Friday, March 23, 2012

Is it True that Fewer People Are Filing for Unemployment Now?

Are more or fewer people filing for unemployment now than last year or the year before?

The number of people getting laid off has continued to go down, down, down.

This chart shows the average number of first time unemployment claims (in thousands) for four weeks, ending with the third week of March, for the last six years.      
  • These are the seasonally adjusted numbers of first time unemployment claims.  First time unemployment claims are people who have just been laid off and are filing new claims for unemployment.
  • The number of initial claims was taken from THIS Department of Labor chart.  I averaged the seasonally adjusted number of initial claims for the last week of February and the first three weeks of March for the past six years.
  • The chart shows that we are now on a par with the number of claims in late February/early March 2008.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Romney's Dog Seamus Is on the Front Page Again!

Rusty from Dogs Against Romney says "Woof!"
Romney's Dog, Seamus, has made the front page again. 

 This time, the front page of the Washington Post.  (Our friends at Dogs Against Romney also got a mention.)


Is this an important story or just a distraction? 

A Democratic strategist quoted in the article says:  
“It’s a signifier,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said. “There are certain events that happen over the course of someone’s life that play into a larger story line and feed into a caricature. Seamus the dog story just plays into a negative story line about a guy who you may not completely trust.” 
Meanwhile, a Republican advisor dismisses the importance of the dog-on-the-roof  story:
 “For crying out loud, with 8.3 percent unemployment, if the dog defeats you, you deserve to be defeated,” said the adviser, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “Come on. You’ve got to run a good campaign to overcome that. President Obama overcame Reverend Wright and Bill Ayres.”
Except that Obama didn't strap either Wright or Ayres to the roof of a car.. and both of those issues were blown up/made up by the right wing to discredit Obama.  And the Romney campaign, with Romney's history of laying off people as part of his management of Bain capital and Massachusett's record of 47th in job growth during Mitt's tenure, shouldn't be mentioning unemployment... I guess they figure that the Democrats and the population at large won't remember those little things.

I continue to believe that strapping a kennel to the roof of a car for a 12 hour ride is inhumane; continuing the ride after the dog made its distress known by defecating in the kennel is unconscionable.

The Washington Post story did contain additional information about the fate of Seamus.  This article claims that the dog lived out his life in California with Romney's sister.   

In the meantime, Dogs against Romney continues to add to its line of T-shirts for sale.  This picture is available on a background of light blue, tie-dye blue, or black:  Click at the link for this and more.  


Monday, March 12, 2012

Real Job Growth? Or Just People Leaving the Labor Force?

Is there really any job growth or are people merely leaving the labor force because they are discouraged and disgruntled?


I write quite a bit about employment numbers; I read most BLS publications and I pretty much know what the stuff means and I pretty much know how the BLS comes up with its numbers.  I've always liked numbers, statistics, and spreadsheets so that helps as well.

Anyway, I'm very happy to help out anyone who doesn't know what they are looking at, and I'm happy to correct anyone who is interpreting things wrongly.  

Which brings me to tonight.  I found a blog I have never seen before which contained a recently published article on jobs and unemployment.  The title of the article was "February Unemployment Rate Unchanged:  Should We Even Pay Attention?"  The writer was clearly confused about what the BLS numbers show, how the BLS calculates its numbers, and, as a result, he was skeptical that the BLS numbers show anything.  

The article was somewhat long and brought up many concerns and questions about BLS numbers, so I decided to take on those questions one at a time.  And I decided I would share my reply (replies) here as well, as I know that many people have the same questions and concerns as the blogger.  

So here are his first couple of paragraphs and my reply to him... just about that first paragraph:    

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) February, 2012 Employment Situation report is out. The “official” measure of the nation’s unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.3%. You can read it here. Now the blogosphere will delve into the numbers and issue their interpretations as to their meaning. We’ve witnessed the generally steady decline in the unemployment rate for months now and the statistics have revealed the reason for the drop has been those dropping out of the labor force and no longer counted rather than actual job creation. (Italics mine)

The February 2012 report is different from the recent pattern. The January 2012 report showed that 1.177 million people were added to the “not in labor force” category. The February 2012 report shows a decrease of 310,000 in the same category. That’s quite a turnaround. Let’s look closer.
Let's stop there for now.  I'll get back to his second paragraph and other six paragraphs later over the next few days.

I just addressed his comment (which I italicized) about whether or not job growth is "real".  I commented to his article:

Hi, Spellcheck, I just came upon your blog today and I'm going to see if I can help you out a bit.   I write a blog that concentrates on employment numbers, and I try to explain these things as simply as I can.  First of all, I would suggest that, as you don't quite understand the data, you refrain from making any decisions as to the validity of BLS/Census data until you understand what you are looking at.  

I'm just going to take the items that you've discussed one at a time and I'm going to see if I can help you out.

So here's your first statement:

"We’ve witnessed the generally steady decline in the unemployment rate for months now and the statistics have revealed the reason for the drop has been those dropping out of the labor force and no longer counted rather than actual job creation." 

May I ask you what statistics have revealed this and where they are?  

First of all, you are right that the number of people "not in the labor force" is going up, but there is real ongoing job growth.  

The BLS establishment report  (not the CPS population report which is the report that shows the unemployment rate) comes from reports from employers, both public and private.  It shows us that private employers have created 3,939,000 jobs in seasonally adjusted numbers over the past two years.  The independent ADP report which surveys private employers also comes up with an estimate of the number of private jobs added in seasonally adjusted numbers over the past two years.  Their number is 3,502,000. ADP's report for February can be found HERE.  It contains a graph which correlates the ADP job estimates with the BLS estimates, and, considering the size of the population, their numbers are surprisingly close.  Remember these two organizations use different data sources, even though both have a "sample" and apply various statistical techniques to that sample to get their numbers. 

The low number of private jobs as reported by BLS in early 2010 was 106,773,000; the low number of private jobs reported by ADP was 106,747,000.  BLS now estimates 110,711,000 and ADP now estimates 110,249,000 private sector jobs.  I'd bet on BLS as these numbers are revised over the coming months as more specific data is available.  I can explain those revisions as well if you like.

So, yes, two separate sources, one from the big bad old guv'ment and one from private-sector payroll processor ADP, both estimate that we have added millions of jobs in the past two years. 

People leaving the labor force (or just bad estimates that are readjusted) or not, we are adding many, many jobs.  

Anyway, that's just a start.  

You sound like an intelligent person, so I'll be happy to come back and explain more.  

Next (tomorrow or the next day) I will address his second issue, which relates to the huge number of people supposedly dropping out of the labor force in January.  (No, they didn't.)  

More Jobs but the Unemployment Rate Stayed the Same?

If We Have More Jobs, how can the Unemployment Rate Stay the Same?  Can It Actually Go Up?


How did that happen?

Several people have not understood this, so I thought I'd explain it.

First of all, the jobs numbers come from a different source than the report that gives us the unemployment rate.  Over time, these two sources are very close, but in any one month, one may be up and the other down or vice versa.

Actually in February, both the number of jobs went up and the number of people who report themselves as employed.  But that's not why the unemployment rate remained the same:

The Unemployment Rate is a Fraction. 

If you recall, a fraction has a denominator, the bigger number on the bottom, and a numerator, the smaller number on top.  The unemployment rate is still at 8.3% (8.3  over 100) even with more people working because the civilian labor force (the denominator in the unemployment equation) also got larger.  About 470,000 people ENTERED the civilian labor force by either working or looking for work. About 430,000 MORE people reported themselves as working in February and about 50,000 MORE people reported themselves as unemployed (which means that they are actively looking for work). The numerator in the unemployed equation is the number of unemployed. 

So if you have a fraction and both the numerator and the denominator increase, the fraction may well stay the same.. or even increase.

Again, remember that the jobs number comes from a different source than the employment/unemployment numbers.  Also, the seasonal adjustment factors appear to be different for the jobs numbers (CES) vs. the employment numbers (CPS).  As I said above, in any given month, the number of people employed can go up while the number of jobs can go down, so comparing one month to the next doesn't necessarily tell you that much.  But over time, the increase (or decrease) in jobs is very close to the increase (or decrease) in the number of people employed.  But for any given month, the number of employed can go down while the number of jobs goes up.  This might also create a situation in which the unemployment rate goes up while the number of jobs also goes up.   


January:
12,758,000 (the active unemployed) divided by 154,395,000 (the civilian labor force, which is composed of the unemployed plus the employed.) equals:  8.26% or 8.3%  
February:
12,806,000 (the active unemployed) divided by 154,871,000 (the civilian labor force) equals:  8.27% or 8.3% 

How Many Jobs Were Created in February 2012?

227,000 new jobs were created in the month of February 2012.

The private sector generated 233,000 new jobs, but the government sector continued to shed jobs, 6,000 jobs, in February 2012.


428,000 more people reported themselves as working in February 2012.



The unemployment rate remained stable at 8.3%, as people entered the labor force in February.  The unemployment rate exceeded or equaled 9.0% for 8 months in 2011, but has now been below 9.0% for 5 months in a row.  The last time that the unemployment rate was below 8.5% was January 2009.  Despite a significant increase in the number of people reporting themselves as working, the unemployment rate stayed the same because of the increase in the size of the civilian labor force due to people who began looking for work.

Private & Government Jobs Gained and Lost under Obama (February 2012 update)

How many jobs (total, private, and government) have been lost or gained since Obama was inaugurated?  
  • 4,319,000 jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST in TOTAL from the time Obama took office until the "trough" of the recession in early 2010.  That's a decrease of 3.2%. 
  • 3,453,000 jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were CREATED from the "trough" of the recession until now, February 2012.  That's an increase of 2.67%.
  • In total, 866,000  jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the time Obama took office until now, February 2012.  That's a decrease of 0.65%. 
  • We have experienced 17 months WITHOUT job losses since September 2010.  We have ADDED 2,812,000 jobs during those 17 months. 
  • We now have 132,697,000 TOTAL non-farm jobs.  


How many PRIVATE sector jobs have been lost or gained since Obama was elected?
  • 4,209,000 private-sector jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the time Obama took office until the "trough" of the recession in early 2010.  That's a decrease of 3.8%.
  • 3,939,000 private-sector jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were GAINED OR CREATED from the "trough" of the recession until now, January 2012.  That's an increase of 3.69%.
  • In total, 270,000 private sector jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the time Obama took office until now, February 2012.  That's a net decrease of 0.24%. 
  • We have experienced 24 months of positive private-sector job GROWTH from February 2010 until February 2012.  We have added 3,663,000 private-sector jobs during those 24 months.    
  • We now have 110,711,000 PRIVATE sector non-farm jobs.

How many GOVERNMENT jobs have been lost or gained since Obama was elected?
  • 108,000 government jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the time Obama took office until the "trough" of the recession in early 2010.  That's a decrease of  .47%  (about half of a percent). 
  • Another 488,000 government jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the "trough" of the recession until now, February 2012.  That's a decrease of 2.17%.
  • In total, 596,000 government jobs (in seasonally adjusted numbers) were LOST from the time Obama took office until now, February 2012.  That's a decrease of 2.64%. 
  • We have experienced decreases in the number of government jobs in 19 out of the last 21 months, starting in June 2010, when the layoff of 2010 Census workers began.  
  • We now have 21,986,000 GOVERNMENT non-farm jobs, not including people in the military.  (Civilians working for the military are counted.)
(Note:  Current numbers taken from the January Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report.  Historical numbers taken from various archived Employment Situation reports as indexed HERE. Specifics will be provided upon request; please email me or leave a comment.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

How Many Jobs Has Obama Created or Lost? (February 2012 update)


The following numbers are as of February 2012.  For current numbers, please click one of the links above.



How many jobs have been created under Obama?  
3,453,000 gained since "trough" of recession.


How many private jobs have been created under Obama?
3,939,000 gained since the "trough" of the recession.



How many jobs have been lost or gained during the Obama administration?  Have more new jobs been created or have more jobs been lost under Obama to date?   


Summary:  We are still in negative territory in terms of jobs numbers since Obama took office.  We still have 866,000 FEWER jobs now than when Obama was inaugurated and 270,000 FEWER jobs in the private sector than when Obama was inaugurated.


However, we are now adding jobs at a fair clip, with an average of 168,000 MORE jobs  total added per month since December 2010, and an average of  187,000 MORE jobs added per month in the private sector since December 2010.

Here's a summary of data from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  All numbers lost to the "trough" of the recession reflect ALL non-farm jobs lost between the time Obama took office and the lowest point of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 :
(Note:  All of the jobs numbers are NET numbers.  In other words, we know that jobs are lost and added every month, in good years and in bad.  The numbers reported here, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, are "net" numbers; that is, the number of jobs gained after the number of jobs lost is subtracted, or the number of jobs lost after the number of jobs gained is added.)  
Seasonally adjusted:
  • All jobs lost from the time Obama took office to "trough" (bottom of recession): .....4,317,000
  • All jobs gained since "trough": ....3,453,000
Net LOSS in seasonally-adjusted jobs since Obama took office: .... 866,000                     

What Was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office? (February 2012 update)


The following numbers are from February 2012.  For current reports, please click one of the links above.

What was the unemployment rate when Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated?
7.8%


How high did it go?  10.0% 
What is today's (February 2012's) unemployment rate?   8.3%

How many people were looking for work when Obama was inaugurated, how many were working?  And how many people are looking for work and how many are employed now?   Keep reading!


 Current jobs numbers and reports available HERE!!

The following numbers are from February 2012.  For current reports, please click the link above.


February 2012 Jobs Report & Summary

February 2012 Jobs Numbers have been released:  
  • Economy adds 227,000 jobs in February.
  • Private employers add 233,000 jobs in February.
  • Unemployment rate stable at 8.3% as over 400,000 enter the labor force and find work.  
  • Underemployment rate drops to 14.9% from 15.1%.
  • Number of people working part-time who want full-time work drops by 111,000.
  • Number of full-time workers increases by 563,000.
Check This Link for Updates as They Are Published

More updates Monday, March 12; state numbers for January 2012 and JOLTS (Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey) will be released Tuesday, March 13.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Has Hurt You, Me, and the United States

"Rush Limbaugh is just entertainment.  He uses absurd examples to be funny", writes a friend.

Update May 8, 2015:  I wrote this column three years ago, but I can't find reason to change one word.  Rush is still hateful, still outrageous, and still destructive to this country.  I do think that he says much of what he says for ratings and listeners, but that doesn't mean that he isn't harming this country every time he is on the air.  

"I don't agree with Rush Limbaugh, so I don't listen to him.  The answer is simple:  If you don't agree with him, don't listen to him."

Hmmm.... I don't think so.....

I don't listen to the guy either.  I used to listen to him from time to time,  but he was too negative, too revolting.  I haven't tuned into him for several years now. 

But even though I don't listen to him, Rush is important.  He's important to all of us..to all of us who care about our futures or about the future of this country.  

Whether you lean Republican or Democrat, whether you listen to Rush or have never tuned your dial to him in your life, this man has hurt you and he has hurt me.  


He is one of the reasons why this country is so polarized and why the rhetoric is so mean and so divisive.  He is one of the reasons why it is so hard to listen to each other and hear the other side. He doesn't just discuss issues; he twists things, he libels, he verbally assaults people.  His attacks on President and Mrs. Obama are outrageous and full of half truths and innuendo; and many millions of his listeners, many millions of our fellow citizens and voters, can only see the world through the filter of a man whose intent is to obfuscate and slant the truth in the pursuit of bundles of cash. 

We've Changed Since 1988...

He engages in legal lying;  He legally spews garbage over the airways.  He pollutes our public discourse and hinders our ability to come together and figure out what is best for our country.  He appeals to the basest traits in the electorate.  Is there anybody out there who doesn't see that the political realm in our country has become more hostile and less constructive since 1988 when Limbaugh first took to the airwaves?   

You May Not Listen to the Guy.. But What About Your Neighbor?

Whether or not we listen to the guy, we are all hurt by what he says because our neighbor in the next house may be listening to him.  That gentleman next door who is an avid Rush listener may become increasingly polarized and may increasingly begin to take and endorse positions that are contrary to what is healthy for him and for all of us... positions based on deception, fabrication, and stereotypes. 


For Rush has, over the last 25 years, managed to tap into the frustration of a whole segment of the population who ARE being harmed by the relentless concentration of wealth and income inequality:  But he turns that frustration around and funnels it back against people and political parties who might help those frustrated people! He is a big reason why this country is going backwards instead of moving forward. He has convinced his audience that the problem isn't the concentration of wealth and decreasing opportunity for the middle and working classes.. but instead the problem is black people, women, immigrants, unions, gay people, and Democrats.  Anyone who might need help from time to time is an enemy according to Rush and his minions.  Anyone who might help to get our country back on track is an enemy according to Rush and his minions.


We are in danger of becoming a third world country, and much of this is due to Rush. 

Unfortunately, too many people either lack the time or are too intellectually lazy to research or investigate the various issues and determine what is the truth.  And others, as I mentioned above, are very frustrated and can't see the Truth. Quite frankly, it says really disturbing things about the American public that people listen to this man and believe and support him. 

As a friend said: 
People have become too willing to accept bullshit as angel-food cake because some clown on the radio screams that it's so. 
If you ignore him, are you complicit?

Many of us who disagree with Rush have just ignored him.  We have let him get away with rhetoric that is absolutely outrageous, and that may even make us complicit in this mess-- just a little. 
 

So, yes, we can and should not listen to the guy.. but, listen or not, his negativity influences all of us and we should not continue to ignore the lies and the slander.  He's hurt you; he's hurt me; he's hurt our children. Nobody in this country can escape his influence.  
(I just came across this blog with excellent commentary about the recent events concerning Limbaugh.  As I said, I haven't listened to Rush at all for several years now. But based on some of the comments  related in this blog, it is clear that Rush has consistently and regularly crossed the line of public decency, particularly regarding women.   If you remember Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke, MediaMatters listed every last slur that Rush visited upon this young lady.  It was worse than I thought.  Please read for yourself HERE.) 
For Your Reading Pleasure:

The Restricted Buildings Act: A New Affront To Our Freedoms?

The Restricted Buildings Act (sometimes called the Trespass Act) is intended to provide protection to the President, the Vice President, and other people protected by the Secret Service (such as presidential candidates).  It was first enacted in 1992 to keep the President and others protected by the Secret Service safe.  Some modifications were recently passed by Congress.  Some people believe these modifications are onerous, as though they are taking away your rights to protest.  More about those modifications below.

Photo from the ACLU blog






(Updates and links at the bottom of this article.)









What kind of protest does the First Amendment protect?  

First of all, the First Amendment has never granted anyone an unrestricted right to protest. The first amendment uses the word "peaceably": 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people PEACEABLY to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Bill 347 and the bill that it modifies, Section 1752 of Title 18, use the words "obstruct" and outlaws people when they "knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engage(s) in disorderly or disruptive conduct".

Please note that the kinds of protest that this bill outlaws have never been "protected", please also know that, over the course of years, the freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment have never been considered absolute. 

Here's some wording to ponder:
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons—

(1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting;

(2) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance;

(3) willfully, knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, to engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any building or grounds described in paragraph (1) or (2) when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;

(4) willfully and knowingly to obstruct or impede ingress or egress to or from any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2); or

(5) willfully and knowingly to engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2).


Now the law I just posted above is the OLD LAW.  It has been in effect since 1992.  If you feel that a law with such wording is an affront to the first amendment, be aware that it has been like that for twenty years.  


Here is the changed law-- Read through it yourself; it is not long.
‘§ 1752. Restricted building or grounds ‘‘(a) Whoever— ‘‘
(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; ‘‘ 
(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; 
(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or ‘‘ 
(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds; or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).  
‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is— ‘‘ 
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if— ‘‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or ‘‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and ‘‘ 
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case. ‘‘ 
(c) In this section— H. R. 347—2 ‘‘ 
(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area— ‘‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; ‘‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or ‘‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and  
‘(2) the term ‘other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.’’. 



And here's the law as it previously existed: 
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons—(1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting;
(2) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance;
(3) willfully, knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, to engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any building or grounds described in paragraph (1) or (2) when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
(4) willfully and knowingly to obstruct or impede ingress or egress to or from any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2); or
(5) willfully and knowingly to engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2).
(b) Violation of this section, and attempts or conspiracies to commit such violations, shall be punishable by—
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118 (e)(3); and
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
(c) Violation of this section, and attempts or conspiracies to commit such violations, shall be prosecuted by the United States attorney in the Federal district court having jurisdiction of the place where the offense occurred.
(d) None of the laws of the United States or of the several States and the District of Columbia shall be superseded by this section.
(e) As used in this section, the term “other person protected by the Secret Service” means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section3056 of this title when such person has not declined
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1752

(The following section was added 3/8/2012:)
"Willfully and knowingly" vs. just "Knowingly"


As you can see from the wording above, the big difference between the old and new laws is the deletion of the word "willfully".  "Knowingly" apparently is an easier legal standard to meet than "willfully and knowingly".  In other words, you can be found to "knowingly" be guilty of some kind of crime even if you have not "willfully" done something.

There is much discussion as to whether or not, however, this change is enough to make the new version of the bill much more onerous than the old version of the bill.

The wording of the revision uses the word "knowingly" repeatedly. It says (among other things) "Whoever (1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so" 


More on this tomorrow....


Other than that, compare the two bills side by side:

The only real change is that the White House and the Vice President's house are specifically listed as "restricted buildings or grounds". The prior wording of the bill was vague as to whether or not those buildings were protected when the President and Vice President were not in them at the time.  Also harsher penalties are imposed for people using a deadly weapon or a firearm or causing significant bodily injury.  The punishments were not specified or differentiated in the old bill.

Old law: 

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons—(1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting;
New Law:
‘‘(a) Whoever—
‘‘(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
Old Law:
(2) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance;
New Law: 

‘‘(1) the term ‘restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area—
‘‘(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds;
‘‘(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
‘‘(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; 
Old Law:
(3) willfully, knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, to engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any building or grounds described in paragraph (1) or (2) when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;

New Law:

(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; 
Old Law:
(4) willfully and knowingly to obstruct or impede ingress or egress to or from any building, grounds, or area described in paragraph (1) or (2); or
New Law:  
‘‘(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds;

Old Law:  
 (c) Violation of this section, and attempts or conspiracies to commit such violations, shall be prosecuted by the United States attorney in the Federal district court having jurisdiction of the place where the offense occurred.
New Law:

‘‘(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is—
‘‘(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if—
‘‘(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm;
or
‘‘(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
‘‘(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case. 
(The following was added 3/8/2012:)
 
Protests and Petitions about HR 347:

Many Petitions have been circulated about this amendment asking the President to veto it.  Here is one such petition:


This petition is a reaction to H.R.347, a bill passed by the House of Representatives that makes it a federal crime to protest in an area where someone who is being protected by the secret service is present. Doesn't the president only get secret service protection you may ask? No, just recently Rick Santorum was granted that same protection. This bill will make protesting against our government a FEDERAL crime and completely undermines our First Amendment. The right to freely assemble is one of the most important rights you have as a US citizen, don't let it slip away. 

Here are a few things to consider when looking at this law and the petition:

1.  It already IS a federal crime to protest in an area where someone who is being protected by the secret service is present.  The question now is whether or not the omission of the word "willingly" means that it will be more or less easy to be found guilty under this law.  However, review the wording of the current law.  If you think that makes protesting against the government a federal crime, please be aware that it has been so for 20 years. 

2.  Presidential candidates have been granted secret service protection for decades.  This is nothing new.

3.  There are no absolutes in the first amendment, and the first amendment makes it clear that "peaceable" assembly is protected.  This law is aimed at "obstruction", "intending to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of government".

4.  Remember again that the Constitution trumps all federal laws.  The Congress CANNOT pass a law the overturns the Constitution.  Any such law will be challenged in the courts, and, if found to be in violation of the Constitution, it will be overturned.  


The ACLU has published the best interpretation of this law, with this comment:
Any time the government lowers the intent requirement, it makes it easier for a prosecutor to prove her case, and it gives law enforcement more discretion when enforcing the law. To be sure, this is of concern to the ACLU. We will monitor the implementation of H.R. 347 for any abuse or misuse.Also, while H.R. 347, on its own, is only of incremental importance, it could be misused as part of a larger move by the Secret Service and others to suppress lawful protest by relegating it to particular locations at a public event. These "free speech zones" are frequently used to target certain viewpoints or to keep protesters away from the cameras. Although H.R. 347 doesn't directly address free speech zones, it is part of the set of laws that make this conduct possible, and should be seen in this context.
Rest assured we'll be keeping an eye on how this law will be interpreted and used by law enforcement — especially in light of the coming elections.
Update 4/27/2012:


Here's an update from the ACLU  in light of the Occupy season:
So, what does this mean for lawful protesters? The honest answer is we simply don't know yet. These zones will hopefully occupy (no pun intended) a very small footprint at the three types of locations covered by the law. Also, these areas must be clearly identified to prevent protesters from inadvertently violating the law (or else they can't form the required intent). That said, the provision covering disruptions in or near the secure zones is of concern and could be misused to stifle lawful protest; same with the entrance/exit provision. These were already in the law, but the "knowingly" change could make them easier to abuse.
So far, we haven't seen any evidence that H.R. 347 specifically is being ployed aggressively by the Secret Service to tamp down on protests by Occupy or anyone else. That said, with the coming of spring 2012 and the November election, protest activity is undoubtedly going to grow rapidly. We'll be vigilant at the ACLU for any abuse, misuse or overuse, and we urge anyone who knows of any arrests or prosecutions under the new law to let us know.

Update 10/21/2012:
Factcheck published an article in May which I just came across:  Obama criminalized free speech?