November 14, 2003

Notes: Employment Picture

The Economic Policy Institute has a nice piece on understanding the severity of the current labor slump...

Posted by DeLong at November 14, 2003 11:51 AM | TrackBack

Comments

Not to minimize the effects of job loss, but the numbers to look at are the poll numbers. These indicate some loss of voter confidence in the Republican Party, but the GOP is still competitive even without actual vote theft.

The reasons are probably that at the employment peak, many people were working who didn't mind being laid off, wages had done their best run in some time so there were better financial reserves and, perhaps most important, consumers are confident about the future.

Therefore, in a technical economic sense, the recession and growth recession may be serious, but in a political sense, these may well not be strong factors in the election, especially if the trend is up.

IOW: it doesn't hurt unless people are willing to act on it.

Posted by: Charles on November 14, 2003 01:12 PM

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"the GOP is still competitive even without actual vote theft."

Oh, come on, Charles.

I hope you don't mind my saying, geez, that's an arrogant post.

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to you that there are many Republican voters - "informed" or otherwise - who don't feel that the Dems are credible on household economic issues. There are Republican voters who disagree with Bush's economic policies but are strongly attached to the party on other issues (right-to-life, for example) and won't desert. There is a lesser-but-still-considerable number of Rs whose opinion of GWB ranges from disappointment to hatred (McCain voters may be among these), but still think the Dems offer no plausible alternative. Aside from these, there are independent voters who believe that neither party can manage the economy, but in a pinch may be persuaded to vote R on other issues. And then there are those like me who previously voted R and won't now, but whose votes don't necessarily transfer to the Dems.

But thanks for illustrating what IMHO is a too-common problem on this blog: reduction of complex economic issues into a simple contest between Republican and Democratic policies. Can we actually probe and discuss likely causes and solutions to the problem explained in the article rather than speculate off-topic about the next election (still a year away)?

And BTW: "many people were working who didn't mind being laid off, wages had done their best run in some time so there were better financial reserves" -

Really? You've been livin' in a different world than me, buddy.

Posted by: William in Beijing on November 14, 2003 04:47 PM

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William, I'm not sure where the "oh, come on" fits in, other than as a sort of "Jane, you ignorant slut" lead off. Seems you and Charles agree that Republicans are competitive, and you are both posting off-topic, on the subject of electoral prospects. What's up?

Posted by: K Harris on November 15, 2003 10:31 AM

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K,

If I may dare to summarize the original post: "Unemployment can't be that bad, some folks are still supporting the Republicans. Probably they didn't mind losing their jobs after all." The effect is to render as moot any discussion of unemployment.

My points were that (A) party affiliation has dimensions beyond economics (a point I felt I needed to elaborate, since it seems so unfamiliar to some here); and (B) there's something incendiary about beginning a post with "Not to minimize the effects of job loss," and then continuing with "probably ... many people were working who didn't mind being laid off, wages had done their best run in some time so there were better financial reserves." "Consumer confidence" measures aren't going to convince me. Regarding financial reserves, I understand the savings rate has been near-zero or negative since 1999, following the 1990s average of 6%. I'd also want to see the latest household debt-to-income ratios, especially given that banks are now approving mortgages to borrowers with debt payments up to 50% of their income - Whoopee!

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/money/140505_mortgagerules20.html

Under these circumstances, and in light of my own anecdotal experience, I wouldn't want to trivialize job loss even by implication.

Posted by: William in Beijing on November 15, 2003 08:46 PM

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