Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Create Jobs When You Hate Labor?

As always, we have some "interesting" jobs related news in the past week, though also as always, few members of the TradMed will actually pull all the pieces of news together. I'll start today with the weekly Initial Unemployment Claims report (via Reuters):

A second report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000, a touch below economists' expectations for a fall to 383,000.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims -- a better measure of underlying trends - dropped 1,500 to 385,250, the lowest since mid-July 2008 and holding below the 400,000 level for a fourth straight week.

A reading below 400,000 is generally associated with steady job growth, which until recently had eluded the economic recovery. Employers created 192,000 jobs in February, the most in nine months, after adding a paltry 63,000 new workers in January.
The first report the Reuters article is talking about is the fall of of durable goods orders:
The Commerce Department said durable goods orders fell 0.9 percent after a 3.6 percent increase in January. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 1.1 percent increase. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.6 percent after dropping 3.0 percent in January.
So what is happening in the economy? No where near as much as most people need, that is certain. Today's (Thursday, March 24) Hartford Courant had this article on unemployed recent college grads:
The numbers show that he's wrong — earning a college degree is still the best way to avoid unemployment. But the number of recent college grads who can't find work, or who can find only part-time retail or restaurant jobs that don't require an education, grew by more than 70 percent over the last two years.

That puts stress on the graduates, who often can't keep up with student loan payments when they're making $8 or $10 an hour, and crowds out other young workers with less education.

Last year, high school graduates 20 to 24 had a 29 percent unemployment rate. College dropouts 20 to 24 had a 14 percent unemployment rate. And college graduates in that age group had a 9.4 percent jobless rate, a little worse than the year before, when unemployment for recent graduates really shot up.


Nearly 16 percent of recent college graduates who are working are working part time, the highest rate since the recession started.

But even those working full time are often in jobs that don't fit their education, said Northeast University's Andrew Sum. According to his analysis of 2010 data, just 64 percent of those younger than 25 with bachelor's degrees who had found work had professional jobs, and blacks and Hispanic graduates had lower rates still.

How bad is it? He said more young college graduates were working as waiters, waitresses and bartenders than were working as engineers.
Look at those numbers again. The reality is, these numbers are bad across the board but are not limited to recent college grads.

So what is being done to help the un and underemployed? Well, in Missouri, the long term unemployed are going to be losing benefits (via McClatchy):
The state Department of Labor estimates 11,700 Missourians were receiving extended benefits in early March, while about 6,500 more were nearing the 79-week cutoff.

About 950 unemployed workers become eligible for the extended benefits each week, according to department officials.

But Lembke and other fiscal hawks argued that the state should reject the federal money and cut off benefits at 79 weeks to protest government spending and large federal deficits.
But Missouri is not alone in this. From CNN yesterday:
A growing number of states are looking to cut back on jobless benefits to minimize the increase in unemployment taxes businesses pay. State officials are concerned that these tax hikes could deter companies from hiring.

Some states, such as Florida and Arkansas, are debating reducing the number of weeks that the jobless can collect state unemployment. Others, including Indiana, want to limit the number of people eligible for benefits.


In Florida, those laid off after Aug. 1 could receive six fewer weeks of benefits, if a bill that recently passed the state House of Representatives becomes law.

And if Florida's unemployment rate should fall to 5% or less, the jobless would receive only 12 weeks of benefits. (Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 11.9%.)
At the moment, Florida pays a maximum weekly unemployment benefit of $275 per week (the national average is $293 per week).

Now I have addressed how it seems the Republican strategy (and for some Democrats as well) has been cutting jobs programs will create more jobs (or not). So maybe the theory is if folks aren't collecting unemployment, that must mean they're no longer unemployed? Yeah, I know that's not the case and you know that's not the case but then, we're not politicians. As Jon Walker noted at Firedoglake's Elections yesterday, everywhere but within the Beltway Village, people are seeing the need for jobs as far more critical than spending cuts. Or if you're the governor of Maine, it's more important to create an issue around a mural at the state Labor Department than it is to actually do something for workers. And what about that great pro-business Governor Walker of Wisconsin? From David Dayen at Firedoglake's News:
It just so happens that his method of bringing in new business aligns with longstanding conservative projects of deregulation and union-bashing. But how do they perform on their own terms? Simply put, is Wisconsin now “open for business?”

No. Right from the beginning, Walker’s cancellation of a high speed rail link between Madison and Milwaukee sent a rail car business out of Milwaukee, abandoning a large factory. The removal of collective bargaining rights from public employees may lead to a serious catastrophe for the state’s forestry industry, as they are likely to lose their third-party “certified market” status.
I think Eli's post at Firedoglake the other evening is absolutely correct:
It’s a perfect example of the effectiveness of the GOP’s dishonest wordsmithing: If Republicans say that they’re totally committed to doing everything possible to create more corporate profits, they sound like scumbags. But if they say they’re trying to create more jobs, they sound like humanitarian populists looking out for the downtrodden and OMG why do Democrats hate jobs?
Substitute profits for jobs and it all makes sense.

And because I can:

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