September 20, 2014

Press Ignores Errors, Inaccuracies in Burke’s Plagiarized ‘Jobs Plan’

The real problem with Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s “jobs plan,” the detailed version of which appears to be no longer available at her campaign’s web site, isn’t its plagiarized material. It’s the content. The presence of certain obviously wrong facts and patently pathetic assertions indicates that Ms. Burke, a successful entrepreneur who one would think should have known better, hardly scrutinized her plan at all before allowing its publication.

Thursday evening, BuzzFeed reported that “Large portions of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s jobs plan (saved separately by BuzzFeed — Ed.) for Wisconsin appear to be copied directly from the plans of three Democratic candidates who ran for governor in previous election cycles.” As would be expected, the Associated Press’s Scott Bauer attempted to come to the rescue, finding an “elections expert” who said that “it’s not really plagiarism because the person working for her did it.” But Bauer also noted that Burke “has no plans to change the material, which she called a small part of the 40-page plan,” so criticism of its content remains fair game.

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September 18, 2014

AP Tries to Make Horrid Homebuilding Numbers Palatable

The Census Bureau reported earlier today that seasonally adjusted housing starts and homebuilding permits fell by 14.4 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, in August. The detail wasn’t any better, as the two categories within each statistic — single-family and multiple-dwelling homes — also fell.

You can tell that the news wasn’t seen as good at the Associated Press, because Josh Boak’s related dispatch had already fallen to number nine in the list of the wire service’s top ten business stories by 3:30 p.m. The headline and content at Boak’s report tried to convince readers that apartment-building volatility was almost entirely to blame, and that things are all right in single-family homebuilding. As will be seen, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Initial Unemployment Claims (091814): 280K SA; Raw Claims Down 12 Percent from Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:30 am

Predictions: I only found this one for a drop to 305,000 from 315,000 last week. Ah, here’s Business Insider with the same prediction.

The report will be here shortly.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): We have a major drop —

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 280,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 315,000 to 316,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,500, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 304,000 to 304,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 241,074 in the week ending September 13, an increase of 6,358 (or 2.7 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 37,277 (or 15.9 percent) from the previous week. There were 272,946 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

The seasonal factors hardly changed from year to year (from 85.8 last year to 86.1 this year), so assuming all the raw claims rolled in, the seasonally adjusted drop appears to be legit. Given that August’s job additions were so disappointing, whether today’s news represents improvement or is evidence that employers are just hanging on to the people they have while not hiring additinal help is something that will have to wait two weeks for the jobs data.

September 17, 2014

AP Falsely Claims This Year’s Reported Poverty Drop is ‘First Since 2006′

As been its habit since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Associated Press has, whenever possible, considered the impact of news developments on the President and his party as far more important than what’s actually happening in the lives of real people.

The latest example is the wire service’s coverage of Tuesday’s Census Bureau report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the U.S. Nothing — not even fundamental accuracy, as will be seen shortly — was more important to reporter Jesse J. Holland, the AP’s “Race and Ethnicity writer,” than telling readers that a half-point fall in the poverty rate from 15.0 percent to 14.5 percent, constituted “a bit of encouraging news about the nation’s economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for midterm elections.” The fact that the Obama Era has brought us levels of poverty not seen in 20 years — this year’s figure matches 1994′s — apparently doesn’t matter.

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September 16, 2014

Passages of the Day: On ‘Climate Change’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:47 am

From the New York Post:

Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”

Al Gore was right in one respect: Climate change is a moral issue — but that’s because there is nothing quite so immoral as well-fed, well-housed Westerners assuaging their consciences by wasting huge amounts of money on futile anti-global-warming policies, using money that could instead go to improve living standards in developing countries.

It’s all a bunch of globaloney.

September 12, 2014

Lowering the Bar

5.5 percent unemployment is now “full employment.” Horse manure.

___________________________________________

This column went up at PJ Media Tuesday evening Pacific Time and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

___________________________________________

When they can’t meet established performance standards, the left makes up excuses, lowers the standards, and, if necessary, revises history along the way.

In the economic realm, there’s hardly a better of example of this kind of deliberate responsibility avoidance than what has happened to the idea of “full employment.”

Full employment is supposed to occur when “all … who want to work and are allowed to work are able to find employment.”

The unemployment rate associated with full employment obviously can’t be zero, because there will always be people out of work who are voluntarily or involuntarily moving from one job to another.

What unemployment rate represents full employment? The architects of the Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978 thought it should be 4 percent for Americans age 16 and over. That benchmark is what Richard Nixon used when presenting “full employment” budgets during much of his time in office. Yes, it was a gimmicky maneuver designed to make what were then seen as horrific deficits seem more palatable; but the rate did represent the predominant economic thinking at the time. While we’re in the neighborhood, I should note that the deficits incurred during the early 1970s, considered awful at the time, were chump change, even after accounting for inflation, compared to the $1 trillion-plus annual shortfalls seen during most of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Forty years later, communications have improved tremendously. Unfilled job listings are available within seconds at any number of web sites attempting to match employees with employers. Applicants send resumes online instead of through the mail. One would therefore expect that the full-employment unemployment rate would have fallen, or at the very least remained the same.

Thus, I was initially quite relieved on September 4 when I sat in on the ADP Employment Report conference call. Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, the report’s overseer, told his audience that he expects that the economy will continue to generate 200,000 or more private-sector jobs each month as far as the eye can see, and that this serendipitous consistency will bring the U.S. economy to full employment by the end of 2016.

He further clarified his prediction by optimistically forecasting that most of today’s workforce dropouts will get back into the game during that time, and that most of those who are currently working part-time but would prefer full-time jobs will find them. Those two assumptions were a bit hard to take, but it’s his conference call, and he can predict what he wants. (The next day’s employment report from the government, which showed only a 142,000 pickup in seasonally adjusted jobs, threw cold water on Zandi’s sunny optimism. He didn’t handle it well.)

But Zandi then noted that all of this would return us to full employment for the first time “in a decade.” That seemed odd.

This is where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood from 2004 through 2007:

Unemployment2004to2007

Though the economy posted unemployment rates of 5 percent or lower for 31 consecutive months, including almost a year at or around 4.5 percent, it never got to what I had understood to be the commonly accepted definition of full employment for decades.

But Zandi said it did. So when the call opened up for questions, I asked him what he thought the unemployment rate would be at the end of 2016 when we hit full-employment nirvana.

I was stunned at the answer: 5.5 percent.

It gets worse.

When I asked him if this benchmark meant that we were somehow at more than full employment in 2006 and 2007, he said “yes,” contending that there was significant upward pressure on wages during that time. Does anyone remember that we had a seller’s market for labor throughout the U.S. in the mid-2000s? With rare exceptions in certain sections of the country, neither do I.

When I mentioned that his full-employment unemployment rate was quite a bit higher than I was used to seeing by about 1.5 percentage points, Zandi went further into the land of the absurd. He asserted that full employment was commonly regarded as 5 percent last decade — this 2007 article in the New York Times confirms that — but that the economic damage caused by the recession had upwardly moved that standard to 5.5 percent.

In other words, it’s Bush’s fault — apparently forever — that the rate is now a half-point higher. The economy fell, and it will never entirely get back up. You can’t make this garbage up. This permanent half-point upward move must have been discovered after the Obama administration was done promoting the idea that its 2009 stimulus package would lower the unemployment rate to 5 percent — by the middle of 2013. How convenient.

In a far more efficient communications environment, why did the accepted full-employment unemployment rate rise at all?

Part of the answer is that there are many people who believe that the increase never should have happened. That group, strangely enough, includes card-carrying liberals Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker. It also includes the folks at the American Institute for Full Employment. Its president, John Courtney, goes further. In an email, he specifically asserted his group’s belief that “full employment is below the 4%” Bernstein and Baker advocated in late 2013.

It’s hard to disagree with Mr. Courtney, given that a July 2014 table at the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed six states with rates below 4 percent. Only one of them, North Dakota, where the unemployment rate was 2.8 percent and starting wages at Wal-Mart can be as high as $17 per hour, is seeing significant wage pressure. This strongly suggests that the real-world unemployment rate at full employment is about 3.5 percent.

What has really happened is that the left-dominated establishment economics community has lowered the bar for full employment to avoid having to discuss the welfare state’s pervasive work disincentives and their own Keynesian policies’ utter failure to satisfactorily revive the job market.

How pathetic.

September 11, 2014

On Immigration, Jeff Sessions Totally Gets It

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:32 pm

This is from National Review, in full, reflecting a speech the Alabama senator gave today.

Sessions says many things I’ve been meaning to say in snips for months. Since they’re all in one place, do read the whole thing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Don’t Give the Masters of the Universe Their Amnesty
The Senate isn’t doing anything to stop Obama’s plans — thank the plutocrats.

By Jeff Sessions

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday evening about Senate Democrats’ refusal to support legislation to block the president’s proposed executive actions on immigration policy, and the interests supporting amnesty. Following is an adapted version of his remarks.

Earlier this week I spoke about the president’s promise that he would issue an executive amnesty to 5 or 6 million people. The planned amnesty would include work permits, photo IDs, and Social Security numbers for millions of people who illegally entered the U.S., illegally overstayed their visas, or defrauded U.S. immigration authorities.

The Senate Democratic conference has supported and enabled the president’s unlawful actions and blocked every effort to stop them. Not even one of our Democratic colleagues has backed the House legislation that would stop this planned executive amnesty or demanded that Senator Reid bring it up for a vote. Every Senate Democrat is therefore the president’s partner in his planned lawless acts.

Tonight I would like to talk about the influence of special interests on our nation’s immigration system. How did we get to the point where elected officials, activist groups, the ACLU, and global CEOs are openly working to deny American workers the immigration protections to which they are legally entitled? How did we get to the point where the Democratic party is prepared to nullify and wipe away the immigration laws of the United States of America?

Just yesterday Majority Leader Reid wrote in a tweet something that was shocking. He said: “Since House Republicans have failed to act on immigration, I know the President will. When he does, I hope he goes Real Big.”

Let this sink in for a moment. The majority leader of the Senate is bragging that he knows the president will circumvent Congress to issue executive amnesty to millions, and he is encouraging the president to ensure this amnesty includes as many people as possible. And the White House has acknowledged that 5 to 6 million is the number they are looking at.

Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to reject Mr. Reid’s statement? Has one Senate Democrat stepped forward to say: I support the legislation passed by the House of Representatives that would secure the border and block this executive amnesty? Have they ever said they support that? Have they ever said: I will do everything in my power to see that the House legislation gets a vote in the Senate so the American people can know what is going on? No. All we hear is silence.

This body is not run by one man. We don’t have a dictator in the great Senate. Every member has a vote. And the only way Senator Reid can succeed in blocking this Senate from voting to stop the president’s executive actions is for members to stop supporting him.

Every senator needs to stand up and represent their constituents — not big business, not the ACLU, not activist groups, not political interests, but the American interests, the workers’ interests. That is what we need to expect from them, and we don’t have but a few weeks, it looks like, to get it done.

In effect, the entire Senate Democratic conference has surrendered the jobs, wages, and livelihoods of their constituents to a group of special interests meeting in secret at the White House. They are surrendering them to executive actions that will foist on the nation what Congress has refused to pass and the American people have rejected. They are plotting at the White House to move forward with executive action no matter what the people think and no matter what Congress — through the people’s House — has decided.

Politico reports that “White House officials conducted more than 20 meetings in July and August with legal experts, immigration advocates and business leaders to gather ideas on what should be included in the order.”

So who are these so-called expert advocates and business leaders? They are not the law-enforcement officers; they are not our ICE officers; they are not our Border Patrol officers; they are not the American working man and woman; they are not unemployed Americans. They weren’t in the room. You can be sure of that. Their opinions weren’t sought.

No, White House officials are meeting with the world’s most powerful corporate and immigration lobbyists and activists who think border controls are for the little people. The administration is meeting with the elite, the cosmopolitan set, who scorn and mock the concerns of everyday Americans who are concerned about their schools, jobs, wages, communities, and hospitals. These great and powerful citizens of the world don’t care much about old-fashioned things like national boundaries, national sovereignty, and immigration control — let alone the constitutional separation of powers.

Well, don’t you get it? They believe they are always supposed to get whatever it is they want. They are used to that. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, one report says they have spent $1.5 billion since 2007 trying to pass their desired immigration bill — $1.5 billion. They tried and tried and tried to pass the bill through Congress, but the American people said: No, no, no. So they decided to just go to the president. They decide to go to President Obama, and they insist that he implement these measures through executive fiat. And Senate Democrats have apparently said: Well, that is just a wonderful idea. We support that. Just do it. Go big. But, Mr. President, wait a little bit. Wait until after the election. We don’t want the voters to hold us accountable for what you are doing. We want to pretend we in the Senate have nothing to do with it.

One of the groups that have joined the chorus of special interests demanding executive action on immigration is FWD.us, run by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He just turned 30, and I understand he is worth about $30 billion.

Mr. Zuckerberg has been very busy recently. One of his fellow billionaires, Mr. Carlos Slim — maybe the world’s richest man — invited Mr. Zuckerberg down to Mexico City to give a speech. What did Mr. Zuckerberg promote in his speech? Well, this is a report of it.

I guess I will first note that young Mr. Zuckerberg maybe doesn’t know there is a deep American tradition — a tradition in most developed nations — that you don’t go to a foreign capital to criticize your own government. I suppose he doesn’t know about that. They probably didn’t teach him about that when he was at one of the elite schools he attended.

This is what he said in Mexico City: “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”

Well, the “masters of the universe” are very fond of open borders as long as these open borders don’t extend to their gated compounds and fenced-off estates.

I have another article from late last fall that was printed in Business Insider about Mr. Zuckerberg’s actions. The headline is “Mark Zuckerberg Just Spent More than $30 Million Buying 4 Neighboring Houses for Privacy.” The article says:

Mark Zuckerberg just made an unusual purchase. Well, four purchases. Facebook’s billionaire founder bought four homes surrounding his current home near Palo Alto,Mercury News Reports. The houses cost him more than $30 million, including one 2,600 square-foot home that cost $14 million. (His own home is twice as large at 5,000 square-feet and cost half as much.) Larry Page made a similar move a few years ago so he could build a 6,000-square-foot mansion. But Zuckerberg’s reason is different. He doesn’t want to live in excess, he just wants a little privacy.

That is a world the average American doesn’t live in.

So Mr. Zuckerberg — who has become the top spokesman for expanding the admission of foreign workers — championed the Senate immigration bill for which all of our Democratic colleagues voted. One of the things the bill did was double the supply of low-wage foreign workers brought into the United States for companies such as Facebook.

Many of us have heard for a long time the claim that there is a shortage of STEM and IT workers. This has been the central sales pitch used by those making demands for massive increases in foreign-worker programs across the board — programs that bring in workers for every sector in the U.S. economy. But we know otherwise from the nation’s leading academics, people who studied this issue and are professionals in it. I have a recent op-ed here from USA Today which reports that there is actually not a shortage but a surplus of Americans who have been trained in the STEM and IT fields and that this is why wages for these fields have not increased since 1999.

If you have a shortage of workers in a field such as information technology or science and mathematics, wages go up, do they not? If wages are not up, we don’t have a shortage.

So rich high-tech companies are using the H-1B visa program to keep wages down and to hire less expensive workers from abroad. Indeed, the same companies demanding more guest workers are laying off American workers in droves.

I would like to read some excerpts from that op-ed published in USA Today. The article was co-authored by five of the nation’s experts on labor markets and the guest-worker program. I think it tells a story that has not been refuted. We have partisans and advocates who have been claiming there is a shortage in these fields, but the experts say no. And since they have been speaking out on this issue, we have seen no real data that would dispute what they say in this article dated July 27, 2014.

Headline: “Bill Gates’ tech worker fantasy.” Sub-headline: “Silicon Valley has created an imaginary staffing shortage.”

Business executives and politicians endlessly complain that there is a “shortage” of qualified Americans and that the U.S. must admit more high-skilled guest workers to fill jobs in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. This claim is echoed by everyone from President Obama and Rupert Murdoch to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Yet within the past month, two odd things occurred: Census reported that only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job, and Microsoft announced plans to downsize its workforce by 18,000 jobs.

The five writers of this article — referring to themselves — go on to say:

None of us have been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.

The article was written by Ron Hira, Paula Stephan, Hal Salzman, Michael Teitelbaum, who has recently written a book on this subject, and Norm Matloff. These are labor-economics experts who have studied these issues for years. Many of them have testified before Congress. They say:

None of us have been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.

What a statement that is.

They go on to write — they all signed this article together — that:

If a shortage did exist, wages would be rising as companies try to attract scarce workers. Instead, legislation that expanded visas for IT personnel during the 1990s has kept average wages flat over the past 16 years. Indeed, guest workers have become the predominant source of new hires in these fields.

The “predominant source of new hires” in information-technology fields is guest-worker programs from abroad.

They go on to say:

Those supporting even greater expansion seem to have forgotten about the hundreds and thousands of American high-tech workers who are being shortchanged — by wages stuck at 1998 levels, by diminished career prospects and by repeated rounds of layoffs.

They go on to say:

There is an ample supply of American workers who are willing and qualified to fill high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether the supply is two or three times larger than the demand.

There is no doubt we have a surplus of IT workers. The question is whether the supply is two or three times as big as the number of job openings.

They go on to say:

Unfortunately, companies are exploiting the large existing flow of guest workers to deny American workers access to STEM careers and middle-class security that should come with them. Imagine, then, how many more Americans would be frozen out of the middle class if politicians and tech moguls succeeded in doubling or tripling the flow of guest workers into STEM occupations.

That is exactly what the bill before this Senate — the bill the House of Representatives rejected — would have done. It would have doubled the number of guest workers coming into America just to take jobs — coming in for the very purpose of taking a job that we need Americans to be taking.

The article goes on: “Another major, yet often overlooked, provision in the pending legislation” — that is the bill President Obama is pushing for, the Gang of Eight bill — “would grant automatic green cards to any foreign student who earns a graduate degree in a STEM field, based on assertions that foreign graduates of U.S. universities are routinely being forced to leave. Such claims are incompatible with the evidence that such graduates have many paths to stay and work, and indeed the ‘stay rates’ for visiting international students are very high and have shown no sign of decline. The most recent study finds that 92 percent of Chinese Ph.D. students stay in America to work after graduation.”

So there is this myth that we have thousands and thousands of students graduating from schools and being sent home. That is not accurate, according to the experts who study the data.

The article continues:

The tech industry’s promotion of expanded temporary visas (such as the H-1B) and green cards is driven by a desire for cheap, young and immobile labor. It is well documented that loopholes enable firms to legally pay H-1Bs below their market value and to continue the widespread age discrimination acknowledged by many in the tech industry.

I talked to a gentleman whom I knew a little bit who worked at a computer company. He is well into his 40s, maybe close to 50. I asked him what kind of security there is. He said, well, in the tech industry these companies go and fall. I said, what happens if you were to lose your job? He said, at my age, it would be very difficult.

The USA Today op-ed concludes by saying:

IT industry leaders have spent lavishly on lobbying to promote their STEM shortage claims among legislators. The only problem is that the evidence contradicts their self-interested claims.

So I would pose a question to Mr. Zuckerberg. I read in the news that Facebook is now worth more than $200 billion. Is that not enough money to hire American workers for a change? Your company now employs roughly 7,000 people. Let’s say you want to expand your workforce 10 percent, or hire another 700 workers. Are you claiming you can’t find 700 Americans who would take these jobs if you paid a good wage and decent benefits?

Let me just say one more thing: Facebook has 7,000 workers. Microsoft just laid off 18,000. Why doesn’t Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend Mr. Gates and say: Look, I have to hire a few hundred people; do you have any résumés you can send over here? Maybe I will not have to take somebody from a foreign country for a job an unemployed U.S. citizen might take.

There is this myth that we have surging employment in the high-tech industry.

As Byron York reported, Hewlett-Packard, a high-tech company, “laid off 29,000 employees in 2012” — 29,000. “In August of 2013, Cisco announced plans to lay off 4,000 workers in addition to the 8,000 cut in the last 2 years,” and Cisco was right in the White House this summer with a group of other companies demanding more workers from abroad. Cisco was signing a letter with a bunch of other companies: “United Technologies has announced 3,000 layoffs this year”; “American Express cut 5,400 jobs”; “Procter and Gamble announced 5,700 jobs cut in 2012”; “T-Mobile announced plans to lay off 2,250 employees in 2012.”

“According to a recent Reuters report,” York writes, overall “U.S. employers announced 50,000 layoffs in August of 2013, up 34 percent from the previous month, then up 57 percent through August 2012.”

There is no shortage of workers.

But FWD.us and other immigration lobbyists are working with the White House to extract executive orders from the president that provide them with the same financial benefits that were included in the Senate bill that was rejected by the House of Representatives. One proposal would increase by as much as 800,000 the number of foreign workers admitted for the explicit purpose of taking jobs in the United States.

A recent Associated Press article, entitled “Obama Weighs Broader Move on Legal Immigration” reports that “President Barack Obama is considering key changes in the nation’s immigration system requested by tech, industry and powerful interest groups.” Not by the American people was he being requested to do this, not by the national interest, but by “powerful interest groups” that are referred to here.

It goes on to say:

After recent White House meetings, top officials have compiled specific recommendations from business groups and other advocates.

“Other advocates.” Who are they? We know the ACLU has been there. We know La Raza has been meeting there on a regular basis. It goes on. The article says:

One of the more popular requests is a change in the way green cards are counted that would essentially free up some 800,000 additional visas the first year, advocates say. . . . Other requests would extend work permits to the spouses of all temporary H-1B skilled workers who have not been able to work.

But how about the fact that a single mom might like that job? An unemployed single mom or a single mom who has a job prospect that would pay $3 more than the job she is now working while trying to raise a family? Or an unemployed father? Maybe they would like those jobs first.

So these actions fall on the heels of previous executive action in which the president already acted unilaterally earlier this year to grant companies an additional 100,000 guest workers. He has already done that. In just the first year of this order, it adds 100,000 guest workers by providing work authorizations to the foreign spouses of temporary guest workers. It would increase the supply of guest workers by approximately 30,000 each year thereafter — this at a time when we have 58 million working-age Americans who are not working. Since 2009 the number of adults has increased by 13 million, while the number of people actually working has decreased by 7 million.

Median household income has dropped $2,300 since 2009. According to the National Employment Law Project, wages are down across all occupations.

A CBS report titled “Why American workers feel increasingly poor” writes of the NELP’s study:

Real median hourly wages have declined across low, middle and high income levels from 2009 to 2013, the study found. No matter if workers were in the lowest bracket ($8.84 to $10.85 an hour) or the highest ($31.40 to $86.34) median hourly wages declined when you take into account the impact of inflation.

It goes on: “Across all occupations, real median hourly wages slipped 3.4 percent since 2009. While even better-paid workers saw median hourly earnings erode, the worst hit segments were at the bottom” — the people who got hurt the most were at the bottom — “with declines in their wages of more than 4 percent.”

We have business CEOs, lobbyists, activists, immigration groups, and clever politicians who demand that we have to have even more workers brought into America even when we have a decline in wages and a decline in jobs. But what does the president do? His administration issues an executive order to provide foreign spouses — the citizens of other countries, not American citizens — with 100,000 jobs in the United States, precious jobs that many Americans would love to have. How many American spouses struggling to support their families would benefit from one of those jobs? How many single moms would benefit from a chance to earn a better paycheck?

Our Senate Democratic friends talk about paycheck fairness repeatedly. Yet they are supporting policies that take jobs and wages directly from American women by the millions.

Immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interest and the people of the United States, not the interests of a few activist CEOs and the politicians who are catering to them. We have had 40 years of mass immigration combined with falling wages, a shrinking workplace, and exploding welfare rolls. We know that, don’t we, friends and colleagues? It is time for a shift in emphasis. It is time to get our own people back to work, and our communities out of poverty, and our schools back on their feet.

Harvard professor Dr. George Borjas — who is probably the leading academic in this entire area and has been for many years — estimates that our current immigration rate results in an annual loss of more than $400 billion in wages for Americans competing with immigrant labor. Between 2000 and today the government issued nearly 30 million visas to temporary foreign workers and permanent immigrants, largely lower-skilled and lower-wage.

A recent Reuters poll showed that Americans wish to see record immigration reduced, not increased (as the Gang of Eight bill would have done), by a huge 3-to-1 margin.

Another poll from pollster Kellyanne Conway recently showed that 80 percent of Americans think companies should hire from among the existing unemployed rather than bringing in new workers from abroad to fill these jobs. Yet Senate Democrats have unanimously supported legislation to double the annual supply of labor brought into the United States. These workers would be brought in to take jobs in every field, occupation, and industry in America.

So what about the good, decent, and patriotic citizens of our country who fight our wars, who obey our laws, who follow our rules, and want a better future for their children? Should their needs not come first?

As National Review explained, we are “a nation with an economy, not an economy with a nation.” We cannot put the parochial demands of a few powerful CEOs ahead of an entire nation’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

The basic social contract is that citizens agree to follow the law, pay their taxes, and devote their love and loyalty to their country, and in exchange the nation commits to preserve and protect and serve their interests, safeguard their freedom, and return to them in kind their first allegiance and loyalty.

The job of elected officials is to answer to the people who sent them to Washington — not to scorn them, not to demean them, not to mock them, and not to sell their jobs and dreams to the highest bidder.

I yield the floor.

Just When You Thought Initial Unemployment Claims Might Become Not-Newsworthy …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:15 am

… they’ve headed up again.

From the Department of Labor (HT to commenter steveegg for the heads-up):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 315,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 302,000 to 304,000. The 4-week moving average was 304,000, an increase of 750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 302,750 to 303,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 234,403 in the week ending September 6, a decrease of 15,377 (or -6.2 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 24,006 (or -9.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 229,648 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

The seasonal adjustment factors for this year and the same week last year were virtually identical. And in both cases, it was the short week after Labor Day. But a year-over-year rise in actual weekly claims is troubling, given that the same comparison has been running at -5 percent to -10 percent or more for almost every week in the past couple of years.

If this is as good as it gets, it’s not good enough.

September 10, 2014

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Lowering the Bar’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:14 pm

It’s here.

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

The column is a reaction to Moody’s economist Mark Zandi’s contention in the ADP jobs report conference call on Thursday, September 4 that “full employment” should now be defined as 5.5 percent unemployment.

Politico: N.Y. Governor Cuomo Has an ‘At-times Centrist Governing Style’

The Politico’s email Tuesday night announcing incumbent Andrew Cuomo’s primary victory in New York over a far-left opponent described the incumbent Democratic governor as having an “at-times centrist governing style.”

Surely that nonsense wouldn’t make it into the online publication’s actual story, I thought. But of course, it did. This about a governor who has openly advocated confiscating guns, and who has said that “extreme conservatives” who believe in the sanctity of life and understand the Second Amendment’s clear meaning “have no place in the State of New York.” Excerpts from Elizabeth Titus’s travesty follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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September 9, 2014

CNBC’s Mangan Spins Bad-News Obamacare Poll Into ‘Obama-Who-Cares’

CNBC’s Dan Mangan, last seen at NewsBusters claiming that the American people want politicians to just “shut up about Obamacare,” is out with a column today reacting to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest Affordable Care Act-related polling effort.

Sarah Ferris at the Hill also reviewed the poll, and has two primary messages for readers. First, “support for ObamaCare continues to fall.” Second, “Healthcare remains one of the most important issues in midterm elections, ranking only behind the economy and jobs as voters’ top issue.” To be clear “the economy and jobs” is considered one issue. So it’s really pathetic how Mangan twisted the same poll Ferris covered (bolds are mine):

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In 4-1/2 Years, 10 Million Private-Sector Jobs — and 7 Million More on Food Stamps

The press is good at putting the most positive spin possible on the monthly job-market news. But at the same time, many of its members still claim that food stamp enrollment remains as high as it is because of the lingering effects of the (Bush did it) recession.

On Friday, following the release of August’s employment numbers, Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez celebrated how “businesses have added more than 10 million jobs over the last four and a half years,” and have done so for “54 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, the longest streak on record.” All true, though average job growth during that time has resembled an underperforming baseball player who somehow manages to go 1-for-5 or barely better every day. Meanwhile, food stamp enrollment has increased by 6.8 million.

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September 8, 2014

AP Howler: ‘Job Market Has Improved by Pretty Much Every Gauge Except Pay’

The Obama administration-prepared koolaid delivered to the Associated Press’s economics writers on Monday must have been extraordinarily concentrated.

How else can you explain how the AP’s Christopher Rugaber could have written the following — “The U.S. job market has steadily improved by pretty much every gauge except … Pay” — without doubling over with laughter? No, Chris. The reason pay hasn’t improved is because a whole lot of other “gauges” aren’t where they should be.

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September 7, 2014

AP Seems Stunned That Japan’s Economy Is Shrinking After Huge Tax Hike

The smug self-confidence of financial analysts and writers who predicted that Japan’s monstrous sales tax increase would have no long-term effect on its economy should be severely shaken.

An Associated Press report tonight by business writer Elaine Kurtenbach tells readers that the Land of the Rising Sun’s economy “contracted at a larger than earlier estimated annual rate of 7.1 percent in April-June, as companies and households slashed spending following a tax hike.” This means that the “experts” who assured everyone that the second-quarter contraction would be smaller than or merely offset the brisk first-quarter expansion of 6 percent were horribly wrong.

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September 5, 2014

August Employment Situation Summary (090514): MALAISE — 141K Jobs Added, Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.1 Percent, Participation Percentages at or Near All-Time Lows

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:10 am

Econ catchup:

Predictions:

  • Yesterday, the Associated Press carried a prediction of 220,000 jobs gained, with an unemployment rate drop to 6.1 percent.
  • Bloomberg — “Payrolls, jobless rate: The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists projects 230,000 workers were added last month after a 209,000 increase in July. Such a gain would match this year’s average and, if sustained, would make 2014 the strongest in 15 years. The jobless rate is forecast to fall to 6.1 percent in August from 6.2 percent.”

Not Seasonally Adjusted Benchmarks

Here’s the history of the raw and seasonally adjusted data (000s omitted):

NSAandSAestabJobs0100to0714

In light of the above, today’s benchmarks for legitimately impressive job-market performance — a performance which would bring us to “full employment” well before the completely unacceptable prediction of December 2016 cited yesterday in the ADP conference call — would be 475,000 jobs added overall, with 250,000 added in the private sector. Those results would probably yield seasonally adjusted results in the 275K-300K range.

Raw job adds overall appear to be on an upward trajectory during the past three years, likely because the payroll period containing the 12th of August (this year being the week ending August 15) is includes more and more school personnel who are returning to their classrooms and offices earlier each year.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent full HTML link) — Whoa:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 142,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Household Survey Data

In August, both the unemployment rate (6.1 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (9.6 million) changed little. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.1 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in August showed little or no change for adult men (5.7 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.6 percent), whites (5.3 percent), blacks (11.4 percent), and Hispanics (7.5 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 4.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little
changed from a year earlier.

… The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in August at 7.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

… Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 142,000 in August, compared with an average monthly gain of 212,000 over the prior 12 months. In August, job growth occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

Professional and business services added 47,000 jobs in August and has added 639,000 over the past year. In August, management of companies and enterprises gained 8,000 jobs. Employment continued to trend up over the month in administrative and support services (+23,000), architectural and engineering services (+3,000), and in management and technical consulting services (+3,000).

… In August, retail trade employment was little changed (-8,000). Food and beverage stores lost 17,000 jobs; this industry was impacted by employment disruptions at a grocery store chain in New England. Elsewhere in retail trade, automobile dealers added 5,000 jobs.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +298,000 to +267,000, and the change for July was revised from +209,000 to +212,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 28,000 less than previously reported.

Including prior-month changes, only 114,000 more people were working at payroll jobs in Auguat than in July (142K minus the -31K revision to June plus the +3K revision to July).

Not seasonally adjusted benchmark results —
- Total Nonfarm: 327K jobs added vs. 475K benchmark.
- Private-sector: 118K jobs added vs. 250K benchmark.

Not good at all.

Observations:

  • The malaise continues: The workforce shrunk by a seasonally adjusted 64K. Not in labor force: a record 92.27 million.
  • Part-timers were down by 327K, while full-timers were up by 127K. That implies a Household Survey loss of 200K, but the topside change is +16K. Isn’t seasonalization great?
  • I guess BLS has decided that talking about temps in their report is a bad idea, because the 13K jobs added there was noteworthy, but was ignored.