Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: economy

What’s actually happening with employment

Most people know that the employment situation right now is pretty terrible, but the precise way in which it is terrible is poorly understood. The absolute numbers are very high, but the suffering is not evenly distributed. The statistic I see getting thrown around a lot is that unemployment for college educated people is 5% — essentially full employment. Nobody I know has had any luck hiring programmers lately. Unemployment among those with only a high school degree is at 15%, up from 12% this time last year.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, bonddad breaks down all of the unemployment statistics to provide a broad picture of what’s going on in the job market. Here’s the conclusion:

The great recession wiped out lower education/manual labor jobs. And the experience of the manufacturing sector after the last expansion indicates those jobs aren’t coming back.

Given that, it seems easy to argue that our number one long term domestic priority should be to pursue policies that educate more people by improving schools, making college more affordable, and removing obstacles that prevent people from going to school. There’s a lot of talk about cutting government spending, but the best and most realistic option for tackling the deficit long term is to lower the pace of government spending increases (most importantly on health care) and increase the amount of revenue through economic growth rather than tax increases. How do we do that? Educate our citizens.

Nate Silver on the politics of recovery

At the end of the day, however, the piling-on in liberal circles does not match the objective evidence about the economy. And if it sets any precedent, you may have a robust recovery by the middle of next year, but with neither the White House’s conservative nor liberal critics willing to give them much credit for it. Voters may stay away from Democrats as a result, pushing the country toward more conservative economic policy and ensuring that liberal critics of the economy aren’t lacking for greivances any time soon.

FiveThirtyEight: If An Economy Recovers and No One Cheers It, Does It Make a Sound?

Baby Boomers

There’s no stopping the “me” generation. In the ’60s they got all the good drugs, in the ’70s all the sex, in the ’80s all the money, and now, in the waning days of the aughts, they won’t let go of all the jobs. It goes without saying that during the next decade they’ll gobble up all the good healthcare.

Andrew Leonard in Curse of the boomer hegemony.

Links for September 8

  • New York Times: Robert Spinrad, a Pioneer in Computing, Dies at 77. Former director of Xerox PARC — which was maybe the most concentrated center of innovation in the history of computing.
  • Cash4Gold offers to pay its critics for their silence. If you don’t watch TV, Cash4Gold is a company that offers to buy gold from people at, as it turns out, far less than the prevailing market rate.
  • Here are a couple of looks at the current unemployment picture. Our current level of unemployment looks really grim when you fit it to the pace of recovery from recent recessions. Oh, and in total, about 200,000 fewer people have jobs now than had jobs ten years ago. It’s worth remembering that the economy must add roughly 150,000 jobs a month to keep pace with population growth.
  • James Surowiecki: Inflated Fears. Now’s not the time to obsess over inflation.

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