Article 43


Saturday, August 03, 2013

July 2013 Jobs Report


There Are 3 Unemployed People Competing For Every Job Opening

By Mark Gongloff
Huffington Post
July 9, 2013

Those looking for work face some of the worst odds in the past 13 years, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released Tuesday.

The bureau’s MONTHLY SURVEY tracking job openings and labor turnover was a little less robust than the agency’s better-known UNEMPLOYMENT REPORT that was released on Friday. According to the new report, there are more than three unemployed people competing for every job opening in the country, and people are quitting their jobs far less than they should be.

The survey showed that there were 3.8 million job openings in the U.S. in May. That’s up from about 2.3 million at the worst of the recession, but still well below the peak of 4.7 million openings before the slowdown. In the jobs report on Friday, the BLS said there were 11.8 million people still looking for work.

When both reports are considered together, that means there are 3.1 unemployed people competing for every one job.

The other troubling thing Friday’s report didn’t show is that there is not a lot of “churn” in the labor market right now. The new JOLTS DATA reveal that the total number of people getting hired each month and the total of people leaving jobs each month are both lower than before the recession by about 1 million workers.

People just aren’t finding new jobs and leaving old ones like they did before the recession—making the challenge for those three people per job even more difficult.

Just 2.2 million people, or 1.6 percent of workers, quit their jobs in May, which has been roughly the quit rate for most of the past two years. Before the recession, that quit rate was consistently higher—about 2.2 percent of all workers, or about 3 million people.

“The reason there is less churn today is that jobs are so scarce that employed workers are much less likely to quit the job they have,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a note about the report. Because leaving a job for a better opportunity can be an important way for workers to advance, this depressed rate of voluntary quits represents millions of lost opportunities.

There are always more job openings than there are workers to fill them. But the disconnect has never been this wide in the 13 years that the BLS has kept track of the numbers. Shierholz points out that, even after four years of recovery, the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings is still higher than it was at the worst of the 2001 recession.

Quitting one job for another is one way workers can get a big increase in pay. A low quit rate might help explain why wages have been relatively stagnant in the recovery so far. A new STUDY by the National Employment Law Project finds that the median hourly wage for workers fell by 2.8 percent between 2009 and 2012. Naturally, the worst of this wage decline has been felt by the lowest-paid workers, the NELP notes.

Not coincidentally, most of the industries with the highest numbers of job openings in May, according to the JOLTS data, were lower-paying sectors, including health-care services, retail sales and restaurants.



Is Falling Long-Term Unemployment Good News?
The recovery might be leaving the long-term unemployed behind and on on their own

By Matthew O’Brien
The Atlantic
August 2, 2013

The jobs report in July was practically the same as the jobs report in June, which was practically the same as pretty much every jobs report each month going back to 2011. In fact, we can all save ourselves a bit of time if you just go back and read what I WROTE LAST MONTH: The recovery is the same as always.

Now, that doesn’t mean nothing changed. The economy added 162,000 jobs in July, which was actually a bit below expectations, but basically in line with the recovery we’ve come to know and complain about. Meanwhile, revisions to the two previous months subtracted 26,000 jobs. But despite this, the unemployment rate fell from 7.6 to 7.4 percent for the good reason that we are creating jobs and the worse reason that some people left the labor force.

Is there any surprisingly good news here? Well, long-term unemployment has fallen from 5.1 to 4.2 million in the past year, which certainly sounds good. But is it? Keep in mind that the economy has only added 1.6 million full-time jobs and 300,000 part-time jobs over this period—and we know that firms often won’t even look at the resumes of the long-term jobless. So it seems unlikely that many of the 900,000 people who were long-term unemployed last year but aren’t this year actually got jobs. They probably gave up looking.

And they probably gave up looking because long-term unemployment benefits have gotten cut. Now, conservatives like to blame these benefits for our high unemployment, and they’re right—just not for the reason they think. They say that too-generous benefits turn the safety net into a hammock for the funemployed, but the reality is that long-term benefits keep long-term unemployed people who otherwise would have stopped looking for work to keep looking. Indeed, Jesse Rothstein, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, estimated back in 2011 that extended benefits had increased unemployment by 0.1 to 0.5 percentage points, but that least half of this increase came from fewer labor force dropouts. And more recent work by Boston Fed visiting scholar and Northeastern Ph. D. candidate Rand Ghayad found that the Beveridge curves the unemployed who are and aren’t eligible for benefits are equally bad—so it’s hard to see much of a disincentive effect. In other words, extended unemployment benefits haven’t kept people from trying; they’ve kept people from giving up.

But unemployment benefits have fallen fast the past year. Congress cut them from a maximum of 99 to 93 weeks back in February 2012—and even that seriously overstates what people can actually get. See, different states offer different benefit lengths. States with more unemployment have longer benefits—but so do states with more generous governments. As you can see in the chart below from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, most states now offer benefits in the 40-63 week range. Just two years ago, it was 93 weeks or more for most states.

Shorter benefits mean fewer long-term unemployed have a reason to keep looking for work.
So they don’t. And voil, unemployment comes down. At least more than it otherwise would have. And this raises a troubling possibility. The recovery might not just be leaving the long-term unemployed behind; it might be leaving them on their own. In other words, falling unemployment means falling benefits—and the long-term unemployed get the short-end of the stick on both. It’s perverse. And it’s why the government might need to start hiring people who’ve been out of work for a long time—who else will?

There are two possibilities here. Behind door number one, the government does something, anything, to help the long-term jobless. Maybe it hires them. Or maybe it gives companies a tax-incentive to hire them. And then there’s door number two: we keep doing what we’re doing, and maybe less. The recovery continues to ignore the long-term unemployed until they fall entirely out of the labor force into the uncounted masses where nobody can attach a statistic to their suffering, and we declare mission accomplished.

Something has to change.


Posted by Elvis on 08/03/13 •
Section Dying America
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End Of The Middle Class - Part 3


Abuse CAN ONLY take place if enough people are silent about it, which is to say that those who are silent about the abuse are complicit in it. EVIL can only PLAY ITSELF OUT without restraint when good people see what is happening and do nothing. Staying silent in the PRESENCE OF ABUSE, though seemingly a passive role, is to unwittingly play an active role enabling our own victimization.
- Paul Levy

The pain of rising inequality will not just show up in the paycheck; it will also show up in the spirit. An extended era of low wages and austerity will continue to undercut the New Deal institutions trade unions and public-safety nets that provide American workers with protection from assaults on personal dignity from dog-eat-dog job competition. A union contract, or the threat that they might demand one, gives workers a voice in the small things that make up a persons self-esteem: the right to go to the bathroom without asking permission, a lunchtime to yourself, a paid vacation. Seniority means that older and younger workers are not in mortal combat for daily survival on the job and that older workers will not be laid off just because younger workers can be hired for lower pay.
- Jeff Faux - Who Will Save The Middle Class


80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey
Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

By Hope Yen
Huffington Post
July 28, 2013

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.

Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

“If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work,” she said. Children, she said, have “nothing better to do than to get on drugs.”

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government’s poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

The gauge defines “economic insecurity” as experiencing unemployment at some point in their working lives, or a year or more of reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of BLACK ones.

“It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty. He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama’s election, while struggling whites do not.

“There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” Wilson said.

Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white.

More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.

Sometimes termed “the invisible poor” by demographers, lower-income whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.

Buchanan County, in southwest Virginia, is among the nation’s most destitute based on median income, with poverty hovering at 24 percent. The county is mostly white, as are 99 percent of its poor.

More than 90 percent of Buchanan County’s inhabitants are working-class whites who lack a college degree. Higher education long has been seen there as nonessential to land a job because well-paying mining and related jobs were once in plentiful supply. These days many residents get by on odd jobs and government checks.

Salyers’ daughter, Renee Adams, 28, who grew up in the region, has two children. A jobless single mother, she relies on her live-in boyfriend’s disability checks to get by. Salyers says it was tough raising her own children as it is for her daughter now, and doesn’t even try to speculate what awaits her grandchildren, ages 4 and 5.

Smoking a cigarette in front of the produce stand, Adams later expresses a wish that employers will look past her conviction a few years ago for distributing prescription painkillers, so she can get a job and have money to “buy the kids everything they need.”

“It’s pretty hard,” she said. “Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name.”

Census figures provide an official measure of poverty, but they’re only a temporary snapshot that doesn’t capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number ֖ 4 in 10 adults falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

Higher recent rates of unemployment mean the lifetime risk of experiencing economic insecurity now runs even higher: 79 percent, or 4 in 5 adults, by the time they turn 60.

By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.

By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.

“Poverty is no longer an issue of `them’, it’s an issue of `us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”

The numbers come from Rank’s analysis being published by the Oxford University Press. They are supplemented with interviews and figures provided to the AP by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.

Among the findings:

_For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

_Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent.

_The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods 0 those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more - has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children went from 38 percent to 39 percent.

_Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, a biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class. Forty-nine percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of nonwhites who consider themselves working class, even though the economic plight of minorities tends to be worse.

Although they are a shrinking group, working-class whites ֖ defined as those lacking a college degree remain the biggest demographic bloc of the working-age population. In 2012, Election Day exit polls conducted for the AP and the television networks showed working-class whites made up 36 percent of the electorate, even with a notable drop in white voter turnout.

Last November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since Republican Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory over Walter Mondale.

Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential “decisive swing voter group” if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections. “In 2016 GOP messaging will be far more focused on expressing concern for `the middle class’ and `average Americans,’” Andrew Levison and Ruy Teixeira wrote recently in The New Republic.

“They don’t trust big government, but it doesn’t mean they want no government,” says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. His research found that many of them would support anti-poverty programs if focused broadly on job training and infrastructure investment. This past week, Obama pledged anew to help manufacturers bring jobs back to America and to create jobs in the energy sectors of wind, solar and natural gas.

“They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them,” Goeas said.

AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Debra McCown in Buchanan County, Va., contributed to this report.




Why Elites Want to Mask the Suffering of Poor Whites
White elites and opinion leaders are wary of poor white people because they expose the defects of capitalism.

By Chauncey DeVega
August 1, 2013

NBC’s recent story on how 80 PERCENT OF AMERICANS WILL BE LIVING AT OR NEAR POVERTY LEVEL in their lifetimes was accompanied by the above photo of a “poor white family”.

The heart of the the AP’s report on the (further) economic imperilment of the American people is focused on the rise in “white poverty”, and the struggles faced by the “white working class” in the time of the Great Recession.

Images that feature human beings “work” in communicating political and social meaning because of how the viewer “reads” them. As such, there are stated and unstated assumptions which the person who is “seeing” applies to the “object” of their gaze.

For example, the White Gaze views a photo of a young black man wearing a hoodie and whose pants are sagging and sees a person who exists in a state of criminality, and is a social predator.

A photo of a white man wearing a suit and walking down Wall Street in New York will be seen by the White Gaze as representing a “respectable” person and a “hard worker” living the “American Dream.”

In reality, the former may be on the way to his 3rd job, has never been in prison or arrested, and takes care of his aged parents and siblings. The latter could be a child-molesting murderer and rapist, who is also embezzling millions of dollars from his clients.

White and male--and Whiteness more generally--views itself as benign and harmless. Black and male--and Blackness more generally--is viewed by White American society as dangerous and pathological. The power of images is how they harness and channel assumptions about how various types of personhood find representation in, and are configured by, a broader system of dominance, subordination, privilege, inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchy.

NBC’s photo is an example of those processes at work. There we “see” two overweight white women with a young child, and thus make social and political assumptions about gender and class. We see a small home and generalize from that visual about how “poor people” live, and more importantly, “what type of people” they are.

Images also give the viewer permission to empathize or to condemn the subject. Are these “good” people or “bad people?” What is my sense of obligation to them? Does my sense of community extend to people like them?


Stereotypes serve as cognitive short-cuts which the viewer, and we as a society, use to categorize and evaluate the relative worth of whole groups of people. The way that images of white, “poor”, female, “overweight”, “unattractive”, bodies are processed by the viewer is a reflection of how we as a society think about race, class, and gender. These concepts exist individually while also having meaning in relation to one another.

Moreover, in America, because of the Calvinist-Horatio Alger-Myth of Individualism and Upward Mobility, claims on poverty necessarily involve moral judgments.

The black single mother is a “welfare queen” who is “lazy” and has “bad morals”. The poor white person is a “redneck” or a “hillbilly” with all of the stereotypes and assumptions implicit in such language.

Consequently, poor white people are one of the few groups which can me made fun and mocked in American culture without consequence or public sanction.

White elites and opinion leaders do not want to talk about poor white people because that would expose the defects of capitalism. These same elites also avoid discussing white poverty because it would undermine how they have historically been able to mine white supremacy to mask inter-class conflict and exploitation among whites in the United States.

“Race is how class is lived in America.” Consequently, the leaders in the black and brown community care about poverty as a general issue because it disproportionately impacts people of color.

White privilege extends to all white people in America. Black and brown folks have to deal with both the colorline and other types of inequality in American society. Moreover--and I do believe black and brown elites are more correct than not in this choice and instinct--there is a deep belief, one hard taught by American history, that poor and working class whites will consistently choose to serve the interests of rich white people because of the psychic wages that are paid to them by Whiteness. As such, why focus the limited political capital of the black and brown community in a time of crisis on solving a “white” problem?

Poor and working class whites may have much in common with poor and working class people of color. But, their greatest allegiance is doing the work of white racism against their own immediate class interests. From Bacon’s Rebellion forward, with some notable deviations, this has been one of the key themes in American history.

However, the new white poor are not the stereotypes drawn from the exploitative TV show Honey Boo Boo.

They are the former middle class and non-college educated whites who worked in the skilled trades or as low-level municipal and public functionaries. Many of them are invisible as they couch surf with friends, or move back in with their aging parents or other relatives. The new white poor lost their homes and are living in motels (if they are lucky). Other members of the new white poor are sleeping in their cars, one of the last possessions that marked them as “middle class”, after their IRA’s and 401k’s are drained, the credit cards maxed out many months ago.

The new white poor are the students in some of my classes who share with me how they are using their student loans to support their parents; thus they must pass their courses or the whole family will be homeless. The new white poor are those college students that universities are having to accommodate with showers, lockers, dorms, and other supports because many of them quite literally have no where to go when the school day is over, and when the academic year has ended.

The white poor are not toothless rural folks sitting around smoking meth and making moonshine as they are depicted in the American popular imagination. They are your neighbors, in the suburbs, rural areas, and our cities, that are right next door, and trying to get by while MAINTAINING THEIR DIGNITY.

The type of white poverty stereotyped by the lede photo on NBC’s news item is a caricature that is easy to mock and deride. Those poor white people are an alien Other. “Respectable” white folks (and others) mock them, because poor whites represent a basement below which the white middle class imagines they cannot fall beneath.

It is much harder to minimize and ignore the now poor white folks who are the former members of the middle and working class that shop at Trader Joe’s or Target with their SNAP cards and pittance of remaining unemployment monies, praying that no one they know sees them, and then get back into their paid off SUV and drive to a parking lot to sleep for the night with their kids, and who then wake up early the next day to wash up in the McDonald’s bathroom.

The mainstream news media will likely not show you a picture of failed white suburban domesticity in the Age of Austerity and the Great Recession. The Fourth Estate are not truth tellers. They support the status quo and the powerful.

As such, a meaningful discussion of white poverty in the Age of Austerity is not an approved topic for the public discourse even while “we the people” are suffering everyday.


Posted by Elvis on 08/03/13 •
Section Dying America
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