The Politics of Jobs Data

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2013

Economics 101

The Party of the Working Man misrepresents the Jobs Data and Lies to the People

Figures don’t lie but liars figure.  Something Mark Twain is said to have said.  Mark Twain is, of course, Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  But we know him by his pen name.  Mark Twain.  And the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  But he was also a science buff.  And close friend of Nikola Tesla.  The father of AC power.  And he thought that most Congress people were liars and thieves.  With personal agendas.  Who will lie about facts and figures to get what they want.  And what do people in government want?  What all people in governments throughout time have wanted.  Wealth.  And power.

Every king, noble and aristocrat has acted selfishly in history to acquire wealth and power.  The privileged few.  Or one.  They held the power.  Traded favors.   And worked together.  Landowners amassed great wealth thanks to peasants working their land.  The king maintained the system that limited land ownership to a privileged few.  And the privileged few paid back the king with a share of their wealth.  By working together they exploited the masses to amass wealth.  So they could live the good life.  Comfortable in their wealth.  With the power to do whatever they wanted.  And this hasn’t changed over time.  Well, it has in one respect.  With the advent of democracy it is a little more difficult to do what you want when in elected office.

Today no one leaves Congress poor.  They are set for life.  With a generous pension.  And benefits most workers never get while gainfully employed.  And how do they do this?  The same way that kings, nobles and aristocrats have always acquired wealth.  By using political power to exploit the masses.  And the key to this is growing government as large as possible.  To give them that power.  And the ability to grant favors.  Throwing a few handouts to the peasants to win their love and admiration.  Thus pleasing enough of the electorate to win elections.  But the policies they use to make this happen have a major drawback.  They are anti-business.  And kill jobs.  Putting people out of work.  Which can be a problem when you’re the party of the working man.  And working woman.  So you have to at times misrepresent the jobs data.  And lie to the people.

The United States and Kim Jong Un have an Obesity Problem while the North Korean People suffer Famine

History has shown that low taxes and limited government grow economies.  This is what made the United States the number one economic power in the world.  Which was able to happen because it happened before the era of Big Government in the United States.  Right now there are emerging economies in the world going through a similar phase.  And their stellar economic growth will sputter out once the size of their governments grow.  Just like they have in many advanced economies that have transitioned into a social democracy.  For there is nothing that stamps out economic growth like higher taxes and greater regulatory costs.  Which is why the Soviet Union, the countries behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, The People’s Republic of China (under Mao), North Korea, Cuba, etc., have never been great economic powers.  Instead these countries that practiced fairness and redistributive policies suffered some of the most abject poverty and the lowest standards of living.  Not to mention having some of the most brutal and oppressive police states to keep their people from fleeing their social utopias.

But when it came to economic production these nations all lied to their people.  If you listened to the Soviet propaganda machine communism had won.  There was no way free market capitalism could match the managed communist economy.  They were growing bumper crops.  Their factories were putting out more goods than they could use.  And life was just peachy in the Soviet police state.  A lot of people in the West believed this.  And fought to undermine capitalism so they, too, could install socialist utopias in the West.  But the people living in those socialist utopias had a little more trouble believing the lies.  For they were waiting hours in lines to buy soap and toilet paper.  They saw stores with empty shelves.  And stores with shelves full of things no one wanted to buy.  They had to wait years before it was their turn to buy a car.  Or get an apartment.  And forever speak in hushed tones for fear the secret police might hear them utter some dissatisfaction of the socialist system.  Lest they disappear to some reeducation camp in Siberia.

And while the people suffered those in power did not.  In socialism everyone was equal.  But like George Orwell said in Animal Farm, some were more equal than others.  North Korea suffers from recurring famine.  And depends on food imports to prevent future famines.  So your average North Korean is not going to have an obesity problem.  While the United States suffers an obesity crisis because their people eat too much food North Korea suffers through recurring famines where people starve to death.  But you know who isn’t starving to death?  Kim Jong Un.  The new ruler of North Korea.  Who not only appears to be well fed.  But even looks obese.  And this in a country that suffers from recurring famines.  And it’s been the same throughout history.  Those champions of the people always lived better than the people.  For those in the inner party in the Soviet Union went to the front of the line when it came to cars and apartments.

Kings, Nobles, Aristocrats and those in the Federal Government act Selfishly to acquire Wealth and Power

This is why people want political power.  Because it is a pathway to wealth.  Especially for those people who don’t have the ability to create wealth on their own.  Like a small business owner.  So they need to use political power.  Favor.  Privilege.  And deceit.  Which is an important tool for today’s politician’s in a democracy.  Deceit.  Such as when they figure with the economic figures.  The Obama administration has implemented some of the most business unfriendly policies that have just stamped out all economic growth.  Which is why we have been wallowing in a jobless recovery following the Great Recession.  While some would even say the Great Recession lingers on.  Despite what the economic data says.  For they have little faith in the numbers anymore.  For with every jobs report the Obama administration highlights the new jobs the economy created.  And how even though the numbers could be better we are definitely on the right path.  As the unemployment rate continues to fall.  Dropping below 8% just in time for the 2012 election.  As no president ever won reelection with an unemployment rate above 8%.  So it was rather convenient it fell just in time for the election.  Perhaps a little bit too convenient.  Especially when you look at the other economic numbers (see Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization and Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey).

U3 U6 Civilian Labor Force

The U3 unemployment rate is the official unemployment rate.  Which fell to 7.6% in March.  Yet another improvement.  But the U3 unemployment rate doesn’t count everyone who can’t find a full time job.  The U6 unemployment rate counts more people who can’t find a full-time job.  And it fell to 13.8% in March.  Which is an improvement.  But the number of people who can’t find a full time job is still in double digits.  And has moved little from around 14%.  One thing both the U3 and the U6 numbers have in common is that they have changed little in the last 6 months.  While the number of people in the civilian labor force has changed.  A lot.  So one of these numbers doesn’t appear to agree with the other two.  For if the unemployment rate was steady one would think the number of people in the civilian labor force would be steady, too.  Which makes one question the accuracy of the official unemployment rate.  And the constant reports of how the economy is improving.  How it’s on the right path.  As they talk about all the new jobs their policies have created.  Despite the stubbornly high unemployment numbers.  But if we look at that job creation and the changes in the size of the civilian labor force we get a different picture of that improving economy (see Employment Situation Archived News Releases).

Jobs Added Change in Civilian Labor Force

The latest jobs report shows 88,000 new jobs added to the economy.  Less than projected.  And a bit of a disappointment to those in the ‘the economy is on the right path’ crowd.  But they still find solace in the fact that the economy added jobs.  Just as it has for the previous 5 months.  If you add this job creation up during this 6-month period it totals 953,000 new jobs.  That’s about 1 million new jobs.  Not a strong recovery.  But not too shabby.  But if we look at the change in the civilian labor force we don’t see 1 million new jobs.  Over the same 6-month period we see a net LOSS of 28,000 people from the civilian labor force.  Which agrees more with the reality of the current economy.  And the U6 unemployment rate.  It’s bad.  People can’t find a full-time job.  And it’s because of the anti-business policies of the Obama administration.  But for the past 4 years or so they have massaged the jobs data to lead us to believe that they were creating jobs when they were actually destroying jobs.  Why?  Because kings, nobles, aristocrats and those in the federal government act selfishly to acquire wealth and power.

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The Official Unemployment Rate falls to 7.8% but the U6 Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 14.7%

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 6th, 2012

Week in Review

The jobs report is out.  And the Left is trumpeting the great fall in the unemployment rate from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September (see Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization posted 10/5/2012 on Bureau of Labor Statistics).  This is the official U3 unemployment rate.  That only counts people looking for full-time employment.  It doesn’t include those working part-time because they can’t find full-time work.  And it doesn’t include the people who just gave up looking for full-time work because there just isn’t any out there.  Which throws a little cold water on this 7.8% number.  For it doesn’t reflect a gain in new jobs.  It just reflects that they are counting fewer unemployed people.

A more accurate picture of the current employment climate is the U6 unemployment rate.  This number counts everyone who can’t find a full-time job for whatever reason.  Some have given up their search.  Some have retired early.  Some are living off of government benefits.  Some are working part-time jobs.  Some are working a couple of part-time jobs to make ends meet.  Interestingly, although the U3 rate fell 3 points the U6 rate held steady at 14.7%.  Which is puzzling.  For everyone included in the U3 rate is included in the U6 rate.  So if U3 fell U6 should have fallen, too.  For U3 and U6 generally rise and fall with each other.  As they have done in the past.  Such as in the years from 2006 to 2012 (pulled from the same Bureau of Labor Statistics website).

During the 2006 mid-term elections the Democrats were saying the economy was just terrible.  They hammered the economic numbers saying it was one of the worst economies ever.  Of course, the numbers say otherwise.  Whether you’re looking at the U3 rate or the U6 rate.  The economic numbers were very strong right until that sustained Keynesian monetary expansion forcing interest rates below market values and the government pressure on mortgage lenders to lend to people who could not afford a conventional mortgage blew up in their faces.  Beginning with President Clinton’s Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending.  Which is why these lenders turned to the subprime mortgage.  Approving so many people for mortgages that housing prices soared.  Creating a huge housing bubble just waiting to be pricked by a rise in interest rates.  Which had to come.  As expansionary monetary policy eventually creates inflation.  And the only way to stop that is by raising interest rates.  Which was the time bomb ticking buried deep within those adjustable rate subprime mortgages.

Facilitated by the federal government and their GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who guaranteed and bought these toxic mortgages from the lenders they were pressuring to approve more toxic loans), subprime lending expanded.  As the GSEs sold these toxic mortgages to unsuspecting investors.  Which all blew up in the final months of 2008.  Creating the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the Great Recession.  The U3 rate rose as high as 10% in the fallout from this bad Keynesian expansionary monetary policy.  While the U6 rate soared as high as 17%.  Great Depression unemployment levels.  And neither has fallen much since these highs.  As the current numbers are closer to their highs than their previous lows.

Worse, the spread between U3 and U6 is far greater under President Obama then it was under George W. Bush.  Which tells us how poorly the U3 rate describes the current employment picture.  The greater the spread the more meaningless U3 is.  As it is simply not counting all the unemployed people in the economy.  The Left trumpets the 3 point fall in September but that only brings the U3 rate down to what the U6 rate was under Bush.  And the Left was calling the even lower U3 numbers under Bush some of the worst job numbers of all time.  So by their own standards President Obama is a far greater disaster to the economy than George W. Bush was.  For if it was horrible under Bush anything worse than Bush’s numbers must be more horrible.

When they passed the stimulus bill they promised they would have 5% unemployment by 2012.  Even the president said he would be a one-term president if this didn’t happen.  Despite all of their spending these numbers haven’t fallen much.  Despite their Summer Recovery pronouncements of 2010.  Their economic policies have all failed.  And there is a simple explanation for that.  Their policies were Keynesian policies.  And Keynesian policies have never worked.  Nor will they ever work.

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Hiring Prospects Improving despite no one Hiring Anyone unless they Absolutely have To

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

The economy is horrible.  And it has been horrible for the last three and a half years.  Despite the Recovery Summer.  And all the reporting of an economic recovery that has never materialized yet other than in the wishful thinking of government planners and their economic advisors whispering sweet-nothings in their ears.  Telling them more Keynesian economic policies can fix the previous Keynesian economic policies that have failed to do anything but make things worse.  Despite everything they have done the past three and a half years no one is hiring yet (see Around world, companies loath to add jobs: survey by Nick Zieminski posted 6/12/2012 on Reuters).

Hiring prospects have improved slightly in the United States and other major economies but companies are only adding workers when they have to, according to a survey by Manpower Group (MAN.N), the global employment services giant.

Manpower in a quarterly survey describes a vicious circle in which stronger consumer spending is being reined in by weak hiring, and vice versa. Spooked by Europe’s ongoing debt crisis and a slowdown in China, hiring managers in large economies are reluctant to invest in staff until they see a rebound in demand for their goods and services.

“Companies are in tune with their demand and surroundings,” Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said. “Hiring has been put into only-if-necessary mode. They can spring back, but there were too many times in the last 36 months when they thought it was safe to go in the water and only found out it wasn’t…”

Its poll of 18,000 U.S. hiring managers follows two months of disappointing U.S. jobs growth. The U.S. economy added just 69,000 jobs last month, less than half what was expected, and the unemployment rate ticked back up to 8.2 percent.

Two months of disappointing U.S. job growth?  Try three and a half years.  The official unemployment number (U3) was under 8% for only a short part of President Obama’s first year in office.  It was below 8% when he promised that if we passed his stimulus plan it would never go above 8%.  For the year or so after Congress passed his stimulus plan the official unemployment rate (U3) flirted with 10%.  Which if you’re keeping score is above 8%.  The U6 unemployment rate (which counts the underemployed and those who gave up looking for work) has been north of 16% for about 2 years of his administration.  Again, if you’re keeping score, that’s above 8%.  And closer to Great Depression unemployment.  The U6 rate is still north of 14%.  So, no, it hasn’t been 2 months of disappointing job growth.  It’s been three and a half years of disappointment in the Obama economic recovery.  Or lack thereof.

This is why no one is hiring unless they absolutely have to.  Because no one has any faith in the economy.  And everyone is expecting things to get worse when Obamacare goes into full effect.  At 2,000+ plus pages and a lot of ‘as the secretary directs’ included in that law leaves business owners with nothing but apprehension.  They have no idea how to plan with these kinds of unpredictable variables.  These are just not days to be hiring employees if you’re a business owner. 

This is part of the reason the employment picture is so horrible in America.  The other reason is the anti-business Keynesian economic policies of the Obama administration.  Which lead to high taxes, high spending and high debt.  Which has killed job creation in America.  And throughout the Keynesian world.  Because Keynesian policies do not favor business.  They favor activist, interventionist, tax and spend government.  Who intervene actively in the private sector to raise money via taxes to spend in the public sector.  And yet the government’s economists are always surprised by the poor economic data their Keynesian policies produce.  Which begs the question if they are so blind to the obvious should they really be advising the government?

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The Obama Recovery is no Reagan Recovery

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 4th, 2011

No New Jobs but the Unemployment Rate Falls.  Strange.

Unemployment fell a huge 0.4 percent.  All by adding 36,000 jobs (see Santelli Slams CNBC Panelists for Spinning Jobs Report by Julia A. Seymour posted 2/4/2011 on Business & Media Institute).

Jobs are heading up and down at the same time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the morning of Feb. 4 that only 36,000 jobs were added in the month of January, but the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent to 9.0 percent.

To be frank, there is no way 36,000 new jobs could move the unemployment rate 0.4 percent.  So this official unemployment rate (U3) is not giving the full picture.  It only measures the number of people without jobs who’ve looked for work within the past four weeks.  U6 would give a better measure of the economy.  This unemployment rate includes U3 plus those underemployed (i.e., working somewhere where they are overqualified) and those who have quit looking.  Because the economy is just in the toilet.  This number (U6) also went down.  But only from 16.7% to 16.1%.  Which means that the real unemployment out there is almost twice the actual number the government is reporting.

Cooking the Books on Unemployment

So how can they report the ‘official’ unemployment rate so much lower than actual unemployment?  Easy.  You just don’t count as many unemployed people (see Missing Workers: 4.9 Million Out Of Work And Forgotten by Lila Shapiro posted 2/4/2011 on The Huffington Post).

Over the last three years, nearly 5 million U.S. workers have effectively gone missing.

You won’t find their photos on the backs of milk cartons. The Coast Guard isn’t out looking for them. No missing-persons reports have been filed. These are jobless Americans who have grown so discouraged by their unsuccessful searches for work that they have simply given up the hunt. They are no longer counted among the 14.5 million Americans officially considered unemployed as of the end of last year, according to the Department of Labor.

You see, if you want to have a lower unemployment number, all you have to do is exclude a lot of the unemployed from the equation.  Of course, the question everyone must be asking is why?  Why would the government do this?  Well, there is a presidential election in less than 2 years.  And presidents find it very difficult to win reelection if you have an unemployment rate greater than 8%.  Especially when you spent a lot of money on bailouts and stimulus spending to keep the unemployment rate under 8%.  And the unemployment rate goes up instead of down.

The Ronald Reagan way was the Better Way

The Obama administration took a shellacking at the 2010 midterm elections.  Everything they’ve done to fix the economy has failed.  So Obama has been trying to go Ronald Reagan.  To make that connection to the American people.  So he can win reelection and keep pushing the same failing policies.

The urge to become a Ronald Reagan is understandable.  He was great.  And when you’re not it’s natural to aspire to be someone who is.  The problem is, President Obama is no Ronald Reagan (see Morning Bell: The Reagan Recovery vs The Obama Recovery by Conn Carroll posted 2/4/2011 on Heritage’s The Foundry).

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, our most recent recession began in December 2007, lasted 18 months, and ended in June 2009. The last recession that lasted this long began in July 1981, lasted 16 months, and ended in November 1982. In his 1983 State of the Union Address, President Reagan described an economic situation that mirrored our own today: “The problems we inherited were far worse than most inside and out of government had expected; the recession was deeper than most inside and out of government had predicted. Curing those problems has taken more time and a higher toll than any of us wanted. Unemployment is far too high.” But where President Obama responded to an economic recession with a bigger than $2 trillion expansion of government (more than $1 trillion on health care and almost $1 trillion in economic stimulus), President Reagan passed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which cut marginal income tax rates across the board permanently. And the differences don’t end there.

Where President Obama promised government action that was “bold and swift,” President Reagan said: “The permanent recovery in employment, production, and investment we seek won’t come in a sharp, short spurt.” Where President Obama used tax credits, subsidies, and bailouts to perpetuate industries in need of adjustment, President Reagan said: “Quick fixes and artificial stimulants repeatedly applied over decades are what brought us the inflationary disorders that we’ve now paid such a heavy price to cure.”

Reagan cut taxes.  Obama spent money.  And how do these actions compare?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, our most recent recession ended in June 2009, which means we are now in month 19 of the Obama Recovery. Today’s 9 percent unemployment rate marks the 21st consecutive month of unemployment at or above 9 percent, a post–World War II record. Unemployment is only 0.4 percentage points lower today than when the Obama Recovery began. Contrast those results with the Reagan recovery: 19 months into the Reagan recovery, in June 1984, unemployment stood at 7.2 percent. That is a full 3.6 points lower than when the Reagan Recovery began.

Well, the solution to our economic woes is simple.  Stop being Barack Obama.  And start being Ronald Reagan.  Because Reagan knew that government wasn’t the solution.  It was the problem.  And the sooner Obama learns this the better our economy will be.  And this isn’t theory.  It’s just history.

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