US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

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US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#1  Postby GT2211 » May 03, 2013 7:23 pm

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. ...
...
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +268,000 to +332,000, and the change for March was revised from +88,000 to +138,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported.
Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#DyZQOcqDH3X0Qf3T.99
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#2  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » May 04, 2013 12:33 am

GT2211 wrote:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. ...
...
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +268,000 to +332,000, and the change for March was revised from +88,000 to +138,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported.
Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#DyZQOcqDH3X0Qf3T.99

You shoudn't forget to mention that at this rate, it'll take the economy FIVE YEARS to regain "nomal employment."
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#3  Postby james1v » May 04, 2013 1:26 am

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
GT2211 wrote:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. ...
...
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +268,000 to +332,000, and the change for March was revised from +88,000 to +138,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported.
Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#DyZQOcqDH3X0Qf3T.99

You shoudn't forget to mention that at this rate, it'll take the economy FIVE YEARS to regain "nomal employment."


The UK twenty years, at the rate we are going. :coffee:
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#4  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » May 05, 2013 4:34 am

james1v wrote:
FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
GT2211 wrote:
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. ...
...
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +268,000 to +332,000, and the change for March was revised from +88,000 to +138,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March combined were 114,000 higher than previously reported.
Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#DyZQOcqDH3X0Qf3T.99

You shoudn't forget to mention that at this rate, it'll take the economy FIVE YEARS to regain "nomal employment."

The UK twenty years, at the rate we are going. :coffee:

The odds are good it'll be more like that in the US, too.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#5  Postby GT2211 » Jun 10, 2013 3:44 am

I don't feel a new thread is necessary so I'll post this months numbers here. Prior months numbers were revised down slightly. 175k new jobs added, UE rate went up to 7.6% due to more people returning to workforce.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#6  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Jun 15, 2013 3:49 am

GT2211 wrote:I don't feel a new thread is necessary so I'll post this months numbers here. Prior months numbers were revised down slightly. 175k new jobs added, UE rate went up to 7.6% due to more people returning to workforce.

At the rate of new job creation over the past year, it'll take eight years for the US to get back to 2007 unemployment levels.

Meanwhile,

The poorest Americans are earning less than in 1979
Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979, accounting for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Hourly wage rate ...

Men aged 19-25
1979 $15.64
2000 $12.82
2011 $11.68

Women aged 19-25
1979 $11.56
2000 $10.93
2011 $9.92

The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011.

This is going precisely backwards and does not bode well for future economy. Anyone who digs into and roots around in the numbers soon sees that the US is fast headed for some big time economic difficulties.

Even Steven Spielberg predicted yesterday, as he spoke to a graduating class from USC Film School, that the feature film industry is staring an implosion square in the face and said it'll happen sooner than later. He said the big five producers cannot handle a string of $200 million losses on pictures that flop at the box office. "They money will run the other way as fast as it can," he said.

Nothing is immune.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#7  Postby Loren Michael » Jun 15, 2013 4:50 am

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:The poorest Americans are earning less than in 1979
Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979, accounting for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Hourly wage rate ...

Men aged 19-25
1979 $15.64
2000 $12.82
2011 $11.68

Women aged 19-25
1979 $11.56
2000 $10.93
2011 $9.92

The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011.

This is going precisely backwards and does not bode well for future economy. Anyone who digs into and roots around in the numbers soon sees that the US is fast headed for some big time economic difficulties.


1) It's not clear why people in the bottom 10% doing worse is bad for the economy as a whole. I think it's bad for the people at the bottom, and that perhaps something should be done about that, but it's not clear that the top 90% couldn't do better and better as the bottom 10% gets worse and worse.
2) Real wage growth may have slowed, but it's still growing, and those wages buy more and better stuff than they did in the past:

...the longer the time horizon you're considering, the more sense it makes to think less about monetary income and more about quantities of stuff, which are less subject to the vagaries of inflation calculations. And it seems to me that when you look at it in terms of quantities consumed the stagnational hypothesis—which originally was popular on the left but now has gained a lot of credence on the right as well—seems much harder to defend.

First you have the Boudreaux/Perry basics, roughly physical "stuff," and it's clear that the typical American has more "stuff" in 2012 than they had in 1972. Houses are bigger, cars are better, we have more appliances. We're also pretty clearly better entertained today than we were 40 years ago. More TV stations, more streaming content, much easier access to the back catalogue of older movies and audio recordings.

The big counters to this are health care and college tuition. But here's where I think the quantities consumed perspective gets important. Colleges charge much higher prices today than they did 40 years ago but many more people have college degrees...
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#8  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Jun 16, 2013 3:38 pm

Loren Michael wrote:
FACT-MAN-2 wrote:The poorest Americans are earning less than in 1979
Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979, accounting for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Hourly wage rate ...

Men aged 19-25
1979 $15.64
2000 $12.82
2011 $11.68

Women aged 19-25
1979 $11.56
2000 $10.93
2011 $9.92

The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011.

This is going precisely backwards and does not bode well for future economy. Anyone who digs into and roots around in the numbers soon sees that the US is fast headed for some big time economic difficulties.

1) It's not clear why people in the bottom 10% doing worse is bad for the economy as a whole. I think it's bad for the people at the bottom, and that perhaps something should be done about that, but it's not clear that the top 90% couldn't do better and better as the bottom 10% gets worse and worse.

I think you mean the top two per cent. The bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse.

Loren Michael wrote:
2) Real wage growth may have slowed, but it's still growing, and

those wages buy more and better stuff than they did in the past:

The real wage declines noted above are the average, not just the bottom ten per cent.

An economist may think the way you do but a nation as a whole should be concerned about the well being of all its citizens, not just some portion thereof. In many third world countries we find ten per cent of the population controls nearly all the wealth while 90 per cent exist in abject poverty, hardly an ideal to strive for but a very natural occurrence in laissez faire capitalist economies. The only way this can be dealt with is through government intervention, the setting of mimimum wage scales for example and rules that govern overtime pay and a standard work week ... and allowing workers to unionize so they can collectively demand better pay.

Loren Michael wrote:
...the longer the time horizon you're considering, the more sense it makes to think less about monetary income and more about quantities of stuff, which are less subject to the vagaries of inflation calculations. And it seems to me that when you look at it in terms of quantities consumed the stagnational hypothesis—which originally was popular on the left but now has gained a lot of credence on the right as well—seems much harder to defend.

First you have the Boudreaux/Perry basics, roughly physical "stuff," and it's clear that the typical American has more "stuff" in 2012 than they had in 1972. Houses are bigger, cars are better, we have more appliances. We're also pretty clearly better entertained today than we were 40 years ago. More TV stations, more streaming content, much easier access to the back catalogue of older movies and audio recordings.

Econsspeak. It doesn't help the guy who's wages have only risen six per cent since 1979, nor the 40 million on Food Stamps struggling to make ends meet. Tell him this he'll probably throw a rock at you.

Loren Michael wrote:
The big counters to this are health care and college tuition. But here's where I think the quantities consumed perspective gets important. Colleges charge much higher prices today than they did 40 years ago but many more people have college degrees...

Yes, and the price that's being paid for this is one $trillion in tuition debt.

It's easy to expand the amount of stuff that gets consumed, you merely have to expand the amount of debt that can be used to pay for it, and stretch the loans on that debt out over longer and longer terms. Thirty years ago a typical auto loan was two years, today they're running five and eight years. This is generally true fr all big ticket consumer products. American consumers don't own their stuff, the banks own it all, and they make fortunes on the interest people pay for the privelage of just using the stuff, slaves to debt.
Last edited by FACT-MAN-2 on Jun 16, 2013 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#9  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jun 16, 2013 3:47 pm

Once again economists are banding figures about.

My question is which emplyment rate are they using?
How many people are really unemployed and how many would really want to work?

America like Britain has no required registration system. In Britain they have not got a clue who lives there and I think in America the situation is no different. If you dont know how many actual people live in the country how in the hell of the wee man are you going to know a) who is unemployed b) who wants to work but has fallen off all the radar.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#10  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Jun 16, 2013 5:16 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:Once again economists are banding figures about.

My question is which emplyment rate are they using?
How many people are really unemployed and how many would really want to work?

America like Britain has no required registration system. In Britain they have not got a clue who lives there and I think in America the situation is no different. If you dont know how many actual people live in the country how in the hell of the wee man are you going to know a) who is unemployed b) who wants to work but has fallen off all the radar.

I don't know about rhe UK but in the US they do a census every ten years so they do know how many people are in the counry and they have some insights as to their demographcs and living conditions.

The unemployment system does at least make an attempt to measure how many people who actually do want to work but are without jobs, determined by the number of people who are collecting an unemploymnt benefit. This does not account for those who want to work but have given up looking for a job and are no longer colltecting an unemploymnt benefit and those for whom their enemployment benefits have expired. A varierty of statistical means are used to estimate this number.

The net result is that the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed are only approximations of the reality. Other measures are used as well, for example, what's known as the "participation rate," which identifies the percentage of people who are participating in the work force.

None of it amounts to anything one could callen an exact science, however.

It's actually a miracle of some kind that we get the data that we get, because the US has never been very big on collecting data on its citizens, the NSA aside, although the census is mandated by the Constitution.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#11  Postby GT2211 » Jun 16, 2013 11:07 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:Once again economists are banding figures about.

My question is which emplyment rate are they using?
How many people are really unemployed and how many would really want to work?
I discussed this a bit previously here there are 6 measures of labor force under utilization published in the population survey.

The official rate is the U3

"U-3, total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (this is the definition used for the official unemployment rate)"
http://www.bls.gov/lau/stalt.htm

Now for clarification on definitions.
"Unemployed persons (Current Population Survey)
Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.
"
http://www.bls.gov/bls/glossary.htm
SD wrote:

America like Britain has no required registration system. In Britain they have not got a clue who lives there and I think in America the situation is no different. If you dont know how many actual people live in the country how in the hell of the wee man are you going to know a) who is unemployed b) who wants to work but has fallen off all the radar.

The CPS uses a sample size of 60k households, the CES/payroll survey uses a sample size of roughly 150k businesses and gov't agencies which means over 500k workers. They aren't free of noise from month to month, but the large sample sizes combined give us a reasonably accurate estimate which can be compared to other surveys/data relating to the subject to see whether they match up as its unlikely they are all off in the same direction by the same magnitude.

The population estimates come from the Census Bureau which is discussed briefly here if anyone is interested.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
In order to produce estimates from survey data, statistical weights must be applied. Population controls are independent estimates of population used to weight the CPS sample results. The population controls are developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. They are based on decennial census information, and between decennial census years they incorporate administrative data, such as birth and death statistics, along with the Census Bureau's estimates of net international migration.

The Census Bureau reviews and adjusts the population controls every year. BLS introduces the annual population control adjustments into the CPS estimates beginning with the January data. The adjustment can either increase or decrease the population level, depending on whether the latest information indicates the population estimates have trended too high or low.
http://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#pop
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#12  Postby GT2211 » Jun 16, 2013 11:17 pm

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:Once again economists are banding figures about.

My question is which emplyment rate are they using?
How many people are really unemployed and how many would really want to work?

America like Britain has no required registration system. In Britain they have not got a clue who lives there and I think in America the situation is no different. If you dont know how many actual people live in the country how in the hell of the wee man are you going to know a) who is unemployed b) who wants to work but has fallen off all the radar.

I don't know about rhe UK but in the US they do a census every ten years so they do know how many people are in the counry and they have some insights as to their demographcs and living conditions.

The unemployment system does at least make an attempt to measure how many people who actually do want to work but are without jobs, determined by the number of people who are collecting an unemploymnt benefit. This does not account for those who want to work but have given up looking for a job and are no longer colltecting an unemploymnt benefit and those for whom their enemployment benefits have expired. A varierty of statistical means are used to estimate this number.

As noted above UE benefits don't play any role in the survey. And those people who claim they want to work, but have not looked for a job are accounted for we just stop including them in the labor force and consequently the unemployment rate after a certain period of them making no effort of trying to find employment for good reason. Those who claim they want a job and have at some point in the last 12 months tried to find a job are still included in the U6. Those who claim they want one but have not searched in the last 12 months are excluded from the rates, but listed in one of the tables.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#13  Postby Loren Michael » Jun 17, 2013 4:19 am

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:1) It's not clear why people in the bottom 10% doing worse is bad for the economy as a whole. I think it's bad for the people at the bottom, and that perhaps something should be done about that, but it's not clear that the top 90% couldn't do better and better as the bottom 10% gets worse and worse.

I think you mean the top two per cent. The bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse.

[...]

The real wage declines noted above are the average, not just the bottom ten per cent.


1) I'm going by what you provided: "Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979" guided my "10%"comment, and your "The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011" suggests that the median worker (who is in the bottom 98%) is not doing worse and worse by at least that measure.

You might say that 6% real wage improvement over 30 years is too slow, but that's still the opposite of "worse and worse".

2) Without some extra info, the amount that the 19-25 age group makes tells us little. Younger people have almost always tended to make less than when they are older. Those declines in young-person wages may reflect the changing nature of the job market; less demand for unskilled labor, or more demand for extremely low-skilled (and low-paying) labor for example. That group may very well be making more money after they finish schooling, and their part-time jobbing during university may be dragging that stat down further.

Loren Michael wrote:
2) Real wage growth may have slowed, but it's still growing, and

those wages buy more and better stuff than they did in the past:


An economist may think the way you do but a nation as a whole should be concerned about the well being of all its citizens, not just some portion thereof. In many third world countries we find ten per cent of the population controls nearly all the wealth while 90 per cent exist in abject poverty, hardly an ideal to strive for but a very natural occurrence in laissez faire capitalist economies. The only way this can be dealt with is through government intervention, the setting of mimimum wage scales for example and rules that govern overtime pay and a standard work week ... and allowing workers to unionize so they can collectively demand better pay.


3) I disagree with (a) your characterization of my thinking and (b) the notion that government intervention is the only appropriate policy response to upward redistribution of wealth. Oftentimes, government intervention is a powerful enabler of that upward redistribution.

Loren Michael wrote:
[i]...the longer the time horizon you're considering, the more sense it makes to think less about monetary income and more about quantities of stuff, which are less subject to the vagaries of inflation calculations. And it seems to me that when you look at it in terms of quantities consumed the stagnational hypothesis—which originally was popular on the left but now has gained a lot of credence on the right as well—seems much harder to defend.

First you have the Boudreaux/Perry basics, roughly physical "stuff," and it's clear that the typical American has more "stuff" in 2012 than they had in 1972. Houses are bigger, cars are better, we have more appliances. We're also pretty clearly better entertained today than we were 40 years ago. More TV stations, more streaming content, much easier access to the back catalogue of older movies and audio recordings.

Econsspeak. It doesn't help the guy who's wages have only risen six per cent since 1979, nor the 40 million on Food Stamps struggling to make ends meet. Tell him this he'll probably throw a rock at you.


4) Again, real wages have risen 6%, but "the bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse". How is this not a contradiction? You seem to have all the possible positions covered. I'm not sure whether I should be agreeing with you or rebutting you.
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#14  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Jun 18, 2013 12:31 am

Loren Michael wrote:
FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:1) It's not clear why people in the bottom 10% doing worse is bad for the economy as a whole. I think it's bad for the people at the bottom, and that perhaps something should be done about that, but it's not clear that the top 90% couldn't do better and better as the bottom 10% gets worse and worse.

I think you mean the top two per cent. The bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse.

[...]

The real wage declines noted above are the average, not just the bottom ten per cent.


1) I'm going by what you provided: "Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979" guided my "10%"comment, and your "The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011" suggests that the median worker (who is in the bottom 98%) is not doing worse and worse by at least that measure.

You might say that 6% real wage improvement over 30 years is too slow, but that's still the opposite of "worse and worse".

Well, yes, but barely, so "barely" it's hardly worth a mention.

Loren Michael wrote:[
2) Without some extra info, the amount that the 19-25 age group makes tells us little. Younger people have almost always tended to make less than when they are older. Those declines in young-person wages may reflect the changing nature of the job market; less demand for unskilled labor, or more demand for extremely low-skilled (and low-paying) labor for example. That group may very well be making more money after they finish schooling, and their part-time jobbing during university may be dragging that stat down further.

Whatever the reasons are, folks in this age group aren't earning what they once did and the nature of low wage/low skill work hasn't changed all that much, burger flipping is still burger flipping.

Loren Michael wrote:
fact-man-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
2) Real wage growth may have slowed, but it's still growing, and

those wages buy more and better stuff than they did in the past:

An economist may think the way you do but a nation as a whole should be concerned about the well being of all its citizens, not just some portion thereof. In many third world countries we find ten per cent of the population controls nearly all the wealth while 90 per cent exist in abject poverty, hardly an ideal to strive for but a very natural occurrence in laissez faire capitalist economies. The only way this can be dealt with is through government intervention, the setting of mimimum wage scales for example and rules that govern overtime pay and a standard work week ... and allowing workers to unionize so they can collectively demand better pay.


3) I disagree with (a) your characterization of my thinking and (b) the notion that government intervention is the only appropriate policy response to upward redistribution of wealth. Oftentimes, government intervention is a powerful enabler of that upward redistribution.

I guess I'd like to hear some examples of this, but true or not other than government intervention what force can operate to make it go in the other direction? It won't happen voluntarily.

Loren Michael wrote:
fact-man-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
[i]...the longer the time horizon you're considering, the more sense it makes to think less about monetary income and more about quantities of stuff, which are less subject to the vagaries of inflation calculations. And it seems to me that when you look at it in terms of quantities consumed the stagnational hypothesis—which originally was popular on the left but now has gained a lot of credence on the right as well—seems much harder to defend.

First you have the Boudreaux/Perry basics, roughly physical "stuff," and it's clear that the typical American has more "stuff" in 2012 than they had in 1972. Houses are bigger, cars are better, we have more appliances. We're also pretty clearly better entertained today than we were 40 years ago. More TV stations, more streaming content, much easier access to the back catalogue of older movies and audio recordings.

Econsspeak. It doesn't help the guy who's wages have only risen six per cent since 1979, nor the 40 million on Food Stamps struggling to make ends meet. Tell him this he'll probably throw a rock at you.

4) Again, real wages have risen 6%, but "the bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse". How is this not a contradiction? You seem to have all the possible positions covered. I'm not sure whether I should be agreeing with you or rebutting you.

Pick your poison.

None of the foregoing is all so bothersome to me. Everybody knows that wages have been essentially stagnent for 30 years and everyone's aware there's been an enormous shift of wealth from the 98% to the 2% in that time frame, there's no real argument about these things, they are common knowledge, common facts of economic life in America.

And, this has occurred in a time of progressive deregulation, union busting, right to work legislation in many States, relocation of facilities to those right to work States (Boeing to South Carolina, Ford to Tennessee), and a host of other changes that have not been friendly to labor.

So ya only get one guess as to the cause of wage stagnation and wealth shift to the top.

What does bother me, though, is your habit of cherry picking, or selective responses. For example, this exchange was in my post and you left it entirely out of your response:

Loren Michael wrote:
The big counters to this are health care and college tuition. But here's where I think the quantities consumed perspective gets important. Colleges charge much higher prices today than they did 40 years ago but many more people have college degrees...

To which I replied:

fact-man-2 wrote:
Yes, and the price that's being paid for this is one $trillion in tuition debt.

It's easy to expand the amount of stuff that gets consumed, you merely have to expand the amount of debt that can be used to pay for it, and stretch the loans on that debt out over longer and longer terms. Thirty years ago a typical auto loan was two years, today they're running five and eight years. This is generally true fr all big ticket consumer products. American consumers don't own their stuff, the banks own it all, and they make fortunes on the interest people pay for the privelage of just using the stuff, slaves to debt.

What conclusion can I draw from your lack of response here? Do I assume you agree? Do I assume you don't agree but simply have no answer or reply? No argument? An unwillingness to agree I may be right? What?
Capitalism is obsolete, yet we keep dancing with its corpse.

When will large scale corporate capitalism and government metamorphose to embrace modern thinking and allow us to live sustainably?
FACT-MAN-2
 
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Re: US Unemployment Rate 7.5%, Averaged 212k Jobs Last 3 Months

#15  Postby Loren Michael » Jun 18, 2013 1:19 am

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
FACT-MAN-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:1) It's not clear why people in the bottom 10% doing worse is bad for the economy as a whole. I think it's bad for the people at the bottom, and that perhaps something should be done about that, but it's not clear that the top 90% couldn't do better and better as the bottom 10% gets worse and worse.

I think you mean the top two per cent. The bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse.

[...]

The real wage declines noted above are the average, not just the bottom ten per cent.


1) I'm going by what you provided: "Americans in the bottom tenth of the wage distribution earned less last year than the lowest earners did in 1979" guided my "10%"comment, and your "The real wages of the median worker rose only 6 percent between 1979 and 2011" suggests that the median worker (who is in the bottom 98%) is not doing worse and worse by at least that measure.

You might say that 6% real wage improvement over 30 years is too slow, but that's still the opposite of "worse and worse".

Well, yes, but barely, so "barely" it's hardly worth a mention.


1) Irrelevant. You're saying it's getting worse and worse, but you're providing evidence that it's getting better and better (albeit slowly).

Loren Michael wrote:
fact-man-2 wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
2) Real wage growth may have slowed, but it's still growing, and

those wages buy more and better stuff than they did in the past:

An economist may think the way you do but a nation as a whole should be concerned about the well being of all its citizens, not just some portion thereof. In many third world countries we find ten per cent of the population controls nearly all the wealth while 90 per cent exist in abject poverty, hardly an ideal to strive for but a very natural occurrence in laissez faire capitalist economies. The only way this can be dealt with is through government intervention, the setting of mimimum wage scales for example and rules that govern overtime pay and a standard work week ... and allowing workers to unionize so they can collectively demand better pay.


3) I disagree with (a) your characterization of my thinking and (b) the notion that government intervention is the only appropriate policy response to upward redistribution of wealth. Oftentimes, government intervention is a powerful enabler of that upward redistribution.

I guess I'd like to hear some examples of this, but true or not other than government intervention what force can operate to make it go in the other direction? It won't happen voluntarily.


2) One of the biggest expenses going into the future is medicine-related expenses. At least in America, the patent system works to keep the price of drugs high, and restrictions on things like immigration and requirements on licensing prevent new doctors from entering the field and lowering costs. The patent system, migration restrictions, and licensing requirements are all examples of the government stepping in, largely on behalf of a narrow business interest (the drug companies and the doctors) at the expense of everyone else.

"It won't happen voluntarily" is a banal observation. Of course it won't happen voluntarily, very little does; that's why so many things are so awful.

Loren Michael wrote:4) Again, real wages have risen 6%, but "the bottom 98 per cent have done worse and worse". How is this not a contradiction? You seem to have all the possible positions covered. I'm not sure whether I should be agreeing with you or rebutting you.

Pick your poison.

None of the foregoing is all so bothersome to me. Everybody knows that wages have been essentially stagnent for 30 years and everyone's aware there's been an enormous shift of wealth from the 98% to the 2% in that time frame, there's no real argument about these things, they are common knowledge, common facts of economic life in America.

And, this has occurred in a time of progressive deregulation, union busting, right to work legislation in many States, relocation of facilities to those right to work States (Boeing to South Carolina, Ford to Tennessee), and a host of other changes that have not been friendly to labor.

So ya only get one guess as to the cause of wage stagnation and wealth shift to the top.


3) There's no one cause. There are individual solutions that might do more or less good than others, but there are many reasons for stagnation.

What does bother me, though, is your habit of cherry picking, or selective responses. For example, this exchange was in my post and you left it entirely out of your response:

Loren Michael wrote:
The big counters to this are health care and college tuition. But here's where I think the quantities consumed perspective gets important. Colleges charge much higher prices today than they did 40 years ago but many more people have college degrees...

To which I replied:

fact-man-2 wrote:
Yes, and the price that's being paid for this is one $trillion in tuition debt.

It's easy to expand the amount of stuff that gets consumed, you merely have to expand the amount of debt that can be used to pay for it, and stretch the loans on that debt out over longer and longer terms. Thirty years ago a typical auto loan was two years, today they're running five and eight years. This is generally true fr all big ticket consumer products. American consumers don't own their stuff, the banks own it all, and they make fortunes on the interest people pay for the privelage of just using the stuff, slaves to debt.

What conclusion can I draw from your lack of response here? Do I assume you agree? Do I assume you don't agree but simply have no answer or reply? No argument? An unwillingness to agree I may be right? What?


4) I agree with the problem of debt, but not necessarily the rest of what you said (in regards to implying that longer-term loans are particularly problematic). I was more interested in the rest of your post though, so I dropped it.
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