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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Yglesias’

The Deadliest Jobs

Monday, November 14th, 2011

yglesias_matthew_bioI tweeted earlier that the world would be a better place if more people had a more consistent view of the armed and un-armed forms of public sector workers. That prompted a rejoinder from at least some fans of the armed public sector that cops are running more risks than, say, librarians. This is true, but it’s worth keeping in mind that in the scheme of things (PDF) lots of jobs are more dangerous than being a policeman:

fatalities-1In terms of non-fatal injuries (PDF), police work is actually less dangerous than nursing:
injuries-1
Obviously, cops are doing a dangerous job. But it’s not the most dangerous job at there. So I think the point stands. Conservatives would do well to be a bit more skeptical of the activities of police, correctional, military, and intelligence bureaucracies and most liberals would do well to be a bit more skeptical of the activities of education and social service bureaucracies.
This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on November 12, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Matthew Yglesias is a Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Harvard University. His first book, Heads in the Sand, was published in May 2008 by Wiley. Matt has previously worked as an Associate Editor at The Atlantic, a Staff Writer at The American Prospect, and an Associate Editor at Talking Points Memo. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, Slate, The Washington Monthly, and other publications. Matthew has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, and been a guest on many radio shows.

Yes, Public Sector Cutbacks are Hurting the Economy

Monday, October 24th, 2011

yglesias_matthew_bioI’m reading on right-wing blogs that it was somehow “deceptive” of me to post accurate statistical information about the fact that the private sector labor market is showing okay growth while the public sector labor market is deteriorating. You see, net private sector job losses since the start of the recession have been larger! This is true, which is why I never said otherwise. That’s for the very good reason that the total scale of government employment is pretty small relative to private sector employment:

We have, in other words, many more people working at CVS than the DMV. Which is great. That’s your modern day mixed market economy. Most people work in the private sector. That means the scale of private sector shifts is almost always going to outweigh the scale of whatever’s happening in the public sector. But look at growth rates and zoom in on the Obama era:

When the President was inaugurated, we were already in a steep recession with giant private sector job losses. At the time, the government sector was doing its normal non-cyclical thing. The rate of private sector losses slowed, and since the beginning of 2010 private sector employment has been enjoying slow-but-steady growth. It turns out, however, that once you look past the spikes around the census that these private sector gains are being partially offset but steady job losses in the public sector.

In a normal time, you might think of this as “crowding in.” Reduced government spending frees up funds for private purposes. And reduced government employment frees up personnel for private purposes. But that’s not a plausible interpretation of today’s events with high unemployment and lots of economic slack. Nobody is saying “God, my company really needs to hire some janitors but there are no unemployed people around to hire; if only they’d lay off some of the guys who mop floors at the local federal building I’d be able to expand.” Instead what’s happening is people are saying “hey—my company sells goods and services at a profit, so I’d expand operations if some of these unemployed people were hired to repair roads and this had more money to spend at my shop.”

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress on October 23, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Matthew Yglesias is a Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Harvard University. His first book, Heads in the Sand, was published in May 2008 by Wiley. Matt has previously worked as an Associate Editor at The Atlantic, a Staff Writer at The American Prospect, and an Associate Editor at Talking Points Memo. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, Slate, The Washington Monthly, and other publications. Matthew has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, and been a guest on many radio shows.

Controversial DC Education Reform Has Raised Teacher Salaries Substantially

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

yglesias_matthew_bioVia Dana Goldstein, a Democrats For Education Reform analysis (PDF) of the controversial IMPACT evaluation system in DC raises a couple of interesting issues about the real Michelle Rhee legacy.IMPACT

For starters, as you can see the way the evaluation system (which combines in-person evaluations with test scores) works the number of people who get a negative evaluation is the same as the number of people getting a positive evaluation. There’s a lot of fairly sensationalized talk about firing “bad” teachers, but the actual system we’ve implement here in DC is equally about identifying which are the most effective teachers. And concurrently with that, the net upshot of the change has been to increase teacher salaries:

— Last year, over 660 (out of a total of just over 4,000) Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) members were eligible for bonuses ranging from $3,000 to $25,000.
— 290 WTU members (7%) were eligible to have a base salary increase of up to $27,000 for being rated Highly Effective two years in a row.
— The maximum teacher salary under IMPACT is $131,540, compared with $87,584 under the previous contract.
— 65 WTU members (2%) were rated Ineffective and were terminated.
— 141 WTU members (4%) were rated Minimally Effective for two years in a row, and were terminated.

In other words, an approximately even number of people are getting IMPACT raises as are getting impact terminations. Another larger set of people are getting one-off IMPACT bonuses. And the compensation ceiling is going up.

The national political legacy of this is quite clear. The American Federation of Teachers decided that it had nothing better to do in the 2010 election cycle than spend $1 million on a primary challenge to Adrian Fenty who lost. New mayor Vince Gray got rid of Chancellor Rhee, and replaced her with Rhee’s deputy while keeping the evaluation system AFT objected to in place. At the same time, a bumper crop of new Republican governors and state legislators were elected who’ve gone about enacting various kinds of education cuts. Rhee has frequently been collaborating with these new governors on their education agenda, and both Rhee and Fenty seem pretty bitter about getting fired and are making various kinds of anti-union statements. In turn, union folks are constantly pointing to Rhee’s post-DC career as evidence that education reform has “really” been all about union busting and budget cuts from day one.

This is all unfortunate in my view, but it has relatively little to do with what actually happened in DC. Here, DCPS teachers are still represented by the Washington Teachers Union and have all their collective bargain rights intact. What’s more, they’re earning more money than ever. The city implemented a fairly basic compensation swap, in which teachers gave up some job security in exchange for higher pay. This got dragged into a larger national ruckus for various reasons, but in concrete city-level terms this plan to give teachers more money doesn’t bear a close resemblance to the vicious, teacher-hating reforms I frequently read about.

This blog post originally appeared in ThinkProgress on October 19, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Matthew Yglesias is a Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Harvard University. His first book, Heads in the Sand, was published in May 2008 by Wiley. Matt has previously worked as an Associate Editor at The Atlantic, a Staff Writer at The American Prospect, and an Associate Editor at Talking Points Memo. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, Slate, The Washington Monthly, and other publications. Matthew has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, and been a guest on many radio shows.

Employment Costs are Higher Than They Appear

Friday, September 16th, 2011

yglesias_matthew_bioTo wax a bit conservative for a moment, while this Felix Salmon / Pedro da Costa thought experiment is fun, it’s simply not the case that “With $2 billion, you could employ 40,000 people for a full year at $50,000 each.” You’d have to pay Social Security tax, Unemployment Insurance, etc. Plus you’d probably have to carry all kinds of liability coverage. Depending on where you’re located there’s be other state/local stuff to deal with.

Then to wax back progressive again comes the big whopper: Health care. There’s a huge health insurance shaped wedge between what you think you make and what your employer thinks he’s paying you. To provide health insurance coverage to 40,000 people costs a lot more than $0. Ironically, if you were talking about paying your employees, less this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem as they’d be eligible for Medicaid. You’d be creating quintessential low-wage “bad jobs,” but you’d at least be creating a lot of them. But once you have the kind of workforce needs where you want to offer a decent wage, you’re either going to be restricting your pool to people who can get insurance through their spouse or else you have to tack a large extra employment cost onto the bill. What’s more, you’re bearing a weird kind of risk since if over time the cost of the insurance plan increases faster than your firm’s revenue and that causes you to make the plan less generous to your employees they’re going to view that as a mean cut in benefits that you initiated.

America got derailed from a long-term growth conversation by a financial crisis and a recession. Then we got derailed from a short-term jobs conversation by a ginned-up budget crisis. People in the know recognize that the health costs piece is critical to the budget issue, but the reality is that health care is critical to the long-term fate of the federal budget primarily because it’s critical to the long-term fate of the economy as a whole.

This post originally appeared on Think Progress on September 15, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Matthew Yglesias is a Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Harvard University. His first book, Heads in the Sand, was published in May 2008 by Wiley. Matt has previously worked as an Associate Editor at The Atlantic, a Staff Writer at The American Prospect, and an Associate Editor at Talking Points Memo. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, Slate, The Washington Monthly, and other publications. Matthew has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC, and been a guest on many radio shows.

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