Category Archives: Economy

Why Is the Public Suddenly Down on Unions? – The Bad Economy’s to Blame–Support Should Recover When the Economy Does

Source: David Madland and Karla Walter, Center for American Progress, July 2010

Americans have expressed generally positive attitudes toward unions for as long as pollsters have been asking, and for decades public approval of labor unions has hovered around 60 percent. But starting in 2009 public opinion toward labor unions dropped precipitously. Why?

Labor Day by the Numbers

Source: Anna Turner, Economic Policy Institute, Fact Sheet, September 3, 2010

– Jobs Needed To Regain Pre-Recession Employment Rate: 11 Million
– Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
– States With Double-Digit Unemployment In July 2010: 11
– Change In Productivity 2002-07: +11%; Change In Median Compensation 2002-07: -0.6%**
– Overall Social Security Benefit Cut From Current Retirement Age Increase (65 To 67): 13%
– Unemployment Rate For Youth (16-24): 18.1%
– Annualized Rate Of GDP Growth, 2nd Quarter, 2010: 1.6%

Note that all numbers are current as of September 3, 2010. States numbers are current as of August 20, 2010.

Nevada Goes Bust

Source: Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, published online September 2, 2010

Most analysts believe that Nevada is facing a shortfall of about $3.4 billion for the coming two-year budget cycle–meaning it does not have the revenues to fund about 50 percent of its current obligations. The state thus confronts a crossroads moment: find ways to stabilize and increase its tax base to at least partially plug these holes or face a rollback of government services unprecedented in the modern era. The Silver State is constitutionally required to balance its budget and prohibited from imposing a state income tax; it does not have a stable, across-the-board business tax and is being buffeted by increasingly strong anti-tax winds from the Tea Party movement. For all these reasons, a 50 percent revenue shortfall means the state would face the fiscal equivalent of a St. Valentine’s Day massacre: line up large state programs, have them face the wall, mow them down….The situation is so brutal, says Mary Lau, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Nevada, that without new taxes Nevada’s decision-makers could eliminate all spending not related to education or health and human services–including all funding for police, prisons, highway patrol and the like–and still be left with a budget deficit.

Colorado Springs’ Do-It-Yourself Government

Source: Zach Patton, Governing, September 2010

The citizens of Colorado Springs must decide how much they want from their government, and how much they’re willing to pay for it.

…Times are tough in the Springs, as veteran residents call it. Like cities throughout the country, this town has been hit hard by the recession. But its fiscal problems are especially severe. The city is famously right-wing, and property taxes here are some of the lowest in the nation — in 2008, the per capita property tax was about $55. City revenue instead comes mostly from local sales taxes. As a consequence, Colorado Springs is feeling the downturn’s effects faster and more sharply than other cities. At the close of 2009, the city found itself facing a nearly $40 million revenue gap for this year.

Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output From April 2010 Through June 2010

Source: Congressional Budget Office, August 2010

From the blog post:
Looking at recorded spending to date as well as estimates of the other effects of ARRA on spending and revenues, CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies on the economy and using various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy. On that basis, CBO estimates that in the second quarter of calendar year 2010, ARRA’s policies:

* Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
* Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
* Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
* Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)

Libraries Lose More Than Time – Hammered by budget cuts, some libraries must cut more than just hours

Source: Tod Newcombe, Governing, August 2010

Like so many other public-sector services caught up in this recession, libraries have seen demand for their services rise dramatically while budget cuts have forced them to make painful reductions in the very services the public wants. In particular, local governments are reducing operating hours. According to a recent study by the American Library Association (ALA), nearly one-quarter of urban libraries are reporting fewer hours in 2009, compared to a 15 percent reduction for libraries overall.

Recession hits workers’ paychecks

Source: Lawrence Mishel, Heidi Shierholz, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #277, August 31, 2010

From the summary:
Since the recession started in December 2007, a great deal of attention has been paid to the dramatic loss of jobs, decline in hiring, and the resulting high unemployment in the U.S. labor market. It is important to note, however, that the damaging effects of high unemployment are not just felt by the workers (and the families of workers) who have lost jobs. Workers who have kept their jobs or found new work during this downturn have also suffered from a broad-based collapse of wage growth over the last two years. And with unemployment expected to remain elevated for many years to come, we do not expect the suppression of wage growth to ease anytime soon.

Where the Jobs Are: A First Look at Private Industry Job Growth and Wages in 2010

Source: National Employment Law Project, Data Brief, August 27, 2010

While technically the Great Recession may have ended sometime in the second half of 2009, it is clear that the US economy is mired in a tepid recovery at best. Job growth is anemic and not nearly strong enough to make up for two years’ worth of job losses or move the needle on unemployment.

That said, over the past seven months the private sector has seen a net gain of 630,000 jobs, giving us the opportunity to take a first look at where the jobs are growing, and what types of opportunities they are providing to America’s workers – job seekers, new labor market entrants, and current job holders.

In this data brief, we use a unique synthesis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data to track private industry employment and wages from December 2007 (the start of the recession) through July 2010 (the most recent month of data available).