January job numbers reflect GOP austerity measures

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Steve Benen has his monthly break down of the job numbers for January. Jobs report underwhelms again:

The good news is, U.S. job growth picked up in January following December’s awful totals. The bad news is, that’s not saying much.

The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added 113,000 jobs in January, well below economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% – its lowest point since October 2008 – but that’s cold comfort given the overall data, and is likely affected by congressional Republicans’ decision to cut off jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

As is often the case, there was also a sizable gap between the public and private sectors – in January, businesses added 142,000 jobs, while spending cuts forced 29,000 government job losses.

This report, like the one before it, offer yet another reminder to policymakers that the economic recovery is far from robust. For GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to forfeit 200,000 jobs this year by failing to extend jobless aid – or worse, threaten deliberate harm through another debt-ceiling crisis – only makes it harder for the economy to get to where it needs to be.

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Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

Also note, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does a once-a-year annual revision, updating every month’s job totals from the previous calendar year. The above chart reflects the changes applied to 2013’s monthly totals. (For what it’s worth, while we initially believed 2.18 million jobs were created last year, the revisions now show 2.32 million jobs were created.)

And no, I do not know why Benen did not do his separate private sector chart this month.

The public sector numbers had rebounded in recent months after years of declining public sector employment due to GOP austerity budget cuts. Public sector employment previously has been used by government as a stimulus to the economy. Think Progress reports, Government Layoffs Have Been Undermining The Recovery For Five Years:

State, local, and federal government payrolls shrank by 29,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday, continuing a damaging and historically unusual trend that has undermined the economic recovery throughout the past five years.

Despite spiking briefly during the 2010 Census, the public-sector workforce nationwide is nearly three-quarters of a million jobs smaller than it was when President Obama took office. In that same time, the private sector has added 3.5 million jobs on net, even after accounting for the millions of jobs lost in the economic free fall five years ago:

Pub-priv-cumulative-2-7-14

About a third of these public-sector job cuts come in the crucial field of public education, as local school districts cut staff by more than 250,000.

This is not how recoveries are supposed to work. Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Reagan all faced recessions early in their presidencies, and each man oversaw substantial public-sector job growth. Bush alone oversaw the addition of more than a million new public-sector workers during his first term.

While the public sector cuts undermining the Obama recovery are unprecedented, they are not hard to explain. Austerity policies at the state and federal level gave rise to the worst three-year run on record for public sector job growth. Those layoffs pull money out of the whole economy, spreading the pain from government workers to everyone else.

More recently, the government shutdown and sequestration cuts knocked a quarter off of overall economic growth for 2013. The unemployment rate would be a full percentage point lower without the roughly $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction policy enacted since conservatives swept into a House majority in the 2010 elections.

The GOP nearly destroyed the financial system and the world's economy with its faith based supply-side "trickle down" economics which gave us the Bush Great Recession (really a depression), and continues to sabotage any economic recovery with Hooverism austerity measures.

UPDATE: The loss of public-sector jobs is one element behind continuing high unemployment. Another element is falling wages for public-sector workers. Monique Morrissey from EPI reports, Another Drag on the Post-Recession Economy: Public-Sector Wages:

The aftermath of the Great Recession has led to outright wage declines for the vast majority of American workers in recent years, resulting in a full decade of essentially stagnant wages. Though you might expect public-sector wages to have weathered the recession and its aftermath better than private-sector wages, the opposite appears true: While the decline in real public-sector wages started later, it was steeper and ultimately more damaging. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index, public-sector wages have fallen by about 1.3 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 2007, where private-sector wages have been essentially flat (an increase of 0.3 percent).

Unlike in previous recoveries, state and local government austerity has been a major drag on job growth and the broader economy. The number of public-sector jobs fell by almost 3 percent in the three years following the recession, while the number of private-sector jobs grew (albeit anemically). The fact that public-sector wages have lagged behind those in the private-sector exacerbates government’s drag on the economy.

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3 responses to “January job numbers reflect GOP austerity measures

  1. What you said in the first paragraph of your comment is flat out wrong regarding Roosevelt inheriting a modest recession. I’ve addressed it in a separate post. As well read as you purport to be, I suspect you knew as much when you posted your comment. Or perhaps your knowledge base is more superficial than you would have others believe? Which is it?

  2. I’ve noticed that you like to throw out names of economists as if that gives your troll comments weight and credibility. When challenged to provide a link to a specific citation to the “facts” you allege in your troll comments, not once have you ever done so. I am familiar with all of these economists, but I am not going to do your due diligence for you. Your comments are unsubstantiated and unsupported, and thus are not entitled to any weight or credibility.

    The conservative economists you cite are all invested in historical revision and a revival of the Andrew Mellon/Herbert Hoover economic policies (e.g. the Hoover Institute). The school of conservative economics, which has been the policy of the U.S. since Ronald Reagan and continues to be the economic policy under Obama due to the Republican Congress, is the source of our economic ills over the last three decades. It is time that this disproved and discredited economic theory is buried on the ash heap of history forever. If it wasn’t for right-wing billionaires propping up these pseudo-intellectuals in right-wing think tanks and endowed university chairs, it would have already died of natural causes.

  3. So the patient should be bled some more eh?

    What have we learned over the last five years?

    1. Milton Friedmans monetary theory completely crashed and burned. Not only was money supply not positively correlated with velocity, it was perfectly negatively correlated.

    2. When you give people things that they would otherwise have to work for, things they really want, they work a lot less. So, our employment to population ratio has collapsed.

    3. When you regulate economic activity in screwy ways, you get screwy economic results. Penalizing employers for working more than 30 hours per week has caused hours worked to collapse even more than jobs, damaging the quality of our jobs.

    Things we are going to learn in the future.

    1. The world is a competitive place. The pensions teachers, firefighters and policeman receive are dependent on 8% returns, which just won’t happen in a country with a