» The trade-off: “On the one hand, if policymakers leave current laws unchanged, the federal debt will probably recede slowly,” said CBO director Douglas W. Elmendorf. “On the other hand, changing current laws to let current policies continue … would boost the economy and allow people to pay less in taxes and benefit more from government programs in the next few years — but put the nation on an unsustainable fiscal course.” That’s a tough one, kids.
» Tough cultural conditions to blame: With a high pay gap between female and male workers (females make less), a switch from traditional manufacturing to service industries, an aging population, a slowing birth rate, and a move among Japanese couples to marry later, Japan is quickly facing a bit of a cultural shift in terms of who has a job and who doesn’t. By 2020, estimates say, the number of unemployed men vs. unemployed women could become even more pronounced.
» As goes the country, so go the states: Or maybe it’s the other way around? Well, either way, figures released today by the Department of Labor show that unemployment, in addition to falling to its lowest level in two and a half years at the national level, also decreased on a state-by-state basis in all but seven states. This is promising, as it suggests that the uptick in employment is a nationwide trend, and not the result of, say, five or ten states doing abnormally well for one reason or another. Note: The usual disclaimers about the problems with how unemployment is calculated apply.
youranonsanon says: No *@^! Sherlock, and holiday hiring is why, huge post holiday layoffs can be expected.
» SFB says: Actually … if you hop over to the source article, you’ll see the trend line on new unemployment benefits has largely been declining for months, beyond the holidays. (Minus a couple hiccups, such as a huge jump caused by a Verizon strike.) On top of this, the Department of Labor clearly states the data is seasonally adjusted, meaning that it theoretically shouldn’t be affected by holiday hiring unless there was something out of the ordinary that affected the numbers. In fact, minus the seasonal adjustment, the number of new jobless claims is roughly 70,000 higher. This explanation, which was hinted at in our post, is the more likely one, though even then, this number strictly accounts for new applications, not long-term jobless benefits. — Ernie @ SFB
» However: Don’t get too excited, guys. While the heavily-fluctuating number is certainly better than it’s been in a long time (and the unemployment number is at its lowest level in a long time), the comeback is far from here. Example: During the financial crisis, the U.S. lost roughly 8.8 million jobs; less than a third of those jobs have returned. On top of this, many are still unemployed, and their benefits could run out soon if Congress does not act on the extension for unemployment benefits. Yeah, sorry we have to be such downers, but let’s look in perspective here.
goddamnedpansies asks: Wouldn't the increased job numbers be partly due to the abundance of seasonal jobs that will unfortunately disappear once the holiday season is over?
» SFB says: Well, the unemployment numbers and jobs numbers are seasonally-adjusted, so while that’s a possibility, it’s just as likely that was already compensated for. But there could be some weirdness that affects the numbers. For example, the Verizon strike a couple months back threw off the numbers significantly. — Ernie @ SFB
» Political ramifications: The jobs numbers aren’t at a point where people have reason to be dancing in the streets, but cautious optimism is the name of the game. The GOP’s election platform could waver if the numbers get any better. Hence this response from House speaker John Boehner: ”Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable.” What do you all think?
» Way down in the hole: The above figure represents the average student loan debt for a graduate of a four-year, non-profit university, as measured in 2009 by the Institute for College Access & Success. In an economy that’s stifling the job prospects of even accomplished college graduates, finding yourself in this level of debt can feel a bit like you’ve been scammed. President Obama is today promoting his plan to tweak the Income-Based Repayment Plan for student loans with changes that were meant to take effect in 2014 (Obama wants 2012). The percentage of one’s discretionary monthly income that must be paid would be lowered from 15% to 10%, and all debt would be forgiven after 20 years, as opposed to the program’s current 25.
» How it’s calculated: The misery index is the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates — a pretty simple number to calculate. On the plus side, this number will slide at some point, because, due to the weak job market, inflation will likely decline next year, lowering the misery level. On the down side, that’s not the number everyone’s looking to fall.
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» Cost-cutting galore: Facing down a U.S. postal service that lost about $8.5 billion lat year, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has proposed some major closures, which will come at the price of the mail efficiency. With a plan to close 252 offices nationwide, the downsizing could mean that first-class mail could take up to a day longer. The postal service is, as a business model, deeply unusual — it’s also not a matter of argument, as it’s the rare government agency explicitly demanded by the Constitution. The hope that the postal service has the resiliency to both lower its size and speed of delivery, yet still compete with the private carriers strikes us as an unlikely premise.
What the president’s proposed so far is not serious. And it’s not a jobs plan.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell • Ramping up his criticism of President Obama’s jobs bill. The plan’s starting point is, as many of the President’s negotiating postures throughout his term have been, pretty generous; more than 50% of its value goes to tax cuts, ostensibly a cherished Republican ideal. Obama’s tact in discussing the bill has been unique from past initiatives, too – whereas on health care and financial reform he deliberately distanced himself from the process, deferring to congress, he’s said in no uncertain terms that this is his plan, and he wants it passed swiftly. Faced with a more assertive adversary, the GOP seems happy to stick to the playbook, and why not? It’s been very successful for them so far, if at the risk of looking obstinate. source (via • follow)