May 18, 2011

AP’s Story on Grim Teen Summer Job Outlook Nearly Invisible; Minimum Wage’s Contribution to Their Workforce Disengagement Not Noted

You would think that a story about the awful summer job outlook for teens this year would be receiving more than a little media play. So far, it’s not getting much at all.

Here are key paragraphs from the relevant unbylined Associated Press report (“Summer 2011 could be worst ever in teen job market, study finds”):

Teenagers unable to line up work this summer may not just be making excuses. A forecast warns that summer employment among teenagers, ages 16 to 19, continues to be weak, with about one in four expected to be working.

… Nationwide, 27 percent of teens are projected to have a job during the months of June, July and August, according to a recent estimate by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies in Boston.

That’s slightly better than the 25.6 percent teen employment rate last summer, which was the lowest recorded since World War II. However, after several years of on-target forecasts, the center’s modeling has yielded slightly more optimistic projections than the actual employment numbers in recent years. So the center acknowledges there’s a distinct possibility that this summer could set a new record low for employment among the nearly 17 million teens.

During the summer of 2000, 45 percent of the nation’s teens held summer jobs. The employment rate has declined sharply eight of the past 10 years, with post-World War II lows reached each of the past four summers.

From 2000 through 2010, employment rates for every age group of adults 54 and younger declined, the center says. The reductions were the most severe among teens, who frequently compete with jobless adults amid persistently high unemployment.

As is usual with so many AP reports, this one suffers from bias in date selection and in the determination of the relevant data (though to be fair, the study’s authors may also be to blame).

The following graphic from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics using raw data (i.e., not seasonalized) shows that there were big drops in the teen employment-population ratio in 2001, 2002, and 2003. The rate stabilized and actually edged up during the next three years, declined again in 2007 and 2008, dropped like a rock in 2009, and dropped even further in 2010:

TeenNSAEmploymentPopRatio2000toApr2011

In other words, the ratio held steady while the economy prospered, the job market was growing, and the minimum wage was left alone. But in 2007, in one of the Democratic Congress’s first official acts, “The minimum wage increased in three $0.70 increments–to $5.85 in July, 2007, $6.55 in July, 2008, and to $7.25 in July 2009.” These increases deserve the presumptive blame for the 2007 and 2008 drops, while the third minimum-wage increment combined with recessionary conditions caused the disastrous 2009 drop.

When the AP report cites “the 25.6 percent teen employment rate last summer,” it is unfortunately and erroneously referring to the seasonally adjusted values, which should not be used when comparing summertime employment rates across multiple years.

As to the story’s visibility, Google News searches done on the report’s first sentence (in quotes) at 11:45 p.m. ET returned 15 Google News results and 45 Google Web results. That’s hardly a drop in the media bucket. Additionally, I did not find the story in a search on the AP’s main web site on “teens” (not in quotes).

I daresay that if there were a Republican or conservative in the White House, this story about a group which President Obama desperately needs to turn out in his favor in 2012 in numbers similar to 2008 would be getting far more play.

To expand this post a bit beyond probable media bias, I’ll add some other possible non-minimum-wage explanations as to why the teen employment-population ratio has dropped so much in the past decade, lifted from a column I wrote last year on the topic (“The Teenage Workplace Disengagement Epidemic”):

  • More demanding high school activities, including sports and music — These have increasing encroached on summertime to the point where many teens could only work for a few weeks at most even if they wanted to.
  • Overprotective parents who don’t want to expose their little darlings to the harsh, cruel world of work — With many teens, if you don’t push, it won’t happen. In many cases, no one’s pushing.
  • Illegal immigration — Why would an employer hire a high school kid with an unproven work ethic when cheap, reliable help is otherwise available? Besides making it harder for teens who are looking for work, other teens don’t bother because they know they won’t get anywhere.
  • Substantial penalties against working teens in college aid calculations — The higher a college-bound or college-attending teen’s earnings (and assets in their name), the higher a family’s Expected Family Contribution will be. This means, all other things being equal, that less financial aid will be available.
  • A plethora of distractions which make it much easier to waste vast amounts of time accomplishing absolutely nothing while still not getting really bored — Video games, fantasy sports leagues, and the like would certainly fit into this category.
  • Unpreparedness for work — This has to do with basic literacy, the ability to follow simple instructions, decorum, and attitude, all of which I have recently been told by several different employers continue to deteriorate, even among those who attend supposedly “good” schools.

I would be interested in seeing if there are any other factors readers feel are relevant to the problem.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Another Reason for Newt to Get Out Before He Further Embarrasses Himself

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:26 pm

Via the Daily Caller (internal link is in original):

Dodge: Newt declines to answer question about $250k-500k Tiffany’s tab

On Tuesday, Politico’s Jake Sherman reported former House Speaker and 2012 GOP presidential nomination contender Newt Gingrich owed between $250,001 and $500,000 to Tiffany & Co., a high-end jewelry store, which was revealed in a financial disclosure filed in the mid-2000s when his Callista Gingrich was employed by the House Agricultural Committee.

Although the relevance isn’t clear why this is news, as Fox News Channel’s “On the Record” host Greta VanSusteren pointed out on her Tuesday show, she still inquired about the report in an interview with Gingrich. She asked Gingrich about it and if it had been paid. Gingrich’s reply: No comment.

Oh, and there was another $15-50K owed to American Express.

So why is this relevant? Let me count the ways:

  1. Hypocrisy — Champagne tastes exhibited by someone who likes to stake out the “man of the people” ground.
  2. Fiscal Responsibility — Assuming he wasn’t getting a special deal (which would be problematic if he was), Gingrich was (and may still be) incurring tens of thousands of dollars a year in interest.
  3. Adultery — Since Gingrich’s affair with Callista went on for seven years before they were married in August 2000, and for several years while he was still married to Wife Number 2, it’s legitimate to ask how much of the monstrous Tiffany’s and Amex bills were run up keeping Mistress Callista, as opposed to Mrs. Callista Gingrich, happy. Any such purchases before Newt’s second divorce should be seen as resources stolen from Wife Number 2.
  4. If you think Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are strictly private matters irrelevant to public service (you’re wrong, by the way), what in the world were Callista’s qualifications to be an employee of the House Agricultural Committee? (Yeah, she was employed by the committee in the mid-1980s, but that may lead cynics to question if their affair really began before 1993.) What did she earn? Was it comparable to what others were earning?

This is really too much to take. Please-please-please Newt, get out now.

Lickety-Split Links (051811, Early Afternoon)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 1:33 pm

Attempting to clear out the backlog, with possibly more to say on certain of them at a later point …

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At the Wall Street Journal

What If the U.S. Treasury Defaults?
‘People aren’t going to wonder whether 20 years ago we delayed an interest payment for six days. They’re going to wonder whether we got our house in order.’

This is based on an interview with a guy who used to manage money for George Soros, who, despite that former affiliation, says it’s all about spending restraint, not tax collections.

Great point at the end: Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner need to explain “why technical default is a crisis, but runaway spending is not.”

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Related, at Investors Business Daily — Half of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling “even if Congress promises not to increase federal government spending as a precondition.”

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Conn Carroll at the Washington Examiner reacts to “Obama’s latest fake plan for more drilling” — “… all Obama has promised is to speed up the evaluation. If he follows through on this promise, all that means is we’ll get an ultimate ‘no’ quicker.”

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Supposedly good news, with really bad newsBad news first: “Budget deal costs $3 billion more in short term.” Supposedly good news: The Boehner-Reid-Obama deal several weeks ago will supposedly save $122 billion over the next 10 years. Excuse the “yeah, right.”

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Somebody needs to find another word to replace “anarchists” to describe what’s happening in Greece, essentially says David Boaz at Cato — “So these ‘anarchists’ object that the state might cut back on its income transfers and payrolls. That is, they object to the state reducing its size, scope, and power.”

Perhaps we should start with the term “dissatisfied statists,” and work on better alternatives.

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“Name That Party” History Lesson – from an Associated Press report where the main topic is how President Obama is trying to fire up his frustrated leftist supporters (words “somehow” omitted from the report of Darlene Superville, who “just so happens” to be African-American, are in bold):

… in 1957, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Army and the Arkansas National Guard to protect (Ernie) Green and eight classmates as they entered Central High. Democratic Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision.

I corrected the spelling of Faubus’s last name in my excerpt. Superville spelled it “Fabus.” Was it an accident, Darlene, or was it done on purpose to avoid search engine detection? The question is not without basis, as it would be quite inconvenient if inquisitive readers were to find out how the careers of ardent segregationist Faubus and Bill Clinton are intertwined.

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Bias advance alert: I’ve noticed how Associated Press reports seem to have moved away from comparing the results of various economic indicators to expectations. In my view, it’s because, far more often than not, reported results usually trail expectations significantly, thereby continuing to make the Obama administration and its policies look bad. For example, as reported here at CNNMoney yesterday, yesterday’s seasonally adjusted annualized housing starts (523,000) and building permits (551,000) trailed expectation of 563,000 and 590,000, respectively. Those are pretty significant misses of about 7%. The expected numbers were not in Derek Kravitz the Creative’s AP report yesterday.

I’ve especially noticed AP’s failure to compare in its early reports on initial unemployment claims during the past few weeks. By contrast, note that this 2008 AP report on initial claims brought out how they exceeded expectations (i.e., piled on the Bush administration) in its very first sentence. On the housing front, this late 2009 report (when Bush could still in the AP’s fevered mindset get the blame for current conditions) also was very up-front about blown expectations.

So when will AP resume increase its comparisons of reported results to expectations? When those results start beating expectations, and more than likely not a moment sooner. Based on the way things have been going in the economy and the overoptimistic mindset of those who are doing the predicting, we’re in for a long wait.

AP-GfK = Absolutely Pathetic Garbage for Koolaiders

APgfkRoperLogosThe AP’s latest Obama approval poll betrays its (alleged) values.

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Note: This column appeared at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday.

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A May 5-9 poll released on May 11 by a polling partnership of the Associated Press and GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications purports to show that Americans’ approval of President Barack Obama’s performance in office has risen to 60%, up from 53% in March and 47% in January.

As would be expected among the left-dominated press corps, all of a sudden the other daily presidential approval polls, virtually all of which show Obama in the high-40s and low-50s in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden (e.g., 51% at Gallup46%-48% at Zogby, and 52% at Rasmussen, with a 37%-25% difference between those who strongly disapprove and those who strongly approve), mean nothing. Former Bill Clinton aide, Gary Aldrich smearer, Linda Chavez targeter, and now “Good Morning America” co-host George Stephanopoulos crowed: “[A] new poll out just this morning shows President Obama with his highest approval rating in two years.”

AssociatedPressAbsolutePropagandaAP reporters acted as if they had died and gone to heaven, issuing at least three lengthy items on various aspects of the poll’s results. Wednesday’s morning’s opening missive by Liz Sidoti and Jennifer Agiesta kicked things off, informing readers that a “comfortable” majority of the public “now call(s) Obama a strong leader who will keep America safe,” that America “now approve(s) of Obama’s stewardship of the economy,” and, with the 2012 presidential election still eighteen months away, “more people say he should get a second term than not” by a margin of 53%-43%. Maybe we should just cancel the elections and sing “All hail, King Barack!” Zheesh.

That evening, Robert Burns and Ms. Agiesta waxed ecstatically over the impact of the successful bin Laden operation: “Few events have sparked such soaring approval from the nation, and almost nothing has since George W. Bush’s handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” “Almost nothing” was a mighty convenient term to employ, giving the AP pair the ability to gloss over the fact that George W. Bush’s approval rating at Gallup rocketed from 58% to 71% in a single week in March 2003 as military operations commenced in Iraq.

Thursday morning, the wire service’s Jim Kuhnhenn engaged in an attempt to talk up the economy, writing: “[T]he public’s brighter economic outlook also could signal a boost to the current recovery, which relies to a great degree on consumer behavior. A public that is confident about economic performance is more likely to spend more and accelerate the economy’s resurgence.” Well, if anyone should know, it would be an AP reporter, given that the wire service fully cooperated with the progenitors of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy in relentlessly talking it down and erasing the business community’s optimism beginning in the spring of 2008, up to and including what is probably still AP’s worst story ever: “Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control.”

It seems that the folks at AP and GfK are unusually on edge over their partnership’s most recent production. The report by Burns and Agiesta includes the following priceless paragraph:

Some conservatives criticized the AP-GfK poll as heavy with responses from Democrats that skewed the results. AP-GfK polls use a consistent methodology that draws a random sample of the population independent of party identification. … [T]he change in party identification in the current AP-GfK poll is not a statistically significant shift from the previous poll in March and could not by itself explain the poll findings.

Note that the AP reporters didn’t have the nerve to tell readers how “skewed” May’s poll was. 46% of those surveyed identified themselves as Democrats, 29% as Republicans, and 4% as independents (after classifying leaners); 20% didn’t know. By contrast, the latest available party identification results from Rasmussen as of April have the GOP at 34.8%, Dems at 33.5%, and 31.7% as not affiliated. Gallup, in an aggregate of 21 separate polls conducted last year, shows a Democrat-Republican split of 45%-44%.

Polling 101, or I guess I should say “Reliable Polling 101″ considering AP’s laughable defense, is that for your samples to generate meaningful results they should not only should be random, but they must also be representative. AP-GfK polls since the beginning of 2010 have had the following partisan breakdowns:

APGfKpartyID0110to0511

CookingWithAP1109Excluding the likely voters poll in mid-October 2010, only two of the twelve results (April and November 2010) closely match the party-ID spread found at two of the most reputable polling firms in the country. Three of the other differences, at three and four points, are forgivably close and arguably representative. The other seven have Democrat-over-Republican differences of six points or more. Five of them, including the two most recent, are in double digits. AP-GfK’s most recent party-ID divergence is by far its largest. Truly random sampling from the beginning of 2010 through May 2011 should have resulted in a least a few of AP-GfK’s samples skewing Republican. Yet it did not happen even once. Random, schmandom.

Contrary to what AP claims, at least five points of Obama’s seven-point improvement since March and at least eleven of the 13 approval points he has picked up since January can be explained by the vast differences in party identification between the three polls.

Most of the small remaining differences disappear because of moves between strong, moderate, and leaning within each party. Instead of capitalizing on the results as an opportunity for obsessive propaganda, the AP and the rest of the establishment press, assuming they have any latent desire to hang on to any reasonable claim of professionalism, should have reacted the way many of them seem to think we should respond to Obama’s stridently divisive statism: Nothing to see here; let’s move along.

Because the polls are not representative, and because they have become successively less so in their last three efforts, at least two dozen assertions made in the three AP reports cited above have no support.

In relaying the results of its partnership’s most recent polls as if they are legitimate, the Associated Press has made an utter mockery of its “Statement of News Values and Principles,” specifically this passage contained therein:

… we insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news.

That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions. It means we will not knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast.

AP-GfK’s polls are clearly inaccurate, are obviously done carelessly, and are riddled with distortions. AP is knowingly conveying false information in its publications and broadcasts. In its reporting on the partnership’s polls, the wire service is not doing what it claims it does, namely “bringing truth to the world.” The AP-GfK polling partnership should be rechristened “Absolutely Pathetic Garbage for Koolaiders.”

Positivity: Upcoming national pro-life lawyer conference

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 8:29 am

From Denver:

May 18, 2011 / 02:19 am

The National Lawyers Association, a group dedicated to providing support to pro-life attorneys across the U.S., will hold their annual conference in Denver this summer.

“We are pleased to be offering expert presentations on topics ranging from the historical origins of our 18th century federal Constitution to 21st century medical and legal issues involving human embryos,” said organization president John Farnan.

The conference, held from June 24-25 at the Holland and Hart law firm in downtown Denver, is open to association members and non-members, and will feature prominent speakers on a wide range of topics related to today’s field.

The presentations “will touch on pressing issues in our Republic, while allowing lawyers to learn how to be more persuasive in the courtroom,” Farnan said.

Christopher Ferrara, president of American Catholic Lawyers Association, will give the keynote speech on legal positivism and the future of the pro-life movement.

Professor Patrick T. Gillen, a teacher of constitutional law and American legal history at Ave Maria School of Law, will discuss the origins of the Federal Constitution.

Trial attorney from Illinois Rita L. Gitchell will present theories on the the legal status of human embryos, and Kevin R. Boully, Ph.D. – a litigation and jury consultant – will address how jurors and judges make their decisions. He will also touch on how attorneys can be better advocates and more persuasive in the courtroom. …

Go here for the rest of the story.