(The New York Times) - When Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist, describes his job today, he says he’s “a translator between two hostile tribes” — the education world and the business world, the people who teach our kids and the people who give them jobs. Wagner’s argument in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” is that our K-12 and college tracks are not consistently “adding the value and teaching the skills that matter most in the marketplace.”
This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job — the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is being buried — made obsolete — faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education today, argues Wagner, should not be to make every child “college ready” but “innovation ready” — ready to add value to whatever they do.
When I first came across this article, the comments on the website that posted it where along the lines of, “but profits”, “but corporations”, “but lazy workers”.
It fucking amazes me how so many Americans want to justify the exploitation of their time, their energy, their health - for abysmally low wages because they somehow think that it being ‘good for business’ makes it okay.
(New York Times) - Politicians across the political spectrum herald “job creation,” but frightfully few of them talk about what kinds of jobs are being created. Yet this clearly matters: According to the Census Bureau, one-third of adults who live in poverty are working but do not earn enough to support themselves and their families.
A quarter of jobs in America pay below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,050). Not only are many jobs low-wage, they are also temporary and insecure. Over the last three years, the temp industry added more jobs in the United States than any other, according to the American Staffing Association, the trade group representing temp recruitment agencies, outsourcing specialists and the like.
Low-wage, temporary jobs have become so widespread that they threaten to become the norm. But for some reason this isn’t causing a scandal. At least in the business press, we are more likely to hear plaudits for “lean and mean” companies than angst about the changing nature of work for ordinary Americans.
How did we arrive at this state of affairs? Many argue that it was the inevitable result of macroeconomic forces — globalization, deindustrialization and technological change — beyond our political control. Yet employers had (and have) choices. Rather than squeezing workers, they could have invested in workers and boosted product quality, taking what economists call the high road toward more advanced manufacturing and skilled service work. But this hasn’t happened. Instead, American employers have generally taken the low road: lowering wages and cutting benefits, converting permanent employees into part-time and contingent workers, busting unions and subcontracting and outsourcing jobs. They have done so, in part, because of the extraordinary evangelizing of the temp industry, which rose from humble origins to become a global behemoth.
A constant conservative charge against President Obama is that he is inherently anti-business. However, businesses keep defying the storyline by making larger and larger profits, rebounding nicely out of the Great Recession.
In the third quarter of this year, “corporate earnings were $1.75 trillion, up 18.6% from a year ago.” Corporations are currently making more as a percentage of the economy than they ever have since such records were kept. But at the same time, wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low, as this chart shows. (The red line is corporate profits; the blue line is private sector wages.):
Corporations made a record $824 billion in profits last year as well, while the stock market has had one of its best performances since 1900 while Obama has been in office.
Meanwhile, workers are getting the short end of the stick. As CNN Money explained, “a separate government reading shows that total wages have now fallen to a record low of 43.5% of GDP. Until 1975, wages almost always accounted for at least half of GDP, and had been as high as 49% as recently as early 2001.”
If this business about the “job creators” and “wealth trickling down” were true, then we should be swimming in jobs right now.
Be we aren’t.
Greg Mitchell | The Nation
I’ve had to warn here, every month, that despite the media and political hype, the monthly U.S. jobs report never seems to move the polls. But here’s this month’s, just out at 8:30 a.m.: Unemployment up slightly from 7.8% to 7.9%, but with 171,000 jobs added, a nice number (beating expectations), plus more than 80,000 gained in revisions to previous months. August revised up from 142K to 192K, September revised up from 114K to 148K.
Now awaiting how these numbers “cooked.” One of the rightwing (led by Jack Welch and Donald Trump) claims last month: those August and September numbers would be revised downward now after their cooking time ended. Did not happen.
BTW, numbers show the reason so many jobs were added, but unemployment rose, was because 578,000 joined the work force, countering another GOP argument that jobs numbers look better only because so many have stopped looking for work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released an unexpectedly strong monthly jobs report on Friday, finding a dramatic drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent and revised the number of jobs added in July and August up from initial estimates. While for most Americans, the growing economy is good news, conservatives immediately expressed their skepticism in the jobs report’s credibility.
1) Minutes after the report was released, Jack Welch, who famously cooked General Electric’s accounting books when he was CEO, accused President Obama of manipulating the numbers to distract from his debate performance:
2) Conn Carroll, a senior writer at the Washington Examiner, doesn’t think the problem is the BLS, but a widespread conspiracy of Democrats lying about their unemployment:
3) Former Rumsfeld Chief of Staff Keith Urbahn questioned the timing:
4) Stuart Varney on Fox News claims the drop in unemployment five weeks before the election is too “convenient”: (link to video)
5) Also on Fox News, Charles Payne “guarantees” that unemployment rate will be revised back up to above 8 percent after the election: (link to video)
Fox News’ Eric Bolling:
What was I just saying earlier about right-wingers distorting reality when reality didn’t fit with their narrative? This is hilarious.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The U.S. economy generated a lackluster 114,000 jobs in September, but the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% from 8.1%, the lowest level since January 2009, the government said Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected a 110,000 increase in jobs, based on the Labor Department’s survey of businesses.
The unemployment rate, which is drawn from a separate survey of households, was forecast to tick up to 8.2% from 8.1%. Yet the jobless rate fell sharply after the biggest increase in employment as measured by the household survey since 1983. Some 873,000 people in the household survey said they found jobs. Employment gains for August and July, meanwhile, were revised higher by a combined 86,000. The number of new jobs created in August was revised up to 142,000 from an original estimate of 96,000. July’s figure was revised up to 181,000 from 141,000. In September, average hourly wages rose 7 cents, or 0.4%, to $23.58. The average workweek edged up 0.1 hour to 34.5
This type of thing tends to be very good news for an incumbent presidential candidate.
By Steve Benen
When August’s disappointing job totals were released a few weeks ago, it was considered important news. With that in mind, this seems like at least as big a story.
The government’s estimates of job creation are not particularly accurate, a point that is often made and often ignored. On Thursday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided another reminder. The agency said it probably undercounted the extent of job creation between April 2011 and March 2012 by 20 percent.
The agency, which issues a much-discussed monthly estimate, also issues regular revisions of those estimates, which regularly receive much less attention. One of the most important revisions uses state unemployment insurance tax records – records filed by nearly all employers, which include actual counts of the numbers of people they employ — to check the accuracy of a full year of its monthly estimates.
And what did the BLS revision show? That over the last 12 months, the economy added 386,000 jobs that up until now had not been reported. That may not sound like much, but it’s a 20 percent jump over the 1.94 million jobs thought to have been created overall over that same period.
Also note, this is a net total: the private sector created 453,000 additional jobs, while Republican austerity measures forced the public sector to shed an additional 67,000 jobs.
As a political matter, Pat Garofalo notes another salient angle: even if the early 2009 job losses are held against President Obama, he’s now broken into positive territory for his first term. It also means more jobs were created in Obama’s first four years than during George W. Bush’s first four years — and Bush didn’t inherit a global economic catastrophe.
It’s very likely Mitt Romney was looking forward to arguing next week that the economy hasn’t added any new jobs during Obama’s term. The talking point was always ridiculous when considered in context, but now, the talking point is off the table entirely.
I bet even in light of this new information, the GOP “Obama the job killer” meme will never die.
"One half of all jobs in the U.S. today now pay less than $35,000 a year. Adjusted for inflation, that’s one of the lowest rates for American workers in five decades."
This is not ok. This yer wake up call. Time to react = NOW
On Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate introduced a new bill, the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act, which could generate almost a million jobs nationwide, with over 630 thousand jobs for small businesses alone, through tax credits for those small businesses designed to help them expand their payrolls or increase salaries for existing employees, and in a report from Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), a private economic forecasting firm, they estimate the bill would add $87 billion to the GDP and increase personal incomes by $73 billion. The bill is estimated to cost $28 billion.
The bill would give small businesses a 10% tax break for hiring new employees or raising the wages of their current employees, and caps the benefit at $500,000, which would specifically target small business employers. It also extends the 100% depreciation deduction, which allows business owners to write off large purchases, such as equipment, in their entirety for the tax year in which they were purchased, rather than having to depreciate those purchases over several years. So, say Suzi Q goes out and buys $50,000 worth of kitchen equipment for her café, instead of having to write that off over a depreciation period of ten years, she can write off the entire $50,000 for credit on her taxes for 2012.
Not bad, huh?
I can’t wait for the GOP to filibuster this bill and keep it from coming up for a vote.
New numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the economy added a mere 80,000 jobs in June. That’s down from an average of 150,000 jobs a month for the first part of the year, and far too little to keep up with population growth.
Republican intransigence on economic policy has been a key contributor to the sluggish recovery. As early as 2009, Republican fear-mongering over spending and their readiness to filibuster in the Senate helped convince the White House economic team that an $800 billion stimulus was the most they could hope to get through Congress. Reporting has since revealed that the team thought the country actually needed a stimulus on the order of $1.2 to $1.8 trillion. The economy’s path over the next three years proved them right. Here are the top five ways the Republicans have sabotaged the economic recovery since:
1. Filibustering the American Jobs Act. Last October, Senate Republicans killed a jobs bill proposed by President Obama that would have pumped $447 billion into the economy. Multiple economic analysts predicted the bill would add around two million jobs and hailed it as defense against a double-dip recession. The Congressional Budget Office also scored it as a net deficit reducer over ten years, and the American public supported the bill.
2. Stonewalling monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve can do enormous good for a depressed economy through more aggressive monetary stimulus, and by tolerating a temporarily higher level of inflation. But with everything from Ron Paul’s anti-inflationary crusade to Rick Perry threatening to lynch Chairman Ben Bernanke, Republicans have browbeaten the Fed into not going down this path. Most damagingly, the GOP repeatedly held up President Obama’s nominations to the Federal Reserve Board during the critical months of the recession, leaving the board without the institutional clout it needed to help the economy.
3. Threatening a debt default. Even though the country didn’t actually hit its debt ceiling last summer, the Republican threat to default on the United States’ outstanding obligations was sufficient to spook financial markets anddo real damage to the economy.
4. Cutting discretionary spending in the debt ceiling deal. The deal the GOP extracted as the price for avoiding default imposed around $900 billion in cuts over ten years. It included $30.5 billion in discretionary cuts in 2012 alone, costing the country 0.3 percent in economic growth and 323,000 jobs, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. Starting in 2013, the deal will trigger another $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years.
5. Cutting discretionary spending in the budget deal. While not as cataclysmic as the debt ceiling brinksmanship, Republicans also threatened a shutdown of the government in early 2011 if cuts were not made to that year’s budget. The deal they struck with the White House cut $38 billion from food stamps, health, education, law enforcement, and low-income programs among others, whilesparing defense almost entirely.
There have also been a few near-misses, in which the GOP almost prevented help from coming to the economy. The Republicans in the House delayed a transportation bill that saved as many as 1.9 million jobs. House Committees run by the GOP have passed proposals aimed at cutting billions from food stamps, and the party has repeatedly threatened to kill extensions of unemployment insurance and cuts to the payroll tax.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, those policies — the payroll tax cut, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and discretionary spending for low-income Americans —have the highest multipliers, meaning more job boosting potential per dollar.
by Steven Cherry
Back in October, an article appeared in The Wall Street Journal with the headline “Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need.” It noted that even with millions of highly educated and highly trained workers sidelined by the worst economic downturn in three generations, companies were reporting shortages of skilled workers. Companies typically blame schools, for not providing the right training; the government, for not letting in enough skilled immigrants; and workers themselves, who all too often turn down good jobs at good wages.
The author of the article, an expert on employment and management issues, concluded that although employers are in almost complete agreement about the skills gap, there was no actual evidence of it. Instead, he said, “The real culprits are the employers themselves.”
That article drew over 500 comments on the Journal’s website and a suggestion from a colleague to expand it into a book. The book did indeed get written and published this month by Wharton Digital Press. Its title is Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It. And its author is my guest today.
Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at Wharton, which is the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and he joins us by phone from there.
read the full interview
A group of House Democrats recently proposed legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, roughly where it would have to be to match the peak buying power the wage reached in 1968. Cities and states across the country are taking action on their own, raising their minimum wages in an effort to help low-income workers.
Opponents of minimum wage increases contest that raising the minimum wage will be costly for businesses and have a negative effect on job growth and employment. An analysis by the Center for American Progress’ Nick Bunker, David Madland, and the University of North Carolina’s T. William Lester, however, found five recent studies showing that increasing the minimum wage — even during periods of high unemployment — does not have a negative effect on job growth:
A significant body of academic research has found that raising the minimum wage does not result in job losses even during hard economic times. There are at least five different academic studies focusing on increases to the minimum wage—including increases ranging from 7 percent to 12.3 percent made during periods of high unemployment—that find an increase in the minimum wage has no significant effect on employment levels. The results are likely because the boost in demand and reduction in turnover provided by a minimum wage counteracts the higher wage costs.
Similarly, a simple analysis of increases to the minimum wage on the state level, even during periods of state unemployment rates above 8 percent, shows that the minimum wage does not kill jobs. Indeed the states in our simple analysis had job growth slightly above the national average. […]
All the studies came to the same conclusion—that raising the minimum wage had no effect on employment.
While increasing the minimum wage likely has no effect on job creation, it does have a tangible benefit for workers. Eight states increased their minimum wage at the beginning of 2012, providing extra benefits to 1.4 million workers. More than half of the workers directly affected by a minimum wage increase, as well as more than half who would be indirectly affected, are women, meaning increasing the wage provides help to a segment of the population that already faces significant disadvantages in the workplace.
A long-term transportation package that would re-authorize current spending on highway construction projects and lock-in infrastructure spending for future projects appears all but dead thanks to Republican obstruction in the House of Representatives. With time running out before current authorization ends at the end of the month, House Republicans are demanding the Senate add approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a transportation bill that already passed with widespread bipartisan support.
House and Senate negotiators have been meeting for weeks — since the Senate passed its bill, 74-22 — to work out a compromise, but the House GOP has repeatedly threatened to walk away unless the pipeline is attached. Now, the legislation is all but dead, an industry source told The Hill.
I suppose they can’t let the economy improve before November…
Today on Face the Nation (hosted by fellow Horned Frog, Bob Schieffer), I heard Mitt Romney add his voice to the chorus of those saying that economic recovery would follow if only we relieved the terrible burden that the government has placed on the nation’s job creators: business. Were taxes and regulations were relaxed, this would reduce costs sufficiently to allow firms to do what they are already dying to do, which is expand operations.
But even if we grant the argument that business taxes and regulations are high (which is by no means clear–in fact, it’s easier to make a case for the opposite), this ignores two crucial facts. First, as my friend Mike Norman has pointed out, employees are a cost, usually the most significant one faced by firms (Mike Norman Economics). For that reason, every rational entrepreneur’s goal is to reduce, not increase, the number of workers they have to pay. And quite right. Entrepreneurs have families, too, and they need to feed and clothe them. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.
Second and more fundamentally, no matter how much you lower costs, if you don’t have more customers, you won’t hire more workers. If the demand for goods and services stays where it is today and we only cut industry taxes and regulations, there is absolutely no reason to think that firms would expand employment. Rather, they would continue to produce at the same level and simply earn higher profits. On the other hand, if we leave taxes and regulations untouched but increase demand, entrepreneurs will happily add workers. And that is the root of the problem today. The bottom line, lost on Mr. Romney and many others, is that the real job creators are consumers.The direct route to reducing unemployment is boosting demand, not reducing costs.
I’ve been practically screaming this for years, though it’s usually met with something like “Stoopid loony liberal logic”.