Skip to main content

View Diary: Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 5/4 (323 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I noted it in my comment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, tietack

    U6 dropped big from 14.9 to 14.5 in March and held steady in April.  It becomes awful hard to argue that a significant drop in labor force participation includes largely involuntary exits when U6 says the opposite.

    Meanwhile, a study cited in one of the pieces I linked in another comment I madehere (and I think it was the Ezra Klein piece, not the TPM piece, but I haven't looked again to be sure) estimate the breakdown of labor force exiters, supporting my point.

    44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

    by DCCyclone on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:51:56 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Most of the drop in... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, tietack

      ...U6 has to do with part-time workers becoming full-time workers. That's always been the case. And, while it is absolutely true that baby boomers will change the workforce demographic over the next 10-15 years, the idea that they are the major reason behind the recent plunge is not backed up the evidence. The most that any economists say voluntary early retirements of that generation are changing things is about half of the drop in LP. It's generally considered to be closer to a third.

      And even that does not speak to voluntary. If you're 62 and you get laid off, your chances of finding a job are small in most fields. So, you pack up your career and call it quits. But not because you want to. While that puts downward pressure on the unemployment rate, it's not exactly a happy story.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:58:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Show me a cite for your first statement (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tietack, MichaelNY, itskevin

        That's not something I've heard or read before, that U6 drops are all from part-timers going full-time.  I'm no expert in the data itself but I have a long professional background in unemployment compensation law.

        If we're really having a large number of people in a single month suddenly becoming discouraged, enough to bring down the unemployment rate even when job growth supposedly is poor, and yet U6 doesn't rise, then that's a helluva lot of part-timers going full-time at the same time and strains credulity.

        These April reports were essentially identical to the initial March unemployment and job growth reports and yet U6 dropped big, so that makes your claim about part-timers even more strained, even accounting for the +34K jobs revision.

        Regarding early retirements, while they're not a happy story, they're not reasonably equated with the "unemployed" as that term is understood, and they're not relevant to measuring unemployment.

        44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

        by DCCyclone on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:51:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So, U6 dropped... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tietack, MichaelNY

          ...from 14.9 to 14.5 percent in March. And stayed there in April (seasonally adjusted, of course).

          U6 is made of up Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.

          Productivity went down 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012. This means employers are having a tougher time squeezing more production out of the existing workforce. And that often means making part-timers full-time employees instead of hiring new workers. In the same period, U6 dropped 0.6 from 15.1 to 14.5. It's a pretty clear line, imo.

          As for the retired, you said the retirements were voluntary in your original comment. As if this was the natural order. My point is that however many there were, a lot of them in this economic climate were NOT voluntary but essentially forced. They may not be relevant to the unemployment count, but they are certainly relevant to economic well-being.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:03:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I still don't see support for your conclusion (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tietack, NMLib, MichaelNY

            It looks to me like you're cherry-picking stuff there rather than looking at a full picture.

            First, I'm well-aware what comprises U6, and it's why I'm skeptical of your argument, since it includes more than just U5 plus part-timers, it's also the marginals.

            Second, it's not satisfactory to simply look at the initial productivity measure for Q1 and say "they just made part-timers into full-timers."  Most importantly, that's highly simplistic and still isn't supported by other data points in the unemployment and jobs reports.  Further, that productivity report itself is subject to revisions, you cannot take the initial to the bank...and for that matter you also cannot take the initial April jobs numbers to the bank, all but a rare few months have had upward revisions for a very long time now.  In any case, that's the flipside of your argument about early retirements, as just as early retirements can be unhappy, part-timers going full-time is a happy story of economic well-being.

            Unless you've got more data to support your conclusion or a link to someone else making the case, I ain't buyin'.

            44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

            by DCCyclone on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:31:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Since I'll be having my usual conversation... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Onomastic, tietack, DCCyclone, MichaelNY

              ...with a couple of BLS statisticians next week, I will get  direct quotations for you, both about exits of baby boomers and about part-timers becoming full-timers.

              As for upward revisions, yes, I know. I've been reporting on these for several years. But what's the relevance to our discussion? Right now, the revisions are upward, but the original figures for the past two months are weak, so they still don't get us into the realm of truly healthy job growth.  

              As for part-timers getting full-time jobs, that is good news. But it doesn't change the overall picture until new hires are made since the BLS counts any job someone has, even 10 hours a week as being employed. If I go from 10 to 40, it only changes U6 and not U3. It's only a precursor (hopefully) to better times.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:53:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'd like to hear this discussion continued (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DCCyclone, MichaelNY

                in the appropriate DKE daily digest, when you get your quotes.

                Unemployment numbers are part of our regular "meta" discussion on what we believe is the key economic factor that affects the '12 election.

                "Healthy job growth," whatever that means (people do define that number differently) may be different -- and is probably significantly higher -- than the job growth number that's sufficient to ensure a second term for the President.

                So while we care about "healthy job growth," our focus on the "elections" side is on the number that's sufficient for at least a second term, and potentially to retake Congress.

                In that light, the upward revisions that we've seen add to the narrative that the economy is improving under the President's stewardship.

                (I realize that as one of David's colleagues, the two of you probably go back and forth on this, in more detail.)

                "I hope; therefore, I can live."
                For SSP users, see my Tips for Swingnuts diary

                by tietack on Sun May 06, 2012 at 06:56:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  "'Healthy job growth,' whatever that means... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tietack, MichaelNY

                  ... (people do define that number differently) may be different -- and is probably significantly higher -- than the job growth number that's sufficient to ensure a second term for the President."

                  I completely agree. And, believe me, I do not argue that Obama has not faced an immensely difficult task here. That includes the fact that, taking all the stats together, this has been the worst overall downturn in 80 years, globalization and other new factors have made repairs quite a bit harder, Republican obstructionism both in the economic realm and because the GOP wants to stop Obama from succeeding at anything and the very nature of Great Recession (which was partly a consequence of long-standing trends initiated 40 years ago).

                  If we can get enough voters in enough key states to recognize even a few of these factors and can put together the right narrative — especially about how the Republicans were in charge when the recession began and have stood in the way of recovery every step of the way, I think the actual numbers (which will still be grim in November) can be overcome.

                  Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                  by Meteor Blades on Sun May 06, 2012 at 08:26:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That would be good, if they have... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tietack, MichaelNY

                ...a breakdown like that, I'd love to know what their survey numbers say.

                44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

                by DCCyclone on Sun May 06, 2012 at 08:36:26 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  One more important thing...... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MichaelNY, tietack

                  The key question ultimately is have discouraged workers increased in numbers?  Everything else we've discussed in this subthread is really central to that question, I'm not focused on part-timers or early retirees for their own sake.  So whatever your BLS contacts can share on that issue is what's most helpful.

                  That's really what all this is about, economically.

                  Politically, to me it's a given that the official unemployment rate declining trumps all.  Of course, if it stops declining, the last couple months of declines don't help so much.  But it's politically meaningful to have inched closer to what I think is the psychologically magic number of 7.9.

                  44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

                  by DCCyclone on Sun May 06, 2012 at 08:59:19 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  discouraged workers (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MichaelNY, tietack, DCCyclone

                    The number of discouraged workers is apparently about the same as a year ago, a little less than 1 million. Much of the movement in the household survey is just random noise, so the actual number could be a few hunded thousand higher or lower. See table A-16 here.

                    http://www.bls.gov/...

                    SSP poster. 42, CA-5, -0.25/-3.90

                    by sacman701 on Sun May 06, 2012 at 11:28:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks, unfortunately that table... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MichaelNY

                      ...is just year-over-year and the BLS release doesn't provide monthly breakdowns.

                      I have to think that can be had somewhere!

                      But if "marginally attached" individuals have been flat over time, including the past couple months, no that's not "good" in that we need them to decrease at some point, but at least it means any drop in official unemployment is real.

                      And I'm very sensitive to statistical noise, there's a gripping insistence even by economists who should know better to treat these numbers as having far more precision than is real.

                      44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

                      by DCCyclone on Sun May 06, 2012 at 06:54:18 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Again: Household income (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tietack, DCCyclone

                    is apparently more important than the unemployment rate, so that doesn't "trump all."

                    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                    by MichaelNY on Sun May 06, 2012 at 01:08:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not consciously, no (0+ / 0-)

                      We're talking about two different things.

                      When I talk about the unemployment rate trumping all, I'm talking about what voters consciously take into account in forming their opinions about the state of the economy.

                      When you talk about household income, that's about what people feel in their own lives.  It's not something that matters consciously, hardly any voters at all are even aware that the government measures such a thing called "household income."

                      Over time those things will trend in the same direction and produce the same results.  But they don't have to trend together in a single month or single quarter, thus a reasonable debate about what matters more for short-term numbers.

                      But in a discussion about what matters in economic data that voters knowingly consider, the unemployment rate is the crown jewel.

                      44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

                      by DCCyclone on Sun May 06, 2012 at 06:58:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site