Department of Labor

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.

Your Morning Dose of Gloom
July 02, 2010

[Chart from Calculated Risk] The experts said today's job report would bring bad news. The experts were right. From the New York Times: The United States added just 83,000 private-sector jobs in June, a dishearteningly low number that could add to the growing number of economists who warn that the economic recovery is stalling. Over all, the nation lost 125,000 jobs, according to the monthly snapshot of the job market released by the Labor Department on Friday.

Stimulus Creativity: Oversubscribed
March 23, 2010

Recently we noticed that the year-old federal Recovery Act--for all its shortcomings and business-as-usual--actually served as a prolific hatchery for longer-term policy innovation. Along those lines we pointed out how many novel programs--introduced in the Recovery Act and ranging from the Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTT) and Investing in Innovation (I3) funds to the interagency Sustainable Communities Initiative--are now wending through Congress as bona fide program start-ups in the base FY 2011 budget process.

Jobs News: Good Or Bad?
March 05, 2010

David Leonhardt has your rundown: How you view today’s jobs report depends on snow. Coming into today, many economists believed that last month’s storms on the East Coast — which occurred right before the Labor Department conducted its monthly jobs survey — would temporarily reduce employment by a significant amount. Macroeconomic Advisers, a well-regarded research firm in St. Louis, thought the effect would be between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs lost.

Labor and Delivery
March 03, 2010

In a few weeks, Barack Obama will have a chance to do something he hasn’t done particularly well during his first year in office: successfully defy his opponents and, at the same time, reassure his most loyal supporters. At issue is the fate of Craig Becker, one of Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last month, Becker was denied a vote on his nomination when Senate Democrats failed to overcome a GOP filibuster. Now, the Senate’s coming Easter break will give Obama an opportunity to put Becker on the NLRB via recess appointment.