So, What You’re Telling Me…

…is that our “not quite good enough job growth” has  been downgraded to “nowhere near replacement level job growth.”

Well. That sucks.

Between December of 2012 and February of 2013, 699,000 jobs were created; for an average of 233,000. Between March and May of 2013, however, the economy created only 466,000 jobs; for an average of 155,000 jobs.

Read the original.

Economic Drift

There was no good to be found in today’s job report. It was a blunt reminder that our nation is continuing to drift through an economy unmoored by continued uncertainty and growing unemployment. The ragged appearance of a drop in unemployment is, of course, a lie; while the economy added some 88,000 jobs, the loss of nearly half a million workers who simply abandoned the idea of finding work.

They gave up hope.

In March, 496,000 people took themselves out of the labor force altogether, meaning they stopped searching for work.

When unemployed people quit looking for jobs it can lower the jobless rate. But for all the wrong reasons. Hiring was weak in March. The 88,000 jobs employers added aren’t even enough to keep up with population growth.

So that March drop in the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent likely has more to do with frustrated job seekers giving up than employers buying into the economic recovery.

It is important to note that this is not new. This is not something that simply happened this month or something as a reaction to recent political events: no, this is the continuation of the bleeding. The job participation rate (which you can also see at the linked article) has been falling with regularity for the last decade and most precipitously over the last five years or so.

No, our problems are deeper than any recent political failures and our current leadership has show precisely no capability of conceiving of a plan to solve those problems.

Read the original.

April Fools

Have you heard the news? President Obama has declared April to be National Financial Capability Month with a key goal of teaching young Americans how to budget responsibly.

Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges — from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account.

Financial capability also means helping people avoid scams and demand fair treatment when they take out a mortgage, use a credit card, or apply for a student loan. My Administration continues to encourage responsibility at all levels of our financial system by cracking down on deceptive practices and ensuring that consumers are informed of their rights.
The truth is that I don’t even remember when last we had a president who could claim the moral high ground on responsible budgeting, but it’s been long enough that this comes across more as April Fools joke than meaningful presidential guidance.

Politicians, budget thyself.

Strategery in Focus

This is an important little piece from Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog. It’s compact, but quite important, especially when you understand what the author is critiquing:

If “Setting Priorities” is the most recent attempt to argue for a more coherent internationalist grand strategy — a worthy endeavor — then whatever weaknesses it has might throw into relief some broader problems of U.S. foreign policy.

Why important? Because of this note near the end of the piece:

… the report-like all “national security strategies” published by every administration since Congress mandated the document in 1987-is less a “strategy” document than a list of aspirations and goals.

“Strategic” foreign policy thought, as expressed by our government in the public realm, has long been reduced to talking points, wish lists, and occasional partisan sniping. Now is the time for serious discussion about the proper place of the United States in a changing international landscape of political power. Simply saying that we should show leadership or advocate for some laudable goal isn’t enough. Means, actions, and expected ends along with an honest assessment of what role the US needs to be playing in everything from “democratization” to moderating talks between warring groups.

The United States seems to be suffering a deficit of strong and wise leadership along with a paucity of serious thought in the public realm. While our last presidential election should have revolved around things like our foundering economy and our nebulous foreign policy, it instead seemed to focus on binders full of women, free contraception, and taking gratuitous pot-shots at China. We need better, although I would suggest that our reality-show obsessed culture doesn’t necessarily deserve better. I’ll consider changing that view when we start rewarding serious thought with the same acclaim that we do a bunch of dignity-stripped attention whores and fools on the latest terrifying reality TV series.

Read the original.

On the Minimum Wage Hike

This little bit of thought from Paul Solman on PBS concerning the proposed minimum wage hike and what effect it might have on welfare. Aside from his answer, he also throws in some statistics about our current employment situation that is like a splash of cold water.

And get this: Social Security disability benefits have become so popular that since June of 2009, when the Great Recession was supposed to have officially ended and economic growth resumed, 4.7 million of us had enrolled in SSDI or SSI programs. By contrast, a mere 2.3 million jobs have been added over that same period.

This is well worth reading.

Read the rest.