Department of Labor

The Latest Jobs Report Is All Bad News
August 05, 2011

The Labor Department reported that the economy created 117,000 jobs in July and revised the prior months’ growth slightly to bring the average over the last three months to 72,000 jobs per month. This rate of job growth is below the 90,000 a month needed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. Consistent with this fact, the employment to population ratio (EPOP) fell slightly to 58.1 percent, tying its previous low for the downturn.

A Smart Deficit Reduction Idea That May Actually Happen
June 22, 2011

The Wall Street Journal has a nice little scoop about a potential deficit fix emerging out of the debt ceiling talks: One idea floated in the talks is to curb the rise of federal benefits in a raft of programs by using a different measure of inflation to calculate annual cost-of-living adjustments. President Obama's deficit reduction commission recommended using a variation of the Labor Department's consumer-price index that tends to rise more slowly.

Forward Thinking
June 04, 2011

Friday’s job growth numbers, reported by the Labor Department, present a sobering picture for President Obama and the Democrats. With the pace of hiring down and the unemployment rate above 9 percent, the report suggests that the nation’s recovery is once again faltering. These numbers only underscore our continuing economic difficulties. And for a mix of political and policy reasons, the federal government has no significant new fiscal or monetary weapons left to deploy.

Ugh: Hiring Down, Unemployment Up
June 03, 2011

Today's job report was supposed to be discouraging. It wasn't supposed to be this discouraging. Via Catherine Rampbell at the New York Times: After several months of strong job growth, hiring slowed sharply in May, raising concerns once again about the underlying strength of the economic recovery. The Labor Department reported on Friday that the United States added 54,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, following an increase of 232,000 jobs in April.

Is The Labor Market Better Than We Think?
March 04, 2011

Floyd Norris has been arguing that the Labor Department figures tend to underestimate job growth in the early part of a recovery (and underestimate job loss in the early stages of s recession.) Here's Norris's column from a month ago: The unemployment rate declined four-tenths of a percentage point in one month. There had not been a monthly decline that large in many years, but economists were unimpressed. After all, the decline was caused in no small part by a surprising reduction in the labor force, which could be an indication that more workers were discouraged and no longer looking.

Dixie Madison
February 28, 2011

As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tries to strip away the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions, many liberals have latched onto the idea that his real goal is to dismantle the labor movement and the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. That is almost certainly one of his aims, but it’s not the whole story. Walker also has an economic vision for his state—one which is common currency in the Republican Party today, but hitherto alien in a historically progressive, unionist Midwestern state like Wisconsin.

Will Full Employment Ever Return to Detroit?
January 20, 2011

Just after the Labor Department announced that the national unemployment rate had fallen from 9.8 percent in November to 9.4 percent in December, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told the Senate Budget Committee that “[i]t could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully.” For the nation as a whole, that seems reasonable. Suppose the labor force grows at the same rate it has over the last decade, an average of 0.07 percent per month.

Number of the Day
August 03, 2010

A rake, a hoe and fertile ground might be all that's necessary to make a garden grow. Modern agriculture, on the other hand, requires foreign labor.   78 percent of farmworkers are foreign-born   Immigrants keep our agricultural sector moving. It's difficult, back-breaking work that pays poorly, and few Americans are willing to do the work.

Number of the Day
July 15, 2010

If the unemployed were rich men (or women), paying the bills without a job might not be difficult. But if they aren't, they might find unemployment benefits inadequate for even basic living expenses. The average weekly unemployment check is:    $307   This figure, which comes from a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Department of Labor data, shows why it's unlikely many people are passing up jobs in favor of continuing to collect unemployment checks. With average weekly wages around $800, it doesn't make sense.

And Now, the Number of the Day
July 12, 2010

  Today we launch a new, hopefully daily feature at Citizen Cohn: The number of the day. And today's number is...      16.5   In early July, we heard that unemployment rose slightly, to 9.5 percent. But the true employment picture is even worse. The number usually reported as “unemployment” only includes people actively seeking work. That leaves out people who are involuntarily working part-time and people who have grown discouraged and temporarily given up looking for a job.