Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Job Estimates to Get Back to Nov. 2007 Unemployment

Do We Need a Federal Jobs Program?
Frank Stricker

How much do we need to increase total American jobs in 2010-2015 just to get back to the November of 2007 employment level?

1. Decline in Total Jobs in 2008-2009

8 million

2. Jobs not added in 2008-2009 to accommodate labor force growth of 1.5 million a year:

3 million

3. Jobs needed in 2010-2015 for labor force growth of 1.3 million a year:

7.8 million


4. 18.8 million, or 3.1 million per year additional jobs needed to get us back to November of 2007 (5% official unemployment) by December, 2015

How have we done recently without much direct government job creation?

5. Annual job increase during strong Clinton boom (1993-2001):

2.3 million

6. Annual job increase during weak Bush boom (2001-2007):

1.3 million

A Clinton job boom would leave us 5 million jobs short of 2007 rates. A Bush recovery would fall 11 million jobs short. Without federal action, we probably will not even match the Bush record. Economists predict that unemployment will rise for another year


1. BLS numbers (CPS/Household) on total jobs, from November 2007 through September of 2009. Result is a decline of 7.8 million. After we count October, November, and December, the total will surpass 8 million.

2. “Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population, 1940 to date,” BLS.Gov, accessed on October 27, 2009. I subtracted the average labor force total for 2000 from the average for 2007 and divided by 7. The result was an average labor force growth of 1.5 million.

3. James W. Hughes and Joseph J. Seneca, “America’s New Post-Recession Employment Arithmetic,” Advance & Rutgers Report, September 2009, p. 3 and Figure 3.

5. and 6. BLS numbers (CPS/Household). Annual average job growth for Clinton over January 1993-December, 2000; for Bush, January 2001-November 2007.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Earning a Living Without Losing Your Life

A Decent Job Allows You to Earn a Living Without Losing Your Life

What's a decent job? posed that question to participants in a Paris demonstration last Wednesday that took place near the headquarters of the Medef - the French employers' association. Philippe Brochen, Libération, 07 October 2009

Between 3,000 and 6,000 people assembled last Wednesday afternoon near the Medef headquarters on Avenue Bosquet in Paris (VIIe) in the framework of the International and Interprofessional Day for the Defense of "Decent Work." It provided an opportunity to ask these demonstrators what, in their view, that demand corresponds to.

Elisabeth, 49 years old, France Télécom employee

"A decent job is a reasonable job, that is, one without unacceptable pressure, with standard hours, 35 or 38 hours a week ...."

André, 79 years old, a retiree from the SNCF [railroad]

"A decent job is one that allows you to earn your living respectably, without losing or destroying your life."

Louisa, 18 years old, high school student

"A decent job is one that pays a living wage. That's what's essential first of all, but it should also allow for personal fulfillment and development. .... It's also a job that's not precarious and where one is not in danger of being fired from one day to the next. It's a job with a reasonable schedule, reasonable, that is, with respect to one's personal, and especially, one's family situation. Individuals must not be taken for machines ..."

Marise, 56 years old, a hospital official

"A decent job means that one has the resources to do a good job, to be available for others and to earn a respectable living. At present, a nurse just starting out earns 1.400 euros net per month. Do you find that right, given the hours and responsibilities involved?"
Bernard, 65 years old, banking company retiree

"A decent job is one that contributes to personal development and the construction of a better world."

Catherine, 33 years old, a City of Paris agent for local development

"A decent job earns minimally 1,600 euros net. It's also a secure job that offers the potential for further training, and for taking initiative as well as the means to defend oneself when pressure is exerted."

Saïdou, 30 years old, a plumber and native of Mali who arrived in France when he was 21 years old, who holds a residence permit

"I have a decent job. I progress from one day to the next. I learn. I'm well paid. My plan is to gain enough experience and financial support to start my own business. I just have to be patient ..."

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Friday, October 9, 2009

EPI Survey Finds Broad Support for Federal Jobs Program

From October 8 - Economic Policy Institute (EPI) News - see links to papers and audio from September 30 conference in Washington DC. Thanks to Frank Stricker for bringing to our attention.

A groundswell of support for federal action on jobs creation

The Labor Department earlier this month reported an official unemployment rate for September of 9.8%, suggesting that about one in 10 American workers is out of work. But even that figure, the highest unemployment rate in a generation, masks the extent to which joblessness has devastated American families.

An analysis of the latest jobs data by EPI economist Heidi Shierholz found that September marked the 21st consecutive month of job loss, making this the longest losing streak in 70 years, and costing the country 7.2 million jobs so far. Considering the additional jobs needed to keep up with population growth, the country now needs 9.9 million jobs to return to a pre-recession level of employment.

Recession is personal for one in four Americans

On September 30, EPI released a new survey showing that almost one in four families have suffered a job loss over the past year, and 44% have suffered either the loss of a job or a reduction in wages.

The survey, Tracking the Recovery: Voters' Views on the Recession, Jobs, and the Deficit, was conducted for EPI by Hart Research Associates, which polled 802 registered voters in mid-September. Asked to name the most important economic problem facing the country, 53% of those surveyed listed unemployment and a lack of jobs, compared with 27% who cited the federal budget deficit. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed-81%-said the Obama administration has still not done enough to deal with the unemployment crisis. Some 87% of voters said they support a major job creation credit for U.S. businesses and 71% support putting unemployed people to work at government-funded public service jobs.

Making new jobs creation a priority

Also on September 30, EPI hosted Generating a Robust Recovery, where a panel of economists and lawmakers elaborated on the need to do more to create jobs and strengthen the social safety net. In a keynote address, Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Congresswoman from Connecticut, said the widespread job loss and mounting poverty levels had left the country at risk of having "a lost generation of American children."

Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the Tracking the Recovery survey, also pointed to a disconnect between Washington, where many policy makers continue to see deficit reduction as the top economic priority, and ordinary people throughout the country, who want more jobs. Considering the staggering level of job loss, Garin said he found it "inconceivable" that lawmakers would make fixing the budget deficit a priority "without first getting people back to work."

Krugman makes the case for more public investment

Other speakers at EPI's conference offered some perspective on the federal deficit, in the context of the need for more public investment from the federal government. "The idea that there is a tradeoff between doing more today and having more later is not true," said Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist.

Krugman argued that investments made today to help create jobs and strengthen the social safety net would be good for the economy both now and in the future. Although he said that the $787 billion Recovery Act passed earlier this year had succeeded in creating new jobs and preventing the loss of others, Krugman stressed that the stimulus package was not large enough to deal with such a steep downturn.

While the $787 billion of stimulus spending may have seemed like a massive amount when the Recovery Act was passed earlier this year, many economists, including Krugman, believe it was insufficient. "We did somewhere between a third and a fifth of what we needed to do," said J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, who also spoke on the panel at EPI. That estimate was consistent with other findings in the Tracking the Recovery survey. While most of those surveyed seemed to appreciate that the Recovery Act had provided some needed assistance, two-thirds of those surveyed said that it had helped a little, rather than a lot.

The panel, which was moderated by Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein, also featured EPI Research and Policy Director John Irons, who offered more insight on the cost of doing nothing. Irons' latest paper, Economic Scarring, outlines some of the long-term consequences of even short-lived recessions, including increased poverty and reduced educational attainment, private investment, and entrepreneurial activity.

Generating a Robust Recovery [event]
By John Irons September 30, 2009

Officially, the Great Recession may be coming to an end, but it will leave in its wake historically high unemployment and a host of other serious economic problems. How will policy-makers promote a robust, employment-led recovery that will lay the foundation for strong, long-term growth? Meeting this challenge requires both the will to continue investing in families hard hit by the recession despite growing budget deficits and the skill in crafting the right mix of policies to ensure that this recovery -- unlike the last one -- will bring significant numbers of new jobs and rising living standards along with it.

On September 30, 2009, the Economic Policy Institute hosted a discussion of these issues with noted experts in this exciting forum.

Keynote speakers:

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Congresswoman, 3rd District of Connecticut
Geoffrey Garin, President, Hart Reasearch Associates


J. Bradford DeLong, Professor, UC Berkeley; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
John Irons, Research and Policy Director, Economic Policy Institute
Paul Krugman, Columnist, New York Times; Professor, Princeton University and Nobel Laureate

Steven Pearlstein, Business Columnist, The Washington Post

Review materials from this event:
*Video from this event will be posted soon

Listen to an audio recording of this event: [listen/streaming] [download MP3]

View slideshows from presenters:
John Irons
J. Bradford DeLong
Geoffrey Garin

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Economic Bill of Rights

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1/11/44 message to Congress is featured in rare video footage shown in Capitalism: A Love Story, the new documentary film by Michael Moore. The attached YouTube video contains the audio from the speech, but somehow Moore got the original video to include in his film.

Franklin D. Roosevelt -“The Economic Bill of Rights”
Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Unio

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

source: The Public Papers & Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Samuel Rosenman, ed.), Vol XIII (NY: Harper, 1950), 40-42, cited at

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

The truth about jobs that no one wants to tell

The truth about jobs that no one wants to tell

If the feds don't spend money to put people back to work, the economy won't recover and politics will get uglier

By Robert Reich
Salon, Oct. 2, 2009

"...Let me say this as clearly and forcefully as I can: The federal government should be spending even more than it already is on roads and bridges and schools and parks and everything else we need. It should make up for cutbacks at the state level, and then some. This is the only way to put Americans back to work. We did it during the Depression. It was called the WPA."

"Yes, I know. Our government is already deep in debt. But let me tell you something: When one out of six Americans is unemployed or underemployed, this is no time to worry about the debt..."

Read rest of article

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Film about Federal Writers Project of the WPA

Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story,” a documentary about the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) premiered on the Smithsonian Channel on September 6.

As literary and arts organizations struggle for survival around the US, and 15 million workers are unemployed, this is a great time to consider whether new artistic and cultural programs such as the Federal Writers Project could be established, reinvigorated and expanded to create jobs and enrich lives around the U.S.

From the Smithsonian Channel web site:

"The Federal Writers Project was one of four arts programs under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Project employed thousands of unemployed writers, including Richard Wright, Saul Bellow and John Cheever, to fan out across America, interview its citizens, and produce a portrait of the USA from the ground up in a series of state travel guides. They captured a unique portrait of 1930’s Americana."

"But what began as a program to create guidebooks for every state ended up igniting a storm of controversy when writers sought out not only the triumphs of America, but also its tragedies. At its peak, the Project employed over 6,600 people in all 48 states. They included a handful of published authors, old newspaper reporters, former school teachers and others. Two of its better-known workers, Studs Terkel (in one of his last interviews before passing away in October 2008) and Stetson Kennedy, are interviewed for the documentary. In addition to Kennedy and Terkel, the documentary features interviews with a diverse group of leading authors, poets, and historians, including Douglas Brinkley and David Bradley, who provide witty and heartbreaking insights into the Project. "

More info from Smithsonian Channel web site. Local events relating to the film and the Federal Writers Project are planned at libraries and other places around the US.

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Workers of the World, Relax!

Here's an interesting video from the Work Less Party of British Columbia which is promoting a 32 hour work week.

Key Slogans: "Workers of the World Relax," and "Alarm Clocks Kill Dreams,"

"It ...seems that the ecologically necessary is politically unfeasible, but the politically feasible is ecologically irrelevant." - Prof. Bill Rees, University of British Columbia

See more segments of the film at Workers of the World Relax

Re: shortened work hours, see also Kellogg's Six Hour Day, by Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt

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WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.