The return of the misery index

Featured image The misery index is a back-of-the-envelope measure of how America is faring economically. It is derived by adding the employment rate and the inflation rate. The misery index was an oft-cited figure during the 1970s and 1980s. As Issues & Insights reminds us, it spiked during the stagflation presidency of Jimmy Carter, all the way to 21.9 percent. The economy thus accomplished what many economists had thought was impossible in »

Another sensible decision from Ron DeSantis

Featured image Florida governor Ron DeSantis has made mostly good decisions throughout the pandemic, in my opinion. Now, as the pandemic recedes, he’s made another good one. DeSantis intends to require unemployment claimants to show they have looked for work. The requirement will likely kick in once an executive order waiving it expires on May 29. The governor’s decision is a response to the difficulties some Florida businesses, especially those in hospitality, »

Pelosi explains

Featured image The Paycheck Protection Program has quickly depleted the $350 billion allotted to it by Congress. Congressional Democrats are blocking additional funding. Why would they do that? This past Monday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posted a statement in which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined. It took both leaders to craft a statement that opaque. The Wall Street Journal quotes it in an editorial this morning: In a joint statement Monday, »

Kamala Harris’s fake news about “putting food on the table”

Featured image We have noted how Democratic presidential candidates, nearly all of them, are trying to convince Americans that our economy is in woeful condition. Absent an economic downturn, the effort seems destined to fail. As debate moderator Savannah Guthrie informed the field during the first night of debating, most Americans, and even most Democrats, believe the economy is doing well. The numbers support this belief. To take one example, the unemployment »

Weekly jobless claims are lowest since 1969

Featured image To me, the most important question pertaining to the 2020 presidential race is not which hard-leftist the Democrats will nominate or whether, instead, they will nominate a 77 year-old who wasn’t bright even in his prime. Nor, we now know, is it anything to do with Robert Mueller. Rather, the most important question is what the economy will look like in the months before the election. I don’t know the »

The Trump boom, cont’d

Featured image The Wall Street Journal’s Real Times Economics email newsletter featured the monthly jobs report released on Friday. Lest we take the good times for granted, let us take a break from the continuing Russia hoax to take in signs of the boom. The Journal newsletter headlines 304,000 jobs added in January along with the slight increase in the unemployment rate to 4 percent from 3.9 percent. Chief Journal economics commentator »

Did the tax cut really produce those bonuses and pay raises?

Featured image Veronique de Rugy suggests that the bonuses and pay raises granted by many employers right after the tax cut was signed into law might well have been coming even without the tax cut. The key to the increase in worker compensation, she proposes, is the very tight labor market. De Rugy quotes the Wall Street Journal: With the unemployment rate low and unfilled job openings high, losing workers to a »

It was a very good year

Featured image Robert Schlesinger, managing editor for opinion at U.S. News & World Report, calls 2017 “a dumpster fire of a year, especially for those who reside and operate in the world of politics and policy.” Who, he asks, will mourn its passing? Only a fool would mourn the turning over of the calendar in any year. But, as Roger Kimball demonstrates, folks who reside and operate in the real world can »

About Trump’s “re-election” ad

Featured image John wrote about and posted what he calls Trump’s first re-election ad. The ad touts the record level stock market and the unusually low unemployment numbers. It doesn’t cite any legislative victories or foreign policy accomplishments. Nor could it. As a re-election pitch, current stock market prices and employment numbers couldn’t be less relevant. The relevant numbers will be the ones in 2020, when Trump faces the voters. At that »

Job growth stalls

Featured image One of the reasons I have thought Hillary Clinton probably will be elected president, assuming she’s not indicted, is the state of the economy. It’s pretty good now, and Americans recognize this. The relatively good economy explains why President Obama’s approval rating his risen. It’s borderline decent now. This hasn’t seemed to help Hillary’s poll numbers, but likely would once we get to crunch time. Today, however, comes a new »

Talkin’ unemployment blues

Featured image President Obama made an appearance in the White House press room on Friday to take a victory lap over the fall of the official unemployment rate (U-3) to 4.9 percent (video below, about 15 minutes). Is that number for real? Referring to the hell he saw tending to wounded men during the Civil War, Walt Whitman held that “the real war will never get in the books.” By the same »

Men not at work

Featured image The new unemployment rate announced this morning was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent last month. The AP story is here; the Bloomberg story is here. The economy is said to have added 223,000 jobs last month, but the decline in the unemployment rate is, as usual deceiving. The decline in the unemployment rate reflects the continuing decline in the labor participation rate: “The participation rate, which indicates the share »

Does Illegal Immigration Explain the Disconnect Between Jobs and Wages?

Featured image After seven years of “recovery,” the jobs picture is finally beginning to brighten a bit. Last month’s jobs number, 280,000, was relatively good. But economists are puzzled: if hiring is picking up, why are wages and GDP stagnant, or even shrinking? At ZeroHedge, the pseudonymous Tyler Durden proposes an answer. It begins with the fact that nearly all job gains have gone to immigrants: There were other curiosities: the vast »

All Job Growth Since 2007 Has Gone to Foreign-Born Workers

Featured image With the latest jobs report published, Senate Budget Committee staff have updated their analysis of job creation and population growth. They start their analysis in December 2007, when the last recession began. This is their conclusion: There are two tables underneath – one showing foreign-born employment, the other showing US-born employment. What it shows is astonishing: foreign employment in the U.S. rose by 1.7 million, while the employment of U.S.-born »

The Big Lie On Unemployment

Featured image The administration is crowing over the fact that the unemployment rate has finally fallen, after six years, to 5.6%–not even a good number, by historic standards. But almost everyone understands that the reality is quite different, in part because the rate has dropped largely on account of people giving up, dropping out of the labor force, going on disability, and so on. But one question I have never seen answered »

Where Did the Jobs Go?

Featured image Somewhat remarkably, given that it has presided over the worst recovery–by far–of the post-war era, the Obama administration tries to slice and dice employment numbers to portray itself as a champion of job creation. There are, indeed, a few more jobs today than there were six years ago. Yet for most Americans, the employment scene has gotten worse, not better. Why is that? Senate Budget Committee staff offer data in »

Will Yesterday’s Jobs Report Boost Democrats?

Featured image Democrats are touting yesterday’s jobs report–248,000 net new jobs were added in September, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9%–as a victory for the administration that should improve the party’s prospects in November. Thus, to cite just one example, President Obama boasted in a speech yesterday that by any measure, the economy today is better than when he took office. I should hope so! Obama took office shortly after the »