Comments on: Chart of the day, US earnings edition A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: jackmiller Tue, 08 Mar 2011 05:21:59 +0000 including hidden and underemployment the US has a 20% unemployment rate – what can turtlephungi do?

the problem is globalization was used to re-distribute wealth upwards, concentrating it in the financial services sector at the expense of the middle class and long term economic growth. Both sides of the Atlantic are now on the economic periphery, governed by predatory elites who would rather squeeze wealth out of the middle class than do something useful.

By: turtlephungi Mon, 07 Mar 2011 01:15:25 +0000 PLEASE STOP LABELING THOSE OF US THAT NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT AS “DISCOURAGED”, AND “GIVEN UP” YOU DO NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT. We didn’t give up, by saying this you deflect blame from the politicians who refuse to help us, and label the problem as being a result of inaction by discouraged, lazy unemployed workers……..


By: TFF Sun, 06 Mar 2011 23:45:00 +0000 Part of the problem, Curmudgeon, is that we are much more productive than we were in the 70s. That change has served to concentrate more wealth in the hands of those who own/build/manage the technology, less in the hands of the “common laborer”.

Service industries have plenty of room for expansion, though. Each modern day “lord” earning $200k+ can support half a dozen “peons” from that wealth. Of course you get 10:1 disparity in incomes under that structure.

Not sure of the answer, other than to note that there IS opportunity for individuals with skills in the present economy, whether or not there is sufficient opportunity for 12M such individuals.

By: Curmudgeon Sun, 06 Mar 2011 21:10:29 +0000 @netvet – What you say is very true. However, I still don’t see any industry or combination of knowledge industries that will employ as many people as the auto industry and its vendor infrastructure. Even if our high schools and colleges churn out millions of science-educated professionals, I don’t see any chance of employing them all. That’s the problem that India has now, and China is starting to face.

As for improving education, the quality deficit you cite has been known for 25 years, and we still haven’t quantifiably improved the quality of student. We’ve thrown money at the problem (my school district’s spending per student is about 2.5 times what it was 20 years ago), but that doesn’t seem to be the answer. We’re very good at producing a small number of excellent students, but the rest remain extremely mediocre (or worse).

By: netvet Sun, 06 Mar 2011 18:22:25 +0000 It’s hard to replace 12M lost jobs with a country that ranks 30th in science and math, no how much we innovate. Innovation certainly creates jobs, but the majority of these jobs end up overseas – e.g. all iPhones and iPads are made in China. Foxconn, who manufactures these and other products, employs far more people than Apple.

Yes, the higher quality jobs are at Apple, but how many Apples can we create in this country with a workforce largely ill-equiped to fill the high end jobs? The low end jobs end up overseas. Obama is right in that we need to increase the quality of our education, but this will take at least a decade, teacher unions aside.

By: TFF Sat, 05 Mar 2011 17:22:26 +0000 Interesting charts, colburn.

Never had more than ~60% of the population employed until 1985. Labor force participation was around 64% in the early 80s. Now back to 64%, with an older population. Does a 15-year stretch of greater employment establish a new norm? Or was that the aberration?

It seems just yesterday that I was reading laments on the decline of the American Family with parents working too many hours and spending too little time together. Perhaps this decline in labor force participation is a GOOD thing? It might make it difficult to support those two-ton SUVs and the McMansion in the suburbs, but how important are those really?

This also relates to deep-seated concerns I have about conventional measures of economic activity. Economists implicitly assume that anybody not participating in the labor force is dead weight, useless and unproductive. While I’m sure there are a few people who spend their entire day sitting in front of the TV and reading blogs, I suspect many more find useful things to do with their time — even if those useful things don’t generate a paycheck and don’t add to the GDP. Labor force participation has fallen from 63% to 58% in the last few years, a 7%-8% decline. That suggests to me that there are now tens of millions more Americans engaged in useful activities that DON’T contribute to GDP. If you add that to the formal GDP figure, you would see rather spectacular growth.

I am concerned about wealth distribution in our society, but I’m far less concerned about the overall level of employment or about the fate of those who choose to leave the labor force. They may be “discouraged”, and they may have less income to play with, but I suspect they will mostly find productive activities to occupy their time.

By: colburn Sat, 05 Mar 2011 13:55:26 +0000 Men’s participation rate has been steadily declining. That’s not necessarily apocalyptic; women have been working more. CR has a nice chart: ategory=PR&chart=PRMenWomenFeb2011.jpg

By: Curmudgeon Sat, 05 Mar 2011 12:58:56 +0000 For every interpretation like this, I see two from respected economists who say that the unemployment problem is cyclical (due to the economy) rather than structural (due to a skills mismatch and a more productive workforce).

My belief tends toward yours. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence for a skills or expectations mismatch. But the really telling thing, in my mind, is the manufacturing industries (auto, aero, industrial) that have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs over the last several years. There is just no industry or occupation on the horizon that can absorb this number of displaced workers, especially those whose primary skill is working on a production assembly line.

Back in the 1960s-1970s, when my father got laid off multiple times from the steel mill, he waited patiently to be called back. For those who have expectations for the phone to ring, the days of employment are largely over.

By: TFF Sat, 05 Mar 2011 11:59:05 +0000 Some truth to that, DanHess, though cause and effect may be confused.

Are these men irresponsible because they aren’t married? Or do the women refuse to marry them because they aren’t responsible and can’t find steady jobs? Out-of-wedlock births may be a rational (if tragic) answer to a situation in which too few men share your father’s work ethic.

I do scratch my head about what it really means when somebody does “not even bother any more” to find work? Do they look around and not see any jobs that need to be done? Are they waiting for somebody else to tell them what to do? Or are they putting the paycheck ahead of simple productivity? If you aren’t earning anything, it should be pretty simple to find a job that pays at least as much as you are presently earning.

Start a business. Learn some new skills. Volunteer. Remaining unemployed for a decade isn’t the only alternative.

By: DanHess Sat, 05 Mar 2011 03:33:09 +0000 Culture has definitely shifted. I am certain that the biggest cause of the blue curve is the increase in unmarried, “unburdened” men.

Among lower socioeconomic groups marriage rates have fallen off a cliff and out-of-wedlock births have become an overwhelming majority of all births. Among higher socioeconomic groups, marriage and in-wedlock childbearing remains the norm. The relationship between poverty and individual ethic is very strong.

The ethic of men has collapsed among certain groups. My father worked two jobs, one white collar and one blue collar while his children were small and made sure the bills got paid no matter what. Eventually he got enough raises at the white collar job to not need two jobs. This was typical of earlier generations.

Sadly among some groups very few men step up and carry the responsibilities that their fathers and grandfathers accepted. Is this a moral problem? I think so.

From a data driven perspective, if Obama really cares about wealth gaps and income gaps, he ought to say something about the marriage gap and the tragedy of millions of fatherless children.