent of firefighter were Black. At the command level things were far worse. Only one officer of 107 was Black. Currently the city is over 50% minority but the senior ranks are 9% Black and 9% Hispanic.

The exam was also problematic. During testimony to the city of New Haven, the exam was

I have always been curious why fire houses have been so slow to integrate while other branches of state and local government are very diverse. I suspect fire fighting is one of the last of the "easy" jobs still controlled by nepotism and cronyism. I would propose reducing pay while increase the workload. Then we will see how quickly they hire minorities.

If you want to see the real truth, read Ginsburg's dissent starting on page 55. Also check out Griggs v. Duke power the most important case on employment testing.



Monday, June 29, 2009

Crazy Airline Pricing: Hidden City Ticketing

What's up with that crazy airline pricing: Hidden City Ticketing (v2)

I recently bought some airline tickets. But somehow, I always feel like I am being cheated. I generally use or, then go to the airlines website to book. This time I was looking for the cheapest was to fly from Newark to my destination, Miami.

I started up and typed in Newark to Miami. I got a price of $400. Which I thought was a lot. So I typed in Washington, DC to Miami and got $275 but you had to change planes in, where else, Newark. What is going on ??

Well, it turns out airlines charge prices based, not on distance, but on demand for a particular route. So, if a certain route is highly competitive, like the route from DC to NYC, with no dominant carrier, then the price will be lower. And once you are on a particular carrier they want to keep you on that carrier, so the total price can be cheaper.

Airlines call this "Hidden City Ticketing". Hidden city pricing can save you some money if you are willing travel to another airport.

There are plenty of internet warnings if you take advantage of hidden city pricing.
1) Don't miss the first leg of the trip or the entire trip is automatically cancelled. So I cannot board in Newark but instead must get to DC first.
2) Don't check baggage. It will end up at your final destination with out you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Why is the confirmation of L'Oreal's discriminatory hiring practices so important ??

Well for a number of reasons: 1) L'Oreal is the worlds largest cosmetics company; 2) L'Oreal uses well-known minority models and celebrities to market it's products; 3) L'Oreal is an image and branding company; 4) Discrimination suits are very difficult to bring in France; and 5) L'Oreal had help from a major personnel company, Addecco.

L'Oreal is a very large company. It has projected sales revenue of over 24 Billion (USD)(17.5 Billion Euro) for the year 2008. It has 67,000 employees and operates in 130 countries. It has a major presence in Europe and the US.

L'Oreal has used celebraties and models to promote products. L'Oreal uses or has used: Eva Longoria, Beyonce Knowles, Aishwarya Rai, Agbani Darego, Gong Li and Kerry Washington.

L'Oreals core European and North American markets are growing very slowly. It is look to expand to faster growing countries in Asia, Africa and South American, where people have darker skin complexions.

L'Oreal is an image and branding company. But the ultimate image and brand is the company's integrity and reputation. Someone with short sight apparently forgot that concept. So we must ask the logical question, was this an isolated incident or a symptom of a larger pattern. I would like to believe the former, but, L'Oreal has a history of other incidents and ethical lapses.

France has a long history of xenophobia and facial discrimination. Many minorities live in isolated suburban housing tracts. The French constitution does not permit the recognition of minority status. And France's civil and penal code forbids the collection of any data concerning religion, race or country of origin.

So what can you do. Consumers, collectively are in the drivers seat. L'Oreal is very dependent on the "whims" of the market place. Cosmetics are made for pennies, but marketed with millions.
My suggestion is switch to a non-L'Oreal product and brand. It is a good time to try out the competition. If you don't like it, you can switch back.

E-Mail is also a very effective response. Large companies are not equipped to handle a public image crisis. E-mail will let them know you are aware of their hiring discrimination practices. Be sure to list the reason why you are switching. Companies count the e-mails and the tone of the e-mail.

I found it difficult to contact the company regarding anything other than product compliments or complaints. But here is L'Oreal USA's contact information.

Friday, June 26, 2009

(June 24, 2009) A L'Oreal, subsidiary, Labs Garnier, was found guilty of racial discrimination in it's hiring practices by the highest court in France. The court affirmed a lower court ruling that Lab Garnier and it's personnel agency practiced racial discrimination in 2000 when it recruited sales persons fora new product line, "Garnier Style". L'Oreal is the worlds largest cosmetics company with over $27 billion in sales revenue. Garnier was fined 30,000 Euros. In addition, the Addeco personnel agency and it's subsidiary Districom (now Ajillion), were are fined 30,000 Euros for racial discrimination as well. The case was brought by SOS Rascism, a French anti-discrimination group.

According to news reports, in the year 2000, the recruiting agency was told to screen out non-white candidates during the recruitment of hostesses for a new Garnier product. "The court was told that only 4.65% of Garnier recruits were Black, Arab or Asian." said the Times of London Online Edition. In addition, a Districom fax detailing the requirements was presented as evidence. Verbal instructions to screen out minorities was also exposed.

L'Oreal employs or has employed several celebrities, including: Beyonce Knowles, Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria, to market it's products. L'Oreal denied claims in 2008 that it had lighten Beyonce's skin for a marketing campaign.

L'Oreal has many well known consumer and professional brands around the world some of which are: L'Oreal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline, Softsheen/Carson, L'Oreal Professional, Matrix, Redken, Kerastese, Mizani, Lancome, Biotherm, Logics, Dermablend, Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl's and the fragrances of Ralph Lauren, Viktor & Rolf, Diesel and Giorgio Armani. L'Oreal also owns the body shop cosmetic retailer which it acquired in 2005.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Unemployment rises to 9.4%

The unemployment rate rose to 9.4% in May the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The rate of unemployment increased from from 8.9% in April. In addition, the number of unemployed persons increased 787,000 to a total of 14,511,000 persons. Detailed unemployment rates stood at 9.8% for Men, 7.5% for women, 8.6% for whites, 14.9% for Blacks and 12.7 % for Hispanics. The unemployment rate for Asians was 6.7%

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Black Unemployment Rate reaches 14.9%

Black Unemployment Rate reaches 14.9%

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released it May unemployment report showing the Black unemployment rate was 14.9%. April's Black unemployment rate was 15.0%. The rate has increase by more than 5% over last year. The May 2008 rate was 9.7%. U3, is the most commonly used unemployment measure.

The government also released the more representative U6 rate. U6 is at 16.4% for the whole US population. U6 is the highest it has been in 10 years. U6 measures unemployed workers plus part time workers who want full-time work plus marginally attached (MA) workers. Marginally attached workers have looked for work in the past and are willing to work but are not currently looking. Marginally attached workers include discouraged workers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome to the Blog

Welcome to the "Evil Black Economist" web log. This blog is about economic, finance and business matters from a Black perspective. It is also a tool for me to learn about macro and labor economics.

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