Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Latest Jobs Report Contains No Good News

Only 74,000 jobs were created last month.  That compares with the average monthly increase of 182,000 jobs in 2113.  The details in the jobs report are even worse.  The percent of workers employed or looking for work is at its lowest level since 1978, and the share of jobless workers unemployed for six months or more is at its highest level since 1948. The report is also very clear about the reason for these bad numbers.  They are primarily due to a lack of demand for labor.  This is a tragic waste of human capital.

This editorial in the NYT is also critical of the lack of concern about the report among Republicans in Congress.  They are more interested in blaming Obama for the poor economy than they are about dealing with unemployment and wage stagnation.  They have blocked the extension of unemployment benefits to the long term unemployed and they oppose an increase in the minimum wage proposed by Democrats.  The minimum wage of $7.25 is only one third of the average wage of $20.35.  Historically it has been set at half of the average wage.  It would be $17.00 if the gains in labor productivity were shared with low wage workers.

Republicans have been making a lot of noise about their war on poverty.  It is pretty clear from their behavior that they have no interest in dealing with poverty or rising inequality.  Most of their proposals for dealing with these issues are warn out bromides from their traditional bag of tricks.  They will have no impact on the real problems faced by the unemployed or the under-employed.  The economy is working just fine for those who fund their elections.  I'm waiting for the "emerging conservatives" that David Brooks writes about to make their mark on Republican policies.  I think that it will be a long wait.

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