Friday, September 2, 2011

More on US Unemployment

Here are some of the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on unemployment in the US (previously blogged on this site here):
Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Employment in most major industries changed little over the month.  Health care continued to add jobs, and a decline in information employment reflected a strike.  Government employment continued to trend down, despite the return of workers from a partial government shutdown in Minnesota.
The problem across US demographics is show by these numbers.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (8.9 percent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (25.4 percent), whites (8.0 percent), blacks (16.7 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little or no change in August.  The jobless rate for Asians was 7.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted.  (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
Women are doing better than men, which could have long term cultural consequences, in that the norm in our society is for men to work and maybe women to stay home or maybe work.  Do we have a way to keep those men busy?  At this point they are not likely to become "homemakers".  Large numbers of men at loose ends is not usually associated with calmness.

Much more troubling is that Blacks have a 16.7 unemployment rate.  Black men are at 18% for August, while Black women are at 13.4%.  Worse, Black teenagers are at 46.5%, twice what it is for Caucasian teenagers.  These are the seasonally adjusted numbers.

Over at the Richard Howe blog has been a discussion of what the "science" of economics tells us.  Frankly, there is a lot of certitude out there as to what works.  Andrew, once of the blog contributors, things that NYT Columnist and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is correct is saying that we need to follow to proscriptions of Lord John Maynard Keynes.  I am not so confident.  I look across the Pacific to Japan and look back on a couple of decades of stagnation.  I look forward a couple of decades here in the US and see what seem to be uncontrollable governmental growth, plus the danger of unfunded private pensions.  Keynesian Economics is not "settled science".

Frankly, while I would like to study this more, I find that our delegation on Beacon Hill is standing in my way.  I need to respond to State Senator Eileen Donoghue's recent EMail to me explaining that the "color of money" is standing in the way of my college education.  As a "senior" (60 or over) I can take UMass Lowell Continuing Education courses for $30 a course (plus books).  The trick is, that is only for courses taught in a classroom.  If the course is taught on line I have to pay the full cost.  The reason is that the two different methods of instruction are funded out of two different pots (colors) of money.  One allows for this senior (and former military) benefit and one doesn't.  While the folks on Beacon Hill were talking about giving "in state" tuition to "undocumented aliens" they could have easily cured this other problem, the result of new educational circumstances not anticipated by earlier bill writers and not coordinated with older law by later bill writers.  The problem is, courses are going from classroom to the internet and doing it in a massive way.

In the mean time, I am thus reading what I can, including looking for a good history that talks to the Great Depression in its World-Wide aspects.  Did it follow the same trajectory in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan as it did in the US?  What about Canada and Mexico, or Argentina, Brazil and Chile?

Regards  —  Cliff

8 comments:

nealcroz said...

David Kennedy, "Freedom From Fear." The problem with comparing "trajectories" is that the European countries are/were largely constitutional monarchies, a smattering of dictatorships, mostly evolved into democratic socialism....much different than the US HAS been. Under Obama and the Democratic Party dominance over the past 50+ years, we are breathtakingly close to becoming what Europe has long been in terms of political structure. In that regard, we will be relative neophytes when it comes to politico-economic impacts on our society.

It has been said that we follow Great Britain by approximately 20 years (give or take). I'd say we are pretty much on track.

Jack Mitchell said...

Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?

Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery.

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.


We also want to educate them.

C R Krieger said...

Well, it is a mixed bag out there.  I remember when the Lowell Republican City Committee was working hard to register Cambodians to vote.  Getting them to vote was another thing.  May have been before Jack arrived in Lowell, to "grow in".

I think you can take two views of this.  One is the Piven and Cloward view, which I learned about taking a History Course at UMass Lowell about a decade ago.  Their view was to overload the system, creating a crisis that could only be resolved by a guaranteed national income for all.  I go with the folks who say this approach almost bankrupt New York City.

I admit to be interested in creating more jobs and in making all those poor people taxpayers, regardless of race, country of origin or creed.  They can educate themselves as they see fit.  As I said to my daughter-in-law this AM, via my wife—school is a place you go; education is your own responsibility (well, and your parents).

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

I can't sign off on every American earning a college degree. I'd like to explore the cost feasibility of post high school training in trade schools or vocational schools that would go 2 years beyond grade 12, but that student would have earned a diploma should they quit at the end of grade 12.

We have to make a valiant effort to get all American kids through grade 12. Meaning, as some of my Black Panther pals would say, "By any means necessary."

nealcroz said...

As a learning professional, I understand the goal of getting everyone through G-12 with a pretty diploma in their hands, but that diploma has got to represent something much more than it does today. A large percentage of HS grads are functionally illiterate and immediately incapable of any sort of marketable productivity. You can find a thousand donkeys to pin the tail of responsibility on for this massive failure. I place the blame first on society who tolerates parental absence in the responsibility of parenting their offspring. The people who abdicate on this the most important of all life responsibilities ought to be openly despised. There are far too many stories of single parents who raised extraordinarily successful children through extraordinary effort. The excuse that "I can't find work" or "I have to work too many jobs to be able to be home to mind the kids" is just pure BS. They sure managed to find the time to participate in the creation of those kids.

I also fault a society that is so self delusional that they deny that failure exists or that a person should feel deficient when they do fail. We won't give kids bad grades because we don't want to hurt their self esteem. Well...what in the holy HXXL do you think a lifetime of homelessness and welfare is going to do?

To borrow from one of Cliff's AF heroes...John Boyd.....kids should be taught at the earliest age that they have two choices...they can try to BE something...or they can DO something. The first will always lead to failure...the last will empower them for a lifetime.

Jack Mitchell said...

"By any means necessary" should not include promoting them out of the system, unprepared.

Neal's points a valid. At least to the parents of my kids. Not sure how we convince others.

nealcroz said...

Me neither Jack.....and the person who can figure out THAT one will indeed by both a hero and a saint.

JoeS said...

I believe unemployment in the Great Depression peaked at about 25%.

I'm not sure how to relate that to today's number of 9.1%. I doubt that back then that they limited the unemployed to those seeking work and receiving benefits, so today's real number is probably closer to 15%.

But even 15% may be mild compared to the Great Depression, as today there is substantial participation in the workforce by women, so the number of jobs as a percentage of households is probably a lot higher than it was in the 1930s.