Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Failing with employment numbers

While the mainstream media again demonstrates its reliable left tilt with so much attention over Chris Christie’s bridge problem, it is good to bring the conversation back to important failures of prominent politicians. Specifically, we should be discussing the dismal performance of our president and our Democrat Senate majority leader driving this country to new lows in joblessness.

While some disingenuously celebrate our government-reported falling employment rate, the employment-to-population ratio also has fallen from 63 percent before the recession to 59.4 percent in June 2009, and now to 58.6 percent.

Part of our elite political class desires to transform the United States into the model of old Europe. They appear to be on track, since we appear to be adopting old Europe’s penchant to grow discouraged workers and structural unemployment problem.

In our fifth year of the Obama “recovery,” Democrats blame Republicans for refusing to support yet another extension of jobless benefits. Meanwhile, there is no effective leadership, and no reaching across the aisle to support policies to create more jobs.

History generally gets it right despite what the media report or do not report. This being the case, Christie’s bridge “scandal” will be nary a blip over Harry Reid and Barack Obama’s troubled waters of jobless pain.

Jeff Boone
Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 18 comments

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 16, 2014 - 9:28 am

    Obama is more concerned with fairness and redistribution than the success of the nation. It was clear to me early on in his first term that he was way over his head. How it was not clear to the majority in 2012 is a testament to the power of the mainstream media and the creation of a clueless generation. As for Harry Reid, he is just plain stupid!

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  • ontJanuary 17, 2014 - 1:23 am

    “It was clear to me early on in his first term that he was way over his head.” So you voted for someone who you say it was obvious couldn’t handle the job. Makes total sense.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 16, 2014 - 9:32 am

    "The employment-to-population ratio also has fallen from 63 percent before the recession to 59.4 percent in June 2009, and now to 58.6 percent." ............ The difference between now and June, 2009 is not material. It does, however, seem to suggest that our jobs recovery thus far has been weak. What's most interesting to me is that the employment-to-population ratio peaked in 1999 and then fell for most of the 10 years after that. It picked up a small amount during the end of the real estate bubble. But the secular trend for a decade was downward. The real change from 2009 to today is that it has stabilized. But the level it is at is far lower than it was every year in the 1990s. You have to go back to the downturn of 1982-84 to find a lower employment-to-population ratio than we have today. .............. The main reasons this number mostly rose from the mid-1970s to the late-1990s were: 1) growing economies which produced jobs; 2) greater female participation in the economy; and 3) the Baby Boomer generation going to work. I suspect the there main reasons the employment-to-population ratio is flat now, and at a lower level than it was a decade ago, are 1) a growing economy which (due to technology) is not producing many jobs; 2) female labor participation has reached its peak; and 3) Baby Boomers are retiring and our share of senior citizens is now much higher.

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  • Jeff BooneJanuary 16, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Greg and Rick - Thanks for your comments. Rich, I appreciate your points. I think though we are also looking at a big increase in under-employment that is not showing up in the statistics. We have many more part-time jobs in our economy. As I understand the government counts jobs and not FTEs. If we were to count FTEs, then my guess is that the employment-to-population ratio would be much higher than the previous comparable years. Do you have access to any data to support or refute that point?

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 16, 2014 - 6:53 pm

    “Do you have access to any data to support or refute that point?” ……………. I don’t. It does seem plausible that, for various reasons, including Obamacare, many of the jobs being created are less than full-time. An additional factor, though, if that is the case, might be a “wait and see” attitude on the part of many employers. That is, they might be experiencing a growth in demand, but they are unsure it will last. So in response, they are hiring part-time workers or temps. If the economy takes off, they will turn the best of these into full-timers. If the economy stalls or recesses, they can more easily reduce their workforces.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 16, 2014 - 2:48 pm

    All you points are reasonable Rich. However, I imagine you are open to the possibility that Obama's policies (Obamacare, higher taxes, increased welfare, energy "unfriendliness", etc.) may be inhibitory to a robust recovery. It would be dishonest to say he did not inherit a horrible mess, but equally dishonest to say that he has done a good job where the economy is concerned.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 16, 2014 - 9:45 pm

    GREG: "Obama's policies (Obamacare, higher taxes, increased welfare, energy "unfriendliness", etc.) may be inhibitory to a robust recovery." .............. Yes, maybe. I think it makes sense to address each of those factors: ………..… Obamacare—first see my response to Jeff. I would say, though, that it does not seem plausible that Obamacare would yet have any effect on a "robust recovery." It seems more likely, if it hinders job growth, that it would be a drag on the economy over the long run. ............... Higher taxes: There are two related downsides to high federal tax rates: 1. They can disincentivize investment, insofar as reward cannot match up to risk; and 2. They can divert capital, which would have gone to efficient, market investment, but instead is going to unproductive or less productive government. The former is not yet convincing, because our federal marginal rates today are nowhere near historic highs, and we have had plenty of investment risk in times with higher rates. The latter is convincing in the longer run. But, given the great uptick in equity markets over the last 3-4 years, there is no argument to be made that the U.S. is suffering from a dearth of capital available for investment. Even in a ridiculously high-tax state like ours, there is significant new capital being invested in tech industries by VCs and public markets.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 16, 2014 - 9:46 pm

    Increased welfare: I suspect the best case for arguing that this would inhibit a robust recovery is that recipients lack the incentive structure to find work. I think that is somewhat compelling. The problem is, however, that the real value of such welfare is lower now than it was in the 1980s, when we had a robust recovery, and it is lower now in real value than it was when our economy took off after 1992. ............ Energy unfriendliness: No case to be made there. Since 2005, our domestic production of oil and gas has tripled. We are at all time highs for numbers of new wellheads being drilled. Even if Obama said he hates oil and gas--he's never said anything close to that--his time in office has coincided with a robust boom in energy.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 18, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    Rich, thanks for your response. Your comments, as usual are well thought out and articulated. With respect to Obama's energy policy, I was going to make the same point that I see Jeff made. Energy has been a boon in spite of Obama's policies, not because of them. I realize that there are environmental concerns and I have these myself. However, from an economic perspective, if he were more permissive, this would presumably added to the positive energy story. As you pointed out, I think the Keystone pipeline would be a positive. With respect to taxes, I believe the free market is better at allocating capital and taxation is inhibitory to job creation. Even more than the increased taxes (which have not been too excessive) is the uncertainty created by the constant threat of more taxes. Harry Reid was calling for more revenue within months of the deal reached in late 2012. I am believer that we have a spending problem more than a revenue problem, although I don't have a problem with carfully implemented changes due to our huge debt. With respect to Obamacare, as you said, it has created uncertainty which I feel has frozen a lot of money. I think it is a big part of why companies are sitting on cash, and cautious about hiring. With respect to welfare, I'm not sure I exactly follow your point. From my perspective, there are two main factors that determine someone's inclination to try to go from welfare to work. The first is the difference in standard of living, which I feel is trivial at this point and disincentivizes people riding the system. The other is the pride and ambition of the person, both of which are sorely lacking in this age of social dysfunction and drug addiction. I am in favor of raising minimum wage to about 10 bucks as this would help promote a desirable result for some welfare recipients. Washington will be an interestin experiment with the $15 minimum wage but I believe it will cause a lot of problems. My biggest problem with Obama is sticking with the current monitary policy. Romney said he would change this immediately if elected and I agree with him. I think there will be hell to pay but only time will tell.

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  • Jeff BooneJanuary 17, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    "No case to be made there. Since 2005, our domestic production of oil and gas has tripled. We are at all time highs for numbers of new wellheads being drilled." The number of new offshore leases has plummeted under Obama — falling by more than half, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. During Obama’s first term, the U.S. has so far issued 1,304 new offshore leases compared with 3,317 in Bush’s second term — a decrease of 61 percent. During Obama's first term, the number of new permits for offshore wells nosedived. The U.S. approved 1,316 new permits during Bush’s second term. That number fell to 515 under Obama - a 61 percent drop. The reason oil and gas production increased was because of the free market invention of frack drilling on private lands. I'm sorry, but Obama has not earned the credit for that. In fact, the EPA is working on making even that much more restrictive.

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  • ontJanuary 17, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    “I'm sorry, but Obama has not earned the credit for that” – I’ve seen this movie before. Obama gets the blame for anything negative happening during his time in office, and plenty of invented stuff too, but also gets none of the credit for the positive developments. Nice fair analysis. There are endless variations on this. The stock market doubling has nothing to do with Obama, while any little downturn is the president’s fault because he’s a socialist, hates bankers etc etc. “During Obama's first term, the number of new permits for offshore wells nosedived.” Wow short memory. Some of us care about more than oil company profit margins, for instance not turning a third of the coastline and the Gulf into a toxic waste dump. Even Bush might have issued a moratorium on drilling after the BP disaster. Actually that’s doubtful considering he was the one who turned over the regulatory levers of the MMS completely to the oil companies.

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  • Rich RifkinJanuary 17, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    JEFF: "I'm sorry, but Obama has not earned the credit for that. In fact, the EPA is working on making even that much more restrictive." .............. I was not assigning anyone credit or blame. I was replying to Greg's contention that Obama's energy policies are the reason for our lack of a robust economy. The big increase in oil and gas production in the United States since Obama took office, whether he is oil friendly or not, is undeniable. ................. This comes from The Wall Street Journal a year ago: "U.S. oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry, which began in 1859, and is set to surge even more in 2013. Daily crude output averaged 6.4 million barrels a day last year, up a record 779,000 barrels a day from 2011 and hitting a 15-year high, according to the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group." Of course fracking is the reason why. But, again, it is not true that Obama's oil policies have resulted in a loss of jobs or production in the petroleum sector. His policies have really done nothing, other than stupidly holding up the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would be good for cities like Davis, CA.

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  • ontJanuary 17, 2014 - 1:32 am

    Greg Johnson January 16, 2012 - 2:48pm: “Obamacare” --The US collectively spends double or triple what most other countries do on healthcare. The GOP has no policy prescriptions or interest in making the US more competitive in this area other than watch a greater and greater percentage of our economy go to health care spending. Medical inflation has slowed in recent years, partly due to the recession but a portion of the change is likely due to ACA reforms. That benefits the economy. “Higher taxes” -- For whom? Maybe if you are a 1 percenter whose income has also gone way up you’re paying a tiny amount more, but most people have seen lower (e.g. stimulus tax cuts) or flat taxes under Obama. “increased welfare” -- Did you notice that massive recession? Unless you wanted to pull a Herbert Hoover and really nosedive the economy you don’t pull the rug out from people when they need the help the most. “energy "unfriendliness"” -- Similar to being the worst socialist ever for overseeing a doubling of the stock market as corporate profits go through the roof, Obama is the worst anti-energy production president as oil and gas production has soared on his watch. These are stale gop talking points. Can’t you guys come up with anything better?

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 18, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    As usual, your rant lacks any discernable point. Obamacare will increase medical spending. You have animosity for the one percenters, yet you brag about Obama creating a big stock market run which has made them rich. Obama has been great for the rich and carried the poor. It is only the middle class who have gotten crushed.

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  • ontJanuary 18, 2014 - 6:58 pm

    “your rant lacks any discernable point.” Your powers of discernment are as weak as those four examples you imagined of the president’s policies damaging the economy. Overall spending on healthcare will go up with or without the ACA. The rate of medical inflation is part of what the law was intended to address and so far the news is positive. As it turns out, about half of Americans own stocks directly. Then there’s that group of Americans that, despite the best effort of republicans, still have pensions and are invested indirectly. I would wager that the majority of these people are middle class. If the stock market’s value, instead of doubling, was down 50 percent from Jan. 2009, you’d be crying about Obama “crushing” middle class investors and their 401k’s with his devastation of the market.

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  • greg johnsonJanuary 19, 2014 - 10:43 am

    The top one percent have about half the wealth in this country and have been the ones who've made out with this radical monetary policy which will likely come to a disastrous end. We will see if the rate slope for health care costs decreased under Obamacare. I doubt it!

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  • ontJanuary 17, 2014 - 1:18 am

    Funny how Republicans often claim they fear the power of the state (unless it's the most potent military ever assembled), yet when we have a clear cut example of deliberate abuse of state power by one of their own, complete with smoking gun evidence ("time for some traffic problems", "is it wrong that I'm smiling?") their reaction is to say "look over there, squirrel!! It seems abuse of power is OK as long as it's a Republican punishing a Democrat.

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  • ontJanuary 17, 2014 - 1:21 am

    Funny how Republicans often claim they fear the power of the state (unless it's the most potent military ever assembled), yet when we have a clear cut example of deliberate abuse of state power by one of their own, complete with smoking gun evidence ("time for some traffic problems", "is it wrong that I'm smiling?") their reaction is to say "look over there, squirrel!! It seems abuse of power is OK as long as it's a Republican punishing a Democrat.

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