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Jobs Data Flash: Shutdown Edges Unemployment Rate up to 7.3 Percent Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Friday, 08 November 2013 08:49

The October employment report showed a sharp divergence between the household and the establishment survey. The establishment survey showed a surprisingly strong gain of 204,000 jobs in October, in addition to upward revisions of 60,000 to the prior two months data. Job gains were broadly spread across industries. Especially noteworthy was a 19,000 increase in manufacturing employment, the largest gain in the sector since an increase of 23,000 in February.



A Wall Street Trading Tax Could Actually Save Grandma Money Print
Thursday, 07 November 2013 13:56

Last week, I saw a lot of people in Washington, DC, donning jaunty green Robin Hood caps -- but it wasn't to celebrate Halloween.  They were nurses, environmentalists, economists, AIDS activists, and other folks from across the nation, all here to learn about and march for a financial transaction tax (FTT), a.k.a. the Robin Hood tax.



Bloomberg’s Poverty Agenda: Guaranteed Incrementalism Print
Written by Shawn Fremstad   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 13:30

In a NYT op-ed, historian Michael Katz argues that New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg mounted “bold and unprecedented antipoverty measures.” But Bloomberg’s antipoverty agenda was neither particularly bold nor unprecedented. The roughly $50 million dollars in annual public funding for the Innovation Fund Katz cites amounts to less than .09% of New York City’s annual revenues. When Bloomberg established his antipoverty initiative, the city’s Independent Budget Office was projecting that the city would end the 2006 fiscal year with a $3.1 billion surplus, which followed a $3.5 billion surplus in 2005.



The Attack on Workers’ Wages Print
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 11:56

Today, people are more skilled, more productive, and higher educated than in the past, yet many are worse off than their less-educated counterparts thirty years ago (read more from CEPR here and here).  Gordon Lafer, associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, examines the causes of this imbalance in his new paper for the Economic Policy Institute entitled The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards.  He illustrates how corporations have orchestrated state attacks on the minimum wage, employee benefits, and labor standards.



The Top Secret Trade Deal You Need to Know About Print
Friday, 01 November 2013 15:15

CEPR's Dean Baker is appearing in this week's episode of Moyers & Company, talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), referred to by some as “NAFTA on steroids.”

Along with Yves Smith, who runs the excellent Naked Capitalism blog, Dean and Bill Moyers discuss the secret negotiations that have plenty of seats at the table for corporations (but not the public), as well as the potentially dangerous effects that the TPP could have on the rest of us.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, October 26- November 1, 2013 Print
Friday, 01 November 2013 14:40

The following labor market policy research reports were recently released:



The Real Cost of Fast Food Print
Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:23

As the nation debates the low wages of fast-food workers, the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center has released a report entitled Fast Food, Poverty Wages, which reveals the cost of public benefits programs for fast-food employees. The paper discusses how the low wages, low work hours, and limited employer-provided benefits leave over half of fast-food workers with little choice but to rely on government assistance programs to get by.



Social Security COLA to increase by 1.5 Percent in 2014 Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 10:00

Changing the basis of the COLA to the chained CPI would cut an already modest cost-of-living-adjustment.

The Social Security Administration has announced the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) will be 1.5 percent in 2014. Beneficiaries will begin seeing the increase in their checks in January.

It is worth noting that this COLA based on the consumer price index for wage and clerical workers (CPI-W) is likely to be lower than the rate of inflation shown by the BLS experimental elderly index (CPI-E), which is designed to reflect the purchasing patterns of the elderly. The biggest differences between the two indices are the weights assigned to health care and housing, with both components accounting for a much larger share of the CPI-E than the CPI-W.



The Enduring Pain of the Economic Collapse, According to the IMF Print
Monday, 28 October 2013 10:31

With the specter of Alan Greenspan again haunting the world, it’s a good time to tabulate the damage that he and his fellow central bankers inflicted. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) gives a simple way to construct a scorecard. The IMF routinely estimates potential GDP for most of its members. The estimates of potential are supposed to reflect the economy’s level of output if it was at full employment.

The IMF also makes projections of levels of GDP for the mid-term future, typically a five-year time-frame. These projections are in effect projections of potential GDP since they do not assume that countries will enter recessions in this five year period or alternatively, if they are currently in a recession that they will have recovered.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, October 19- October 25, 2013 Print
Written by Teresa Kroeger   
Friday, 25 October 2013 12:09

The following labor market policy research reports were recently released: 



Has Bill de Blasio Resurrected the Welfare Rights Movement? Print
Written by Shawn Fremstad   
Thursday, 24 October 2013 10:49

In his most recent column, Thomas Edsall says that New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio "... supports programs to ensure that every New Yorker eligible for food stamps, health care, income security and social services gets on the rolls, effectively resurrecting the welfare rights movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s."

While it's true that de Blasio supports efforts to increase the number of low-income people who receive basic benefits that they are eligible for, equating this with "effectively resurrecting the welfare rights movement" seems a bit of a stretch. After all, these days even McDonald's is happy to do its part to ensure that its poorly compensated workers sign up for food stamps, Medicaid, and other benefits their low wages keep them eligible for.



Addressing Chronic Black Male Unemployment Print
Written by Teresa Kroeger   
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:25

In early October, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a report entitled “Feel the Heat!” that details the economic status of black men in the United States.  Author Linda Harris discusses this group’s high unemployment rates, which she attributes to high incarceration rates, low graduation rates, and a lack of support systems to help black men out of this low-income trap.

Black men have significantly lower employment rates than other demographic groups, but this wasn't always the case.  In 1969, the employment rates for men between the ages of 20 and 24 were about 77 percent for blacks and 79 percent for whites.  By 2012, the employment rate for young black men dropped to less than 50 percent, while young white men were about 18 percentage points higher at almost 68 percent. 


Source: Feel the Heat!



Can We Never Raise the Social Security Tax? Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Sunday, 20 October 2013 20:16

Most discussion in Washington of the projected long-term shortfall in the Social Security trust fund assumes that we can never raise the payroll tax. Many have advocated raising the cap on wages subject to the tax (currently just over $113,000), but raising the tax rate itself has largely been out of the question.

While there are good arguments for raising the cap (the increase in the share of income going over the cap due to the upward redistribution of income is a major reason for the projected shortfall), it is not obvious why increases in the tax rate at some future date should not be considered.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, October 12-18, 2013 Print
Written by Teresa Kroeger   
Friday, 18 October 2013 15:45

The following labor market policy research reports were recently released:



Nine Facts That Prove Disability Insurance Isn’t A Giant Boondoggle Print
Written by Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad   
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:29

This blog post originally appeared on ThinkProgress.

On October 6, 60 Minutes ran a report called “Disability, USA” that relied on anecdotes and misinformation to paint Social Security’s disability programs as wasteful and full of abuse. This comes just a few months after a report on NPR’s Planet Money created a similar picture. Both stories were quickly denounced by fact-checkers and disability advocates as not only misleading and inaccurate, but missing essential facts about the disability programs – they have high standards, low fraud rates, and the benefits are far from cushy. Here are the key facts to understand the Social Security disability programs:

1. The Social Security disability standard is the strictest in the developed world – and most applications are denied.According to the OECD, the U.S. disability benefit system is the most restrictive and least generous of all member countries, except for Korea. Fewer than four in ten applicants are approved, even after all stages of appeal. Beneficiaries have severe impairments and illnesses like cancers, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, emphysema, and severe mental illness. Medical evidence is the cornerstone of the disability determination process, and in most cases, medical evidence from multiple medical professionals is required to establish eligibility.



Seniors Should See an Increase in their Social Security of 1.5 - 1.6 Percent in 2014 Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Tuesday, 15 October 2013 16:34

If the government had not been shut down on October 1, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would be releasing the consumer price index (CPI) for September this morning. September’s data, together with the data for July and August, provide the basis for the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security.

While we do not yet have September’s data, based on the data from the prior two months, it is likely that the COLA will end up being either 1.5 or 1.6 percent, depending on exactly what the September data show. It is unfortunate that this number is not yet available.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, September 28 - October 7, 2013 Print
Written by Teresa Kroeger   
Friday, 11 October 2013 12:33

The following labor market policy research reports were recently released: 


Center for American Progress

Economic Snapshot: September 2013

By Christian E. Weller and Sam Ungar

What Should We Expect if the United States Defaults?

By Michael Madowitz

The Debt-Ceiling Crisis: Why It Matters to Millennials

By Gurwin Ahuja


Center for Law and Social Policy

Feel the Heat! The Unrelenting Challenge of Young Black Male Unemployment

By Linda Harris


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

“Boehner Rule” Linking Debt-Ceiling Increase to Spending Cuts Is Dangerous Policy

By Paul N. Van de Water


Economic Policy Institute

Trading Away the Manufacturing Advantage

By Robert E. Scott

CAP: Women Still Lagging Behind Print
Written by Teresa Kroeger   
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 14:00

In September, the Center for American Progress released a report on The State of Women in America, which ranks the 50 states by 36 indicators of the economic, health, and leadership circumstances of women.  Authors Anna Chu and Charles Posner find that despite recent movements toward equality, women still trail behind men in the United States.

Poverty rates, wage gaps, and paid sick leave policies are among the many economic factors examined in the report.  Based on these measures, women across the nation experience economic inequality.  On average, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid.  African-American women earn an average of only 64 cents for every dollar that white men make; Hispanic women, only 53 cents for every dollar white men earn. Not surprisingly given these statistics, women also make up a majority of minimum-wage workers.



The Age of Oversupply: Good Argument, Tough Sell Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Friday, 04 October 2013 12:26

In "The Age of Oversupply" (Penguin Group, 2013), Daniel Alpert makes a compelling case that the United States and the world are stuck in a serious crisis of insufficient demand for the foreseeable future. According to Alpert, the result is likely to be a prolonged period of slow growth and high unemployment barring coordinated international efforts to counter the problem.

Before giving the outline of Alpert's argument, let me get out my baseball bat to beat home a simple point. Standard economic theory does not believe in a world in which demand is a problem except possibly for short periods of time during recessions. This means that we don't have to worry about having enough demand because the market will automatically adjust to keep the economy at the full employment level of output. If there is unemployment, then interest rates will fall enough to induce the additional investment, consumption, or net exports (slightly longer story) needed to bring the economy back to full employment.



CEPR News September 2013 Print
Written by Dawn Lobell   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 08:57

The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

CEPR on the TPP
CEPR’s recent paper, “Gains from Trade? The Net Effect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on U.S. Wages” finds that the median wage earner would probably lose if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) were passed. In addition, recent estimates of the U.S. economic gains that would result from the TPP are very small — only 0.13 percent of GDP by 2025. Taking into account the un-equalizing effect of trade on wages, the paper finds that most workers are likely to lose — the exceptions being some of the bottom quarter or so whose earnings are determined by the minimum wage; and those with the highest wages who are more protected from international competition. Rather, many top incomes will rise as a result of TPP expansion of the terms and enforcement of copyrights and patents.



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