Monday, September 5, 2011

Jobs = Growth: We Have Neither: Unemployment August, 2011

Real men (and women) want real jobs.  They want to provide shelter, clothing, and food for their families.  It is the 18th Century concept of the pursuit of happiness and some people who have loved and fought for freedom thought of it as a God given inalienable right of all free men.  What we have seen, since the beginning of the 1960's particularly, is the accrual of GDP growth primarily to the top 1% wealthiest in society at the expense of the remaining 99% of society.  We can talk about confidence --- and there appears to be less in the United States, Europe, and globally, but economic data on confidence is always past tense when received.  In the final analysis it comes down to real wages and personal income.  The myth that increases in the minimum wage increase unemployment has been repeatedly shown by economic studies to be false with moderate increases in the minimum wage having no appreciable effect on jobs.  Worker productivity has grown 80% since 1980 while real compensation has only grown 8% and real wages only 7% of which 23.5% of the income went to the top 1%.

The August, 2011 Unemployment report was unchanged (zero net job growth) with unemployment remaining unofficially at 9.1% and total official discouraged workers at 16.2% an increase of one tenth.  Using the older 1994 BLS calculation, Shadow Statistics estimates (this graph will change monthly) the total discouraged workers at approximately 22.8%.  The number of unemployed remained unchanged with no jobs added, because the participation rate went up to 64% and the employment-population rate went up to 58.2%.  The number of workers who could only find part-time work rose to 8.826 million from 8.396 million.  The average work week declined to 34.2 hours and the average hourly wage declined one tenth.  The participation rate is edging up for older age groups including those 55 years of age and older and it appears it will be getting older.  As for education, it appears that educational level is not significant in the ability to find new employment when unemployed and the diffusion index is at 52.2 (below 50 is contractionary) across all industries and is at its lowest level since last September.  For a full set of employment graphs at Calculated Risk go here.

Worse, the prior two months were revised down and the major indicators around those who have jobs are weak  The average duration of unemployment has dropped while the median has increased, which means that more people are dropping out of the labor force discouraged.  There is little remaining the Fed can do leaving the bulk of necessary action in the domain of the government's fiscal policy.  The continuing high unemployment is a direct result of the inadequate stimulus applied in 2009 and the destruction of education jobs will have a serious future effect on the ability of the United States to be competitive and to grow economically.

In an extensive analysis of the United States unemployment figures, the Australian economist Bill Mitchell finds a staggering loss of unemployment, increased under employment, a stagnant labor market, and declining economic growth heading towards recession as the result of the inadequate 2009 stimulus and political bickering which is abandoning U.S. workers to oblivion.

If you look at this link from the economist James Hamilton on the current economic condition with respect to the most recent economic reports, you will see that the United States has been making little meaningful progress in recovering from the global financial crisis and has only very slow growth to look forward to in the next six months.

In graphs from Calculated Risk, you can see several measures of recession and where we are in the terms of slow growth.  Using some different GDP per capita variations, Doug Short looks at recession indicators in a series of graphs and comes to the conclusion we have not yet fallen back into recession, but we are surely in the a second great contraction.  The Consumer Metrics Institute in their August 30 News, which has not yet been posted to their website, argues that the BEA deflators are not correctly portraying nominal GDP in real numbers.  By reverse engineering the BEA numbers, the Consumer Metrics Institute says, "When we recast the GDP growth rates using the BLS sourced deflaters we can build the following table showing the past 10 quarters of growth in "nominal" GDP, "real" GDP using the CPI or PPI tables (as appropriate for each individual GDP line item), the per-capita "real" GDP similarly calculated and the per-capita "real" disposable income (again most recent quarter on the left):

"Annualized GDP Growth Rates Past 10 Quarters

2Q-20111Q-20114Q-20103Q-20102Q-2010 1Q-2010

"Nominal" GDP 
Annualized Growth

BLS Derived 

BLS "Real" 
GDP Annualized 

BLS Per-Capita
"Real" Annualized 
GDP Growth

BLS Per-Capita
"Real" Disposable 
Income Growth


Consumer Metrics Institute provides several graphs in the August 30 News asserts the double dip has already occurred with this chart below, which is one of several in the August 30 News, and you can find a larger version of it at the Consumer Metrics link above:

The Consumer Metrics Institute bottom line is the revised data shows Q1 2011 was far worse than recognized but the data shows moderation in the contraction rate but the full effect of the contraction has yet to be felt and deflating commodity prices can have a sudden positive impact on the economy.

The failure of government to create jobs now, not just down the road, has become morally inexcusable.  

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