Category Archives: Jobs

The Presidential Job Creator Scorecard

So, you want to be president. Are you a job creator? Or a job destroyer?

Presidential candidates these days seem compelled to make dubious claims about opponents as “job destroyers,” compared to their own record as “job creators.”  This has been Mitt Romney’s theme song about himself and President Obama from the beginning. We can expect no less in the presidential debate this week.

Figure 1

Do presidents create jobs? Yes, indirectly, as a result of policy decisions, but how would we measure that? When Obama took office in January, 2009, jobs were in free-fall (Figure 1), with 4.4 million jobs lost since the start of the recession a year earlier, and with monthly losses stuck at their maximum of 700,000 to 800,000 through March. It wasn’t until July that the monthly drop slowed to somewhere below 300,000, reaching zero only in March, 2010, when losses turned to gains. So where does Obama’s responsibility begin? And, when he leaves office, where will it end?

These are not the only questions we must consider if we’re going to take the measure of presidential job creation since the end of World War II. That’s the goal here.

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Buffalo/Niagara region gains 3,600 construction jobs — Part 1

Construction employment made the front page this week in The Buffalo News. With 3,600 jobs added in the last year, the no-boom-no-bust Buffalo-Niagara region is one of the top areas nationwide for rising construction employment.

Job growth in region’s construction third in U.S., The Buffalo News, December 6, 2011: The Buffalo Niagara region added more construction jobs than all but two U.S. metro areas in the last year, a result of health care, university and private-sector development projects that spurred an 18 percent gain in  employment.

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“Opportunistic Disinflation”?? What the…?

Yglesias and TheMoneyIllusion link to sites explaining “opportunistic disinflation.” It’s a questionable doctrine adopted sometime in the 1980s by the Federal Reserve for fighting inflation “opportunistically.” It contrasts with what former Fed Chairman Paul Volker did in 1981—slamming 15% hyper-inflation with a Fed Funds rate of 19% and throwing the economy into deep recession with 10% unemployment.

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Feel the Weird

Thomas Friedman’s op-ed in the Times today is a must-read. It’s on climate-change and climate-change-denial, with Texas governor Rick Perry as the poster-boy and the Texas drought as Exhibit A.

Is It Weird Enough Yet? by Thomas Friedman, op-ed, New York Times, September 14, 2011: Every time I listen to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota talk about how climate change is some fraud perpetrated by scientists trying to gin up money for research, I’m always reminded of one of my favorite movie lines that Jack Nicholson delivers to his needy neighbor who knocks on his door in the film “As Good As It Gets.” “Where do they teach you to talk like this?” asks Nicholson. “Sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.”
Thanks Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann, but we really are all stocked up on crazy right now….

There’s more about climate change, with good, gritty details, and more links to up-to-date climate-change sites than you’ll see in a column any time soon.

Friedman, referring to the failure of American solar energy companies, speaks of  the need for green start-ups to achieve “scale.” Andy Grove, former Intel chairman, expands on the concept in his widely read article from July, 2010: How to Create an American Job Before it is Too Late. It too is a must-read.

Steal this book? Not necessary—it’s free!

Dean Baker has published a new book (hat tip, Ezra Klein), and it’s free: The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. From the blurb:

 Progressives need a fundamentally new approach to politics. They have been losing not just because conservatives have so much more money and power, but also because they have accepted the conservatives’ framing of political debates. They have accepted a framing where conservatives want market outcomes whereas liberals want the government to intervene to bring about outcomes that they consider fair.

 This is not true….

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Jobs & Bridges

Last Friday, after a visit with friends on Cape Cod, my wife and I crossed the Bourne Bridge, the southern span across the Cape Cod Canal. Looking up as we passed under the arch, I noticed a metal sign that was part of the structure: “Bourne Bridge: 1933-1935.”

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The bridge was built by the Public Works Administration (PWA), the precursor to the WPA.

Where are the bridges built in 2009-2011? The city halls? The schools? The energy research labs? The music halls?

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Jobs & GDP — Update

A follow-up on the prospect of a long, painful recovery of lost jobs.

Here is the latest projection from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the gap between real GDP and real potential GDP (via Paul Krugman):

Figure 1

Potential GDP is a useful estimate of what the economy would be producing if it were not in a serious recession. The difference between potential and actual GDP is commonly known as the “output gap.”

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