December 5, 2009
Business Insider has provided an interesting chart showing the increased numbers of Americans who are out of the labor force altogether.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in November, an increase of 376,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not sea- sonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
These Americans are not included in unemployment estimates since, as the BLS said, “they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.” This growing number means one of two things depending on the strength of the economy:
1) It could mean that these people looked for employment for so long without success that they eventually gave up.
2) Those who are employed earn enough to support themselves and others. In other words, senior citizens and young people may not have to work because they can find support from others. The same is true for married couples where one spouse can work and support the household. This results in more people excluded from the labor force.
Under the current economy, I would sadly say that we are facing the first scenario.
November 16, 2009
From the BLS report “100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending“:
1. The material well-being of families in the United States improved dramatically, as demonstrated by the change over time in the percentage of expenditures allocated for food, clothing, and housing. In 1901, the average U.S. family devoted 79.8 percent of its spending to these necessities. By 2002–03, allocations on necessities had been reduced substantially, for U.S. families to 50.1% of spending (see top chart above).
2. The continued and significant decline over the century in the share of expenditures allocated for food also reflected improved living standards. In 1901, U.S. households allotted 42.5% of their expenditures for food; by 2002–03, food’s share of spending had dropped to just 13.2%.
3. Over the 100-year period, expenditure shares for clothing steadily declined. In 1901, the average U.S. household allocated 14% of total spending for apparel. By 2002–03, spending shares for clothing had decreased to 4.2%.
4. In 2002–03, the average U.S. family could allocate about 50% ($20,333) of total expenditures for a variety of discretionary consumer goods and services, while the average family in 1901 could allocate only 20.2%, or $155, for discretionary spending (see bottom chart above).
Conclusion: Perhaps as revealing as the shift in consumer expenditure shares over the past 100 years is the wide variety of consumer items that had not been invented during the early decades of the 20th century but are commonplace today. In the 21st century, households throughout the country have purchased computers, televisions, iPods, DVD players, vacation homes, boats, planes, and recreational vehicles. They have sent their children to summer camps; contributed to retirement and pension funds; attended theatrical and musical performances and sporting events; joined health, country, and yacht clubs; and taken domestic and foreign vacation excursions. These items, which were unknown and undreamt of a century ago, are tangible proof that U.S. households today enjoy a higher standard of living.
October 4, 2009
Employment to population ratio (i.e. percent of the population working) cliff dive….
Multiplied by the number of hours worked per week cliff dive…
Equals the least amount of hours worked per population member since… well ever recorded (since 1964)…
September 16, 2009
According to the New York Times:
For the first time since perhaps the Great Depression, it seemed possible that average hourly pay would actually begin falling, even before inflation was taken into account.
But that’s not what has happened.
Wage growth has picked up in the last several months, according to two different government surveys. You don’t hear or read nearly as many stories about pay cuts these days. Even though unemployment has reached its highest level in 26 years, most workers have received a raise over the last year.
That contrast highlights what I think is one of the more overlooked features of the Great Recession. In the job market, at least, the recession’s pain has been unusually concentrated.
And it hasn’t been concentrated in the typical way. Nearly every region and every demographic group has indeed been affected. But the pain has been concentrated within groups.