Posts Tagged ‘chart’

Chart of the day

Posted: 29 November 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags:

fredgraph-1

The new numbers are out and the business press is celebrating:

U.S. economic growth last quarter was stronger than initially thought and corporate profits rose, signs of continued health in the world’s largest economy.

Corporate profits are, indeed, up 6.6 percent from the previous quarter. In fact, as readers can see from the blue line in the chart above, U.S. corporate profits have increased by over 65 percent since the recovery from the Great Recession began.

And workers? Their situation is anything but healthy. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees (the red line in the chart) have increased by only 16 percent since the recovery began.

Is it any wonder that one Party of Business, which focused on the rigged game and promised to drain the swamp, beat out the other Party of Business, which called for a continuation of business as usual?

polls

The Guardian reports that “white and wealthy voters gave victory to Donald Trump.”

Of the one in three Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year, a majority voted for Clinton. A majority of those who earn more backed Trump.

Yes, that’s right, according to the CNN exit polls (as in the top chart above). Both parties received majority support from their traditional income bases.

But, in comparison to 2012 (in the bottom chart, also from CNN), the movement was in the opposite direction: Clinton lost considerable support from low-income voters (from Obama’s 60 to her 52 percent) and didn’t gain enough from higher-income voters (up from 45 percent in 2012 to 47 percent in 2016) in order to defeat Trump.

In the end, as Thomas Frank has explained, American liberals are the ones who put Trump in the White House:

The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the “last thing standing” between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue. Enough!

fredgraph

The latest—and, in terms of the presidential campaign, last—jobs report was generally greeted with cheers.

Here’s a representative example, from FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman:

It may be too late to affect Tuesday’s election, but the economy is finally delivering real wage growth to American workers.

The average U.S. employee earned $25.92 an hour in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That’s up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the fastest growth since 2009. Non-managers — what the BLS calls “production and non-supervisory employees” — saw their earnings rise a more modest 2.4 percent, but they too are seeing gains that are running well ahead of inflation.

That may be true. But what Casselman and others fail to mention is that, since 2009 (and therefore the beginning of the current “recovery”) the growth in corporate profits has far outpaced the growth in wages. As of the end of the second quarter of 2016, the profits realized by the nation’s corporations had increased by about 60 percent while hourly wages had risen only 15.6 percent.

In other words, even with the recent declines in the rate of unemployment (and the subsequent upward pressure on workers’ wages), the so-called recovery has been much better for corporations and their bottom-line than it has been for workers and their ability to feed their families.

No wonder, then, that there’s a lack of enthusiasm on the part of U.S. workers for either candidate in this year’s presidential election.

fredgraph

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump argue on the campaign trail that manufacturing is a source of good-paying jobs and the United States needs to do all it can to strengthen that sector.*

What both candidates ignored is the fact that the manufacturing now pays (and has since 2006 paid) lower wages than the average for the private sector as a whole (as readers can see in the chart above). In September, the average hourly wage for a nonsupervisory worker in manufacturing was $20.59, more than a dollar an hour less than for other workers in the private sector.

Employers may complain about a “talent shortage,” about not being able to find enough skilled workers to fill jobs, but they’re not willing to pay higher wages to attract those workers. The problem is, most factory jobs have been redefined as lower-level work.

ex1

According to a recent report from the University of California-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (pdf), a large number (34 percent) of the families of frontline manufacturing production workers are enrolled in one or more public safety net programs.

The high utilization of public safety net programs by frontline manufacturing production workers is primarily a result of low wages, rather than inadequate work hours. e families of 32 percent of all manufacturing production workers and 46 percent of those employed through staffing agencies who worked at least 35 hours a week and 45 weeks during the year were enrolled in one or more public safety net program.

Thus, between 2009 and 2013, the federal government and the states spent more than $10.2 billion per year on public safety-net programs for workers (and their families) who hold frontline manufacturing production jobs. (This includes workers directly hired by manufacturers and those hired through staffing agencies.)

As I have explained before, I hold no particular nostalgia for industry in the hinterlands of the U.S. economy.

Nor do American workers. They may be angry about their current plight but neither the current presidential candidates nor employers are willing to do what is necessary to create decent, well-paying jobs for the millions of people who have been laid off or who are currently forced to sell their ability to work to obtain precarious jobs at substandard wages.

Calls to restore the manufacturing sector to its former glory may do something for employers but they offer little in the way of real solutions to American workers.

 

*And Trump (but not Clinton) is criticized for ignoring the fact that the “nation’s manufacturing sector is actually booming.”

bottom90

Eduardo Porter is right: the “long, painful slog out of the Great Recession” hasn’t been accompanied by any kind of shared prosperity.

As the chart above reveals, the share of income going to the bottom 90 percent of U.S. households has actually fallen since 2007 (from 50.3 percent to 49.5 percent)—and, in recent years, remains far below what it was (67.4 percent) in 1970.

In other words, the so-called recovery looks a lot like the unequalizing dynamic of the U.S. economy in the years and decades leading up to the Great Recession. Those who work for a living have been getting less and less, while those at the top have managed to capture and keep the growing surplus.

12065

We’re not just talking about the white working-class. Wages “for all groups of workers (not just those without a bachelor’s degree), regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender”, have (since 1979) have lagged the growth in economy-wide productivity.

And that’s just in terms of income. As Porter explains,

by many other metrics, Americans’ well-being remains pretty low. Whether it is life expectancy or infant mortality, incarceration or educational attainment, countless statistics offer a fairly dark picture of the American experience. It is a picture of prosperity that consistently leaves large numbers of Americans behind.

The United States suffers the highest obesity rate among the 35 industrialized countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In terms of life expectancy at birth, it ranks 10th from the bottom. America’s infant mortality rate has dropped by half since 1980. Still, today Turkey and Mexico are the only countries in the O.E.C.D. to report a higher share of dead babies. Infant mortality fell faster in almost every other industrialized country.

Mainstream economists, politicians, and pundits may prefer to focus on the first part of Charles Dickens’s famous opening sentence. But that’s only true for the tiny group at the top. For everyone else, it really is—and has been for decades—”the worst of times.”

fredgraph

Provoked, first, by liberal celebrations of the recent decline in the poverty rate in the United States—and, then, by conservative attempts to dismiss the issue of inequality, I decided to run some numbers. Just to see.

As it turns out, the corporate profit share (on the right in the chart above) and the poverty rate (on the left) appear to have moved in tandem since the mid-1990s: when the profit share declines, so does the poverty rate, and vice versa.

This is one of those times when I don’t have a theory or an explanation. But I was reminded of that long-forgotten ruthless critic of political economy:

Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital.

epi-a

Two findings stand out in a new study from the Economic Policy Institute (pdf) on black-white wage gaps in the United States:

First, since 1979, the gap between all workers’ wages—black and white, women and men—and productivity has increased dramatically. Thus, while productivity increased by over 60 percent, wages for white workers rose by only 22.2 percent and black wages by even less, 13.1 percent.

Second, wages for African American have grown more slowly (or, in the case of men, fallen by a greater amount) than those of their white counterparts. As a result, pay disparities by race and ethnicity have expanded since 1979. For example, white women’s wages increased by 30.2 percent and black women’s wages by only 12.8 percent. And while men’s wages actually declined, they fell by 3.1 percent for white men and even more, by 7.2 percent, for black men. Thus, the overall black-white wage gap increased from 18.1 percent in 1979 to 26.7 percent in 2015.

It is pretty clear from the report that overall wage stagnation (especially for the majority of workers, i.e., those below the 90th percentile), in conjunction with lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, led to higher wage disparities by race and ethnicity.

But, and this goes beyond the report, we also need to consider the other side of that relationship—that increased racial and ethnic disparities reinforce the growing gap between productivity and the wages of all workers. Black workers are paid less than their white counterparts (of both genders), and all workers’ wages are as a result less than they otherwise would be.

In the end, then, wealthy individuals and large corporations, who capture the resulting surplus, are the only ones who benefit from racial and ethnic wage disparities.