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Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Labor Day! A Tribute To My Dad, Union Man, and To Workers All Over the World!

What would the 50's and 60's have been like without the unions?  For those of us who grew up in the 50's and 60's, what would our lives have been like without the unions?

My Dad was a veteran and a union man -- from an immigrant family.    

From Free Great Images-- Labor Day 2014

(Updated for Labor Day 2015, September 7, 2015)

My Dad wasn't an activist; he wasn't a union steward; he just worked in a union shop for about 33 years.

Dad was a bright guy, born here in the United States, but he came from a dirt poor immigrant family and never finished high school. The house he lived in as a kid was still standing when we were little and we would occasionally ride past it. We couldn't believe that Dad had lived in a ...shack!  

Dad struggled as an adolescent in the late 30's, taking odd jobs, and trying to get enough cash together to take a few courses in car or truck repair.  He went into the Army Air Force in WWII, married my Mom, got out of the service, worked this job and that.  
He was a self-taught man.  In these days of degrees, advanced degrees, and specialized certificates someone like my dad might go nowhere.

The garage and his workshop in the basement were filled with every kind of tool imaginable, pieces of wood, metal, odds and ends that he picked up.  
He could fix anything, and, for a while when we were really little, he fixed cars out of the garage and also did some electrical work for pay.  He did less of that after he got a solid union job in the mid 50's.  He was then content to spend his weekends keeping our home, our grandmother's home, and the apartment buildings that my parents owned in good repair. 

Happy Labor Day!  from Cognitive Dissonance 

Life in a Union Family in the 50's and 60's

During those 33 years, he and my mom raised two kids, bought a house, paid it off, bought an apartment building for rental income and paid that off--- all on one union income. They helped to put their two kids through college, though state universities were not very expensive back then. (Working and middle class kids could actually go through the state university system and not graduate owing tens of thousands of dollars.)

My Mom did go back to work part-time when we were in junior high to help us and have extras.  My parents accumulated capital, helped their kids out, enjoyed their grandkids, lived a comfortable, though not ostentatious, life, and enjoyed a dignified retirement.

Now, as I said, my dad was bright. The anti-union people would perhaps say that he didn't need the union, and maybe the union held him back. I don't think that was true. He was not educated, though degrees weren't as important back then as they are now, and he was kind of a quiet guy. I don't think he would have come across well in interviews. But he worked his tail off for those 33 years, rarely took a day off. Because he was in a union, nobody laid him off from his company when he was in his 50's or 60's, which is what companies without unions can easily do these days.  (Ask my husband about that.)

He stayed there for 33 years. He got a few patents while he worked for his telephone manufacturer employer; he was bright and worked closely with the engineers and earned their respect over and over again even though he lacked formal education.

He never went on strike, but he was concerned about it a few times; there was always a settlement before the strike date came.  The company he worked for changed owners, was bought out, was sold again, but eventually it became part of what is now Verizon.
Life Changed in the 1980's

Found at IAM's site

His company eventually shut down the plant that he worked in, as they shipped their functions to cheaper labor places in the south and booming southwest. The company needed to be "competitive" of course, and all of those highly-paid union guys, you know the ones who actually made enough money to feed their families, buy homes, and send their kids off to school, were not making the company "competitive" enough.  But my Dad had retired by that time.

For all of those people, mostly men, who were able to provide a much better life for their families in the 50's, 60's, and 70's than their parents could have ever imagined, the unions were a very good thing.

Index to all Jobs & Employment Reports HERE  
Are unions still relevant?

Let's remember:  Unions wouldn't be necessary if companies paid their employees reasonably, treated them like human beings, and insisted on decent working conditions.... and didn't insist on paying CEO's millions because they are so "worth it".  "Class warfare" didn't start with the workers.

Here's an article written for Labor Day 2011; still relevant: Republicans Should Use This Labor Day to Ponder Their Assault on the American Worker--

...And that's what Labor Day has transformed into: Not about the history of labor, respect for union or an opportunity to affirm our commitment to fundamental worker rights, just a chance for some family-friendly fun.
That family-friendly fun, by the way, is made possible by child labor laws, weekends and minimum wage - all progress that was championed by labor unions. But you won't hear about that on Monday, politicians will be too busy discussing how to get government out of the way of Big Business and regular Americans will be too preoccupied worrying about their economic future.

Thanks, Justin Krebs!

For Labor Day 2013, Paul Krugman talked about the loss of respect for the working man, particularly among the Republican right-wing:

No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans. 
Consider, for example, how Eric Cantor, the (former) House majority leader, marked Labor Day last year: with a Twitter post declaring “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yep, he saw Labor Day as an occasion to honor business owners.

Some people complain that the unions are the problem; that they make American workers not as "competitive".

But the problem isn't the unions;
 the problem is that there are not enough of them.. all over the world.

There may be a few of those mythical corrupt union officials who just take money from the union members, more in the past than now.  But aren't the people who are really taking money from the working people these days the CEO's who get more in bonuses  every time a person is let go or every time a job is off-shored? And the hedge fund managers and banksters who have turned our financial system into a casino often on the backs of the middle and working classes?

As I wrote above, organized labor wouldn't be a necessity if corporations treated their employees as valued participants in the products they are producing... instead of as buckets on a spreadsheet somewhere. Too many people have forgotten why unions started and gained strength.  It's not that the pie isn't big enough; it's that some people are getting really, really big pieces.... and others are getting crumbs.

Perhaps the unions can re-invigorate themselves by helping people fight for a bigger piece of pie.

But, while we contemplate the state of the American worker and the unions, we can appreciate Labor Day.

And to all workers everywhere, whether labor or management, whether union or self-employed:

Have a good day and remember the middle class life that we all took for granted.  It's still not too late to save it!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Jobs Lost Gained Past Year from July 2013 to July 2014

2,570,000 new jobs were CREATED or ADDED during the past year, from July 2013 to July 2014.  

The private sector generated (added) 2,479,000 new jobs, but the government sector continued to shed (lose) jobs, 91,000 jobs, year over year from July 2013 to July 2014.

2,067,000 MORE people reported themselves as working or employed, including people who are self-employed or working in agriculture, in the past year from July 2013 to July 2014.  

The unemployment rate has declined from 7.3% in July 2013 to the current 6.2% in July 2014.  When considered year over year, the decline in the unemployment rate has been due mostly to a decrease in the number of people unemployed (from 11,408,000 to 9,671,000).  The unemployment rate has been below 7.0% for months in a row now.  

How Many Jobs Has Obama Created or Lost? July 2014

July 2015 numbers were released Friday, August 7.  Details HERE.
July 2015 update for this report found HERE.

How many NET jobs created or lost under Obama* as of July 2014?  
How many private sector jobs have been lost or added during Obama's presidency?  How many part-time vs. full-time jobs? 

How many new jobs in the last 5 1/2 years since Obama was inaugurated?  
How many Americans were working or employed when Obama took office... compared to now?

Numbers for July with latest revisions:

Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 9.3 million MORE jobs in total
  • 9.9 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 8.3 million MORE people working
How many workers were full-time or part-time at the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 compared to now?

  • 7.9 million MORE people working full-time.
  • 591,000 MORE people working part-time.  
  • (Yes, despite what you may have heard, from the depth of the recession until now, we have many more additional people working full-time vs. part-time jobs. When a recession hits, companies generally cut back on full-time workers first.  When companies start hiring again, the number of full-time workers increases.)

Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 5.0 million MORE jobs in total
  • 5.7 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 4.2 million MORE people working

How many workers were full-time or part-time when Obama was inaugurated compared to now?

  • 2.7 million MORE people working full-time
  • 1.7 million MORE people working part-time  

Have any private jobs been lost (net) over the past 53 months since February 2010?
  • 53 months of consecutive private-sector job growth.

Have any jobs been lost (net) over the past 46 months since September 2010?

  • 46 months of consecutive overall job growth.
Are more people unemployed now than when Obama took office in January 2009?  
  • Despite 1,813,000 MORE people in the labor force (either working or actively looking for work) now vs. January 2009, there are 2,387,000 FEWER people unemployed now than in January 2009. 

What's the difference between "net" and "gross" jobs gained and lost?

Let's get something straight:  Jobs are lost every week and every month. People are fired, people are laid off, businesses or locations are closed and everybody is let go. 

Also people quit every week.  You yourself, dear reader,  may have quit a job at some point in time. 

But people are also HIRED every week and every month.  New businesses open, businesses expand, businesses replace people who have left or been fired.  Every week.  You yourself, dear reader, may have been hired for a job at some point in time.This happens in good times and bad. 

Yes, even in bad times, people are getting hired.  Even in good times, people are let go.  

Now:  The monthly jobs reportupon which this article is based, presents estimates based on surveys as to how many jobs are gained or lost in a given month.  Those numbers are based on the number of new jobs (people getting hired, businesses opening) MINUS the number of jobs that have been cut (people getting fired, people quitting, businesses closing or cutting back).

The monthly jobs report therefore reports NET job growth or loss.  

For 42 months in this country, we have had MORE jobs being added than we have had jobs being cut.  For 49 months in the private sector (not counting federal workers, state or local workers such as teachers, firemen, cops, or people who staff the DMV, only counting people who work for private businesses), we have had MORE jobs added than we have had jobs being cut.

To reiterate:  How many jobs have been created in the last 5 years versus how many jobs have been lost?
All numbers provided on monthly jobs reports, which is what the series on jobs created/lost under Obama is based, are NET jobs numbers.  In other words, they reflect gains after all job losses are subtracted, or they reflect job losses after all gains are added. 
For the past 50 months (as of July 2014), we have had NET gains in private jobs numbers every month.  In other words, in every month since February 2010, more private jobs have been created than have been lost.  In every month since September 2010, more jobs in total have been created than have been lost.
Fact check and important information on these jobs numbers...

The above jobs numbers are from the BLS jobs report of July 2014, which was released in August 2014.  The surveys used to gather these numbers in July are taken as of the week which includes the 12th day of the month, in this case, July 12, 2014. 

What Was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office (Compared to Now)? July 2014

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

What was the unemployment rate after Obama's first full month in office (February 2009)?  8.3%

What was the unemployment rate at peak?  10.0%

What is today's (July 2014's) unemployment rate?   6.2%  

All Latest Jobs and Unemployment Reports HERE

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?

Read below the graph.

The following chart shows the unemployment rate in three month intervals plus the last three months:

Why are there two lines, one for "Seas Adjusted" and one for "Unadjusted"?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses seasonal adjustments to adjust for the volatility in the labor market from one month to the next.  The relatively even declining red line above shows the unemployment rate based on seasonally adjusted numbers.  The jagged green line shows the unemployment rate based on "real", "raw" numbers; the unadjusted rate.  Notice that the green line goes up in January (after holiday layoffs) and July (school-related layoffs), and it goes down in October and April, which are strong months for workers.  (Employees are all back to school in October, and employers are staffing up for the holidays.  Schools are also full in April and employers are starting to staff up for summer, construction, vacation venues, etc.)  The red line helps us to compare the unemployment rate over a period of months; the green line, however, reflects "reality":  Your friends, neighbors, and family members actually working or not working.  

How Many Jobs Were Created or Lost in July 2014?

In July 2014:
  • 209,000 TOTAL payroll jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • 198,000 PRIVATE payroll sector jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • 11,000 GOVERNMENT (federal, state, and local) jobs were added in June. 
  • 131,000 MORE people employed.
  • 285,000 MORE people employed full-time.
  • 52,000 MORE people employed part-time.
  • 329,000 MORE people in the civilian labor force (people either working or looking for work).
  • 197,000 MORE people unemployed.
  • Unemployment rate clicks up to 6.2% (from 6.1%) primarily due to the more people entering the civilian labor force in July.

July 2014 Unemployment Rate; Jobs

July 2014 Jobs Numbers and Unemployment Rate were released this morning, Friday, August 1, 2014.  Details, analysis, graphs, and reports will be presented throughout the day and over the weekend.

  • A positive jobs report was a "miss"?  This was a good jobs report, with a significant addition of jobs, The BLS reports that 209,000 payroll jobs were added in July.  It was considered a "miss" by some because the number of jobs added was lower than the 231,000 new jobs estimated, even though it is the 4th straight month with job increases exceeding 200,000.  Jobs added per month have averaged 230,000 so far this year, whereas only 194,000 jobs per month were added in 2013.  
  • The unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.2% as 329,000 people joined the labor force.  The number of people employed increased by 131,000 and the number of people unemployed increased by 197,000.  The number of people who lost their jobs decreased by 3,000.
  • Of the additional 197,000 people who were unemployed in July, 144,000 were people re-entering the labor force; that is, people who had been working at some time in the past, had stopped looking for work, and again started to look for work in July.   The number of people who lost their jobs decreased by 3,000. 
  • June jobs numbers were revised upwards by 10,000 to 298,000 and May numbers were revised upwards  by 5,000 to 229,000.  Job growth has averaged 209,000/month over the past 12 months.  
  • Private jobs increased by 198,000.  Construction jobs increased by 8,000; manufacturing jobs increased by 22,000.   Private service-producing jobs increased by 140,000.  Unfortunately, the biggest gains continue to be in lower-paying and temporary areas, such as Retail, Temporary Help Services, and Food Services and Drinking Places.
  • Government jobs increased by 11,000, with 10,200 of those additions in the "Local Government/Non Education" sector.
  • The alternate unemployment rate (which includes part time workers who want full time jobs, discouraged workers, and marginally attached workers) INCREASED by one tenth of a percent to 12.2%, reflecting the increase of 197,000 in the number of unemployed, as well as increases in the number of discouraged workers (+65,000) and the number of other "marginally attached" workers (+84,000).  The number of involuntary part-time workers, however, decreased by 33,000.  One year ago the alternate unemployment rate was 13.9%.  
  • The labor force increased by 329,000 in July.  
  • The number of people employed, including agricultural and self-employed, increased 131,000 in seasonally adjusted numbers in July.  Most of the growth in employment, 87,000, occurred among young people 16 to 24 years of age. As seasonal adjustments usually account for more young people working during the summer, perhaps more people in this age group were able to get summer jobs than in recent previous summers.  Further analysis is needed to determine if this is accurate. 
  • Full-time workers increased by 285,000 in July, while part-time workers decreased 52,000.  Over the past year, the number of full-time workers has increased by 2.3 million and the number of part-time workers has decreased by 110,000. 
  • Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
    • 9.3 million MORE jobs in total
    • 9.9 million MORE private sector jobs
    • 8.3 million MORE people working* 
    Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
    • 5.0 million MORE jobs in total
    • 5.7 million MORE private sector jobs
    • 4.2 million MORE people working*
July 2014 reports to be published: (Notation on the links will be changed to "July" or "Updated for July" when the updated reports become available.) 

The following July Jobs Projections were posted earlier in the week:
  • ADP, the private payroll service, estimated that 218,000 new private sector jobs were created in July, with the biggest gains in trade, transportation, and utilities.  Though the 218,000 new private jobs is less than the 281,000 private jobs estimated for June, it is the 4th month in a row with private employment gains over 200,000.  This is the strongest run of job growth since the recession hit in late 2007/early 2008. ADP numbers are often considered a harbinger for the BLS numbers, usually released two days after the ADP report. First time unemployment claims in early July were lower than they have been since early 2007. Now we wait until tomorrow, Friday, to see what the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) says.
  • From Business Insider: 
  • "Economists estimate nonfarm payrolls increased by 231,000 in July, driven by a 228,000 jump in private payrolls. The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 6.1%. Average hourly earnings is expected to have increased by 2.2% year-over-year. Here's Morgan Stanley's Ted Wieseman, who is estimating 230,000 payrolls: "Jobless claims fell to a seven-year low in the July survey week and then an eight-year low the next week, pointing to the pace of firings continuing to run at historically low levels, and business surveys have been pointing to some pickup in sluggish hiring rates. Consumer confidence surveys have shown rising confidence in job-finding prospects, also consistent with a pickup in hiring but likely to support a higher quit rate. Strength in motor vehicle production, with July assemblies scheduled to rise to an eleven-year high in seasonally adjusted terms, we expect will support an outsized gain in manufacturing payrolls. The rise in employment we’re forecasting would lower then unemployment rate another tenth to 6.0% with a stable labor force participation rate, which is our baseline at this point, assuming the demographic downtrend of 0.2 to 0.3pp per year from the aging of the population is being offset by returning discouraged workers."