News from Around the Economy

While there hasn’t been a lot of economic news for me to rant about today, there have been a few articles I came across in my search of news sites that help to continue to paint the not-so-pretty picture of life in the US these days. First up is this from today’s (Wednesday, May 11) Hartford Courant about layoff notices for Connecticut state employees:

On a somber day in state government, the first employees started receiving layoff notices Tuesday in a process that could eventually reach more than 5,000 state workers under a worst-case scenario.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the layoffs of 4,742 employees in more than 40 agencies, but that number could increase by hundreds if more cuts in state programs are approved by the legislature.

Because many of the employees are being notified individually and in person, the process of notifying all of them could take weeks. Tuesday was marked by confusion among state employees as many did not receive a notice and they remained unsure if they would have a job in the coming months.

I and many others have concentrated mainly on the actions of the Republican governors but the reality is, most all of the states are struggling to balance their budgets and have been forced to cut jobs. Probably the biggest difference between states with Democratic governors and legislatures and those run by Republicans is the Democrats aren’t (at least outwardly) aren’t cutting the jobs while simultaneously cutting taxes for their campaign contributors.

The Hartford Courant’s Rick Greene offered five reasons why the layoff notices are a good thing. I find the first reason quite telling in itself:

1. Republicans will be forced to admit they actually do like some aspects of government when they realize services they want will be eliminated — like teachers or actually finding someone to answer the phone at the DMV.

Of course, I also have no belief that any Republicans anywhere will actually admit to there being valid government services. It does highlight one of the aspects of the US political systems where (theoretically) there are negotiations between the two dominant parties with compromises and all folks working toward the common good. Yeah, I know, but I still have to believe it is possible for the system to work as otherwise, it means we are all wasting our time and I refuse to give in to that belief.

MSNBC’s Alison Lin had this report from the government on job openings in March:

The government reported Wednesday that there were 3.1 million job openings in March, up slightly from the previous month. About 4 million people were hired in March, also a slight increase over the previous month.

Still, the Economic Policy Institute reports that there continues to be more than four jobseekers for every job opening.

For unemployed people, those are a lot better odds than back in July of 2009, where there were nearly 7 unemployed people for every job opening, according to EPI’s calculations.

I wonder what the April results will show after the McDonald’s McJobs Fair with their over a million applicants? I guess it is all the low wage earners that lost jobs during the recession as this post from economist Casey Mulligan at the NY Times Economix purports to show.

USA Today had this article on the Oh Woe is me! aspect of holders of H1b visas returning to India and China and starting their own businesses. From the article:

What’s happening is the nation is experiencing a brain drain.

“For the first time, immigrants have better opportunities outside the U.S.,” Wadhwa says. Indeed, nearly half of 264 immigrants surveyed by Wadhwa said they wanted to start companies back home.

Silicon Valley may be the cradle for tech start-ups, but some foreign-born executives, engineers and scientists are leaving because of better opportunities back home, strict immigration laws here and California’s steep cost of living.

Gee, anyone think the tech companies will look around and maybe find some competent, US born folks with the skills they might need? I’m sure there’s a good mix of both older, experienced tech workers looking for employment as well as fresh new college grads with the latest tech skills right out of college looking for some decent paying jobs in their chosen career fields.

For a little “comic” relief, I will end today with a couple of snippets from the Politifact folks at the St Pete Times on Speaker of the House John Boehner in an interview with Matt Lauer yesterday:

Host Matt Lauer said to Boehner, “You talk about creating jobs. When the Bush era tax cuts were passed in 2001, unemployment in this country was 4.5 percent. Today it’s at 9 percent, just down from 10 percent. So why are the Bush era tax cuts creating jobs?”

Boehner responded that the tax cuts “created about 8 million jobs over the first 10 years that they were in existence. We’ve lost about 5 million of those jobs during this recession.”


Where does all this leave us? First, under the most common yardstick for measuring employment — the CES data — Boehner’s claim is significantly overstated. Second, while Boehner is closer when using a different statistic, it’s only more accurate if he uses a time period much different than the one he stated in the interview. And third, his suggestion that the tax cuts are primarily responsible for subsequent job growth is contentious at best (and the job growth he points to is modest compared to previous administrations).

So the numbers Boehner offers are accurate only with significant adjustments. Overall, we find his statement too flawed to give it a rating higher than False.

My bold. Oops.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

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