Posts tagged ‘Unemployment’

September 6, 2011

Unemployment’s Far-Reaching Effects

by Vince Giordano

Ezra Klein digs into a few studies that exposes the health and educational pains inflicted on pupils and families as a result of unemployment:

Last year, Mike Konczal flagged a 2009 study by Ann Huff Stevens and Jessamyn Schaller of UC-Davis that examined the relationship between parental job loss and children’s academic achievement, drawing on data about job loss and grade retention from 1996, 2001 and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation:

We find that a parental job loss increases the probability of children’s grade retention by 0.8 percentage points, or around 15 percent. After conditioning on child fixed effects, there is no evidence of significantly increased grade retention prior to the job loss, suggesting a causal link between the parental employment shock and children’s academic difficulties. These effects are concentrated among children whose parents have a high school education or less.


In the end, the researchers concluded, “one percentage point higher unemployment rate leads to a 0.3 percentage point increase in the probability that a child repeats a grade.” If this is true, Konczal points out, the cumulative impact of unemployment is staggering. “There are roughly 55 million students in K-12 in the country right now. If unemployment is 1% higher that means, roughly, 165,000 additional years of schooling will be repeated,” he writes.

But just as children are at higher risk of underachieving, education budgets are being slashed across the country as the economy remains anemic and the politics of austerity have taken hold. It’s a continuous pile-up that could have lasting damage that goes well beyond sheer employment numbers.

September 2, 2011

Zero Net Jobs Created in August 2011 – First since 1945

by Vince Giordano

Very ugly headline in itself, but when you dig deeper, it’s worse:

About 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in August, up from 2.4 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

This paragraph stood out to me because of the lack of nuance in the unemployment discussion. It is made out by some or not clarified by many that everyone who is unemployed is magically the same as the next, all being lazy bums who sit around and intentionally collect government dole. Is it ironic that a claim of laziness made against a whole group is in fact intellectually laziness?

August 26, 2011

The Intangibles of Holding a Job

by Vince Giordano

Bloomberg describes job creation options, the intangible benefits of possessing a job, and the above chart that graphs the steep rise in those unemployed for longer than six months. The piece is worth a full read:

Long-term joblessness is reaching epic proportions. As of July, about 6.2 million job-seekers, or 4 percent of the U.S. labor force, had been out of work for more than six months — close to the highest level in more than six decades (see chart).

The skills of the long-term unemployed are atrophying and their motivation waning, making them increasingly likely to end up as wards of the state, collecting various forms of government assistance.

The intangible benefits of employment can also have a quantifiable value: Economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald, for example, have estimated that the increased happiness associated with having a job is worth about an extra $60,000 a year to the individual.

For me to find a job near full time in terms of hours from a non-profit all within a nation in a recession baffles me. In the end, I am very thankful. I have been employed and felt unemployed – that feeling of hopelessness that things will not change. A job really does bring a degree of purpose and connection to others.

June 22, 2011

Recession Chart of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Felix Salmon narrates:

…the US increase in unemployment over the course of the recession was more than double the increase anywhere else.

June 4, 2011

Myth Busting the Immigration Discussion

by Vince Giordano

This is worth watching:

June 4, 2011

Charts on College

by Vince Giordano

Ezra Klein provides some points on the above and below:

The bottom line, however, is that fewer than 5 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed, while more than 14 percent of those who haven’t finished high school are unemployed. You really want to bet that there’s nothing causal going on there?

I know of maybe one friend (and many more people I knew of in college) who shouldn’t have gone to college, but we should remember this:

This seems like evidence that students are being ill-served by the cultural stereotype of college as a period of enjoyment and exploration that precedes entry into the “real world.” College, rather, is a period of preparation for the real world, and if you don’t take it as such, the real world can make you pay and pay big.

May 10, 2011

Blaming Obama, not the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich, when the Economy is bad

by Vince Giordano

When the economy is bad, everyone blames the president. This goes back, at least, to Martin Van Buren and the Panic of 1837, but recently happens time and time again with Barack Obama.

Obama is blamed when the job reports come out and all looks gloomy. When the unemployment rate hovers around 9%, it’s Obama’s fault. Obama is the president and is the only one who can answer to the criticisms. Past presidents are out of office and have handed over the torch to Barack.

Where I have issue is when Obama is solely blamed and the Bush Tax cuts for the rich (which Obama extended for 2 years) are given no blame at all. They have been in effect for almost a decade, have nothing significant to show for (in terms of job creation, as wishfully hoped by the rich on the Right), and are a form of an immoral domination system (even more so since they are not accomplishing their purpose).

Why are these tax cuts never criticized but often irrationally praised as the panacea to save American jobs?

April 28, 2011

Washed Up White Males

by Vince Giordano

It is only a clip, but well worth your watch (his books are great, too).

It’s not that white men are the hardest hit in this recession–they aren’t by a long shot–but because of privilege and entitlement, they have had the hardest time coping with the exigencies of an imploding economy…sadly, instead of using the experience to foment solidarity with folks of color, many are missing the larger lessons…

March 18, 2011

The Grey Areas of Unemployment Coverage

by Vince Giordano

Readers continue to write in to Andrew Sullivan. Here is a portion of one’s letter:

In an era when those who brought down our financial system get multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, when the wealthy pay the lowest taxes in 50 years, when there are huge tax breaks for corporations with billions in profits, it blows my mind to see teachers, the poor, and those with disabilities attacked.

Explicit fraud should never be tolerated, and the Obama administration efforts to root out Medicare fraud are necessary and admirable.  However, when there are gray areas (instances where abuse seems obvious but can be difficult to prove), percentages matter.  When the percentage in the gray area is relatively small, the moral and financial costs of rooting out abuse far exceed any benefits to society.

It is sad when those who have never needed unemployment coverage (minus Rush Limbaugh) paint all who need or use it as parasites.

March 11, 2011

How Rush Limbaugh Sees Our Recession

by Vince Giordano

I have off school today so I am able to relax a bit (I really need to), have some coffee with cream, and write about an article that stuck out to me. I am sometimes so drained during the week that it is hard for me to put together my thoughts and churn out a piece. However, when someone explains something to a T, its hard not to

write about it.

I don’t think I have ever been in my car and listened to Rush Limbaugh. You could count me as lucky. However, from time to time I catch glimpses of his screeds on his website. Andrew Sullivan highlighted one particular screed of his that captures Rush’s true essence:

We all know Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, but unemployment compensation? The payment of unemployment benefits is almost as high as Social Security in this country.  Folks, we are not going to survive as a nation, not the way we’ve been founded, with this kind of sloth and laziness and feeding at the public trough. It just cannot happen.  And to even call this “wages” — I’m actually kinda glad they did because it points out how ludicrous this is and how dangerous it is.  “Handouts,” handouts, the redistribution of wealth “makes up one-third of US wages.”  Social welfare spending has increased three and a half times since 1960.

We declared war on poverty, and it’s given us this.  We declared war on poverty, and what do we have?  Thirty-five percent of our people living on the dole!  Thirty-five percent of American citizens living on “handouts,” and where are the handouts coming from?  Their fellow citizens… I know it’s depressing, folks.  I mean some people are so lazy that they will only be unemployed if they’re paid to be unemployed.

After his min-sermon, a listener dialed in to share his real (not abstract) story of battling cancer, being unable to work, and collecting unemployment benefits. Rush’s response:

Do you think I actually think you ought to be denied stuff? Okay.  I don’t think that.  I’m not talking about people like you, but there are people who fudge this disability business.  I had a story not long ago about a bunch of drunks in jail getting disability payments because they were alcoholics. Well, we are a compassionate country.  There is not a person in this country that does not want somebody who cannot provide for themselves to go empty.  There’s not a person in the world who wants that. You don’t fall under the headline definition freeloader or what have you.  And if you’re bothered by it, it’s life.

A lot of things affect a lot of people.  But we’re not talking about you.  And you are not the majority of that 35% on the dole anyway.  You’re a small percentage of it.  You’re not the problem we’re talking about.

Sullivan sums up Rush’s general caricature of those unemployed as jailed drunks, lazy sloths, and the like. As Sullivan put it, Rush backs down from his abstract tirade when faced with a real life case.

What does this show us? Maybe we shouldn’t allow bigots such as Rush dictate the conversation every time unemployment benefits come up for renewal in Congress. Maybe we shouldn’t let a multi-millionaire tell us how every person on unemployment acts, behaves, or uses their money. Maybe we should turn off the radio and step into the actual world of someone whose life is decaying because of being without a job.

March 4, 2011

Welcome Back, Job Growth and Lower Unemployment

by Vince Giordano


Ezra Klein explains the best job news (February report) in three years:

We created 192,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell below the psychologically important 9 percent mark. This is the sort of jobs report that could persuade businesses to start hiring and investing for real, as the only thing worse than getting into a recovering economy too early is getting into a recovering economy too late, and they’d be well served investing ahead of it rather than trying to play catch-up.

This is the kind of good news that 1) can dismiss some Obama haters and 2) helps you relax a bit for the weekend.

Updated: The White House blog adds its two cents.

December 13, 2010

Unemployment Benefits

by Vince Giordano

Ezra Klein has a straightforward piece on unemployment benefits. Both of his charts/graphs are helpful, too.

It is helpful, if you talk about this, to be clear when addressing “the unemployed”. Beyond that terming resulting in an inhumane description, there are many Americans who go to job fairs or actively pursue jobs but to no avail. Remember: there are on average 5 applicants for every 1 job available.  Extending unemployment benefits, in many cases, keeps not only the recepient afloat but the businesses they shop at each week for their food, gas, and other necessities. Essentially, if you cut off the unemployment benefits in a draconian manner, you cut off the businesses. Please, let’s not lose reality and humanity in this discussion. How often does that happen with immigration, health care, and Islam?

Google has a great tool that allows you to look up each state, county, and region‘s unemployment rates.

December 7, 2010

Obama Reaches Out

by Vince Giordano

For Obama’s bipartisan sake, his caving in to the Bush Tax Cut extension is a good thing. It better quell some of the huffing and puffing from the Right that he won’t “meet us on our side” and follow some unspoken order from America to take up a smaller government.

Lately, I am seeing two lanes of thought in relation to “Obama’s welfare state / dependency programs”. One side sees that these programs have people on their rolls who are ignorantly and lazily dependent on government money and the Democrats have done some sort of lobotomy experiment to make them forever follow them their handout trail. The other side sees some people on the program rolls that are generationally dependent but also many enrolled who wholeheartedly need it. A case and point example for the first side can be seen below:

The emerging deal is not all good news, of course.  It is not wise to provide extended unemployment insurance for the duration of 2011.  That’s likely to contribute to persistently high unemployment and discourage the adjustments necessary to get more people back to work.  And temporary tax cuts are much less effective than permanent ones at spurring productive investments and job creation.

The author banks on a black and white schema for unemployment insurance. He sees that this insurance provided for those out of work will just keep their butts planted down on the couch and give them no hope other than to be a parasite of the government.

Such views taken up by the author can be credited to only knowing a few people on welfare or unemployed and who also happen to enjoy not having a job and not making much off of the government. This view is quite condescending and probably comes from a privileged white ledge, far removed from their ivory towers and white suburbs. Another source of such poppycock stereotyping is Rush Limbaugh. When Rush Limbaugh makes racist jokes or jokes insinuating racial stereotypes towards Barack Obama, one not only gets a bad picture in their head of Barack but also of black people. Rush must not think too highly of black people, even ones who have risen out of a tough single parent home and gone on to be a constitutional scholar and president of the United States.

After sifting through the racist innuendos and the seemingly truth statements that “all people on welfare or who are unemployed are lazy”, one needs to ask some questions. What about there being only 1 job out there today for every 5 applicants? What about our nation being in one of the worst recessions in decades? What about our unemployment rate still not going down but hovering around 9.8%?

More times than not, the first side is held up by privileged whites who haven’t had to worry about not receiving great education, health care, living in a stable home, or living in an impoverished neighborhood. Their existence is never questioned based on their races behavior on a macro level. They simply live without having their race drag them down. The second side can tend to be a mixed bag of colors. They may make up educated whites as well as those who have been or have known someone enrolled in a state program. The words of Andrew Marin, even though spoken about the divide between the church and the GLBT community, ring true in this case: “We have to go to a culture before we know a culture” (emphasis mine).

Back to taxes, how we construct our outlook on taxes and the economy in turn directs our allegiance towards a certain direction. Sure our personal experiences play in to that as well (Growing up, my Dad always complained about extra taxes coming his way. He was, and still is, a self employed landscaper, so extra taxes hit him and he feels them). If we see taxes towards the rich as a hindrance towards job creation, especially in a recession, we will say ‘no way’ to ending tax cuts. On the flip side, if we see tax cuts for the middle class as helpful for they are the ones who are more apt to spend on the basics (food, furniture, stimulating local business) than to save in large amounts, then one would say “sure, give those guys the tax cuts”.

As I said, in the end it comes down to the reality we construct. How much of that is based on actual reality (our experiences, empirical evidence) and based on faux theology (Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, Fox News), only ourselves can fully peer into that source.

November 20, 2010

Economic Growth and the Bush Tax Cuts

by Vince Giordano

Mark Zandi provides a pro stance on the Bush Tax Cuts:

The president’s plan would be taking an unnecessary gamble with the struggling recovery. Businesses have only recently begun to add jobs, and they appear to be a long way from hiring fast enough to reduce unemployment. Even under the best of circumstances, the unemployment rate will remain near 10 percent well into next year. The high rate of joblessness has cast a shadow on the collective psyche that will only worsen with higher taxes, raising the already uncomfortably high odds that the economy will suffer a double-dip recession.

Successful small-business owners, who power the nation’s job-creation machinery, make up one-third of these high-income taxpayers. They have set up their businesses so that their profits are taxed at personal rates. Raising marginal tax rates, even a little, on those who have suffered during the past several years would be a mistake.

I didn’t know that the small business owners make up one-third of this “rich group”. Zandi’s piece has me rethinking some of this debate, but merely because of the fragile economic state we are in (not in theological terms).

David Leonhardt provides a great chart and provides a con take on the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich:

Given this history, why should we believe that the Bush tax cuts were pro-growth?

Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.

Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade.


November 7, 2010

Unemployment News of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Some reactions to the above graph here and a money quote below:

“The real question from Tuesday night’s outcome is how long can the US government issue its own increasingly toxic sovereign debt into the global market at a rate twice as fast as underlying economic growth? The cynic might say: as long as the Fed can continue to monetize 100% of the new debt issue, as it promised in Wednesday’s $100 billion per month quantitative easing 2 (QE2) announcement. But it should be obvious to all except the insouciant boys and girls and robots of Wall Street that the world’s leading central bank is now dispensing pure monetary heroin. And, ironically, that’s likely to kill the patient before the fiscal question is even addressed,” – David Stockman.


August 12, 2010

Varying Unemployment Rates

by Vince Giordano

Andrew Sullivan gave some analysis on the above chart:

I am struck by two things. The first is a question of why the Democrats are under so much electoral pressure when so many people are doing fine in this economy, indeed enjoying hefty wage increases in an era of very low inflation. Of course, I’m not arguing for selfishness, but it’s odd to me empirically that so many are complaining when such a discrete and relatively small section of the country is in such economic pain. People are pretty good at ignoring the plight of others in assessing their own situation. Have the employed seen such a boost in their living standards since the 1990s?

I had to look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to understand this more. Comparing the different groups’ total of unemployed workers and their rate puts things into perspective, too. Those with a college degree and are unemployed make up a 4.5% rate. That doesn’t sound high compared to the double digit rates for the other groups but that still is over 2,000 unemployed workers. I don’t know if I tend to exaggerate the amount of workers unemployed in my mind or if the area I live in is truly in a harder place jobs wise.

Google has a really neat feature. If you go to Google and search for a county, state, and its unemployment (i.e. Clayton County, Georgia, Unemployment) – it gives you a chart! Google saves the day again. Franklin County PA has a 9.1% unemployment rate compared to 11.8% in Philadelphia County, 8.3% in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), and 8.8% in Dauphin County (Harrisburg). More can be found here.

To get back to Sully’s comments on why the fuss if such a small fraction of the U.S. is “suffering”, I see a few things. First, economic realities are skewed by pundits or other wanna-be commentators on the daily. The issues related to the USA’s economic state are so complex that I don’t even waste my time issuing a final statement on what definitely brought us to this place, who’s fault it is, and most notably why. Second, I still see value in vying for those whose livelihood is a struggle, no matter how large or small the group is. My tone may change a bit depending on the variables but my heart still goes out.

July 21, 2010

An Extension by the Skin of Their Teeth

by Vince Giordano

The Senate passed today a jobs bill after breaking a Republican filibuster that extends unemployment benefits to 2.5 million unemployed Americans:

Senators voted 60-40 to move ahead on the bill, clearing the way for a final vote Wednesday in the chamber.

The recovery from the long, deep recession has produced relatively few new jobs, and jobless benefits for millions of people began running out seven weeks ago as Congress hit an impasse over whether the $34 billion cost of a new benefits extension should be paid for with budget cuts or added to the $13 trillion national debt.

The filibuster-breaking vote came moments after Democrat Carte Goodwin was sworn in to succeed West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, who died last month at 92. Goodwin was the crucial 60th senator needed to defeat the Republican filibuster.

Two Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, voted to end the filibuster. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the lone Democrat to break with his party and vote to sustain it.

Think about all of the legislation passed by Obama in his first two years.

July 8, 2010

More Analysis on Unemployment

by Vince Giordano

The Daily Dish provides some links and analysis on the subject of the unemployed receiving benefits and the pro’s/con’s of extending them. This article confronts the idea of wanting to cut unemployment benefits now but being fine with tax cuts over the last eight years:

I’d be more sympathetic with these new converts to fiscal responsibility if they were as enthusiastic about paying for extending $32 billion worth of special interest tax breaks as they are about funding the unemployment extension. If I understand correctly, these lawmakers insist that Congress fund every dime of added jobless aid, which nearly all analysts agree will help boost the economy. But they feel no need to pay for continuing these special interest tax breaks, which will not. They fret about unemployed workers who allegedly game the system to get jobless benefits but seem undisturbed by those businesses and individuals who do the same to maximize their tax subsidies. Politics is indeed a funny business.

More reading here.

July 5, 2010

Jobs Update

by Vince Giordano

For your information:

The unemployment rate actually fell, from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent. But don’t be fooled. Larry Mishel, of the Economic Policy Institute, notes via e-mail:

The fall in unemployment is obviously due to a major withdrawal from the labor force (including people not entering and looking for work) and will be reversed in coming months. Hours of work are stable and wages actually didn’t grow at all, another dismal sign. …

Let me add–wages actually fell 2 cents for all workers, they were flat for production workers. More important the Labor Force fell about a million over the last 2 mos, and is lower than when the recession started 2.5 yrs ago!

Mishel’s take seems to be consensus on the center-left. Brad DeLong notes that the ratio of employment to population is now 88.5 58.5 percent, back where it was last November.

“Getting worse more slowly” is not “better.” There is no “upturn.” There never was.

I’m no economist, of course. But most of the economists I know and trust think numbers like these are proof that we need a major new stimulus package, in order to create jobs and–oh, by the way–help everybody who’s out of work. Meanwhile, conservatives–most but not all of them in the Republican Party–continue to block action even on a much smaller jobs package.

July 2, 2010

Addressing the Stigma of Gov. Handouts

by Vince Giordano

The new Citizen Cohn blog puts out a great piece addressing the myth that government handouts make people lazy:

In fact, a 1990 study of unemployment benefits by Lawrence Katz and David Meyer suggested as much: They found a significant link between how long people could receive payments and how long people stayed unemployed. (For each five to six weeks of extra benefits, people would stay unemployed one additional week.) Katz and Meyer also noticed that people stopped being unemployed at the same time as their benefits ran out—proof, it would seem, the more generous benefits encourage people to stay jobless.

But subsequent research showed otherwise. A 2007 study from David Card, Raj Chetty, and Andrea Weber took a closer look at what happens to people when their unemployment benefits run out. They don’t magically find jobs, it turns out. Rather, they simply stop submitting the information that would cause the government to count them as unemployed.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, there are about five job-seekers for every job opening right now. In December 2007, when the recession officially began, there were only two job-seekers per opening.

I don’t have a full belief on this yet beyond knowing that it is not a cut and dry situation. No ones case is black and white and in each case we need to reflect on the stigmas WE BRING to each into the discussion (e.g.- every person on welfare sits around and is lazy, every person on welfare buys luxuries they don’t need, every person on welfare needs to be shunned and not trusted, and the list goes on).
I was able to attend a Poverty Simulation almost 2 weeks ago in my area. We were given a name, a family, and a life situation. Many of us had little to no education, typically 1 of us had a job for the whole family, lines were long to pay bills, transportation and food costs were high,  stress was heavy, and we didn’t think one bit about stopping to care for each other; we were focused on how we could pay our bills or steal from each other to make that happen (others found it ordinary to skip work to go take care of other things).