Wednesday, December 14, 2016

[NJFAC] Why Aren't More Prime-Age Men Working?

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What's Wrong with These Men? Why Aren't They Working?

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There is a group of adults who do not have jobs, are not recorded as looking for work, and are not counted as unemployed. They are men in the prime working ages of 25 through 54. Most of the men in this age group are in the labor force, but seven million are not and they have received a fair amount of attention in recent years. The labor force participation rate of men in this age group has fallen since the 1960s from 98% to 89%. Declines were substantial in the weak labor markets of the early 1970s, the 1980s, the early 1990s, and the 2010s. About half of these non-participants report that they are ill or disabled and have to take prescription medications every day. More of them are in school or retired or performing home responsibilities than in the past. It must be true, too, that some of them refuse to work for very low wages. Many have no college education. If these men were hired in the retail, hospitality or restaurant sectors, they would earn, on average, ten dollars an hour. Many jobs in this sector are part-time. If you work a full year of 30-hour weeks earning $10 an hour, your gross annual income would be $15,600. That's poverty, and remember, if $10 is the average, millions of people are earning less. Economic analyst Frank Lysy says that much of the problem of non-participation is just Economics 101:"if you want more people in paying jobs, pay them better."
Some of the seven million non-participants have looked for work in the past and been rejected because of their race, or because they have prison records, or both. Men with criminal records are 34% of all nonworking men who are 25 to 54 years old. Sociologist Devah Pager found that men who reported criminal convictions were 50% less likely to receive a callback or job offer and Black men's chances were worse. If we want more men to work, we have to make it easier for ex-prisoners to get jobs. And we need to stop jailing so many people.
Given the barriers some people face and the mediocre results for many of those who do get work, it is not hard to see why some prime-age men don't bother. Lousy wages lower the cost of not working. They may also be a reason to engage in criminal money-making. Ditto, if decent jobs are out of reach, then disability benefits, even though they average just $1,166 a month, look better. (Gross income for 120 hours of work a month at $10 an hour is $1,200.) Similarly, for prime-age women who are not participating in work or the job search, more affordable child-care options and more high quality jobs would make working outside the home more attractive.
In general, if there were real full employment--more vacancies than people who needed jobs and an unemployment level of around 2%-- and if wage levels were increasing substantially every year for many years, more people would work. Also employers would be a little more desperate for workers and they might not be so quick to eliminate whole categories of applicants.
It is not good social policy that every prime-age adult should be working all the time, but if people want a decent job, they should have a shot at it; and if pundits and policy makers claim to be worried about non-participation among prime-age men, they should be active in these areas: reversing the incarceration mania and getting both a $15 federal minimum wage and real full employment.
In addition to government statistics, important sources for this topic include Frank Lysy, "The Structural Factors Behind the Steady Fall in Labor Force Participation Rates of Prime Age Workers, posted October 14, 2016, 10/14/the-structural-factors; Jim Puzzanghera, "Job Market Mystery: Where Are the Men?," Los Angeles Times (LAT hereafter), November 21, 2016, A8; Binyamin Appelbaum, "Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work," New York Times (NYT hereafter), February 28, 2015, accessed 12/4/2016 at; Don Lee and Samantha Masunaga, "Nothing in the Works," LAT, September 7, 2015, A8; June Zaccone, "The Labor Force Participation Rate and Its Trajectory--Why It Matters," National Jobs for All Coalition, Special Report 5, June 2015, at; David Leonhardt, A Unemployed, and Skewing the Picture, @ NYT, March 5, 2008, updated March 7, and accessed online 9/29/2008; David Streitfeld, "Disparate Jobs Data Add Up To a Mystery, @ LAT, August 23, 2004, C1, C5; A Workers or Shirkers, @ The Economist, January 29, 2005, 28
Frank Stricker is a member of NJFAC and has recently completed American Unemployment: a New History, Explanations, Remedies.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[NJFAC] Unemployment increases violence against women

American Marriage in the Time of the Recession, Campbell, Atlantic 11/16

Women who lived in areas that suffered the brunt of the downturn, new research suggests, were more likely to be abused by their partners.
Now that the American economy has emerged from the Great Recession, there is new research that looks at its impact on the quality of the country's relationships. Its findings are not encouraging. Daniel Schneider, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, found that among mothers in heterosexual relationships, those who lived in areas hit harder by drops in employment rates during the Great Recession experienced higher rates of domestic violence and controlling behavior.....
--   June Zaccone  National Jobs for All Coalition

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

[NJFAC] How Good and How Bad Are American Job Markets? Here’s a Checklist

How Good and How Bad are American Job Markets?
Here's a Checklist                                                          
            In short, job markets have improved in recent years, but we are nowhere near full employment and decent wages for all. Here are the basic numbers. There's not much about subgroups. More on them in another piece.         
Recent Good News: Median household income was up 5.2% in 2015. Percentage gains higher at the bottom than at the top. More people with jobs helped. Largest single-year increase since record-keeping began. But in real terms, the median was still below 2007 and still below the peak of the late 1990s. And, of course, pay, household incomes, and wealth shares are massively unequal, especially for minorities.
Poverty rates fell from 15% in 2010-2013 to 13.5% in 2015. The lowest ever was 11.1% in 1973. We've come close to that a couple of times, but we won't get there soon. It's worse for some people. Of African Americans 22.7% are below the line and of Hispanics 21.4%.  That's not all. American poverty lines are antiquated, almost an insult to our intelligence. A family of four with two kids needed just a dollar more than $24,036 to be non-poor in 2015. Really? Common sense and serious budget studies say that the lines should be doubled.  
Real Hourly Wages:  Of late, we have seen a rising trend for wages. That's positive, but will the trend last? We have a long way to go. Real wages often fell in the 1970s and 80s, stagnated for much of the 90s, and increased at times in the 2000s. But we have just gotten back  to the wage levels of 1972-1973. In terms of real pay, average workers are no better off than their counterparts of forty years ago.
Unemployment and Job Creation. Getting Better but a Long Way to Go: Unemployment is around 5%. That's better than 10% in the Great Recession. But not close to full employment as some experts, including some at the Federal Reserve, want you to believe. Here's why.  
a. In September of 2016, we still had 5.9 million people who worked part-time but wanted full-time work. These people cannot find full-time jobs but they are not counted as unemployed.
 b. In September of 2016, we had 6.1 million people who said they wanted a job but had not searched for one recently. More of these people would have jobs in a stronger economy, and many more people would be looking for work if they felt they could find a half-way decent position. None of these people are counted as unemployed. A relative handful--553,000-- are called "discouraged workers", but I think many more of the 6.1 million and others who aren't in any survey are truly discouraged about their prospects of landing a decent job.
 c.  Job totals in monthly reports from several hundred thousand businesses and governments show that we are about 5 million jobs short of where we would be if we had not had a big recession and a weak recovery. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, there was pretty strong demand for labor and we added between 2 and 3 million jobs a year. But we need much higher totals for many years if we are to clear up both official and hidden unemployment and get to Real Full Employment, something around a 2% unemployment rate.
 d. Here's a striking fact about job totals which indicates how they lag. In the last ten years job totals grew by 6%. That is the worst record of the last seventy years. Here are the increases in job totals between starting and ending years for ten-year periods.
                                                2006 to 2016      6%
                                                1996 to 2006:   15%
                                                1986 to 1996:   20%
                                                1976 to 1986:   26%
                                                1966 to 1976:   26%
                                                1956 to 1966:   20%
                                                1946 to 1956:   30%                        
Participating in the Labor Force (working or looking for a job): The participation rate of women tapered off in 1999-2000, fell in the recession and has not come back. Men's rate has been on a long decline that grew steeper in the Great Recession. Part of the decline comes because we have more people of retirement age. But much of it has to do with lousy job markets, low wages, and, perhaps, the expansion of disability benefits. For prime-age males (ages 25 to 54), the labor force participation rate has fallen from 97% in 1948 to 89% in 2016. 
Some non-participants have lost jobs due to plant closures and mine shutdowns. Some of them did not move to regions
with more jobs because they felt too old and too rooted to move; because they could not sell their homes except at a big loss; or because they weren't convinced there were decent jobs elsewhere. Some have become hooked on opioids and they are
killing themselves.
Too Many Numbers? Here's the Big Take-away: In most areas discussed above we are doing better, but reversing the impact of forty years of lousy wages, rampant inequality, dire poverty, and not enough jobs will require major federal action on job creation, big increases in the minimum wage, fair taxes, and more assistance to low income families and college students. 
Frank Stricker is Emeritus Professor of History, California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has written about poverty and has written American Unemployment: A New History, Explanations, Remedies. He is a member of the National Jobs for All Coalition.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

[NJFAC] Inequality As Policy: Selective Trade Protectionism Favors Higher Earners

Inequality As Policy: Selective Trade Protectionism Favors Higher Earners

Globalization and technology are routinely cited as drivers of   inequality over the last four decades. While the relative importance of   these causes is disputed, both are often viewed as natural and   inevitable products of the working of the economy, rather than as the   outcomes of deliberate policy. In fact, both the course of globalization   and the distribution of rewards from technological innovation are very   much the result of policy. Insofar as they have led to greater   inequality, this has been the result of conscious policy choices.  ....  Instead of only putting manufacturing workers into competition with   lower-paid workers in other countries, our trade deals could have been   crafted to subject doctors, dentists, lawyers and other highly-paid   professionals to international competition. As it stands, almost nothing   has been done to remove the protectionist barriers that allow   highly-educated professionals in the United States to earn far more than   their counterparts in other wealthy countries.    This is clearest in the case of doctors. For the most part, it is impossible for   foreign-trained physicians to practice in the United States unless they   have completed a residency program in the United States. The number of   residency slots, in turn, is strictly limited, as is the number of slots   open for foreign medical students. While this is a quite blatantly   protectionist restriction, it has persisted largely unquestioned through   a long process of trade liberalization that has radically reduced or   eliminated most of the barriers on trade in goods. The result is that   doctors in the United States earn an average of more than $250,000 a   year, more than twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy   countries. This costs the country roughly $100 billion a year in higher   medical bills compared to a situation in which U.S. doctors received the   same pay as doctors elsewhere. Economists, including trade economists,   have largely chosen to ignore the barriers that sustain high   professional pay at enormous economic cost.    ....  The pattern of gains from technology has been even more directly   determined by policy than is the case with gains from trade. There has   been a considerable strengthening and lengthening of patent and   copyright and related protections over the last four decades. The laws   have been changed to extend patents to new areas such as life forms,   business methods, and software. Copyright duration has been extended   from 55 years to 95 years. Perhaps even more important, the laws have   become much more friendly to holders of these property claims to tilt   legal proceedings in their favor, with courts becoming more   patent-friendly and penalties for violations becoming harsher. And, the   United States has placed stronger intellectual property (IP) rules at   center of every trade agreement negotiated in the last quarter century.    In this context, it would hardly be surprising if the development of   "technology" was causing an upward redistribution of income. The people   in a position to profit from stronger IP rules are almost exclusively   the highly educated and those at the top end of the income distribution.   It is almost definitional that stronger IP rules will result in an   upward redistribution of income.  ....  --   June Zaccone  National Jobs for All Coalition

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

[NJFAC] A $15 Minimum Wage is the Minimum We Should Push For

David R. Howell et al, "Reframing the Minimum-Wage Debate," is a terrific response to people who claim that a $15 minimum wage will lead to job losses. Howell and his colleagues have plenty of evidence that this is not true. But he also argues that we should not frame the minimum wage issue in terms of job losses, but in terms of the benefits a substantial increase brings to millions of workers. He also makes the simple point that political and business leaders don't care about job loss when they support new technologies or so-called free trade treaties. Howell also includes information about budget studies that, to me,show how inadequate even $15 is. But you may not need careful budget studies. All you have to do is think about this: a full year of work at $15 brings just over $30,000 a year. That's all. That's poverty by any meaningful standard--a phrase, by the way, that cannot be applied to official American poverty lines.
Submitted by Frank Stricker of NJFAC and Emeritus Professor of History, Cal State University, Dominguez Hills.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

[NJFAC] The Global Super Court

"Known as investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, it is written into a vast network of treaties that govern international trade and investment, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Congress must soon decide whether to ratify."

A series:  Hamby, Secrets of a Global Super Court
  --   June Zaccone  National Jobs for All Coalition

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

[NJFAC] If We Get Tough with China and Mexico, can We Bring Back a Lot of Factory Jobs?


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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

[NJFAC] Do Skill and School Deficits Explain Why We Don’t Have Enough Good Jobs?

In the spring of 2015, Southern California Edison had employees training their replacements. The replacements were immigrants in the U.S. under the H-1B program that is supposed to be about importing skilled workers when employers cannot find skilled workers at home.[1]
            So my nephew Bob has been watching the presidential campaign. He knows that each candidate has talked a lot about jobs, but he wonders why they aren't talking more about education and training. He's read about employers who complain about ill-prepared job applicants. If we want more jobs and more good jobs, why worry about trade deals or infrastructure spending? Why not help more people go to college or get job training?
            I agree with some things Bob says. We should make college more affordable for the sake of equity. And there are lots of reasons to go to college besides job preparation. And there ought to be a better system of job training programs and apprenticeships in America. But even with such things, we won't get many more good jobs. We'd get more people underemployed in jobs that did not utilize their skills, and we would be letting employers and conservatives off the hook for a decades-long campaign to quash wages.
            The skills line of argument is popular in the business press and among centrist politicians. Bill Clinton loved it in the 1990s and he still spouts off about the importance of more training. And isn't he right? Bob says everyone knows that more education pays off for workers. The more schooling you have, the higher your income and the less likely you are to be unemployed. So it looks like the job problem could be fixed if young people got more schooling and training.    
            Bob makes a good point. He must be learning something in his college courses--at least how to make an argument. It's true that more schooling is correlated with higher incomes and lower unemployment. Last spring, among people 25 and older, those with only a high school degree had a 5.4% unemployment rate; those with at least a B.A. had a 2.4% unemployment rate. In the rat race for better jobs, it usually makes sense for individuals to acquire more education and relevant skills. So what=s really wrong with the skills-and-school explanation?
            More skills and more education don't lift the whole work force. Individuals with more education do better than those with less, but the working class as a whole doesn't advance. There are many reasons for this, but it's not because of a shortage of skilled labor. Millions of people are already overeducated for their jobs. The share of the work force with a four-year college degree, which was 20% in 1979, had grown to 34% in 2010. Did average wages increase with more skilled people at work? Hardly at all. In terms of purchasing power, the average wage of working-class employees (about 80% of the work force) are close to where they were in the early 1970s. But we probably have better-educated clerks at Sears and Macy's and Starbucks.[2]
            Most jobs don't require high-level skills. Twenty of 30 occupations predicted to have the largest numerical growth in the coming years require nothing more than high school. Sure, there are plenty of high-skilled job openings, but many more positions for home health-care aides, customer-service representatives, sales clerks, laborers, janitors, food preparers, and food servers. Most of these jobs don't require higher education. Sometimes college grads have to take jobs near the bottom of the occupational ladder. They bump less educated people who were perfectly qualified for jobs at Starbucks and the Olive Garden. Young people who have spent a small fortune at chef's school end up flipping burger and earning the minimum wage.[3]
            Bob is still puzzled. Something doesn't make sense to him."I've read about shortages of nurses and welders and factory managers? I read last year about factory owners who could not find people to run automated factories? You're saying this means nothing?"
            Answer: not nothing. But Alabor shortages@ are often short-term. Sometimes they are fabrications to disguise the fact that employers don't want to pay a decent wage to attract applicants. Employers blame workers for lacking skills and discipline. They blame the schools. Never the employer class..  
            At times employers aren't completely serious about filling vacancies. Every advertized position is not for a real job. Employers post a position that they may want to fill at some time, but they don't fill it because they haven't found the right applicant at the right price, or they fear that a recession or a government shutdown may come next year, or that Obamacare costs too much, or whatever. They conduct interviews but never hire. A while back, one young job-seeker reported that he received eighth-and ninth-round call-backs from three different companies, but two of the companies finally decided not to hire at all.[4]
            Bob's mother, my sister Isobel, doesn't care for all of my intellectual flim-flam. She thinks the younger generation is spoiled. "Those millenials want too much. That's why they can't find a nice job." Conservative economists agree. Workers are too picky. If they'd accept what's being offered out there, there'd be no unemployment. And that's true. If more of us worked for $7.25 or even the $2.23 that can be offered to tipped workers, there'd be more jobs. But is that the choice we should have to make?
            While we are at it, Isobel, job-seekers aren't the only picky ones. Employers can make it hard for workers, and new technologies help them. Internet postings have vastly increased the number of applicants for any job, so employers use filters to sift applications; in a millisecond, they eliminate many competent applicants. Sometimes employers demand work experience that the applicant could obtain only by working at the position they are applying for. During the recent recession and recovery period, some employers eliminated entire pools of workers, openly discriminating against long-term unemployed and older workers. They shunned people who have skills, experience, and--believe it or not--the ability to learn.[5]
            Remember, many skills that are specific to a job are learned on the job. Even, history professors, who need graduate school to learn subject areas and historical methods, usually learn how to teach by doing it. I did.  When specific training can be acquired in educational institutions and it looks like it will pay off, people get it. Millions of people are learning general and specific skills right now in universities, community colleges, for-profit universities, and workshops. In World War II, Rosie the Riveter learned new skills because she wanted to make a contribution and because there were real jobs with decent pay waiting for her.[6]
            If skills are in short supply, why don't employers increase wages to attract workers? Some do. In 2011-2012, a worldwide shortage of skilled miners drove annual compensation to six figures. But many employers who claim they cannot find workers really want cheap workers. They don't want to let the market work. A couple of years ago someone in the manufacturing sector predicted that factories would be short 800,000 skilled workers. Honestly? Does anyone believe this junk from a sector that has discarded millions of skilled and trainable workers? What we really find is a shortage of manufacturing jobs and worsening pay. Owners who complain about a shortage of skilled workers want to pay skilled factory workers fast-food wages. Recently, starting pay at Gen-Met, a metal plant outside of Milwaukee, was $10 an hour. That was below the already pathetically low U.S. poverty line. Some workers with AA degrees in this sector might advance to $18 after several years. But $18 an hour is lower than the average wage for the average working-class job, and that wage, a little over $20, is nothing to write home about.[7]
            So Bob, we need to make college more affordable rather than less--Bernie was on the right track. We need better schools at all levels. And we need a better system of training and apprenticeship programs. But most of all we need higher pay and more good jobs. We need to legislate a decent national minimum wage; $15 is just the beginning. It is a disgrace that the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 and it is oh so sad that people who have been battered by lousy job markets are willing to vote for Donald Trump who doesn't want the federal minimum raised and who has screwed his own contractors and workers. And second, we need direct job creation by the federal government in the private and public sectors. Not a few hundred thousand crappy temporary jobs, but five million new permanent jobs created over five years. We won't get more good jobs by waiting on business. Nor will we get them when more people acquire a college degree. If we want good jobs, we have to make them.
Frank Stricker is Emeritus Professor of History, California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is a member of the National Jobs for All Coalition and has just completed American Unemployment: A New History, Explanations, and Remedies. Readers who want a different view from the one in my blog-entry can start with Anthony Carnevale, et al., "Too Many Grads? Or Too Few?"
[1]. Somini Sengupta, ATech Firms Push to Hire More Workers from Abroad,@ New York Times (NYT hereafter), April 11, 2013,  accessed at on 4/12/2013.
[2].  Arguing that there isn't even a shortage of educated workers in science, tech, and math fields is Daniel Costa, ASTEM Labor Shortages? Microsoft Report Distorts Reality about Computing Occupations,@ Economic Policy Institute Policy Memorandum #195 (Washington, D.C.: November 19, 2012); and Michael S. Teitelbaum, "Are We Losing the Tech Race?" NYT, April 20, 2014, A19. Unemployment rates by educational level are from data at LNS14027660 and LNS 14027662. On young college graduates, Teresa Kroeger, et al., "The Class of 2016: The Labor Market is Still Far from Ideal for Young Graduates," at
[3]. Peter Cappelli, Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press, 2012), 26, 45-57; Andrew Hacker, AWhere Will We Find the Jobs?,@ New York Review of Books, February 24, 2011, at; and John Miller and Jeannette Wicks-Lim, AUnemployment: A Jobs Deficit or a Skills Deficit?@, Dollars and Sense, January/February, 2011, 9-13. College share of the population in John Schmitt and Janelle Jones, AWhere Have All the Good Jobs Gone?@ (Washington, D.C.: Center for Economic and Policy Research, July, 2012). See also Steven Greenhouse, AIf You=re a Waiter, the Future is Rosy,@ NYT, March 7, 2004, Wk, 5.
[4]. Thomas L. Friedman, AIf You=ve Got the Skills, She=s Got the Job,@ NYT, Sunday Review, November 18, 2012, 1, 11. Mike McGrorty, ABuilding Trades: Entry and Success,@ unpublished and provided by the author, says there are usually good jobs for welders but some people cannot get through the training program which requires math and night school. However, the total number of job openings is not large in most locales. On the end of the nursing shortage, CNN Money, AFor Nursing Jobs, New Grads Need Not Apply,@ posted January 15, 2013, accessed 3/5/2013. On the building trades, Alana Semuels and Alejandro Lazo, ABuilders Say Good Help Is Hard to Find,@ LAT, May 8, 2013, A1, A13. Tiffany Hsu, AFactory Labor Shortage May Rise,@ LAT, October 16, 2012, B2; Harold L. Sirkin, AThe Coming Shortage of Skilled Manufacturing Workers,@ January 14, 2013, accessed at on 4/24/2013. Also Robert J. Samuelson, AEmployers Lack Confidence, Not Skilled Labor,@ May 5, 2013, accessed at on 5/6/2013; and Catherine Rampell, AWith Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection,@ NYT, March 6, 2013, accessed at, 3/7/2013. Views contrary to mine are Ricardo Lopez, AJobs for Skilled Workers Are Going Unfilled,@ LAT, June 8, 2012, B1, B4; and Claire Cain Miller, "The Numbers of Our Lives,@ New York Times Education Life, April 14, 2013, 18-19, on a shortage of data scientists.
[5]. Cappelli, 37-38, 61-64; Rampell; Brad Plummer, ACompanies Won=t Even Look at Resumes of the Long-Term Unemployed,@ Washington Post, April 15, 2013, accessed at on 5/8/2013; and Paul Krugman, AThe Jobless Trap,@ NYT, April 21, 2013, accessed at, 4/23/2013. 
[6]. View the government film, Glamour Girls of 1943. Also Patricia Cohen, "As Demand for Welders Resurges, Community Colleges Offer Classes," NYT, March 10, 2015, accessed at, 3/10/2015.
[7]. Cappelli, 37. Adam Davidson, ASkills Don=t Pay the Bills,@ NewYork Times Magazine, November 25, 2012, 16, 18.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

[NJFAC] The Lumpenproletariat is expanding--Bloomberg

A 164-Year-Old Idea Helps Explain the Huge Changes Sweeping the World's Workforce

The Lumpenproletariat is expanding.
Fast forward more than a century and a half and the idea of Lumpenproletariat — or those stranded between traditional social strata and professions — is gaining fresh relevance. While Karl Marx writing in the 19th century included a now-quaint list of disparate characters he thought were unlikely to be of much use in the revolutionary struggle, the displaced and despised class was born out of the first and second industrial revolutions.

Today's modern parallel to porters, tinkers, and the "ruined and adventurous offshoots of bourgeoisie," might well be the growing mass of Uber Inc. drivers, temporary contractors and angry white men: the "Trumpenproletariats," according to a new note by Macquarie Group Ltd. analysts.

Whichever name one chooses to describe the sweeping structural changes taking place across the world's workforce, they are undeniably upon us — borne out in persistently low labor productivity, the stubborn decline of manufacturing, and growing global income inequality.

Macquarie Analysts Viktor Shvets and Chetan Smith use Marx, and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to highlight the extent to which the U.S. workforce is shifting towards the modern equivalent of Lumpenproletariat — in other words, how people are moving toward more transitory occupations. Unlike their 19th century forerunners, however, the 21st century Lumpenproletariat may prove more bitter, and less boheme.....

--   June Zaccone  National Jobs for All Coalition

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

[NJFAC] Social Security: If It Ain't Broke ...

Social Security: If It Ain't Broke ... and It Ain't, and It Never Will Be, Mike Norman Jul  20, 2016

Back in 2005, when Paul Ryan was still only a congressman from Wisconsin and not speaker of the House, he asked a question of then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan in a hearing for the House Budget Committee. Ryan asked Greenspan if there was a way to ensure the solvency of Social Security through the use of personal retirement accounts.

Greenspan's response was eye-opening. He told Ryan, "There's nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and paying it to someone." He goes on to add that the real question is whether there is a system in place to ensure that the real assets are there for the benefits (money) to purchase. You can watch the exchange here in this short YouTube clip.

Watch Ryan's face when Greenspan is explaining and you will see that the whole explanation goes right over his head and, I'm sure, right over most people's heads.

Yet what Greenspan said is not only the truth, but the real crux of the entire Social Security debate. (Or, false debate, I should say.) As Greenspan correctly states, there is no inability for the government to create the money ("it can create as much as it wants"), the only thing that we need to be focused on is whether or not we have sufficient quantities of the food, shelter, clothing, hospitals, medicine, medical care, maybe leisure activities, etc., that all people will need and consume in their retirement. Greenspan correctly explains that it's not about the money. "It's nice to have the money," he says, "but you need the assets." ....

-- June Zaccone National Jobs for All Coalition

Monday, July 11, 2016

[NJFAC] Making the Case for Public Job Creation

NJFAC Board Member William Darity made the case for a federal job guarantee in a recent post in the  New York Times "Debating the Issues" forum, to address the question "Are We Ready For the Next Recession?"

A second post by Pavlina Tcherneva, economic professor at Bard College, pointed out that Americans overwhelming support a national jobs program, according to a Gallup Poll carried out in 2013

Finally, scroll down for information on the 40th Anniversary of the California Conservation Corps, a great example of a small public sector jobs program that employs 3,000 people per year, that could potentially be replicated by other states, and reestablished at the national level.

1) A Guaranteed Federal Jobs Program Is Needed by William Darity, The New York Times

UPDATED JULY 11, 2016, 3:20 AM

Before worrying about the next recession, the sad quality of our current recovery deserves attention. Seven years since the National Bureau of Economic Research officially declared the Great Recession over, vast numbers of American families remain beset by deep economic insecurity — June's surge in job numbers notwithstanding.

One in five American adults, and nearly half of the nation's children, live in poverty or near-poverty.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that Americans continue to be subjected to bad jobs or unstable employment — and those who are employed often face stagnant or even declining wages. The fragility of Americans' economic well-being is epitomized by the National Coalition for the Homeless' estimate that 44 percent of homeless persons actually have jobs, albeit poorly paid jobs.

The expansion of "flex work" arrangements, which make work hours uncertain, contribute significantly to income volatility for workers in low-pay sectors of the economy. Around 50 percent of Americans could not meet a $400 emergency expense by drawing upon their personal savings if they had to.

An alternative to these conditions is the adoption of a federal job guarantee, a policy that would insure the option for anyone to work in a public sector program, similar to what the Works Progress Administration established in the 1930s.

Each job offered under a federal employment assurance would be at a wage rate above the poverty threshold, and would include benefits like health insurance. A public sector job guarantee would establish a quality of work and the level of compensation offered for all jobs. The program would be great for the country: It could meet a wide range of the nation's physical and human infrastructure needs, ranging from the building and maintenance of roads, bridges and highways, to school upkeep and the provision of quality child care services. It would also function as an automatic stabilizer, a program that could expand with downturns of the economy and contract with upturns.

Given the cyclical nature of our existing economy, we cannot prevent the next recession. But we can reduce its impact and magnitude. The federal job guarantee would reduce the impact by enabling all households to maintain a minimum standard of decent living.

William Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy, African and African-American Studies and economics, and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.  Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on 

2) Keep Unemployment from Mushrooming with Preventative Policies by Pavlina Tcherneva, The New York Times

UPDATED JULY 11, 2016, 3:20 AM

Though job growth surged in June, by and large, this recovery has been the slowest in postwar history and 7.8 million people continue to look, unsuccessfully, for work. 

There is nothing inevitable or natural about jobless recoveries.

If they have become a new normal, it is largely by design. Fiscal and monetary policies always arrive too late — when recessions are well underway — and just as it is impossible to stop an avalanche after it has started, it's impossible to reverse mass layoffs in the midst of a crisis.

There are better ways to stabilize the business cycle and prepare for the next recession through forward-thinking policies of prevention and mitigation.

For example, a voluntary federal jobs program for the unemployed could be established now to provide individuals and families with as-needed job assurance at a base (living) wage. Think of it as an employment safety-net: The program would be permanent but the jobs would be transitional. It would be federally funded but designed and administered by localities, non-profits or social enterprises. It would put the unemployed to work in much needed public service, green or care projects, and provide on-the-job training and education that would help people transition back into private sector employment.

This is a genuine preventative policy. It stops unemployment from mushrooming while maintaining tight full employment over the long run. Importantly, it slashes the large direct and indirect costs of unemployment that society and governments already bear, including high crime and incarceration rates, mental and physical health problems, elevated mortality rates, urban blight, and social and political turmoil. The current policy of tolerating any amount of involuntary unemployment, while paying for its social and economic consequences, is simply too expensive.

A federal jobs program is much cheaper.

It is also an effective counter-cyclical stabilizer: Spending on the program would increase at the onset of recessions — when more people are unemployed and need it — and shrink as the private sector recovers and hires more workers.

Plus, Americans overwhelmingly support government job creation programs. A whopping 72 percent favor a federally funded infrastructure investment program to hire the unemployed, and the same number back a federal law that would create more than one million new jobs.

But if we want to be ready for the next recession, the time to implement the jobs program is now.

Pavlina Tcherneva is chair of the department of economics at Bard College and a research scholar at Bard's Levy Economics Institute.  Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on 

3) Finally, the California Conservation Corps recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary, a terrific example of a state-operated public jobs program, and a good model for the nation. 

 California Conservation Corps
Started: 1976
Locations: More than two dozen
Budget: $95.4 million (2015-16)
Workers: 3,000 hired statewide per year
Requirements: California residents between ages 18 and 25 and not on probation or parole
Mission: Provide labor for natural resource projects and disaster relief

Since 1976, the California Conservation Corps has completed the following:

20 million:
 Trees planted
11 million: Hours improving parks and recreation areas
9.6 million: Emergency response hours
3.5 million: Sandbags filled during floods and storms
1.6 million: Hours improving fish habitat
10,840: Miles of trails built or maintained in national parks and forests

Source: California Conservation Corps

Please also note that Rep. Marcy Kaptur has proposed the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act, HR 1966, to re-establish the CCC at the national level
The new CCC would provide jobs to unemployed or underemployed U.S. citizens in constructing, maintaining, and carrying through works of a public nature, such as forestation of U.S. and state lands, prevention of forest fires, floods, and soil erosion, and construction and repair of National Park System paths and trails. HR 1966 would be funded at a level of $16 billion a year.  For more information, click here.  

If you are interested in helping to support this bill, please invite your House member to cosponsor the billFor more information, contact Logan Martinez at: Cell  937-260-2591 or 


Submitted by Chuck Bell, Vice Chair
National Jobs for All Coalition




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