Tag Archives: wages

All that glitters is not gold: storm clouds on the economic horizon

“There is perhaps no single person or entity that has done more to sell the economy under President Trump than Fox News.” When Trump faces a negative story, Fox News pivots to the economy:

Fox routinely finds ways to spin bad, unrelated news about the economy into good, related news about the economy, often blaming the media for its focus on Trump’s scandals and ethics probes.

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Indeed, Fox has been so anxious to praise Trump for the economy, it has even admitted to deliberately giving the president positive economic coverage.

The economy is not as good as the three dolts on the divan (Fox and Friends) who provide Trump his presidential daily briefing (PDB) of Fox propaganda each morning would have you believe.

Earlier this month, the New York Times editorialized Clouds Darken Trump’s Sunny Economic View:

[T]he American economy has a lot more power than it can handle right now, and it’s making a lot of noise. So is President Trump, who takes singular credit for a robust second-quarter rise in the gross domestic product of 4.1 percent, something that hasn’t happened under any other president since … Barack Obama. While Mr. Trump praised himself effusively — he’s good at that, isn’t he? — the stock market seemed unimpressed. Friday’sannouncement that 157,000 new jobs were added in July, a modest gain or perhaps a seasonal glitch, elicited an even more subdued reaction. That’s because if you look down the line, there are few clear reasons to be so enthusiastic.

“Over all, we see this report as supportive of our views that the economy is currently firing on all cylinders,” wrote Bricklin Dwyer, a senior economist with BNP Paribas, after the new G.D.P. numbers were announced. But there was a caveat: Mr. Dwyer said that “growth is likely peaking. Indeed, in our forecasts, [the second quarter] marks a high-water mark for growth.”

For one thing, the initial jolt of the Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax cuts, mostly for corporations and the wealthy, is wearing off. Corporations have bought back $437 billion of their own shares, which leaves them that much less to invest in new production, or wages. In fact, spending on business equipment slowed.

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July jobs report is below expectations

Steve Benen has the July jobs report. American job growth falls short of expectations in July:

Ahead of this morning’s new jobs report, most projections said the U.S. economy added roughly 190,000 jobs in July. Apparently, we didn’t do quite that well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 157,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate inched lower, going from to 4% to 3.9%. It’s the second lowest monthly jobs total of the year.

That said, the revisions for the two previous months – May and June – looked very good, with a combined gain of 59,000 jobs as compared to previous BLS reports.

JulyJobs

In terms of the larger context, this morning’s data points to 1.5 million jobs created so far in 2018, which is evidence of a healthy job market, and which is an improvement on the totals from the first seven months of 2016 and 2017. That said, this year’s tally is still short of the totals from the first seven months of 2014 and 2015.

Here is another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

JulyPrivate

The Washington Post points out that wage growth remains stagnant (so much for the GOP tax cut scam):

The U.S. economy has added jobs for 94 consecutive months, a record streak that shows no signs of waning despite President Trump’s escalating trade war. Many business leaders have warned the standoffs with China, the European Union and other major trading partners could cause layoffs if tariffs stay in place for an extended period of time.

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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%.

AprilJobs

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.

MarchJobs
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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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