Abysmal March Jobs Report Demonstrates the Need for a Federal Living Wage Jobs Program to End the Lesser Depression

The March jobs report underscores the weakness of the economy's crawl out of the depths of the "Lesser Depression" (LD), once again demonstrating that relying on private sector growth, even with massive and unprecedented Fed blowing up of a renewed financial sector and stock market bubble, is not going to set the U.S. economy on a path to broad-based and sustainable prosperity, as the Chicago Political Economics Group (CPEG) has been saying for many years (see: http://www.cpegonline.org/reports/jobs.pdf).

The "Current Employment Statistics" (CES) "Establishment" survey shows that non-farm payroll jobs expanded by only 88,000 in March, far below economists’ expectations of 200,000 and well below the average 197,000 payroll job growth of the last six months (Sept. through Feb).  Though this is a one-month number and there have been one-month "summer declines" in job growth throughout this tepid expansion (in June-Sept. of 2010, July of 2011 and June of 2012), this is a striking decline after six months of steady (though far from adequate) growth that does not bode well.

Indicative of how terrible the current U.S. labor market is relative to the post-war period, the current average duration of unemployment increased to 37.1 weeks (from 36.9 in Feb.), roughly double the average length of unemployment for all prior recessions since at least 1948 – see New York Times (11/2/2012): “Jobless and Helpless, in America.”  Job losses were recorded in retail trade and the U.S. Postal Service.  The latter lost 12,000 jobs in March – thanks to the massive "pension poison-pill" saddled on the Postal Service by the continued "destroy U.S. jobs" efforts of the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress (see: http://truth-out.org/news/item/14486-the-usps-media-fail).  

We are more than 45 months after the official beginning of the "expansion" in June 2009 and still have not even recovered the jobs lost since the start of the LD in Nov. 2007.   Figure 1 and Table 1 below show payroll employment change as a percent of starting employment for each of 11 post-war recessions, labeled by their official "trough," or start of "expansion", date so that the LD is labeled June 09.  As can be seen in the chart, the longest previous post-war Nov. 01 "jobless growth" recession had none the less fully recovered recession job loss by 38 months after its start.  As the average postwar expansion is 59 months, if the current abysmal rate of employment growth in the current "jobless" LD continues, it appears highly likely that the U.S. economy will not add much employment, if any, to that prevailing in Nov. of 2007.

And reflecting the fact that we have an income as well as a jobs problem, average hourly earnings also declined in March to $20.03 from $20.04, representing a much larger real income loss of 4.3 cents an hour at the current 2 percent inflation rate.

graph1.png

As bad as the March payroll numbers look, the more comprehensive "Current Population Survey" (CPS) "household" survey that includes: agricultural workers, the self- employed, paid family workers, and private household workers, is even more telling. March CPS employment (E) declined by 206,000, so that the official Unemployment Rate (UR) declined (from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent)  only because the official "Labor Force" (LF) declined even further by 496,000 ( UR = (LF-E)/LF) as the Labor Force Participation Rate (LF/Pop) and the employment to population rate (E/Pop) both declined.  The former was 63.3 percent in March 2013 versus 66 percent in Nov. of 2007, and the latter was 58.5 percent down from 62.9 percent in Nov. 2007.

Using the more accurate and comprehensive U-6 "Alternative Measure of Labor Underutilization" (which includes workers who are no longer in the official labor force and the part-time unemployed who cannot get full-time employment) the real unemployment rate is 13.8 percent, and the number of unemployed in the U.S. is almost 22 million people.

graph2.png

Finally, to show how deep the LD is and how unlikely a real recovery is – given the current course of relying on private sector growth plus continued Federal Reserve financial sector and Wall Street "pump priming" without a massive federally funded jobs program – Figure 2 below compares the employment that would be required to maintain the Nov. 2007 employment-to-population ratio (E/Pop=0.62932785) constant as population increased in subsequent months, to actual employment, based on BLS monthly "Civilian Non-institutional Population" and actual (CPS) employment estimates.  As can be seen in Figure 2, based on this measure there has been virtually no jobs recovery at all in the 45 months of "expansion" from the June 2009 LD trough. All of the relative "recovery" experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 45 months has been due to a larger share of the population not being included in the labor force and not to employment growth relative to population increase.

graph3.png

Ron Baiman is on the steering committee of Chicago DSA and a member of the Chicago Political Economy Group.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

April 24, 2017
· 36 rsvps

DSA is in the process of forming a Queer Socialists Working Group. This call will cover a discussion of possible activities for the group, its proposed structure, assigning tasks, and reports on the revision of DSA's LGBT statement and on possible political education activities. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 51 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 6 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

May 06, 2017
· 44 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  2 pm ET; 1 pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11 am PT.  

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 69 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 18 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.