The 4-week moving average of layoffs came out today at 287,750. Total civilian employment in September was 146,600,000. The ratio of the two, i.e. the chance of being laid [off---ouch that might have been my most embarrassing mistake ever] during a given week if you had a job, was below 2 in 1000. That’s only happened once before in all of American history–April 2000. (We don’t have data going all the way back, but the ratio was considerably higher in the booming 1960s, and I’m confident layoffs were much more common in earlier decades for which we don’t have data. (“Gilded Age” bosses could lay off workers whenever they wanted.) And it seems very likely that we will soon break the April 2000 record, maybe this month.
Update: a bit higher than 2 in 1000 because not all layoffs put in unemployment claims.
Total employment has barely budged in 7 years, while the employment population ratio has plunged much lower. We are even seeing a lower employment/population ratio in the key 25-54 demographic, compared to seven years ago. The U-6 unemployment rate is a very high 11.8%
The unemployment rate (U-3) is 5.9%, slightly above the Fed’s 5.6% estimate for the natural rate.
Thanks President Obama, you’ve given us a European labor market. Workers with good jobs need not fear layoffs; the rest will have to be satisfied with part time work or unemployment.
Of course I’m half joking about Obama. But just how good is his economic record? The Washington Examiner has an article that quotes me.
The newest talking point of President Obama and his supporters, such as Paul Krugman, is that we are doing better at job creation than other developed countries. I don’t think we are doing as well as Australia/New Zealand/Canada/Britain, but it’s surely true overall for one very obvious reason. The eurozone.
Let’s examine that Obama/Krugman claim more closely. Everyone seems to agree that since 2010 the US has done considerably more austerity than the eurozone. No debate there. And the huge divergence between the US and the eurozone has occurred since 2011. The initial recession and initial recovery were quite similar in the US and eurozone.
The GOP Congress did exactly the opposite of what Obama wanted on austerity, and the result was that we grew dramatically faster than the eurozone. That’s Obama’s success? The big difference was of course monetary policy. Obama’s comparing us to a region ruled by a central bank that is more incompetent that the central banks of the 1930s (Krugman has some graphs on that point.)
So yes, we are doing better than the eurozone. Does Obama deserve credit for the fact that our monetary policy was less incompetent than the ECB? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Even Obama supporter Matt Yglesias says he’s been horrible on monetary policy. He left multiple seats empty, when he had 60 votes in the Senate in 2009. He’s doing the same today. He never appointed a single person to the board who favored the sort of expansionary monetary policy that I favor, that Yglesias favors, that DeLong favors, that Krugman favors, that Christina Romer favors, and that any progressive with half of brain favors. He almost picked bubblephobe Summers to head the Fed, and had to be stopped by a storm of protest that began here and then spread through the progressive blogosphere. (Yes, some progressives always opposed him for other reasons; I’m talking about his monetary policy views.)
President Obama may or may not be a good President. I think he’s been above average on foreign policy. I’m willing to concede the Obamacare (which I opposed as a missed opportunity) did some good things like the Cadillac tax on health plans and helping the uninsured. I think the financial reform was a missed chance, but others disagree. I’m disappointed with his record on drugs and civil liberties.
But there can’t be any serious question about the fact that he did NOTHING effective to help the economy. The US recovery is less than the old trend rate of growth. Has that ever happened before? The Fed’s been less inept than the ECB—that’s all.
And the supply-side? Even his supporters would admit he did nothing there. They might disagree with the view that a heavy dose of extra regulation, higher MTRs, and no Keystone pipeline slowed the recovery. But no one claims those actions sped up the recovery. And the fracking boom (“drill baby drill”) fell on his lap.
Just a few months ago Obama called for an “emergency” unemployment benefit of up to 73 weeks, much longer than during the President Clinton recovery, all because the labor market was doing so poorly nearly 6 years after he was elected. And now a few months later they are touting their success in creating jobs—unbelievable.
It will be interesting to see how many liberals agree with him.