Good Signs?

Yesterday there was a report on jobs and employment in the United States. And the news was good. In fact, the news was better than anybody expected! Unemployment is at a 7 year low. The economy is not just showing signs of growth, but robust economic growth.

Nor was this “growth only an economist could love.” Many things I’ve been harping on for years got better: wages grew faster than inflation; more people are working; there’s growth in more areas; more people are working full time! I’m not ready to say yet that the economy is all healed up — I know too many people who are unemployed or underemployed — but I’m willing to say that the light at the end of the tunnel is probably not a train.

Now all the Very Smart People are talking about how the Fed will now have an excuse to raise the interest rates banks charge one another when they meet next month. Some are saying that’s a bad thing. However, I think it’s long overdue.


Just Keep Squeezing.

Yeah, just keep squeezing the American people.

Keep spying on them while pretending it’s for their own good — does anybody think they will stop just because a judge said so?

Keep saying that if you have a bad job it’s your own damn fault, so shut up and eat your crap wages and your crap hours that make it impossible to do anything to improve your lot.

Keep saying that free trade agreements are always good and always create jobs despite evidence to the contrary, and how dare you want to know what’s actually in the free trade agreement. You’re just wrong!

Keep blaming the “other,” whether that means Jews or Homosexuals or “Thugs” or “immigrantsor whoever for the things that are wrong.

Just don’t be surprised if the kettle boils over.

In Closing: as we said in grade school, “no duh“; wonder how many years that path will take to trudge.


So, another jobs report came out today. Now, remember that economists believe it takes 150-200k new jobs gained each month to keep up with new people entering the workforce. Obviously that’s an average, and also obviously June is one of those months that a disproportionate number of people get out of school and start looking for jobs. Keep that in the back of your head, even though it’s not going to get mentioned elsewhere.

In June, the United States added 288,000 jobs, roughly 10% of which were government jobs. Unemployment is down to a mere 6.1% nationally. And there’s more good news hidden behind the headline: average manufacturing workweek is above 40 hours, so theoretically factories need more workers now; long term unemployed is down to [a still depressing] ~3,100,000.

Of course there’s bad news hidden too: average workweek overall was 34.5 hours; wages aren’t up; when you include the underemployed and discouraged workers, unemployment looks more like 12.1%. Think about that: just under of 1 in 8 workers is either working part time when they want full time work, or has given up on finding work at all!

As a guy with more expertise than me summarized, it’s “meh.” Or perhaps you prefer the more technical “yawn.”

Nevertheless, Wall Street went WHEEEEE! on anticipation that the Fed might actually raise interest rates.

Oh, and it turns out that the states with the most job growth are the ones with those “job killing” higher minimum wages.


In Closing: Oh yeah, get those sweet sweet NSA and spying on Americans and the world links here; free science books; birth control Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling follow up links; problem solved!; media points out what many of us have been saying for years; apparently I’m the only one surprised that Maliki is alive and actually in charge of anything; when a red cross blanket on a gym floor is soooo much better than home [insert sad face here]; for pity sake, use seat belts and make sure the kids buckle up too; and then they wonder why the locals are pissed at them.

Music Monday: An Interesting Discovery

It turns out that locally, used economy cars are much more expensive than similar used luxury cars. A 10 year old Toyota or Scion in decent condition is $2000-4000 more than a 10 year old Lexus, despite the fact that they have almost identical drivetrains. The same holds true for Honda vs. Acura.

One more thing: JP is having a rough time. If you are in a position to help (or better yet, offer him a job!), please reach out.

In Closing: on employment, unemployment, underemployment, wages, poverty, the minimum wage, and the new normal.

Unemployment and Underemployment Mythbusting

According to the current conservative narrative, the unemployed and underemployed are what they are because they are lazy. They’re not doing what it takes to get a job. They’re not willing to get educated for the so-called Jobs Of Tomorrow. They’re not willing to step down to take a job that doesn’t pay enough to cover their rent.

It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that nationwide, there are more than 3 unemployed people for every 1 job opening. Nope, that couldn’t be a factor.

It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that some help wanted ads are written to require an impossible montage of skills, and employers aren’t interested in spending more than 3 minutes training someone. Nope, easier to hire nobody. Easier to whine to the Feds that there are no qualified Americans and we need to import an underpaid foreigner who allegedly has these skills. I say suspend the H-1B program until unemployment is under 6%!

If getting a degree were some kind of magic “get a good job” spell, we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of people with graduate degrees taking food stamps.

Let’s stop victim-blaming when it comes to unemployment. Attacking the work ethic of most unemployed people is like blaming a rape victim for wearing a skirt. We need to focus on the real issues that cause unemployment.

In Closing: sounds like hype to me; avocados; Shaun T makes Dr. Oz sweat; geeks; and animal research.

Things really are tough all over

Maybe you saw the report showing that the net worth of the average American family is down almost 40%. It’s down to the levels we had during the Original Bush Administration (oh, and Happy 88th Birthday to him).

Now, of course that’s partly because home prices are down to where they were a decade ago. But it’s also because unemployment is still over 8%. And even for those who are employed, last year inflation adjusted income is roughly what it was in 1968. And we’ve still got discouraged workers and the underemployed.

The nicest thing I can say is that at least household debt is going down. Of course, it’s going down for the bad reasons —  like ditching the house that will never be worth what it sold for 5 years ago.

It is still the economy, “stupid.”

In Closing: how is this different than the Bush Administration, exactly?; has anything really changed about the Vatican since Alexander VI?; at least violent crime is down; the impossible dream; now I have really no reason to watch mainstream news unless it’s local; the disappearing phone booth; and illiteracy.

Beauty is Everywhere


In Closing: More Kip Hawley; permission to work or state sanctioned restriction of trade?; almost half of Americans have nothing saved for retirement; underemployed; surprised?; and my, they’re recruiting terrorists early these days.

The Girl who Played with Shorties

And They Wonder Why the Peasants are Revolting: Even the market news pundits at Marketwatch get it: “In one America, one in 10 of those able to work are unemployed. In the other, Wall Street’s America, bonuses are set to increase.”

Social Security Round Up: I thought about doing a Social Security post, but so many people have already said what needs saying. To whit, most of us have small enough “savings,” “home equity,” and/or “market gains” that we expect to depend at least partly on Social Security (some people depended on it before they even fully appreciated what it was). Social Security needs to be the issue in November, because “saving,” “privatizing,” and all those other words mean nothing more than “destroy.” All those people talking about how “broke” Social Security don’t understand how it works and have an ulterior motive for “reforming” (again, synonym for “destroying”) it. Don’t look at Chile without seeing the whole picture.

Speaking of the Reid vs. Angle race: If this weren’t a race with truly nationwide implications, I wouldn’t spend so much time on elections in an entire state with a population lower than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. But Senator Reid is the Majority Leader, and Sharron Angle is one of the highest profile teabaggers running. The press is rightfully all over it. Anyway, it’s a tight race.

The Party of Personal Responsibility: Oh! And our other Senator is blaming a “liberal organization” for his woes: namely that he had an adulterous affair and then tried to cover it up by making sure his mistress’s husband was, ahem, taken care of monetarily. Right. ‘Cause his “can’t keep it in his pants” problem? That’s totally the fault of liberals.

Everybody has seen this by now, right?: How dare unemployed people not accept low paying jobs or opportunities that require them to move halfway around the world, ungrateful wretches. Meanwhile, first time unemployment insurance claims are up.

China Knows Better: They know they can’t make do with a Latte Economy. There’s more to a vibrant economy than egg rolls and laundromats. They build stuff, and when they don’t know how to build it they make the West teach them how.

Chuck is Right: Seriously, he’s just a tweak more conservative than I, but this is spot on: “If the number of illegal aliens in this country is something like 20M, you can be real sure that drugs and other criminal activities isn’t what needs addressed. The job picture is what needs [to be] addressed. Enforcement of the pissant employment laws is virtually non-existent, employers know that the chance of getting caught out is tiny and the fines small enough to cover with their illegal hire profits.” Fewer fences, more crackdowns on employers who like workers that don’t stand up for any rights.

They like to call it an “Emergency Department” now: At least there are fewer uninsured people showing up in the ER.

Oh just come out and call Abe Lincoln a damn Liberal: “The genius of Lincoln — and it’s really the greatest historical legacy of the Republican Party — is that all individuals were to be treated based who they are, not who their parents were.” The 14th Amendment is brilliant in its simplicity. It does not need to be repealed, revised, or “interpreted“. Speaking of which, screaming over Anderson Cooper on national television is not a way to be taken seriously.

Priorities: when you think Jimmy Carter outranks Tim McVeigh, the Rosenbergs, John Wilkes Booth, and Benedict Freaking Arnold as worst person in American History, you have some truly messed up ways of thinking. Where’s Lee Harvey Oswald? Oh right, he killed a liberal so that makes him a hero I guess. I’m guessing the criteria included that they be American, which is why Osama and Emperor Hirohito are left out.

This one’s for you, JP: Hal Turner is guilty.

Popularity Counts: Over 25 most popular things. Take it for what it’s worth. I’m glad my car isn’t a “popular” color. I had a devil of a time finding that silver Civic on a parking lot!

I don’t intend to discuss Ground Zero again: Barbara lays it out.

What were they thinking?: No, you can’t legally prevent people from talking to one another at the mall.

Listen up, Ladies: a new “morning after” contraceptive is now approved by the FDA, and is good up to 5 days later.

Things are tough all over: Kroger is expanding their selection of store brand beauty products.

Blame the GOP: So says a Reagan Insider!

Are… Are World Leaders Supposed to Look Like That?: The caption makes the image even stranger.

Reform. For Freedom.

We have officially gotten to the point where corporations control us.

They control how much money we are allowed to make. They control our finances on the national, international, and personal level — badly. They control our health care in a system that is doomed to collapse under the weight of its own expense real soon now. Worst of all, they play by whatever rules they like while squeezing ordinary people to desperation. Now they have a green light to even more openly control our government.

And unless this worthless Congress remembers that the one thing corporations can’t do — yet, anyway — is vote, things are going to get worse rather than better. We desperately need real financial reform now, the kind that restores rules that worked through most of the 20th century and not the kind so riddled with loopholes as to be a gift to the financial services industry. We need insurance reform that puts more of our health care dollars to work providing health care and curtailing the abuse of patients who foolishly want the care they think they (or their bosses) are paying for, not a “reform” that forces everyone to participate in a broken system through mandatory coverage.

I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” the song goes. Free to do what? Free to get involved in staged protests of issues we don’t understand? Free to loudly proclaim “facts” with no basis in reality? Free to watch propaganda dressed up as news? Free to owe everything to the companies that hire us, care for us, and mis-manage our money with no hope of anything else?

If you don’t mind, I’d prefer a different flavor of freedom.

In Closing: Roman Army Knife; “Um, because it was the right thing to do and we didn’t want any lawyers saying we did wrong later? Was the 5th Amendment repealed while I wasn’t looking?”; nice to see that we are going to count job losses more honestly, but it’s a shame that Mr. Obama will be blamed for “losing” these jobs when he merely counted Bush Administration losses correctly; I couldn’t have said it better either; at least child abuse is down!; where genetic testing and “pro-life” collide; trees are loving global warming (much more so than the polar bears); and Americans are drinking more, but we’re not paying for the Good Stuff. So, uh, maybe the price of Scotch will return to rational levels? No? I thought not.