Thursday, March 30, 2017

Broke. ESPN films profiles players who have made bad financial decisions

Broke is a quick hit piece about financial mistakes that professional athletes make when investing. Not very enlightening but kind of fun in a jealous, crabs-in-a-barrel kind of way. A little painful.

On You tube

Webpage from ESPN

Direct quote from the film web site...

"Film Summary

According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress.

Sucked into bad investments, stalked by freeloaders, saddled with medical problems, and naturally prone to showing off, many pro athletes get shocked by harsh economic realities after years of living the high life.

Drawing surprisingly vulnerable confessions from retired stars like Keith McCants, Bernie Kosar and Andre Rison, as well as Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the MLB Players Association, this fascinating documentary digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature can carry them to victory on the field and ruin off it."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Does raising the minimum wage kill jobs?

One of the longest running battles in economics is whether raising the minimum wage destroys jobs.

In fact, we have an on-going argument with a good friend of this blog.  The argument is over the effect of raising the minimum wage.  We fully support the "fight for $15", "$10.10", $9.00 or any raise. While our friend is worried over the job loses when wages rise.

The minimum wage was last increased in July of 2009.  It was increased from $5.15 in 2007 to $7.25 in 2009 under president George W. Bush. The raise was attached to small business tax cuts.

The minimum wage is also a good indicator of hard right turn congress has taken in the past 30 years. The minimum wage is now an ideological issue for conservatives. Raising the minimum wage is a non-starter in the current, conservative congress.

Most of the states with the Federal Minimum Wage or below(Georgia) are "Red" - Republican voting states.

There used to be a broad consensus for minimum wage hikes by both Democrats and Republicans with steady increases posted during the 70s, 80s, and 90s (except for Reagan). Back then there were many more White males earning minimum wage in a wide variety of jobs.

Now the image of a minimum wage worker is a surly, Black women asking: "If you want fries with that ?"


Fact: Most studies find no or very small job loss when the minimum wage is raised.

Fact: A majority of states(29) have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage.

The definitive study on the effect of raising the minimum wage was done by John Schmidt in 2013 for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  He look at a meta sample of all other minimum wage studies available.  Basically, here took all the data points in 64 studies and then grouped them into one giant study (n=1,492).

The report also discusses the offsetting reason why job loses are small.


Finally there are some more recent reports on raising the minimum wage

Here is another good research report that says that raising the minimum wage has a small negative effect on employment. They set the rate of job losses (elasticity) at -0.1. A 10% increase in wages will causes a 1% drop in employment.

Almost all economist accept there will be some job loses if we raise the minimum wage.  The real question is: What is the size of the loss ?  Who does it affect ? and will the additional income effects offset the job loses ? 

At the Evil Black Economist, we lean toward the more optimistic prediction.  The increase in income for low-wage workers will lead to a general increase in demand. The new demand will create low-wage jobs that will offset any low-wage job loses.


The Congressional Budget Office writes clearly about the effect on page 10. 

" If employment increased under either option, in CBO’s judgment, it would probably be because increased demand for goods and services (resulting from the shift of income from higher-income to lower-income people) had boosted economic activity and generated more jobs than were lost as a direct
result of the increase in the cost of hiring low-wage workers. "


In summary, the small(if any) job loss is worth huge increase in wages for existing low-wage and hear low-wage workers though out society. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Black Workers Struggle in Los Angeles According to New Report from UCLA

New report shows damage from unemployment in the Black community

The UCLA labor center and the LA Black Worker Center released a new report detailing how Black workers are struggling in Los Angeles County.  Overall Blacks have lost employment and population in Los Angeles.  Many jobs Blacks held in manufacturing have moved overseas.  In Construction, Blacks have largely been replaced by Latinos. The high unemployment and low incomes have long term sociological and health effects on Black people in Los Angeles.

Among the report highlights...

"Blacks with a high school education or less have double the rate of unemployment as Whites."

"1 in 10 Black workers with a higher degree are unemployed."

"Many Black workers in low-wage jobs earn less than White workers in similar postions." "Blacks earn on 75% of what Whites earn."

The report also highlight Blacks leaving Los Angeles for the Inland Empire. About 250,000 Blacks have moved to the Inland Empire.

The study proposes solutions such as creating high-paying, quality, accessible jobs. Expanding hiring benchmarks for under represented groups. And partnerships with institutions to implement targeted outreach, recruitment and retention programs.

The the UCLA labor center report is available here.

LA Times has a nice summary.

Black Talk Radio Stations

As a writer, I sometimes have a lot of time on my hands.  To kill some of that time, I listen to Black Talk radio.  There are some good stations out there but nothing like when I was growing up.

I grew up listening to Mary Mason in Philadelphia on WHAT 1340 AM, and Cathy Hughes on WOL 1450 AM when I lived in DC and Gary Byrd on WLIB 1190 AM during my time in New York City. That was good radio.

Here is a list of Black Talk Radio stations I check in on via the internet.

900 AM - WURD, Philadelphia
1690 AM - WVON, Chicago
1380 AM - WAOK, Atlanta (CBS)
1450 AM - WOL, Washington DC (Newsone)
1010 AM WOLB, Baltimore (Newsone)
1200 AM WCHB, Detroit (Newsone)
Sirius XM Urbanview (Pay wall)

You really have to hand it to Cathy Hughes, the found of Radio One.  She purchased WOL in DC and continued to build an empire of Black radio stations.  Her story is one of the most inspiring in the media business.

Radio Ones corporate site is here.

Radio One is one of the few Black managed publically traded companies.

PS. One of the stupidest moves I have ever made in my life was not listening to Cathy Hughes. When she was on the air in DC, she constantly invited members of the community to join the ownership of WOL. I chose not to participate in WOL for whatever lame excuse I had at the time. Boy was I stupid.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Us Lifting Us will host an Economic Summit March 18th, 2017 in Atlanta

US Lifting US is hosting a Black economic conference March 18th, 2017 in Atlanta Georgia.  The theme of the conference is "Family Centered Economics."

The location:

Shrine of The Black Madonna
946 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30310

For more details visit the webpage at

Here is a video of the 2015 conference.

2015 Conference Video

Atlanta Black Star has a nice write-up of the conference.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

President Trump's first unemployment report shows 235,000 new jobs. Rate stable at 4.7%

The BLS released the first monthly employment situation report under President Donald Trump.  The report was surprisingly good.  The number of new jobs, Non Farm Payrolls, increased by 235,000 jobs which is well above the long-term averages. Unemployment rates across all major groups were flat or down. And there was a surprising bump (+58,000) in construction and manufacturing (+28,000) jobs. Healthcare and education added 62,000 spots. Retail Trade lost (-28,000) jobs ad information technology(no new jobs) was flat. Wages also increased by six cents which is also above average.


The February report showed a small decrease in the US unemployment rate to 4.7% while the Labor Force Participation rate remained flat at 63.0%. Average wages increased by 6 cents in February after a 5 cent increase in January. The number of unemployed stayed at about 7.5 million people.

Here is the chart of Non-farm Payrolls over time since the recession.

The national unemployment rate was 4.7%. After a steep decline during the recovery, the rate has flattened recently.  The Labor Force Participation rate continues to increase.


President Trump has been given a gift of a strong economy with few short-term issues. The economy is performing well enough for the Federal Reserve Bank to raise interest rates. The employment report, along with the stock market, are the two main economic indicators the average person pays attention to in the news.

The President may want to look at some of the following long-term issues that affect his his supporters and all of us. He could tackle slow wage growth and the shift to a service economy from a manufacturing economy. requiring high levels of education in the job market

Present Trump has attacked the BLS in the past

President Trump is also noted for a having criticized the accuracy of the BLS unemployment reports. He used misleading definitions of unemployment during the presidential campaign. Trump will almost certainly try to make cuts at BLS, US Census and EEO offices as he continues to 'wage war on the facts."

Black Unemployment

The Black unemployment rate rose to 8.1%.  The rate is volatile because of the small sample size and moves around a lot. But the overall trend has been decreasing. Black men older than 20 years have an unemployment rate of 7.85% while Black women have a rate of 7.12%.

White the Black Unemployment rate ticked up, the long term trend in participation look good since the end of 2013.  Black people are finally getting jobs as White leave the job market. It looks like more Blacks are returning to the job market so the unemployment rate is fixed while the participation rate increases.

The "Real" Black unemployment rate stayed at a relative high at 12.6% showing continued slack in the Black labor market.

The national U-6 rate show continued improvement dropping to 9.2%.  U-6 includes all unemployed, people working part time who want full time work, and marginally attached workers (basically everyone who is available to work and wants to work)

The Business Survey showed strong employment growth especially in private goods producing sectors.

Again, strong job growth was across many industries. The suprise category was consturction(+58K which may have been helped by warm weather in January and February.

There was a slight change in the Goods to Service New Job Ratio.  Goods producing jobs showed a large increase thanks to changes construction and manufacturing jobs. Approximately 16% of all new jobs are goods producing jobs. 


Other Notes

ADP reported 298,000 new jobs were created in February 2017.  The jobs were split among small businesses (+104,000), medium sized businesses (+122,000) and large businesses (+72,000).  ADP report a big jump in good producing jobs which increased by 106,000 including 66,000 in construction. Service business hired 193,000 people. including 66,000 in business services and 40,000 each in Ed/Health and Leisure/Hospitality, respectively. .

Paychex small business jobs index was up slightly (0.03%) to 100.78 in February for straight month of increases.

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