May 6, 2011

IBD Gets a Detail Wrong, Gets the Overall Picture Right on the Employment Report

This morning, I classified the April employment report as “strong,” and in the context of what we’ve seen in the past few years, it was. Later, I tempered my enthusiasm a bit when a commenter pointed out that the Birth/Death estimate for the month was +175,000, which seems ridiculously high by a factor of at least two.

Nonetheless, I’m sticking with “strong,” because the not seasonally adjusted additions, both overall and private, were both over 1 million. I’m not going with “very strong” or “outstanding, simply because for what is probably the 21st out of the last 22 months, the Obama recovery’s job performance trailed that achieved under Ronald Reagan. People who are annoyed at my bring-ups of Reagan might as well get used to it. The Gipper used policies that worked; Obama has utilized historically failed policies which (/surprise) have failed again; Reagan’s results make a mockery of Obama’s.

The editorialists at Investors Business Daily, who should know better, botched the distinction between seasonally adjusted and actual (not seasonally adjusted) job changes, but otherwise got it right in interpreting today’s results, highlighting something to which I hadn’t caught on (in bold):

Despite Growth, Still Not Enough Jobs

Many were impressed with the 244,000 new jobs reported in April. But not us. Many of those new hires likely came at one company, and the unemployment rate actually rose (see Note below — Ed.). The jobless expansion continues.

… Nearly one in four of the April jobs, however, may have come at one company — McDonald’s, which hired 62,000 workers from a million applicants. We’re not knocking Big Mac — it’s a great business — but economic growth can’t be sustained with burger flippers. (Note: On this IBD is wrong. McDonald’s added 62,000 out of the roughly 1.1 million NOT seasonally adjusted jobs added in April in the private sector and overall. That 1.1 million number was then seasonalized to +244K overall and +268K private. — Ed.)

… We stand 7 million jobs below our peak of 138 million in December 2007, just as the recession began.

The economy must create about 120,000 jobs a month just to sop up new entrants into the workforce. So even at the current pace, it’ll take nearly four years just to get back to where we were in 2007. Is that progress?

Coming from a White House that, in addition to hope and change, promised 3.5 million new jobs annually, or 292,000 a month, the April report is disappointing.

The average spell of unemployment today is 38.3 weeks, close to its all-time high. Even after the 1982 recession, then the worst since the ’30s, the duration of unemployment never got above 21 weeks.

… None of this is an accident, of course. When things go badly, it’s almost always due to bad policies.

We can feel their impact in continued declines in home prices, soaring food inflation and gasoline at over $4 a gallon. We see it too in the alarming and dangerous buildup of spending and public debt, which under Obama has leapt to $14 trillion from $9 trillion.

All this comes from an administration that clings to absurd Keynesian ideas that more spending and higher taxes will create jobs and economic growth.

We know those things don’t work. The White House must either yield to reality and change course, or the voters will change it for them in 2012.

We’re playing a dangerous game of chicken if we think we can wait until November 2012, which really turns into January 20, 2013, which all too easily can turn into the 2013-2014 budget year, before taking a shot at seriously fixing things.

The establishment press’s indifference to the suffering going on with workers and their families in this country as identified in the bolded paragraph above is no longer shocking, but grows ever more disgraceful with each passing month.

_____________________________________________

UPDATE: I’m going to address this matter further in the next week or so, but those who are interested how the job market is fundamentally changing, and generally not for the better, should read this item Steve at NRE brought to my attention. Just wait: These conditions will be put at the feet of employers, when it’s really government policies, regulations, and uncertainty that are completely to blame.

‘Shared Values’? Uh, Not Exactly (CORRECTION: Later ‘Flagged’ As Not True, Per Jake Tapper)

UPDATE, MAY 10: Botch by Jake, per Michelle Malkin’s tweet and post — “Tapper tweeted that hours after O’s visit, I believe. They were taking flag down at end of day.” The speculations in the final sentences of this post are inaccurate.

Doug Ross: “… wrong, but it wouldn’t have been out of character.” For sure.
(more…)

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘In Celebrating OBL’s Demise, the Kids Are All Right’) Is Up

Death-Osama-Bin-Laden-celebs Death-Osama-Bin-Laden-celebs
It’s here.

Special thanks to Aaron Hanscom at Pajamas Media for turning my submission around so quickly.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

____________________

The column’s opening paragraph:

On the evening of May 1, I was heartened to see crowds of mostly young adults waving American flags and chanting “USA! USA!” in front of the White House, near Ground Zero, and elsewhere to celebrate our military’s killing of Osama bin Laden. Sadly, my sentiments are far from universal.

Not that it took any great powers of prediction, but I saw the handwringing admonishments coming, and was almost surprised that it took about 12 hours for the first example to appear (see 12:05 p.m. May 2 update at link).

In the relatively short time since I submitted the column, the naysayers, possibly further emboldened by our President’s “we don’t need to spike the football” OBL death photos illogic, are continuing their pathetic objections.

In an New York Times item headlined “Celebrating a Death: Ugly, Maybe, but Only Human” (HT MRC’s TimesWatch), reporter Benedict Carey found all kinds of people to opine and debate the presumptive “ugliness” of celebrating “revenge”:

Some Americans celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden loudly, with chanting and frat-party revelry in the streets. Others were appalled — not by the killing, but by the celebrations.

… Others were much more critical. “The worst kind of jingoistic hubris,” a University of Virginia student wrote in the college newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. In blogs and online forums, some people asked: Doesn’t taking revenge and glorying in it make us look just like the terrorists?

The answer is no, social scientists say: it makes us look like human beings. In an array of research, both inside laboratories and out in the world, psychologists have shown that the appetite for revenge is a sensitive measure of how a society perceives both the seriousness of a crime and any larger threat that its perpetrator may pose.

… the natural urge for revenge — satisfied so suddenly, releasing a decade of background anxiety, stoked by peers — feeds on itself. Delight turns to chanting turns to climbing on lamp posts.

The problem is, this wasn’t about revenge, which is properly declared sinful in most religious faiths, but about appropriate retribution (“requital according to merits or deserts, especially for evil”). Usually liberal commentator Clarence Page (“Welcome to Paybackistan”) correctly observed “I was not celebrating ‘death’; I was celebrating justice.” Exactly.

I suspect that the things which bothered many of the whiners the most were:

  • the sight of American flags waving.
  • the patriotic chants of “USA! USA!”
  • most of all, an outright if not conclusive triumph in the battle of good vs. evil, something whose existence they seem determined to deny at every turn.

The celebrations also show that a near-decade of post-9/11 pacifist educational indoctrination in so many places hasn’t been particularly effective. Thanks goodness.

Pruden in His Prime (Figuratively) Pommels Preening Prez (Also: 10 8 Obama Botches)

Wesley Pruden, the former take-no-prisoners editor of the Washington Times, has been retired from that position for several years. Fortunately for America and not so fortunately for leftists and RINOs everywhere, Pruden is ramping his take-no-prisoners column-writing efforts back up to the weekly level.

Pruden’s column yesterday (“The Insult To The American Soldier”) weighed in on what I’m calling the Mother of All FUBARs, and more (bolds are mine):

“Can’t anybody here play this game?”

The president, revealing himself to be Barack Obungle, has done what nobody else could have done, not even the spectacularly hapless original New York Mets, who drove Casey Stengel to his famous cry of terminal frustration.

The White House converted a picture-perfect military operation into a public-relations disaster that will be cited as what not to do and how not to do it in flackery textbooks for a hundred years. Days after the raid on Osama bin Laden’s “mansion” they still can’t get the “fact pattern,” in the language of the White House, even close to straight.

Even that ubiquitous photograph of the president, the secretary of state and assorted minions bravely watching the operation in “real time” looks now to have been a “photo-op” taken after the fact. This is the scene that the goofy John Brennan, the president’s anti-terrorism chief, described as one of unbearable tension endured heroically by the magnificent minions. Hillary seemed to be clutching her throat, choking back terror as she watched the raid unfold, but now Leon Panetta, the chief of the CIA, reveals that 24 minutes of the 40-minute video were “blacked out” by some kind of electronic malfunction. Maybe she was only wishing she had ordered pepperoni with extra cheese when the president sent out for pizza.

What a rollercoaster ride: Osama bin Laden engaged the Seals in a firefight. Well, no, actually, it turns out he didn’t. But he did seize a woman, probably one of his wives, to use as a human shield. Uh, well, actually he didn’t do that, either. But he was armed, we know that for sure. Ummm, no, not really. OK, but we’re positive that woman was killed. Uh, not exactly. But we definitely, positively, absolutely know that Osama is dead. We have the photographs to prove it and the public can see them. Er, no, not quite. The president has them but you can’t see them. Everybody will just have to take his word for it.

That won’t happen, either. There was a time when everybody took a president’s word for everything. But nobody trusts the government on anything any more. Lies have withered public patience. Too bad, Mr. President, but you’ll have to show us the death certificate. No reasonable man can doubt that Osama is dead, dead, dead, but we’re talking now about the Middle East.

But the real offense of the Washington wimpery is pushing a weakling’s canard against the military, asserting that the photograph can’t be shown because it would make Muslim terrorists cross at us. But surely the Army and the Navy can take care of themselves; soldiers, sailors and Marines aren’t Campfire Girls. Can anyone imagine FDR and his generals canceling D-Day because an invasion might infuriate the Germans? Or that a Muslim terrorist will now salute an American soldier in Afghanistan and put down his rifle and grenade launcher, telling him “we really appreciate your president’s keeping that ugly photograph to himself.”

Americans come from Mars, so the witticism goes, and Europeans are from Venus. But that doesn’t include this president and his bungling minions. They’re weepy refugees from Pluto.

Ouch.

________________________________________________

Related: Toby Harnden at the UK Telegraph

10 ways Barack Obama botched the aftermath of the masterful operation to kill Osama bin Laden
(Note: Make that eight. I’m not listing Numbers 7 and 9, with which I disagree — Ed.).

The past few days have seemed like an extended amateur hour in the White House as unforced error after unforced error has been made in the handling of the US Government’s message about the killing of bin Laden.
We should not forget the bottom line in this: bin Laden was justifiably and legally killed by brave and skilled US Navy SEALs.

… Having said that, the messiness since then has taken much of the sheen off this success, temporarily at least. Here’s a summary of what went wrong once the most difficult bit had been achieved:

1. It took nearly three days to decide not to release the photographs.
2. To say that bin Laden was armed and hiding behind a wife being used as a human shield was an unforgiveable embellishment.
3. It was a kill mission and no one should have been afraid to admit that.
4. Too much information was released, too quickly and a lot of it was wrong.
5. Obama tried to claim too much credit. Don’t get me wrong, he was entitled to a lot of credit. but sometimes less is more and it’s better to let facts speak for themselves. We didn’t need official after official to say how “gutsy” Obama was.
6. Proof of death was needed.
8. Obama’s rhetoric lurched from jingoistic to moralistic.
10. The muddle over Pakistan. Everyone I talk to with knowledge of these things tells me that Pakistan had to have given the green light for the raid in some form. But the Pakistanis, for good reasons, would not want this made public.

Read the whole thing.

____________________________________________

UPDATE, 11 p.m.Joke of the Day: “Osama gets 72 Virgins, and we get 72 Versions from Obama.”

The April Employment Situation Report (050611, Morning) 9.0% Unemployment, +244K Jobs

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:27 am

Preliminary analysis was done here yesterday.

The report will appear here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS: Good news, bad news (internal links added by me) –

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 244,000 in April, and the unemployment rate edged up to 9.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in several service-providing industries, manufacturing, and mining.

Household Survey Data

The number of unemployed persons, at 13.7 million, changed little in April. The unemployment rate edged up from 8.8 to 9.0 percent over the month but was 0.8 percentage point lower than in November. The labor force also was little changed in April. (See table A-1.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 244,000 in April, and the private sector added 268,000 jobs. Employment rose in a number of service-providing industries, manufacturing, and mining. Since a recent low in
February 2010, total payroll employment has grown by 1.8 million. Private sector employment has increased by 2.1 million over the same period. (See table B-1.)

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +194,000 to +235,000, and the change for March was revised from +216,000 to +221,000.

The total jobs change was +290,000 (244K plus 41K in February and 5K in March), which means that … wonder of wonders … drum roll, please … 22 months after the recession ended, the economy has finally added seasonally adjusted non-temp jobs — a whole 35,000 of ‘em:

TotalVsTempJobsSince0609

Imagine that.

The overall scoreboard since the recession ended:

  • 500,000 temp jobs added.
  • 426,000 other private-sector jobs added.
  • 391,000 government jobs lost (+39K federal, -60K state, and -370K local).

Now, let’s give credit where due. Yesterday, I didn’t think the economy would add 1.1 million not seasonally adjusted (NSA) jobs in April. It did: 1.169 million in the private sector, and 1.159 million overall. That’s pretty strong, and as I said yesterday, those two numbers “are more important than whatever results come out of the SA (seasonally-adjusted) sausage-making process.”

I agree with Steve at No Runny Eggs that the jobs news should overshadow the unemployment rate increase — for now. Steve also believes, as do I, that the surveys for this month’s reports were mostly conducted before the shock of $4-plus gas hit in many parts of the country, and to an extent before many of the price-increase announcements on key consumer goods were made.

So April was strong. Sustaining the improvement in May remains problematic.

___________________________________

UPDATE: Tempering the enthusiasm a bit — Greg in the comments points out that the Birth/Death model estimated that 175,000 net new otherwise undetectable jobs were created, compared to 141,000 in April 2010. That seems out of line, especially when you consider the large annual comprehensive adjustments of the past few years whose roots can partially be traced to overestimated Birth/Death jobs. A couple of the Birth/Death components look shaky. 67,000 in leisure and hospitality? 25,000 in construction, up from 8,000 last year? To be clear, Birth/Death is part of the not seasonally adjusted number, so discounting it by 50% would still leave an acceptable just under 1.1 million jobs added on the ground. Cutting Birth/Death in half would almost definitely have taken the seasonally adjusted number below 200,000 (both private and overall), and would be curbing the expected establishment press enthusiasm by a few notches.

UPDATE: The Department of Rounding Inspection informs me up reviewing BLS Table A-1 that the unemployment rate went from 8.828% in March to 8.960% in April, a change of .132%. Team Obama caught a bad break in the rounded-off unemployment rate change.

Positivity: Cardinal Burke to pray outside Texas abortion clinic

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Houston:

May 5, 2011 / 12:48 pm

Top Vatican official Cardinal Raymond L. Burke is set to pray and speak out against abortion at Planned Parenthood’s new facility expansion in Texas.

“Cardinal Burke is a man of great passion for the pro-life cause and is one of the highest ranking U.S. bishops in the church,” said event organizers from the Catholic Charismatic Center on April 28.

The cardinal serves as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura for the Vatican in Rome.

“His particular presence at this abortion facility will be a very significant moment of official opposition to the abortion industry in America.”

Hundreds are expected to join Cardinal Burke on May 9 outside the Houston clinic, which recently built a sizable addition specifically for late-term abortions.

The prayer vigil is part of two pro-life events slated in the next week which include a “Night for Life” benefit on May 8 with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. …

Go here for the rest of the story.