January 6, 2013

NYT Puts Story of Leaked ‘Fracking Is Safe’ Report Covered Up for a Year on Page A19

One would think that a newspaper which in its view has largely made its reputation on publishing leaked government documents and revealing government secrets would have been a bit more excited about being the sole receipient of a report from the State of New York indicating that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is safe. The State had already sat on the report for a year.

The Times published the story on January 3, but on Page A19, while changing its original strong title (“Hydrofracking Safe, Says N.Y. Health Dept. Analysis” — seen in the browser window) to a less descriptive, boring, and somewhat deceptive “Gas Drilling Is Called Safe in New York.”


Reactions to December Employment Report: Pethokoukis, IBD, WSJ

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:35 am

James Pethokoukis (bolds are his):

Dismal December jobs report shows another lost year for US workers


Let’s run through some more of the December numbers to gain some perspective:

14.4%: The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes a) part-timers who want full-time work and b) the discouraged who want a job but haven’t searched for work in the prior month because they believe no jobs are available. Same as November.

10.7%: The U-3 unemployment rate if the labor force participation rate were back to its January 2009 level, when President Obama took office.

10.4%: The U-3 unemployment rate if the labor force participation rate were at the 2012 level predicted by the Congressional Budget Office before the Great Recession. This assumes that as the US ages, the LFP will continue to decline.

And this ….

5.2%: The unemployment rate that Team Obama predicted for December 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus.

Investor’s Business Daily (bolds are mine in the rest of this post):

(Browser Window Title) Another Lousy Jobs Report Extends Obama’s Wretched Performance

We’re told Friday’s jobs report is evidence of slow and steady progress. But it actually documents the new normal of Obama’s economy — anemic job growth, chronic long-term unemployment and falling wages.

The 155,000 new jobs created in December weren’t enough to make a dent in unemployment. And at this pace, it will take more than two years just to reach the previous jobs peak set back in January 2008.

And while the unemployment rate of 7.8% appears to be the same as when Obama took office, it obscures the fact that millions have given up looking for jobs and so aren’t being counted as unemployed.

If you account for the unprecedented drop in labor participation under Obama, the real unemployment rate is 10.7%.

Meanwhile, the pool of long-term unemployed was a staggering 4.8 million in December, which is 2 million more than when Obama took office. The average length of unemployment was 38 months — almost 20 months longer than four years ago and 15 months longer than when the recession ended in June 2009.

… real average weekly earnings have dropped about 1% over the past two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And median household income is down 7% since January 2009, according to Sentier Research.

At the Wall Street Journal, an editorial argues that only what the Fed does matters:

Meanwhile, back in the real economy, slow growth continues to define the job market. The economy created 155,000 net new jobs, essentially the same as the 153,000 average monthly pace for all of 2012, which was the same as the average monthly gain in 2011. The jobless rate stayed at 7.8%, after the November rate had been adjusted up a tic from 7.7% due to the Labor Department’s annual revisions.

For the year the economy created about 1.84 million new jobs, which is consistent with the plodding expansion and is barely keeping up with new entrants into the job market. In previous and healthier expansions, the economy created 2.5 million or more net new jobs a year.

The overall labor participation rate actually fell during 2012—to 63.6% of the civilian population from 64% in December 2011. The rate is now down to where it last was in 1981. That suggests more Americans have given up looking for work, gone on disability or retired prematurely because they couldn’t find work.

The December jobs survey is the last one before the tax and spending increases of the fiscal-cliff deal kick in. …

The Keynesians who run the U.S. economy these days are predicting better days ahead now that the worst of the fiscal cliff has been dodged and the housing market is coming back. We’ll see if they’re right, but meanwhile markets are likely to keep their eyes mainly on the masters of the economic universe at the Fed.

The housing market isn’t really “coming back” (graphic is a month old, but updated info hasn’t changed things meaningfully). After shrinking by about well over 60% from it pre-bubble peak, it’s such a small part of the economy that the sector’s growth would have to be explosive to make a difference.

Unfortunately, the Fed can only manipulate. It doesn’t create anything of intrinsic economic value.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (010613)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.


Positivity: Catholic dorms to debut at two secular universities

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Dallas:

Jan 3, 2013 / 04:06 pm

The Newman Student Housing Fund is working to establish faith-based dormitories on two college campuses, housing students starting the fall semester of 2013.

“What makes them work is the community,” Matt Zerrusen, president of Newman Student Housing Fund, told CNA Jan. 2.

“We’re just putting people together in a dorm who are faith-based, and want to keep their faith through college,” he added, and “we’re just putting them in an environment to succeed.”

Florida Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University – Kingsville, both secular universities, will offer student housing coupled with campus ministry for Catholics next academic year.

Groundbreaking for the dorms occurred in October at Kingsville, and in December in Melbourne, the site of Florida Institute of Technology.

Zerrusen said the intention of the dormitories is to provide a faith-based community, without requiring dramatic sacrifices of students – “you don’t have to memorize the Catechism to live here … but we’ll surround you with positive Catholic influences.”

He plans to expand the model to other universities, and is already in discussion with a few campus ministry programs. …

Go here for the rest of the story.