Friday, September 28, 2012

Unemployment by President

US National Unemployment rate under different US Presidents

This chart is based on the statement ex-president Bill Clinton made during the national convention for Democratic party. The chart compares compares the unemployment rate under different presidents. The presidents are: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. Over the past 40 years the unemployment rate dropped the most under Bill Clinton.


Here is a link to the data on Google Docs if you want to make your own charts. You can compare the stock market, fed policy, inflation rate, or capital gains tax rates, to see how little effect the president has on the US economy.

Here is the data.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

July Unemployment Review

July Unemployment Report Review of BLS Employment Data

Summary: Better than expected employment results; Economy growing slowly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the US economy created an amazing 163,000(+/- 100,000) new jobs in July 2012.  The unemployment rate rose to 8.25% as job seekers returned to the market. The financial markets reacted favorably to the report as the Dow-Jones index moved to over 13,000 points. All major employment indicators were nearly the same as last month. Many of the indicators have not moved outside of a narrow range for the year. The following chart show the change in major categories for non farm payrolls:


 Absent some external shock, economists see little improvement for the next year, regardless of promised action by the fed. The best hope for an improved economy is spending by the congress, consumers paying down some of the debt and improvements in the housing market.

The other interesting number in the employment report is a 23,000 worker increase in manufacturing jobs.

The black unemployment rate stayed at 14.1%. The historic average since 1972 is 12.3%. The measured black labor force dropped by about -160K of which -75K were people who lost jobs and -85K were unemployed. The black population grew by 33K, so people were basically dropping out of the labor market. As a result the “black not in the labor force” number grew by 189,000 people. The national labor force participation rate rose to 63.7%. Black labor force participation was 61.4 (67.8% for Black men, 62.0% for Black women and 29% for black teenagers) While the black national rates stayed at 14.1%, the white rate was parked at 7.4% and the Hispanic rate stayed at 10.3%. The black teenage unemployment was reported at 37%.

Both Obama or Romney campaigns held national party conventions and made statements on jobs and economics. Romney promised wide spread tax cuts to stimulate the economy. President Obama offer more targeted set of tax-cuts and infrastructure spending.

The long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) increased to 5.2 million people which represents 41% of the unemployed. The “work part-time wants full-time” number was 8.2 million. These people are considered under employed. 2.5 million workers were marginally attached to the labor pool. They have looked for work in the last 12 months but not in the last four weeks. And there were 852K discouraged workers (part of marginally attached) who are not looking because they believe there is no job for them.

Non-Farm Payrolls 

As we mention in the summary, non-farm payrolls add 163,000 jobs. Private sector hiring added 172,000 jobs (vs. 64,000 last month) and government employment dropped again by -9K. Job growth was concentrated in durable goods manufacturing(+24K), business services and healthcare. The losers were construction employment again down -1K and government employment which was down by -9,000 spots. 

Non-farm payrolls were revised in May upward by 10,000 (from 77,000 to 87,000) and in June downward from 80,000 to 64,000 for a loss of 16,000 jobs.

 The following chart show where the non farm payroll jobs were added by minor category:


Average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours and wages added 2 cent in July.

ADP reported an increase in private payrolls of 163,000 positions for July.

US Monster Employment Index moved up to 147 in July from 153 in June. Hiring was up 2% compared to same month last year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

NY Times: Top Tax Rates and Economic Growth

Here is a great piece by NYT's David Leonhardt on a CRS study that top taxes rates have little effect on economic growth. We don't usually reference stuff directly, but this is really powerful stuff.

Basically, the research say there is no link between top taxes rates and economic growth. So the rich could pay more without affecting the economy. Also, tax cuts for the top earners don't necessarily stimulate the economy.

NY Times

Here is a link from the NY times website.
Congressional Research Service Report

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Question: How much does the US President matter to the US economy ?

From time to time we get a good question sent into our blog. This one came in this morning.

Question: Exactly how much power does the US president have over the US economy ? What power or influence does the president have over the economy ? Should we praise/blame the President for the good/bad economy ?

Answer:  The US president, has surprisingly little power or influence over the US economy.  His influence is has waned recently because of a deeply ideological split congress. It is congress which has the ability to spend money, pass laws and raise and lower taxes. This power is called "Fiscal Power". Historically, presidents, when they have had majorities in congress, have had more power over the economy by proposing where to spend money. Congress would agree approving the expenditure. There are lots of examples: the space program, the war on poverty, the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, and the Bush tax cuts.

Congresses "power of the purse" come from the US constitution. Article 1, section 9.  The constitution reads "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; ..." Which basically mean all spending and taxing is done by congress. So the president has little direct ability to spend other than when congress has delegated the power. In the past, US presidents have had more influence over congress and thus more control over the economy. For example, Barack Obama was able to pass only limited spending bill during the current recession. Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy/Johnson and Nixon, Clinton and George W Bush were able to exert a much wider effect on the economy through legislation. Many of Lyndon Johnson great society programs were passed during the Nixon administration.

The president does have veto power over congressional legislation which will stop a bill from becoming law. Veto power can stop a bill but it cannot pass a bill in congress.

The president does have some very limited spending authority where authorized by congress. The President can spend money on executive branch functions and national disasters. That's pretty much it.

Indirectly, the president has a much longer term and wider influence on the economy. They can influence congress to pass legislation to reduce the debt, spend money or make investments. The president has also come to own the budget process. He puts forward the central fiscal legislation for his political party and the executive branch as the starting point for congressional negotiation.

The president has a limited ability to promote economic policies like home ownership, medicare and social security reform or increased exports through speeches and executive branch policies. The ability to affect public sentiment is called the "bully-pulpit".

The president has some power over the economy through appointees to the financial and regulatory agencies such as the Federal Reserve, CFTC, the SEC and the department of justice (anti-trust).

So, the reality is that the president, has some small, indirect and long-term influence on little control over the economy. And the American people are fine with this situation.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No state support for affordable housing in New Jersey

It looks like support for affordable housing has disappeared from the official New Jersey state website. If you type in "Affordable Housing" on the website you are directed to the page for the state housing and mortgage finance page.

The page for the Council on Affordable Housing redirects to a page called "Fair Housing Act Administration" under the department of community affairs.

Connecticut recently announced additional funds for affordable housing.

New York state also has program for affordable housing which is clearly show on the state web site.

The Evil Black Economists blog support affordable housing and housing desegregation based on income and class.

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