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.

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