The United States has seen a steady erosion of blue-collar work over the past several decades. We define blue-collar, working class jobs as those which primarily make use of physical skill or manual labor. These occupations include not only factory work or production occupations, but jobs in construction, materials moving, transportation, installation, and repair. Blue-collar, working class jobs currently account for 23 percent of all U.S. employment. Blue-collar occupations and the regions that specialize in this kind of work have seen the highest levels of unemployment and the greatest vulnerability to the economic crisis. The decline of high-paying, blue-collar jobs for lower-skilled workers has caused considerable concern that the U.S. is losing an important source of good, family-supporting jobs, and that the American labor market is becoming more uneven and increasingly split between higher-paying knowledge work and lower-paying routine service work. But what will the geography of blue-collar work look like in the future? (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’
Last Friday, my list of the 20 metros with the fastest-growing jobs was posted over at The Daily Beast. Jobs are the second-biggest issue facing the United States – second only to the economy, according to a recent Gallup poll – and a pending referendum on the Obama administration in the upcoming mid-term elections. As I noted:
The United States has lost an estimated 7.4 million jobs since the onset of the economic crisis. But, the economy is on track to create some 15.3 million new jobs looking out to 2018, according to projections done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And more than 50 million total jobs will come open, as older workers retire and many switch jobs and careers. Total U.S. employment is projected to grow by 10.1 percent over the period, according to the BLS forecast, considerably better than the 7.4 percent growth rate for previous decade (1998-2008), and roughly in line with population growth of 10.7 percent.
But where will the new jobs be located? Which places will grow the most jobs and, conversely, which will see the biggest job losses?
Check out my new piece in The New Republic:
Speaking at a health care reform rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, in July 2009, President Obama declared that the worst of the recession was over. “We have stopped the free-fall. The market is up and the financial system is no longer on the verge of collapse,” he said proudly.
A year or so later, with midterm elections looming and an electorate that is as fearful and angry as any in memory, the stock market has risen, but even a breath of bad news can send it tumbling. As dismal as housing prices continue to be, they have yet to hit bottom in some places. Unemployment remains frozen at an overall level of nine-plus percent, and job creation has been anemic. If the crisis belonged to George W. Bush, the recovery has been Obama’s—and it has been a fragile and tentative one at best. Along with billions of dollars in stimulus payments, the president has spent down most of his political capital. So what is his next step?
Read the full article here.
Traditionally, the United States has worried about the offshoring of manufacturing jobs. But concern is mounting that as the rest of the world becomes increasingly well-educated and competitive, the desirable and high-paying service jobs previously considered immune to moving overseas are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
In a widely cited 2007 study, economist Alan Blinder estimated that between 22 and 29 percent of U.S. jobs were vulnerable to offshoring as of 2004. In a sobering Wall Street Journal op-ed published earlier this month (via Economist’s View), economists Martin Neal Bailey, Matthew Slaughter, and Laura Tyson provide evidence that the global competition for jobs is heating up considerably. They note that multinationals have long been among the most important economic drivers of the U.S. economy, accounting for an estimated 19 percent of all private jobs, 25 percent of all private wages, and 41 percent of the increase in private labor productivity since 1990. Then they cite a McKinsey study based on personal interviews with senior executives from 26 of America’s largest companies that finds the U.S. faces an unprecedented level of competition to “attract, retain and grow the operations of multinational companies that it’s never faced before.”
More and more economic experts are saying the U.S. economy is headed for a “double-dip” recession. But actually it’s much more – and much more serious than that. Earlier this week, Paul Krugman speculated that the U.S. is headed for a Third Great Depression, noting that while recessions are relatively common and depressions quite rare, he fears our current economic circumstance is coming to look more like the Great Depression of the 1930s or the Long Depression of the late 19th century.
The first chart below from David Leonhardt of The New York Times shows the recent downturn in private-sector unemployment.
Earlier this week, I discussed the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index of happy cities. Today, with the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander, we take a look at some of the social, demographic, and economic factors that are associated with the happiness and well-being of cities.
There has been considerable debate on the factors that are associated with happiness and well-being at the national level. The well-known Easterlin Paradox suggested that happiness tends to level off after a certain income threshold. Psychologists, notably Edward Diener, have argued that factors such as health, challenging work, and close social relationships, among others, play a considerable role in happiness. Some have even made the case for instituting a new measure of gross national happiness to supplement conventional metrics like gross national product.
Recent studies by Princeton University’s Angus Deaton and Justin Wolfers and Betsy Stevenson of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School question the Easterlin Paradox and indicate a closer link between happiness and income across nations. Carol Graham raises the enigma of the “happy peasant and the miserable millionaire” as a way to resolve this apparent paradox. Graham suggests that happiness is relative to one’s position in society. Take unemployment for example. Unemployment is crushing for previously employed people in places where gainful employment is the norm. But people in poor countries where unemployment is more the norm find other ways to be happy. (more…)
It’s terrific to see unemployment rate dip below the 10 percent mark. But, unemployment in the Great Reset remains quite a bit deeper than in previous ones, as the NYT’s Catherine Rampell shows. The overall U-6 measure of unemployment – which includes discouraged workers – stands at 16.5 percent.
A close look at the numbers finds some groups are doing far better than others. Men continue to fare substantially worse than women: The unemployment rate for adult men remains 10 percent, while the rate for women is now 7.9 percent.
The effects of the economic crisis continue to be extremely uneven. Unemployment remains much higher for the less educated. The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree, 15.2 percent, is 50 percent higher than that for workers with a high school diploma, 10.1 percent, and three times higher than for college-educated workers, 4.9 percent.
Unemployment also varies substantially by industry. The unemployment rate for blue-collar workers remains quite high. The unemployment rate for manufacturing workers stands at 13 percent while construction workers face a staggering 24.7 rate. The rate for professional services workers has grown to 11.1 percent, but financial professionals have unemployment of 6.6 percent. The rate for educational professionals stands at 5.5 percent, and that for government employees is 4.3 percent.
As one looks around the economic landscape I am struck by the devastation. One number stands out above all others. One in five males between the ages of 25 and 55 is out of work! That is a staggering number. The numbers are not going back to anything “normal” anytime soon according to the IMF. Financial crises followed by recessions do not return to normal levels of employment for over a decade. Why you might ask? The answer I guess is that the levels of debt need to be worked down. Everyone owes everyone money and none pay anyone. Second, the recession destroys real capital. In this situation it was housing. It will take years to work off the excesses of the housing crisis.
So what does entrepreneurship have to do with the recession? If we take what we know today, entrepreneurs and innovation play a vital role in the economy. But can they help us in the great recession? In other words, what policy should we be pursuing to move the unemployment rate below 10 percent and back into the neighborhood of 5 percent? We know that new firms are important. They create most of the net jobs. However, only a small percent, perhaps 4 percent, create almost all of the jobs in any given four-year period. And this seems to hold up in different times, different countries, and different industries.
So how do we forge a policy? Two stories are told out there. First we know that age and size are important variables. And we know that age appears to be more important than size. In other words, we should target firms based on age not size. The two stories out there are one by Zoltan Acs and the other by Carl Schramm. In a highly influential study, Acs found that the average high impact firm was about 20 years old and came in all sizes, small, medium, and large. Schramm, on the other hand, using a Census Bureau study, found that firms less than five years old created almost all of the jobs independent of size. They both cannot be right.
However, if we are interested in short-term policy solutions and not real economic growth, we should help stimulate solo self-employed. They have a start-up rate that is three times as large as firms with employees. They start easily but also go out of business quickly. So an effective policy would be to make it easier for them to stay in business longer.
A simple policy would be to cut the self-employment tax, not over 15 percent of all new solo self-employed firms to zero for three years. If they hired any employees we should cut the employer share 7.5 percent for three years also. This would greatly increase the survival rate for these new firms. Of course this is not a long-term solution because many of these firm will contribute very little to productivity, economies of scale, or wealth creation. But they will pull down the unemployment rate.
The impact on the deficit would not be great since many of these people would not have survived to pay payroll taxes anyway. Once the economy picks up the issue of long-run growth can be addressed. But in the short run, let’s get people working.