It’s the People

By |2018-01-05T07:24:03+00:00January 5th, 2018|Global Market Update|

Why does US healthcare cost so much? Photo: Norbert Kaiser. Source: Wikimedia People complain about healthcare costs all the time. And it’s shocking when you look at what a routine medical procedure costs, whether your Medicare pays, or your insurance company pays, or you’re on your own. And compared with other countries, the US is in a league of its own. We devote about 17% of our total economy on health care, while other wealthy countries spend around 12%. Why do we spend so [...]

Between Jobs

By |2017-07-17T12:21:18+00:00June 6th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are we working hard, or hardly working? Man shoveling at construction site. Photo: Igor Ovsyannykov. Source: Fancycrave Both. The unemployment rate declined to its lowest level since 2001. Employers added jobs for the 80th straight month – the longest such streak on record. Wages are up 2.5% from a year ago – more than the 2% wage gains we were seeing last year, and significantly more than the 1.5% inflation rate. But unemployment fell because people are leaving the workforce. The labor force shrank [...]

Making Stuff Happen

By |2017-07-17T12:21:18+00:00May 19th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Where have all the manufacturing jobs gone? Old shoe factory, Columbus, OH. Photo: Nytend. Source: Wikipedia Since 1989, manufacturing employment in the US has plunged by 6 million workers – over 30%. But this doesn’t mean the US has stopped making things. Employment has fallen, but output – after a setback during the recession – has continued to grow. In fact, the output of stuff made in the US – cars, engines, advanced machinery – is currently near an all-time high. Source: St. Louis [...]

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

By |2017-07-17T12:22:41+00:00July 27th, 2015|Jobs|

How tight is the labor market? Photo: Douglas Tengdin After hitting 10% in October of 2009, unemployment has fallen to 5.3%. That’s pretty good. But there are still areas where the job market feels week—especially in long-term unemployment. Folks unemployed 6 months or more currently make up a quarter of the unemployed. That ratio has come down from almost 50% in 2010, but it’s still pretty high. That’s one reason why this recovery doesn’t feel very strong. Another reason is the participation rate—the percent [...]

Global Trading Places

By |2017-07-17T12:22:45+00:00June 9th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Does increased trade cost us jobs? Photo: J Brickman. Source: MorgueFile Economists have long touted trade as a way to improve economic performance that doesn’t require new technology or skills. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Some economists think that if inexpensive outside labor displaces too much domestic production, the exporter does better but it hurts us too much. […]

Growth in the Spring

By |2017-07-17T12:23:01+00:00March 9th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Maybe this time? Source: Western Gardeners In the cult classic “Being There,” Peter Sellers plays Chauncey Gardiner, a simple-minded gardener who lives with a wealthy benefactor. When his patron dies, Chauncey is turned out into the streets. Through a series of random encounters, he ends up advising the US President on economic affairs, at one point saying, “There will be growth in the spring”—an allusion to a garden’s growth, but something others over-interpret to mean that their economy would soon improve. […]

Employment, Wages, and the Fed

By |2017-07-17T12:23:03+00:00February 20th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Don’t put the cart before the horse! Source: Edublogs That’s what I thought when I heard that the Fed is targeting wages as an economic indicator. Over the past several years hourly earnings have been stagnant. Some say the Fed shouldn’t raise rates until household income improves. And since real wages haven’t moved, Fed policy should stay where it is. Only in the past couple years have wages begun to outpace inflation. […]

Go Code

By |2017-07-17T12:23:10+00:00December 12th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Looking for work? Source: Wikipedia One area of the job market growing exponentially is computer programming, or coding. And it isn’t just tech firms that are hiring. As firms automate processes from human resource management to marketing to product manufacturing, they need people to write and maintain the code that makes everything work. And cyber-security is every bit as important as physical security: a recent study showed 97% of all company networks have been hacked in some way. […]

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

By |2014-05-06T09:55:03+00:00May 6th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Why is the labor force shrinking? That’s not exactly right: the labor force isn’t getting smaller, but as a percentage of the population, it is. The economy’s labor force participation rate had been rising steeply through the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, rose more slowly in the ‘90s, and has been falling since 2000. Starting in ’08, it has been falling steeply. We now have the same percentage of our total population working as we had in the late ‘70s. Why? Part of it is [...]

Odd Jobs

By |2014-01-14T10:52:58+00:00January 14th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Was something wrong with the latest jobs report? On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly employment survey. Actually, they released data from two separate surveys: one of business establishments, and one of households. The establishment survey is less volatile. Each month the Bureau contacts about 145 thousand establishments representing 550 thousand worksites. About 50 million workers are in this sample. By contrast, the household survey canvases only 60 thousand households. The smaller sample size means the results are more variable, but [...]