Posts Tagged ‘Bureau of Labor Statistics’
Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy gained 235,000 payroll slots in February and upped its estimates for December and January by another 9,000 jobs. Over the three-month period, that means an average job growth of 209,000 jobs a month. Including the ups and downs, over the past 30 years, the U.S. economy has averaged job growth of about 126,000 jobs a month. So this current rate of growth would suggest a strong labor market. Further, workers who transitioned from being out of the labor force into active job search were 2.3 times more likely to land a job than to be stuck unemployed and looking. And unemployed workers were 1.3 times more likely to find a job than if they were to quit and drop out of the labor force discouraged. Over the year, average wages (not adjusting for inflation) rose 2.8%.
Watchers of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policymaking body of the Federal Reserve Board, are sure the FOMC will stick to its forward guidance and act to raise the fed funds rate; which is their tool for setting the tightness of monetary policy. Raising the rate signals faith in the strength of the recovery by the Fed; a strong sense the economy is nearing both its target for inflation and employment. And, it is likely, given recent statements from several Fed officials that these numbers may convince them that “normal” is just around the corner. But they are wrong.
Raising interest rates is a way to slow the growth of the economy. It is useful to prevent an economy from over-heating and setting price increases on a pace that would be difficult to reign in. If done properly, the Fed can guide the economy to a soft-landing, where it will sit growing at a rate just fast enough to stay at full employment.
Well, the problem is that is where the economy is now. Despite solid job growth over the past year, the unemployment rate has remained flat and annual nominal wage growth has remained steady at around 2.6%. As a simple arithmetic, if the number of jobs created slows, then the unemployment rate will have to rise, and wage growth will slow.
If the near term had great economic certainty, then it might be possible to agree that labor market might show more signs of tightening; rather than its present “goldilocks” state of flat unemployment and wages. But the near term has great economic uncertainty.
First, while wages are beginning to show growth, the share of people employed is still a significant distance from the share employed at the peak of 2007, which was below the peak of 1999. This means that household incomes have not caught up. A large share of the workforce is employed part-time, and while the recovery has seen mostly growth of full-time jobs, household incomes have not gotten back to full employment levels.
Second, a major driver of the real economy is the automobile industry sector. After over-correcting during the depths of the Great Recession and the historic collapse in demand, it has used the financial helping hand then-President Barack Obama lent, to recover and now reach record sales and a growth in employment and investment. But a substantial and rising share of auto loans have been made to African American and Latino communities using subprime lending tools. During the initial stages of the recovery, delinquencies on auto loans declined. But, beginning in 2016, they started to rise. And they continue to rise.
The purchase of new cars has increased the supply of used cars, so the gap between new car prices and used car prices has been rising as the price of used cars is falling. Delinquencies on auto loans began when the Fed began moving from zero interest rates, since the loan rate on automobiles is tied to short-term interest rates. Higher short-term rates will further increase consumers’ costs of buying a new car, increasing the wedge between new and used car prices.
The threat is that if job growth slows, it will first affect the African American and Latino communities, already showing struggles with the onerous terms of the subprime loans. Those communities need more time for the labor market to recover. The best solution for the economy is for their income to pick up pace and out run the debt. Income-led buying leads to healthy sustainable recoveries. Raising interest rates when incomes lead the recovery simply slow the pace of buying and encourage savings rather than spending. The worse solution is to have the debt out run their income. If delinquencies increase more, the auto market will get a greater flood of used cars, driving the price of used cars down further and increasing the gap in price between used and new cars.
Over the past six months, in fact, lending activity has become more stringent for new borrowers in the auto sector and for small business. Such a credit tightening is normally associated with an economic downturn; not a healthy growing recovery about to overheat. Higher short-term rates will only exacerbate that problem.
The problem is clear, at some point the new car market will go into recession; which means the auto industry will be in recession; which means the economy will be in recession.
Third, compounding the near term uncertainty, is the war that President Donald Trump has declared on the immigrant community. Fear and uncertainty are high in communities where many workers and family members are undocumented. These workers are fully integrated into our communities. They are wives, husbands and parents of legal residents and American citizens. These households live under a cloud. Fearing deportation, or legal fees to protect loved ones, millions of households are unlikely to buy new cars, or may be deciding to horde cash and stop making payments on cars that have been purchased. This is an uncertainty with a magnitude we have never faced, and therefore is too great a threat to ignore.
Fourth, the increase in people with health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act has meant job growth in the health sector at a faster rate than the rest of the economy. The current proposals of the Republican Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act all will lead to a decrease in the number of Americans with health insurance. For this reason, the major hospital associations and the American Medical Association oppose the Republican plan. The threat to this market will have real repercussions on job growth in the one high-wage sector with fast job growth. And the wind down of federal Medicaid support to those states that extended health coverage using Medicaid will cause huge ripple effects on state budgets, which have not fully recovered from the drastic loss of revenues during the Great Recession. This will mean further pressures on recovering state investment in public colleges and universities.
Finally, the proposed budget cuts put forth by the Trump administration would gut public investment in education, housing and the environment. The austerity that has been proposed will cut federal jobs. And, just when the Medicaid cuts are going to hurt state budgets and so put more pressure to raise tuition at public two- and four-year colleges, the Trump administration is proposing cuts to Pell Grants and returning the student loan market to the more expansive private sector.
Thoughts that huge tax cuts to high-income households will offset a downturn in automobile sales, further disruption in the rising costs of college tuition or a dismantling of the health sector are irrational. We have lived through big tax cuts to the wealthy under former President George W. Bush. They were insufficient to pull the economy out of the 2001 downturn in any timely fashion; and, he had the help of low interest rates, a federal deficit swelled by tax cuts and war time expansion of military budgets, as well as a relatively healthy state unemployed insurance system. The current unemployment insurance system is greatly weakened and cannot provide the automatic stabilizer so vital to dampening a recession.
These all point to a real danger that the Fed may be a great threat to what is a more fragile economy than appears at the moment. The drive to be “normal” in a world that is clearly not normal, may put us in danger of a downturn that will be difficult to recover from given the instability shown in the White House.
Friday, January 27th, 2017
There are millions of working people who want and need a union but who are being prevented from forming one by their employer. And instead of penalizing bad actors, our outdated labor laws have made union avoidance nothing more than the cost of doing business. This must change.
“The truth is, collective action in America is stronger than ever,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We’ve seen the source of our power in defeating the TPP, even when most people told us we couldn’t. We’ve seen it in successfully raising wages at the state and local levels against great political odds.”
We see this desire for collective action every day from coast to coast, in industries far and wide. Below, we have detailed just a sampling of amazing organizing wins and what happens when people come together to make changes on the job:
Working people at Verizon who went on strike last year made huge gains, including getting a raise and adding 1,300 new call center jobs on the East Coast.
In August, members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA at United Airlines voted to ratify a new contract, which provides immediate economic gains, sets a new industry standard and ensures flight attendants can achieve the benefits of a fully integrated airline. The five-year agreement includes double-digit pay increases, enhances job security provisions, maintains and improves health care, protects retirement and increases flexibility.
Also in the month of August, working people at eight Zara locations in New York chose to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW. Zara is owned by Inditex, the world’s largest fashion retailer, and the company did not oppose the union drive. More than 1,000 employees now will be represented by RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102. RWDSU/UFCW represents workers at such retail stores as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, and supermarkets, drugstores and car washes.
Hotel workers in Las Vegas took on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and won a fair contract with their union Culinary Workers Union Local 226 after a high-profile fight in 2016. Watch the video to hear Celia Vargas’ story about what it was like to work at the Trump hotel without a contract.
Also in Las Vegas, working people at the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino voted “union yes!” “It is very simple: We voted for the union because we want to have a union at Boulder Station,” said Rodrigo Solano, a cook at the casino, which opened in 1994. “After all these years of fighting to make our jobs better, it is time for management to listen to us: We want to have fair wages and good health benefits like tens of thousands of other casino workers in Las Vegas.”
In Cleveland, teachers won a historic union charter school organizing victory when educators and support staff at the University of Cleveland Preparatory School joined the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the AFT to address high turnover and improve education for their students.
Working people who are members of AFSCME saw a net gain of 12,000 new members added to their ranks. AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement:
“AFSCME has made a commitment to getting back to organizing basics, building power at the grassroots level and hearing the unique concerns of every public service worker in one-on-one conversations…. So even in the face of an anti-labor onslaught, despite efforts to manipulate laws against working people, it’s clear that organizing works.”
In Baltimore, more than 1,400 working people at BG&E gained a union voice with IBEW. And in Memphis, Tennessee, a “right to work” state, hundreds of working people at Electrolux voted to join IBEW.
By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, Columbia graduate student employees voted yes for their union—the UAW—in an NLRB election. Many of the 3,500 student workers who will be represented say they chose the union to bargain on their behalf for better health care, benefits for dependents, payment procedures, housing opportunities and grievance procedures. Students who work as teaching and research assistants won the right to join a union after an August ruling by the National Labor Relations Board. Columbia University is challenging the election results, and critics have called the appeal baseless.
In California, after four years of instability and threats of hospital closures or major cuts in patient services, registered nurses voted to approve a new contract covering nearly 1,500 RNs at four former Daughters of Charity hospitals in Los Angeles and the Bay area.
And in the growing digital media field, more than 90% of 70 digital journalists at Fusion Media Group voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East. WGAE also represents several hundred digital journalists at Salon Media, The Huffington Post and ThinkProgress.
Trumka said in a statement today:
“Even though collective action remains strong, we recognize that the labor movement has challenges. The biggest challenges have been put in place by corporations and their hired politicians who have been at the throats of workers for years. The ugly truth is, because of these attacks, we live in a country where working people are constantly denied our right – our constitutional right – to join a union in the first place. With the way the deck is currently stacked, it’s a miracle that brave workers continue to find new ways to organize and that today’s numbers aren’t even worse. But we also recognize our own challenges. We must be a better movement for a changing workforce. We must adapt our structures to fit the needs of today’s workers. We must not be afraid to challenge ourselves to better serve working families. And we know we will succeed because we are committed to doing just that, inspired by the spirit we see in working people every day from coast to coast, in industries far and wide.”
This blog originally appeared at aflcio.org on January 26, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
Jackie Tortora is the blog editor and social media manager at AFL-CIO.
Monday, March 7th, 2016
The U.S. economy added 242,000 jobs in February and unemployment was 4.9%, unchanged from January, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This continues the record string of months with job growth.
In response to the February jobs numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted the following:
Last month’s biggest job gains were in health care and social assistance (57,000), retail trade (55,000), food services and drinking places (40,000), private educational services (28,000) and construction (19,000). The mining industry continued to see losses. According to BLS, other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and business services, and government, showed little change over the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (4.5%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (15.6%), whites (4.3%), blacks (8.8%), Asians (3.8%) and Latinos (5.4%) showed little or no change.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.2 million in January and accounted for 27.7% of the unemployed.
This blog originally appeared in aflcio.org on March 4, 2016. Reprinted with permission.
Kenneth Quinnell is a long time blogger, campaign staffer, and political activist. Prior to joining AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as a labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars. He was the past Communications Director for Darcy Burner and New Media Director for Kendrick Meek. He has over ten years as a college instructor teaching political science and American history.
Monday, November 15th, 2010
If you’re not sitting down when you read the next paragraph, please do.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the geeks you pay to watch such trends, the number of people quitting their jobs now outnumbers those being laid off. In August there were 1.998 million quits and 1.83 million layoffs.
How bad does your job, and boss, have to be in this economy to voluntarily leave it? Especially when 1.83 million of your closest friends are being pushed out of theirs.
Apparently pretty bad, 1.998 million times bad.
So exactly what is going on here? The Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that quit rates, “can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs” and that normally, “quits tend to rise when the perception is jobs are available, and fall when jobs are scarce.”
Sure some people move, get a better job or retire. Having more people quit than are laid off still shouldn’t cover this many workers.
Significantly, the quits represent most industry sectors, manufacturing, retail, real estate, construction and hospitality, but are MOST significant in financial services and professional and business service.
I’d like to give a shout out to Globoforce for digging out these amazing numbers from the reams of data flowing out of the DOL. Remarkable stuff.
Wow, we really suck at management. In a terrible economy, more workers are actually jumping off the boat than are being pushed.
About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.
Monday, April 5th, 2010
Support The Troops. Support The Troops. Support The Troops.
This is the newest “wallpaper” in the United States. You see it on bumper stickers, in commercials and hear it in conversations. Based on the number of times you see or hear the phrase, it’s hard to imagine that we could do anything more to show the troops that we’re behind them.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-in-five veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed. This is THREE times the national average. According to the government, approximately a quarter million veterans leave the military annually. So we’re talking about many thousands of soldiers who served their country and have returned to an unemployment line.
These unemployed former soldiers list a variety of reasons for the high unemployment rate, according to a poll by CareerBuilder—the lack of available jobs where they live, employers not understanding how the skills acquired in the military translate to the civilian world, the lack of a college degree and the inability of the soldiers themselves to adequately show what they learned in the military in interviews and resumes. Sure these veterans could probably do a better job of presenting themselves and their experience in the employment dance, but I believe that based on their sacrifice, it is incumbent for corporations to meet them more than half way.
A disclaimer: I have never served in the military. And it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines of my writing to see that I, like the majority of Americans, believe that enough people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s time for us to get the heck out of there.
As much as I may disagree with our government’s staying in a place where we’re not wanted, I do think that our soldiers have tackled a really tough assignment and the vast majority have represented their uniform and country well. I’m not sure that I’d advocate that returning vets should get special treatment, but for the youngest of the returning soldiers to have three times the unemployment rate of non-vets is embarrassing. And wrong.
But it gets worse. According to the survey by CareerBuilder, eleven percent of veterans don’t identify themselves as veterans on their resume. While another seventeen percent do so selectively. Support the troops, NOT.
People who put themselves in harms way should be appreciated for their loyalty and sacrifice. To not appreciate their ability to work as part of a team, their disciplined approach to work, their problem solving skills, the ability to work under pressure, respect, integrity and leadership is overlooking the skills and talents that they’ve already proven on the battlefield. It’s time that employers looked beyond the limitations—the lack of a college degree, etc.—and to appreciate what these potentially talented and dedicated job candidates will bring to a corporation.
Support the troops by hiring them, it’s the least that we can all do.
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.