Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’


Special mention

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As Steven Rattner explains,

While job growth has picked up steam in the last few months, the fall’s higher pace of job creation – around 200,000 per month – would still not be nearly enough to bring unemployment down to pre-recession levels. According to calculations by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, even if the 200,000 jobs per month rate were maintained, the unemployment rate would not fall to the November 2007 level of 4.7 percent for another five years.

To repeat: not until December 2018!

Chart of the day

Posted: 28 December 2013 in Uncategorized
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Under the emergency federal program ending today, jobless workers were able to receive unemployment insurance payments for up to 73 weeks, depending on their state. Without the federal program, the percentage of unemployed workers who are receiving any type of jobless benefit is projected to drop to a record low of 26 percent by the end of the year.


Special mention

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Map of the day

Posted: 27 December 2013 in Uncategorized
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Thus, for example, Illinois, with an official unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, has 64,300 workers who will lose unemployment insurance benefits as of 1 January and 89,1000 more workers who will lose benefits in the first half of 2014. Right now, 73 weeks of unemployment benefits are currently available; after 28 December, only 26 weeks will be available.

A full-screen map is available here.


Special mention

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Meanwhile, 10.9 million workers remain officially unemployed (4.1 million of them for 27 weeks or more)—to which we should add the 7.7 million workers who are involuntarily working part-time jobs and 2.1 million who are only marginally attached to the labor force. For all of them, the Second Great Depression is far from over.


Special mention

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Chart of the day

Posted: 22 December 2013 in Uncategorized
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The data in these charts (from here and here) reveal the changing fortunes of two generations: the lost generation of young people who can’t find work, and the found generation of the elderly who are being forced to have the freedom to continue to work long past a reasonable retirement age.


Clearly, liberal economists and columnists are having a difficult time making sense of two key problems at the same time: unemployment and inequality.

Some (like Ezra Klein) think we need to focus on unemployment right now, and leave the issue of inequality until later. Others (like Dean Baker) argue that, since unemployment is a main cause of inequality, economic growth and tighter labor markets will reduce the unequal distribution of gains in the current economy. And then, of course, there are still others (like Paul Krugman) who, while they consider inequality to be a “Big Something Deal,” still think the real issue is how it negatively influences politics and thus prevents policymakers from enacting the obvious unemployment-reducing policies.

I suppose I should be happy that some progress has, in fact, been made: unemployment and inequality are both on the table right now. Finally!

Still, the problem has been staring us in the face for a long time, and liberal thinkers are only now getting around to considering the possibility that perhaps the two problems are related. No, it’s not an iron law: there can be and have been periods in U.S. economic history of growing inequality with low unemployment, and periods of high unemployment with falling inequality. But when inequality has returned with a vengeance and unemployment remains intolerably high—when the levels of inequality are simply grotesque and tens of millions of workers are unemployed, underemployed, and, if they have a job, are paid below-poverty wages—well, then, we have a problem that the liberal models of economics and politics simply can’t handle.

That’s when we have to look at the political economy as a system, one that for the past six years has generated disastrous levels of both inequality and unemployment with no end in sight. It’s not just a matter of looking at how high unemployment leads to more inequality or at rising inequality as a cause of excessive unemployment. What they need are theories, models, and data series that allow them to see how unemployment and inequality are both being caused by an economic system in which the decisions to create (or not) adequate jobs and to capture large portions of national income are concentrated in a few hands.

Then, and only then, will they be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.