Tag Archives: wages

April jobs report well below expectations, second month in a row

Steve Benen has the April jobs report, Unemployment drops, but job growth falls short of expectations:

[W]hile it’s true that the job market looks healthy, the latest figures aren’t worth getting too excited about. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this that the economy added 168,000 jobs in April, well short of expectations, while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%.

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While the 168,000 total is underwhelming, the 3.9% jobless rate is the lowest since before the Bush/Cheney administration took office.

[It was the 91st consecutive month of gains, far and away the longest streak of increases on record.]

Meanwhile, the revisions for the two previous months –February and March – didn’t change too much, and pointed to a combined gain of 30,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

In terms of the larger context, this morning’s data points to 799,000 jobs created so far in 2018, which is up a bit from the totals we saw in the first four months of 2016 and 2017, but short of the totals from the first four months of 2014 and 2015.

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VP Mike Pence in Phoenix today on GOP Tax Scam Tour

A”whiter shade of pale” Mike Pence is in Phoenix today for the GOP tax scam tour. Vice President Mike Pence visits Phoenix today on tax policy tour:

Pence will arrive shortly before noon Tuesday before meeting with Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Arizona Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs and local business people are expected at the “Tax Cuts to Put America First” gathering at a Tempe hotel.

Maybe an enterprising reporter will ask Pence about Senator Marco Rubio’s view of the GOP tax scam. The Economist reports, Marco Rubio offers his Trump-crazed party a glint of hope (snippet):

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he says. “In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

Arguing that the tax bill’s corporate tax rate cuts aren’t benefiting the average worker is exactly the opposite of what VP Pence will say today about the GOP’s only major legislative “accomplishment.”

For once, “Little Marco,” as Pence’s boss denigrates him, is right. The New York Times reported this week, Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear:

Republicans sold the 2017 tax law as “rocket fuel” for American investment and growth, saying that corporations — flush with cash from lower tax rates — would channel money back into the economy by building factories and offices and investing in equipment, which would help companies grow and provide winnings for workers.

Economists say that may happen as companies readjust their spending plans over the coming months to take advantage of the new law, and they note that it is too early to tell how much the tax law will spread into the broader economy.

But, so far, hard evidence of such an acceleration has yet to appear in economic data, which show more of a steady investment roll than a rapid escalation. And while there are pockets of the economy where investment is picking up — among large tech companies and in shale oil business, for example — corporate spending on buying back stock is increasing at a far faster clip, prompting a debate about whether the law is returning money to the overall economy or just rewarding a small segment of investors.

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March jobs report well below expectations, trade war trouble on the horizon

Economic forecasters expected another strong jobs report today. That didn’t happen. Steve Benen has the March jobs report. Following February’s highs, job growth slowed down in March:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 103,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% for the sixth consecutive month. In both cases, forecasts projected better progress, making today’s report disappointing.

Making matters slightly worse, the revisions for the two previous months – January and February – point to a combined loss of 50,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

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Working Americans have not noticed the effect of the GOP tax cut on their personal finances

Erica Werner of the Washington Post today asserts As GOP tax cuts take hold, Democrats struggle for line of attack based upon conservative Democrat Joe Donnelly’s reelection campaign in the deep red state of Indiana:

The new law is rising in popularity as businesses in Indiana and elsewhere trumpet bonuses and bigger paychecks. And while Donnelly and fellow Democrats struggle to craft a consistent attack on the law, Republicans — boosted by outside spending from groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and others — are united in touting the tax cuts and slamming moderate Democrats who voted against them.

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Americans have just started to see the tax cut show up in their paychecks this month, and along with those boosts in pay have come a spate of recent polls that show public opinion turning in favor of the tax legislation — leaving Democrats the unenviable task of trying to convince voters that a law increasing their paychecks now will be bad for the country later.

Werner is correct about the Koch brothers multi-million dollar GOPropaganda campaign to sell the GOP tax bill, and the resulting bump in polling (mostly from GOP-leaning voters responding to messaging for GOP tribalism). But there is contradictory evidence on any actual economic benefits of the GOP tax bill being noticeable in paychecks.

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New Census Bureau data on median household income

Permanent musical accompaniment to this post: Party Like It’s 1999.

The median income for U.S. households is now slightly higher than what the median income was for households . . . in 1999. Americans are finally making more money than we were in 1999:

Adjusted for inflation, median household income rose to $59,039, which is up 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to Census Bureau statistics. The previous highest median income, the Associated Press reported, was $58,665, which was recorded in 1999.

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It took 18 years, but the American median income is finally back to where it was before the 2001 recession.

The report covers the final year of the Obama administration, in which poverty rates also decreased from 13.5 percent to 12.7 percent. In real numbers, that’s a drop of 2.5 million people, according to USA Today. The number represent the first time since the recession that the rate wasn’t higher than levels prior to the recession.

In a year filled with debate on health care, the amount of Americans who have health insurance increased by 900,000 to 28.1 million, and the percentage of Americans not covered by insurance dropped from 9.1 percent to 8.8 percent.

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Jared Bernstein: The whys of increasing inequality

I posted about this chart last week, Inequality in One Chart, and our “usual suspects” posted their utterly nonsensical defenses of faith based supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics in the comments.

Today, economist Jared Bernstein weighs in at the Washington Post, The whys of increasing inequality: A graphical portrait:

The graph below, based on the work of economists Gabriel Zucman, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, has been receiving considerable attention since it appeared in the New York Times last week. It shows the rate of annual income growth for adults at each percentile in the income distribution — from those who have the lowest incomes to those who have the highest incomes — over two time periods: the mid-1940s to 1980, and 1980 to 2014. Over the first period, post-tax income growth was fastest at the bottom, about 2 percent per year for the “middle class” (the 40th to the 80th percentiles), and a little slower among the wealthy.

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The growth pattern over the second 34-year period looks very different: The richer you were, the faster you got ahead. Incomes grew less than 1 percent for the bottom 50 percent and less than 2 percent for the next 45 percent. They then took off for the richest Americans, with the growth rate for the richest adults ending up about six times that of those in the middle.

The chart is a clear, intuitive way to show the increase in income inequality over the past few decades, and an important reminder that growth for the rich cannot be expected to trickle down to everyone else.

But it doesn’t show why inequality has grown. What explains this portentous change, one that has had profound effects on our society, our living standards, and our politics?

In fact, there are many perps, each of which is captured in the “Inequality’s Causes” slide below. They do, however, share a theme: Many of the factors that enforced a more equitable distribution of growth in the earlier period have been eroded. Moreover, that erosion is neither an accident nor the benign outcome of natural economic evolution. It is often the result of policies that have reduced workers’ bargaining power and supported the upward redistribution of growth.

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