Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors, with particularly heavy job losses in leisure and hospitality.
In April, the unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent. This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948). The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April. The sharp increases in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it…
In April, unemployment rates rose sharply among all major worker groups. The rate was 13.0 percent for adult men, 15.5 percent for adult women, 31.9 percent for teenagers, 14.2 percent for Whites, 16.7 percent for Blacks, 14.5 percent for Asians, and 18.9 percent for Hispanics. The rates for all of these groups, with the exception of Blacks, represent record highs for their respective series.
Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization
U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate) – [April 2020] 14.7%
U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force – [April 2020] 22.8%
Thanks for nothing, Donald.
Bad combover. Check. Too long red tie. Check. Orange spray tan. Check. Tiny hands. Check. Cluelessness. Check…
Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) has yet to take to Twitter to highlight the positive news:
We’re not holding our breath.
Heh. We’ll, Representative Hartzler (r) finally did comment yesterday via Twitter:
Rep. Vicky Hartzler @RepHartzler
June jobs report sadly showed 49 out of the past 50 months more people DROPPED OUT of job search than found a job. 12% unemployment really. 6:46 AM – 9 Jul 2014
That’s a reference to U-6, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “alternative measure of labor utilization” which includes “Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers”. U-3, which is the “official unemployment rate”, is currently 6.1%.
Representative Hartzler’s (r) tweet prompted a response:
Uh, we already knew that. Representative Hartzler (r) probably does, too. The spin manufactured through the republican party hierarchy probably doesn’t allow for acknowledging facts like that.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides easy access to historical data sets. The following graph shows the U-6 rate from January 2001 (when George W. Bush took office as President) through June of 2014. The red line indicates January 2009, when Barack Obama took office as President.
U-6 from January 2001 to present. Historical data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One might note that the long term trend of U-6 during the Obama Administration is down. One might also note that there was an uptick during the first term of the George W. Bush administration and then a catastrophic rise at the end of the second term as the economy collapsed. The spin manufactured through the republican party hierarchy probably doesn’t allow for acknowledging facts like that.
Representative Hartzler (r) continued, via Twitter:
Gallop: Unemployment rose to 9% mid-February. Food stamp use is at all time high. True unemployment rate may be over 15%. 9:26 AM – 22 Feb 12
“….True unemployment rate may be over 15%.”
The unemployment statistic which has been consistently utilized by everyone and is reported in the media as the unemployment rate is the U-3. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has “[a]lternative measures of labor underutilization”, one, the U-6, which includes the “[t]otal unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force”. The U-6 is always a higher number.
The seasonally adjusted U-6 was 16.4% in September 2011 and 15.1% in January 2012.
It’s interesting that Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) is just discovering (or is it spinning?) these standards.
DailyKos‘ Joan McCarter reports that when asked about the prospects for the President’s jobs bill, Illinois Senator Dick Durban allowed that there aren’t enough Democratic Senators who can be relied on to pass the bill:
There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100% Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bi-partisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.
McCarter notes that Durban does not name names, so she supplies some of the most obvious:
We pretty much know who he’s talking about here: Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Claire McCaskill. Maybe Bill Nelson, maybe even Jon Tester, as well.
Get that? Is our Claire McCaskill really one of the votes standing in the way of policies that we elected her to support? Given the content of her recent email, touting an op-ed she wrote for the Kansas City Star, I’d say it’s hard to tell just where she plans on coming down; it seems to be a little of this and a little of that, amounting to not too much of anything.
I include the introductory content of her email – minus the op-ed she also includes – below the fold. (The op-ed can be found here.) You will notice, if you read both, that she’s carefully trying to work both sides of the street, shoveling on the GOP’s favored anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-tax rhetoric, while mentioning some of the jobs bill provisions and other initiatives that liberals can be expected to approve.
McCasill’s quick to endorse ideas meant to appeal to the center-right, like the President’s proposed tax cuts “that have traditionally won bipartisan support,” while she’s down on “big promises” to fix the economy and “unreasonable or untimely regulation” that might “overburden” business. She carefully tries to distance herself from anything that smacks of liberal, progressive or, to put it mildly, comprehensive governmental approaches to fixing our problems:
During this debate, Missourians have heard from politicians on the extreme ends of the spectrum – some shouting that the government can’t do anything and folks should be left on their own, and others shouting that government is the solution and that we can spend our way into a full-blown recovery.
The solutions she explicitly endorses are okay, mostly, if underwhelming. Lots are typical McCaskill, which is to say lots of itty-bitty pecking-at-the-details types of legislation, which, while undeniably useful, are apt to have correspondingly small effects, at least when taken individually in the way she seems to be promoting. She mentions such efforts as consolidating job training programs, combating tariff evasion, etc. She indicates that she will support transportation infrastructure spending, although she does not indicate the extent of her support of the relevant proposals in the President’s jobs bill, nor does she mention support for education infrastructure spending or other important provisions that the President has proposed. In short, McCasikill has produced a genuinely artful exercise in trying not to piss anyone off too terribly much. And we all know the problem with this type of approach, right?
McCarter gets it right when she observes, apropos the supposed obstructionism of these Democratic-lite senators:
How about instead of protecting these senators, leadership leans on them a little harder to get on board with what is probably the key push to save all their hides, including President Obama’s, in 2012: jobs. A little bit of populism, a little bit of taxing the rich, in Nebraska, in Missouri, in Montana, even in Florida, isn’t going to hurt any senator seeking reelection. Not in those states. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some of these senators are more concerned with their big money supporters than the voters.
I personally wouldn’t accuse McCaskill of anything more venal that worrying about the much vaunted outstate conservatism. I will, however, hold her accountable for enabling a destructive GOP narrative when she doesn’t really have to do so. As to what she’s going to do about the jobs bill when push comes to shove, who knows? And aren’t we entitled to know? We pay her salary after all. Same goes for asking whom she expects to please with efforts of this sort. Or, put another way, just whom is she trying to fool?
September 29, 2011
I spent the month of August criss-crossing Missouri to hear directly from Missouri businesses and workers. They all told me the same thing, that they want to see Washington stop playing politics and get to work on commonsense measures that can get bipartisan agreement. They don’t want any more big promises. They want to see those hard-working Missourians struggling in this economy get back on their feet and back to work without losing their homes or ability to feed their family in the process. They want an economy that is not overburdened by unreasonable or untimely regulation. They want Washington to listen and to focus on helping in ways that actually work.
Based on what I learned in August, I have introduced bills to crack down on unfair trade practices, and ensure that contracts reserved for small business actually go to small business, and I am working on legislation to consolidate job training programs so that less money gets wasted on administration and more money gets to the businesses and workers who use it. I am fighting to win a long term extension of transportation funding so we can fix our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges and put thousands of Americans to work in construction. And I am prepared to work on provisions in the President’s jobs proposal, like tax relief for middle income earners and tax incentives for businesses hiring new employees, that have traditionally won bipartisan support.
With this in mind, and knowing of your interest in the state of our economy, I have included the op-ed I recently published in the Kansas City Star about my trip, which you can read below.
I was struck by an article in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describing the imminent closure of a campground for people displaced by the Joplin tornadoes earlier this year. Among the few remaining inhabitants of the camp are some who claim to have come to Joplin in hopes of finding work when the rebuilding starts. That’s what 9%+ national unemployment numbers get you – people so desperate they hope to turn disaster into a job.
Economist Jared Bernstein helps put our current situation into perspective with this chart from the Bureau of Labor Standards, which shows the components that make up the unemployment picture during the period from 2007-2011:
We’re not losing jobs, but we are failing to create new jobs, condemning millions to literally years of unemployment The truly pathetic aspect of this situation, however, is the performance of the politicians we send to Jefferson City and Washington to watch out for our interests. There are some brave Democrats in Jefferson City, but too many of our state and federal legislators are refusing to deal with our urgent jobs crisis, preferring instead to quibble about spending cuts and to fight over which parts of an already decimated budget carcass they get to pick over.
The GOP response is worse than useless. On one end of the spectrum we have Roy Blunt’s obsequious concern for his corporate benefactors, or “job creators,” to use the GOP designation for the very wealthy, in spite of the absolute failure of these putative job machines to produce more than a minimal up-tick in employment when, as during the Bush years, their needs were tended so assiduously. On the other hand, we have the outright contempt for the unemployed evinced by GOP State Senator Jim Lembke who filibustered to prevent the use of federal funds to extend unemployment benefits, asserting that beneficiaries of the benefits were “stealing from their neighbors.”
But the totally unsurprising GOP fecklessness doesn’t mean that our Missouri Democrats are doing much better. Whether it’s Senator McCaskill dithering about what she really meant when she was talking about not extending unemployment benefits, or Governor Nixon, who, in the words of a Post-Dispatch editorial last May, was “too worried about making a campaign misstep or flying around the state announcing government handouts with dubious job-creation ability to provide the leadership that was needed,” the impression they create is one of timidity and weakness.
It isn’t as if there aren’t Democrats who know just what to do. Take, for instance, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, whose “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” would put more than 2 million people to work, with particular emphasis on the long-term unemployed, the 99ers, whose joblessness has exceeded the 99 weeks of unemployment insurance our mostly millionaire congress-people are willing to grant them. But that’s not all – remember we also need to address revenue and debt issues – the act would be:
… financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the “Fairness in Taxation Act,” which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we’ve got Roy Blunt responding to a negative jobs report that reflected mostly federal jobs lost due to GOP inflicted spending cuts with the following bit of predigested GOP pablum:
Missourians are looking for jobs, but today’s latest unemployment report indicates yet again that there just aren’t enough jobs out there for people who are looking to get back to work. Washington Democrats are ignoring their pleas to cut taxes, quit spending so much, and help the private sector create real, permanent jobs.
… look at patent reform, we can look at trade agreements as long as they’re fair and don’t hurt American middle-class workers even more than they’ve already been hurt. We can look at regulations — what regulations are absolutely necessary and what regulations are getting in the way of businesses.
And while our Missourians are busy percolating this type of hot air, everybody agrees that the excellent, commonsense proposals put forward by Representative Schakowsky, proposals that would actually address our endemic joblessness, are DOA, victim to ideological warfare, greed, and cowardice.
Is our problem that, like the Japanese emperor, Gov. Nixon has been sleeping with the Sun Goddess? Is that the reason that new college grads are facing a job seeker’s stone wall and that former shift supervisors are working part time at Home Depot and Hardee’s in an attempt to make the mortgage payments?
Or is it something more insidious, like, say, a thirty year trend of rising military spending, rising CEO pay, rising Wall Street bonuses, rising gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us, rising productivity, rising poverty rates among children, rising dropout rates?
An AP article points toward the latter explanation. Seems that a barely-worth-mentioning 1% of economic growth after the Great Recession has gone to wages and salaries. 88% of growth went to corporate profits. The proportion is 88 to one? It didn’t always used to be like that. The last three recessions illustrate the pattern of change. 1991-92 is an anomaly (that I’d like somebody to explain), but the trend is clear: corporations are getting richer and they ain’t concerned about the rest of us.
Percent of economic growth that went to:
Wages and Salaries Corporate Profits
The trends above are national, but they are abetted at the state level by the course that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tells Republican state legislators to steer. And boy howdy, do they steer it ALEC’s way in Missouri: cut funds for schools, for example, and then complain about lazy teachers with tenure who do an ineffective job–all this in hopes of eventually privatizing school systems that the wealthy would run. And the excuse given for cutting school funding is that the state is broke.
Of course it is. We haven’t changed the state’s top tax rate since the thirties. It’s $9,000. Which means that some poor sucker earning $8,999 is paying the same rate of tax to the state as the CEO of Express Scripts. Democratic leadership in this state moans about how broke the state is. Why not howl, instead, about a solution voters would love. By a margin of two to one, U.S. voters, in poll after poll, support raising taxes on incomes over 250 thou a year. Even 43% of Republicans approve the idea. Democrats should be baying at the moon. They need to find a way to present a united front and smack Missouri voters upside the head with the notion that if they were in the majority in the state house, they would work to see taxes raised on the wealthiest.
Let Claire run the Medicare ads; that’s a federal issue. But our state legislators have a winner on the tax issue if they would grab it.
Because in the end, those hateful trends I mentioned won’t change without lots more progressives in office, both at the federal and state level. Getting Gov. Nixon to kick the Sun Goddess out of bed isn’t going to cut it.