- by New Deal democrat
At the end of the day, the economy ought to operate to bring the most benefit to the most people. Jobs and wages are a pretty good proxy for that desideratum. With that in mind, let me update some of my graphs about them.
At the end of last year, Congress cut off extended unemployment benefits, on the theory that they provided a "hammock" for the unemployed, who would otherwise be motivated to find new jobs. If that's true, then those who told the Census Bureau that they were not even looking anymore, and so were out of the labor force, but wanted a job now, should be declining. Here's what has actually happened (graph shows NILFWJN as percent of work force):
Instead of falling, nearly a million more people, or .4% of the workforce, have been added to this group. Aside from the privation, and aside from the fact that these people aren't adding to the economy by spending the benefits, that means that unemployment is 0.4% lower than it would otherwise be.
Another way to look at the overall employment situation is to look at how many hours of work are available to those in the labor force, and those who want a job now but aren't counted in the work force:
This continues to slowly increase and is only about 1.8% below its 2007 peak and 5.8% below its peak during the 1990s tech boom.
How about wages? One measure I like is how much total real wages are available per person in the US population. That's what is shown in this next graph:
In the aggregate, real wages are quite close to their prior peaks. That tells us that it is the distribution of income among the workforce that is the most acute problem.
Finally, even back in the horrible days of 2008 and 2009 I used to like to find at least one item of good news. That's the final graph, showing something that went totally unremarked in last week's employment report. Namely, we have passed the 10,000,000 mark in new jobs added to the economy since the jobs trough in February 2010:
Once upon a time, Doomers used to claim that we weren't really adding any jobs, or were just "bottom bouncing." They went silent on that claim quite a while ago. Then they claimed that the jobs recovery was only part time jobs. Part time jobs are that nearly flat line at 0 at the bottom. 99% of all of the jobs added have been full time jobs.
Except for the vile conduct of Congress a year ago in cutting off extended unemployment benefits, we are still making progress. Not nearly enough, not nearly what I would like to see, but nevertheless progress.