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To Defenders of the Second Amendment

It is interesting that so many are so passionate about the 2nd amendment:


A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

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BLS Jobs Report Covering November 2012: Hollow Gains

[Please support lambert's fund drive. How many progressive sites do you know that have taken on the anti-progressivism of the modern Democratic party and had the integrity to move beyond it? Very few, and none with the panache that lambert brings to the effort] Read below the fold...

What Have Wages Really Been Doing Over the Last 50 Years?

I decided to break a rule. The BLS says that it is inappropriate to calculate seasonally adjusted wages in constant dollars. But I did so anyway. Real wages in constant dollars allow us to compare wages over time.

Average real wages (blue line) were calculated by dividing nominal weekly wages seasonally adjusted for production and nonsupervisory employees (blue collar workers) by the CPI-U All Items index and multiplying the result by 100. This index is expressed in 1982-1984 dollars and is why the blue line intercepts the nominal wage line in 1984. Read below the fold...

The Sheep Have Spoken: More Wolves!

Election night of which, thankfully, I watched very little was the culmination of a long, shabby, corrupt process ending in a celebration of a world that does not exist: participatory democracy. Americans were allowed to choose their destroyer. Would it be the guy who made his millions trashing companies, workers' jobs, and their pension plans and promised to bring these same skills to government or would it be the bland incumbent whose record in office could have been beaten by a cheap ham sandwich. Read below the fold...

BLS Jobs Report Covering October 2012: A Good Report That Still Doesn't Add Up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to struggle with a model that does not correspond well to what is going on in the economy. Follow me. In the Establishment or survey of businesses, 171,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) were created in October. In the Household survey, employment (seasonally adjusted) increased by 410,000 or about two and a half times the number of jobs created. Now the two surveys have very different levels of statistical significance: 100,000 for the Establishment survey and 400,000 for the Household survey, and they cover slightly different population sets, but it would seem a goal of its modeling that the two surveys converge as much as possible. Read below the fold...

The Rich Create Bubbles, Not Jobs

On June 7, 2001, HR 1836 the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act was signed into law. This was the first and largest of several tax cut bills passed during the Bush Administration. It was estimated to cost $1.35 trillion with most of its benefits going to rich. So this should have spurred job creation. Give money to the "job creators" and they will create jobs, no?

The graph below (from the BLS' Establishment survey) covering the Bush and Obama years shows, in fact, what happened.

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A Progressive Program

Over at Naked Capitalism, Eureka Springs asked what a progressive program would look like, something that Americans could rally around, and I posted the following:

1. Right to a good job paying a living wage
2. Right to good housing
3. Right to good education
4. Right to good healthcare
5. Right to good retirement
6. Right to privacy
7. End the wars
8. Public campaign funding
9. Real regulation of Wall Street
10. Tax the rich

I chose to limit myself to 10. Too many items, and of course more could be added, and we get lost. The program fails to convey a vision and becomes a laundry list. Too few, and the make and break issues that people care about are left out. Read below the fold...

Manufacturing Jobs and Obama: Running in Place Defined as Progress

I came across this recently from Obama's stump speech:

Now we’ve added more than 5 million new jobs, more manufacturing jobs than any time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 7.8 percent. Foreclosures are at their lowest in five years. Home values are on the rise. Stock market has doubled. Manufacturing is coming back. Assembly lines are putting folks back to work. That’s what we’ve been fighting for. Those are the promises I’ve kept.”

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The Non-Nobel in Economics: Mistaking Games for Reality

On October 15, 2012, the non-Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to two Americans Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley for the development of game theory and its application to resource allocation. Now at first blush this might seem an innocuous, if odd, choice, certainly not in line with the Swedish Central Bank's usual selection of neoliberal economists, but it really isn't. This approach to allocating resources or market design is really just a way to dress up and sell the efficient markets hypothesis. It gives a mechanism for how markets can arrive at optimal distributions of resources. The problem is that it is another neoclassical fairy tale. Or put more simply, life is not a game. Read below the fold...

Timing and Phantom Data: A Second Look at the Controversial September Jobs Report

The BLS jobs report covering September sparked controversy because of the large three-tenths of a percent drop in the unemployment rate, down to 7.8%. This fall corresponded to a reduction of 456,000 in the number of unemployed. As dramatic as this decrease was, it was dwarfed by an increase of 873,000 in the number of employed. This figure represented not only the 456,000 unemployed who supposedly found jobs but a further 418,000 who entered into the labor force from outside it. These data were all from the Household survey were fundamentally at odds with an anemic increase in jobs of only 114,000 from the larger Establishment survey. Read below the fold...

BLS Jobs Report Covering September 2012: The Curious Case of the Part Time Worker:

In September's report, we are presented with two contradictory numbers. An uninspiring 114,000 jobs were created versus a stellar three-tenths of a percent decline in unemployment to 7.8%. Basically, what we had was an anomalous spike in employment in September of 873,000. This was made up of 456,000 unemployed. A tenth percent change in unemployment represents about 150,000 people. Three-tenths would come to about 450,000. So that checks. The September employment spike also includes some 418,000 people entering the labor force. The main driver of the spike appears to be a 582,000 increase in involuntary part time workers. Read below the fold...

The Data Don't Support That Bailouts Were Better Than the Swedish Model

On September 24, 2012, Josh Lehner published a post comparing employment (jobs) and unemployment rates in and after various financial crises, including Sweden in 1991 and the US in 2008. Lehner concluded that the policy response to the 2008 financial crisis "compares pretty favorably" and that

While the initial path of both the global and U.S. economies in 2008 and 2009 effectively matched the early years of the Great Depression – or worse –the strong policy response employed by nearly all major economies – both monetary and fiscal – helped stop the economic free fall.

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! A Jobs Story

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a 386,000 adjustment to its 2012 jobs figures, putting Obama in positive (+125,000) jobs territory for the first time in his Administration. This will no doubt make for good cheering material for the Obama campaign, but it rather misses the larger and far more important point that we still have a jobs deficit since the January 2008 jobs peak of nearly 11 million. That positive 125,000 is achieved by ignoring two major factors: job losses in 2008 before Obama became President (recessions are impolitic and don't wait for Presidential Inaugurations to begin) and 4 1/2 years of population growth in the labor age population. Read below the fold...

Income Inequality and the Death of Trickledown

On September 12, 2012, the Census issued its report on Income, Poverty, and Healthcare Coverage in the United States: 2011. While the full report has some nice charts, one that was conspicuously missing was on income inequality. The data for such a chart was in the tables, and so I was able to construct the chart above from them. Mean household (not individual) income for each quintile (20%) is expressed in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars. Read below the fold...

BLS Jobs Report Covering August 2012: Some Sound and Fury but Mostly Nothing

The big number is that unemployment dropped two-tenths of a percent from 8.3% to 8.1%. However, the illusory nature of this drop can be seen in the fact that the number of jobs increased only 96,000. Essentially, what happened is that the unemployment rate declined, not because people found jobs but because the BLS defined them out of the labor force. Both of these numbers are seasonally adjusted.

In revisions of jobs numbers from the previous two months, June was revised down 19,000 from 64,000 to 45,000. It had originally been reported at 80,000, already a weak number, in the July report. The good, not great, number of 163,000 for July was decreased by 22,000 to 141,000. So a downward adjustment of 41,000 overall. Read below the fold...


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