Sunday, May 29, 2011

Job Creation by Presidential Term


at end
of term
at start
of term
per year


% change
in pop.
Click a column heading to sort by that category
Note: all figures in millions unless otherwise noted
Source: Real Time Economics, The Wall Street Journal
Bush (43)3.0135.5132.52.30.375227.7%
Bush (41)2.5109.4106.92.30.62512.54.8%
Carter10.5 90.980.413.12.6009.84.3%
Johnson11.9 69.257.320.82.30011.35.6%

This chart was originally posted in The Wall Street Journal back in January 2009. I'm reposting it here because the GOP has released a second jobs bill, which has received its fair share of criticism.

If you want to see what has worked in the past, look to the Clinton era, with over 23 million jobs created, the highest payroll expansion percentage and the highest number of jobs created per year, for clues to what works.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Unemployment: The 99ers

"At a time when corporate profits are soaring, it is morally indefensible to give businesses more tax breaks while the long-term unemployed are left to fend for themselves." Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League (source)

Best. Headline. Ever. (May 27th Edition)

"Republicans pull unemployment bill"

As reported by Politico, the GOP's "JOBS Act" is dead:

House Republicans yanked a bill to tweak unemployment insurance after Republican lawmakers raised concerns that the legislation was too confusing and would be dead in the Senate.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there was an “education” issue with the bill.

Rep. McCarthy is right - when people learn about the bill, they tend to disfavor it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

House Republicans Push Plan To Renege On Tax Deal By Cutting Unemployment Benefits

ThinkProgress' Wonk Room has published a guest post from Danielle Lazarowitz of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The full article is well worth your attention, and echoes the sentiment seen here and elsewhere - with their proposed bill, the GOP is putting the BS in JOBS.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time: Jobless Discrimination? When Firms Won't Even Consider Hiring Anyone Unemployed

"Traditionally, the unemployed — who can, after all, give up membership in the group in an instant if they get a job offer — have not been regarded as a protected class. But as the Great Recession rages on and the plight of the long-term unemployed becomes more desperate, that may be about to change."
Read more:,8599,2073520,00.html#ixzz1Nfl9kiXQ

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Soneone who gets it

More of this, please:
"There are people who would love to be working and they just cannot find the jobs. They're not bums, they're not looking for government benefits, but they desperately need work and this would just come as a godsend to them." - Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

USA Today: Long-term jobless see reduction in benefits

In Missouri and elsewhere, benefits for the jobless are under pressure. Governors and legislatures across the nation are moving to cut the length of time unemployed workers can receive benefits, despite historically high unemployment rates, amid concerns that states may need to boost taxes on employers to shore up unemployment trust funds exhausted by the jobless benefits.

We've discussed the current state of unemployment insurance taxes. If corporations are making record levels of profits (which they are) and paying historically low tax rates (which they are), then why are states concerned?

Someone more conspiracy-minded might be led to the conclusion that these states are looking to either abandon the state unemployment insurance program that has been in place since the Great Depression, or push the responsibility onto the federal government.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rachel Maddow Show: Fresh Squeezed

New York State: Now with 48 percent more 99ers

The figures below are republished with the kind courtesy of the New York State Department of Labor, which tracks the number of beneficiaries who have exhausted employment benefits.

Needless to say, these numbers are not encouraging at all, and represent a significant reason for all the members of the NY Congressional delegation, on both sides of the aisle, to throw their support behind H.R. 589.

Between January 21 and April 29, almost 65,000 people have been added to the list of the 99ers who worked and live in NY state.

Almost 50,000 of that increase come from the five boroughs of New York City, plus the suburbs of Long Island and Westchester.

New York State Beneficiaries Who Have Exhausted All Available Benefits
New Yorkers first began exhausting the current federal UI extensions on March 28, 2010

January 21, 2011
April 29, 2011
NYS Including OSR and Unknown 147,278 218,333 71,055 48.25%
NYS Excluding OSR and Unknown 134,594 199,284 64,690 48.06%
Top 10 Exhaustions By County
Kings (Brooklyn) 22,142 32,153 10,011 45.21%
Queens 17,783 26,299 8,516 47.89%
Bronx 13,884 20,249 6,365 45.84%
New York (Manhattan) 13,846 20,205 6,359 45.93%
Suffolk 10,395 15,378 4,983 47.94%
Nassau 8,893 13,197 4,304 48.40%
Westchester 5,765 8,562 2,797 48.52%
Erie 5,469 8,193 2,724 49.81%
Monroe 4,499 6,766 2,267 50.39%
Richmond (Staten Island) 3,687 5,332 1,645 44.62%

In related news, the state of California reported last week that "the number of Californians who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits grew to more than 402,000."

Has the GOP overplayed another hand?

Note: Please credit Lauren Victoria Burke at Crew of 42 for her excellent reporting.

Chairman Dave Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee may have overplayed the GOP's hand by introducing the "JOBS Act" in the same committee as H.R. 589.

Exhibit A: Chairman Emanuel Cleaver of the Congressional Black Caucus. Last month, the Congressman appeared decidedly cool to the idea of supporting H.R. 589:

In an exchange during their meeting last Wednesday with the President, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver called the cost of the 99ers bill (H.R. 589 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California) "prohibitive."

In Rep. Cleaver’s words: "It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it. And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive. So there was no point in the President saying, "yeah I support it…' when I laid it out I said to him, 'Mr. President, I'm going to raise this, and this is one of our issues because this is one of our issues — it's an issue among our members…' I ended it by saying, however, I understand that the cost is enormous. He (President Obama) said (to Rob Nabors sitting on the sofa) 'Rob how much is it?' And Rob said, 'between 14 and 20 billion' and I said, let's move on. Because there was no point — that's not going to happen," recounted Cleaver.

And now, Chairman Cleaver has released this statement in response to the GOP's "JOBS Act":

"For the 16th straight month, we have seen growth in private sector jobs — last month being the strongest for job growth since February 2006. Nevertheless, the overall unemployment rate increased by .2% and unemployment in the African American community has increased by .6% to a painful 16.1%. The fact still remains that millions of Americans are still out of work. After four months of controlling the House, the Republican leadership has not considered or introduced one, single jobs bill. Instead, they have proposed draconian cuts first with their budget proposals. Now the Ways and Means Chairman is attempting to strip unemployment benefits thereby denying millions of Americans the ability to make ends meet with HR 1745, which is paradoxically named the Jobs Act of 2011.

"Camp's legislation would eliminate federal payments for temporary extended unemployment benefits on July 6. Four million Americans will lose their extended benefits in early July unless states provide coverage for them. The bill would transfer money to the states now dedicated to providing extended unemployment benefits and allow the states to use it for other purposes. This includes paying off debts to the federal government, providing tax cuts to businesses and/or backfilling state and federal cuts to employment–related services.

"Not only is this unacceptable, it is reprehensible. I support my colleagues Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Bobby Scott on HR 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2011. This needed legislation would extend aid for unemployed workers who have exhausted their benefits. We urge the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to support hardworking American families and to support their bill."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reps. Scott and Lee to Chairman Camp: Stop Penalizing Unemployed Workers, Work With Us to Extend Aid for the Long-term

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the following statement today in reaction to legislation offered by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) that would gut unemployment benefits for millions of displaced workers. Representatives Lee and Scott have requested that Chairman Camp support their bill, HR 589, to extend aid for unemployed workers who have exhausted their benefits. HR 589 currently has 80 co-sponsors in the House.

"Instead of acting on our bill to extend aid to unemployed workers who have exhausted their benefits, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp wants to gut unemployment benefits and deny millions of jobless workers the means to help make ends meet. As we face an unemployment rate of 9 percent nationwide, an unemployment rate for teenagers three times as high as the national average, and an economy where there are 4.4 unemployed workers for every available job opening, it is simply wrong to propose a bill that would further penalize unemployed workers across the country."


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Florida's HB 7005: Deal struck, Governor expected to sign

Michael C Bender, writing for the St. Petersburg Times, reports on HB 7005's imminent passage:

TALLAHASSEE — Out-of-work Floridians would receive fewer state benefits while businesses pay less tax under a controversial proposal approved Friday by a divided Legislature.

The deal, which Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign into law, immediately cuts unemployment benefits by 11.5 percent.

Jobless Floridians would continue to receive a maximum payment of $275 per week, among the lowest of any state in the country. But they would be paid for no more than 23 weeks, instead of 26.

This is exactly why the GOP's "JOBS Act" bill must be voted down, and why we have to push as hard as we're able to on behalf of H.R. 589: the "JOBS Act" would further accelerate the race to the bottom that states like Florida have created.

Businesses in Florida already pay the lowest UI tax rates in the nation: a maximum of $378 per employee. Florida also has one of the nation's highest unemployment rates: 11.1% (sources: Tax Policy Center (XLS file), BLS LAUS)

In contrast, states like North Dakota, Minnesota and Utah have relatively high UI tax rates, costing employers a maximum of between $2,470 and $2,925 per employee. These three states also have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation: 3.6% for ND, 6.6% for MN and 7.6% for UT. The US unemployment rate is 9.0%.

Is there a correlation between UI tax rates and unemployment rates? Yes, there is, but not in the way advocates for lower taxes might think. The numbers show that there's a slight negative correlation between the two rates: as UI taxes go down, unemployment goes up. (For the statistically-minded, the correlation coefficient is -0.2259)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The GOP JOBS Act is a cruel joke - a response to Ways and Means Republicans

As reported by Arthur Delaney in the Huffington Post:
"Congressional Republicans announced legislation on Thursday that would let states cut unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless and toughen work search requirements for benefits recipients."

Further in the article, Congressman Sander Levin's response:
“This is the opposite of a jobs bill - it is a hatchet job on the unemployment insurance program," said Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on Ways and Means. "With this legislation, Republicans are proposing to end this year’s guaranteed benefit for the long-term unemployed, just like they’ve proposed ending the guaranteed benefit for Medicare recipients."

There are some important facts to keep in mind when discussing unemployment insurance.

First and foremost: it's an insurance benefit, meant to cushion the financial blow of having your job taken away through no fault of your own.

Second, this insurance benefit is administered by the states and paid for by a payroll tax on qualified employers.

Third: employers do not pay unemployment taxes on every dollar of a worker's salary. They only pay taxes on part of a worker's salary: the "wages subject to tax". In 2010, the range of wages subject to tax went from a low of $7,000 in six states (AZ, CA, FL, IN, MI and SC) to a high of $37,300 in WA.

So, if you worked in California and your annual salary was $20,000, your employer was taxed on the first $7,000. If you made $50,000, the wages subject to tax stayed the same: $7,000. If you made $1,000,000? Still only the first $7,000 was subject to tax. Keep that in mind when we look at the GOP JOBS Act.

Let's look at California again: they explain how their state's unemployment taxes work very clearly:
"UI is paid by the employer. Tax-rated employers pay a percentage on the first $7,000 in wages paid to each employee in a calendar year. The UI rate schedule and amount of taxable wages are determined annually. New employers pay 3.4 percent (.034) for up to three years. EDD notifies employers of their new rate each December. The maximum tax is $434 per employee per year. (Calculated at the highest UI tax rate of 6.2 percent x $7,000.)" (source)

Let's look at a few other states:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Millions Set to Lose Unemployment Benefits"

Mark Thoma of Economist's View discussing an article in the Wall Street Journal:
This is the Say's law of jobs coupled with morality -- the supply of workers somehow creates a demand for them, it's the benefits that stop people from taking them -- and it's just as false here as it is more generally. There are not enough jobs, and ending unemployment benefits won't change that. We can always find someone who abuses any system, that's true in both the public and private sectors. But the vast majority of people still receiving help are struggling against a system they have no control over. They are trying to overcome problems they didn't create, and they deserve more help from the rest of us than they are getting.

The professor brings up a number of insightful points, but this one in particular from the quote above caught my attention: how many jobs will be created by cutting off unemployment insurance benefits? Exactly none. ("There are not enough jobs, and ending unemployment benefits won't change that.")

The full article and its comments are well worth your attention.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sleepwalking through America's unemployment crisis

Mohamed A. El-Erian is the CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, the global financial services firm that manages one of the world's largest mutual funds.

His article on the need to address the unemployment crisis should be required reading for every member of Congress:

The US government has little time to waste if it is to avoid an even more protracted and entrenched unemployment problem. It must move now to address the problem’s sources through multi-year programs that range from educational restructuring and worker retraining to productivity enhancement and housing-sector reform. And it must do so while better protecting the long-term unemployed, many of whom bear little responsibility for their current, once unthinkable, and unfortunately long-lasting predicament.

It is past time for the US to wake up and confront in a holistic fashion its unemployment crisis. As everyone who has ever had an unpalatable job knows, shutting off the alarm and pulling the blanket over one’s head is not a solution.

I would encourage each person reading this to print out a copy of El-Erian's article and fax it, with a personalized note, to their Representative and Senators.

Alternet: the 10 worst states in which to lose your job

Alternet's Joshua Holland takes a look at state-level unemployment, underemployment and insurance benefits to compile this list.

One statistic may catch your eye: in 2008, only 37 percent of jobless workers received unemployment insurance benefits.

One other statistic to look at: the average weekly check that unemployment insurance provides: ask yourself how you would budget for food, shelter and transportation, while putting in the time to search for work, on $177.73 per week. That's the average UI benefit in Florida and Mississippi.

The Economist: Decline of the working man

"It is a shame that American policymakers have barely considered the problem (of unemployment). Both Democrats and Republicans seem convinced that as the economy strengthens the labour market will heal itself. But although unemployment will continue to fall as the economy recovers, millions of American men will be left behind."

Please click the headline to access the complete article on The Economist's website.