HUFFINGTON POST - "Impact of Job Numbers Goes Far Beyond the Jobless" E-mail
Tuesday, 12 July 2011 20:00

By Jeff Madrick

A New York Times article on Sunday by the fine journalist Catherine Rampell suggested that a reason the jobs crisis in America (my phrase) is not getting sufficient attention is that the unemployment rate, even if a very high 9.2 percent, still means that nearly 91 percent are employed.

But we need to take a moment to clarify what high unemployment really means, and how broad its implications are. It is an indicator of overall economic weakness, not merely a number about those without jobs. And as such, it suggests that much is seriously wrong. It does not mean that 14 million are hurting people and the other 125 million are not.

First of all, we of course know that millions are looking for jobs and have given up or have taken part-time jobs when they want full-time jobs. That adds another 7 or 8 percent to the unemployed or underemployed. We are now are getting to the point where one out of six workers or so is having employment disappointments. We also know many have been unemployed for a very long time -- a record number, in fact.

Second, these people have relatives and friends who increasingly realize they may also get the axe.Their families, not only themselves, suffer.

Third, when you lose a job you now usually lose your health coverage -- or have to pay up big time to retain it. That adds to the misery.

In fact, far more people than 9.2 percent are upset by the high unemployment rate. About a quarter say in surveys it is our number one problem.

But high unemployment also implies little or no wage growth for most employees. There are two theories about this. One is the classical theory that when labor markets are loose, there is more supply and the price will not rise readily -- that is, the wage. The other is a little more Marxian in orientation. When people are losing their jobs, they get scared -- and they don't ask for a raise, they work more hours if asked, and on.

Since mid-2009, when the recovery technically began, there has been almost no increase in wages and salaries. But profits have soared by hundreds of billions of dollars.

That's almost never been the case before. Indeed, the relationship between job creation and GDP growth seems to have changed some time ago. Many people, including Nobel laureate Michael Spence, hardly known as a progressive economist, worry that something is deeply wrong -- and a lot of it may be about globalization.

But when you consider that salaries and wages have risen slowly, stagnated, or fallen for almost all workers except those at the top for forty years, the American economic condition gets pretty frightening.

I think the unemployment rate suggests there is growing malaise in the nation. More and more people are pessimistic. Are Americans giving up on the future?

And yet both political parties talk far more about budget deficits than jobs. Obama has fallen into one of the great political traps of all time. On average, the media follow meekly behind. Yet Americans have long fallen for the deficit scare, back in the 1930s and even before that. That is an issue worthy of more discussion.

I wrote a few weeks ago on New Deal 2.0 that Obama should sound the jobs alarm. Leadership matters in America. That is the problem. Right now, we don't have it. Leaders have to tell Americans the economy is weak and the deficit is necessary right now.

But in sum, a high unemployment rate does not merely mean that 14 million Americans, and they alone, are suffering. It suggests far broader pain and suffering. And disappointment may turn to anger before we know it. The Tea Party is the first manifestation of this. What's next?

 

Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0. on Huffingtonpost.com

 

 



T
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BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK
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 WNYC - Leonard Lopate in conversation with Michael Spence and Matthew Bishop (NY Bureau Chief, The Economist) discuss the future of economic growth.
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FINANCIAL TIMES - Future of America Conference debate features Michael Spence.
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CNBC SQUAWKBOX - Insight on the negative aspects of globalization with Michael Spence and Glenn Hutchins. They discuss why globalization has not been good for the U.S. economy.
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YAHOO! – 'U.S. Destined for Slow Growth But Not Recession.' Interview with Michael Spence and Aaron Trask.
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YAHOO! - 'Important policy issues are being held hostage to other things.' Interview with Michael Spence and Aaron Trask.
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THE ECONOMIST
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BLOOMBERG
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THE NEW YORK TIMES
- Romney's plan 'a stretch' says Michael Spence.
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BLOOMBERG
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BLOOMBERG
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THE FINANCIAL TIMES
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THE NEW YORK TIMES
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Michael Spence and Christopher Alessi
COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS - 'Reviving U.S. Economic Leadership' An interview with Michael Spence by Christopher Alessi.
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WASHINGTON POST - Ezra Klein Q&A with Michael Spence, 'I don't think there's a solution to the employment problem in the short run'
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BLOOMBERG - Michael Spence talks about the outlook for a political resolution to Italy's debt woes. Spence also discusses the U.S. debt-ceiling debate and the country's credit rating with Maryam Nemazee on "The Pulse."
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REUTERS - Nobel prize-winning economist Michael Spence comments on the ongoing negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
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THE ECONOMIST - "America the Sclerotic"
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HUFFINGTON POST / JEFF MADRICK - "Impact of Job Numbers Goes Far Beyond the Jobless"
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ON POINT WITH TOM ASHBROOK - Are we in danger of slipping back into another global financial crisis, one even more dangerous than the one that scared us so in two thousand eight?
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CNBC WITH MARIA BARTIROMO "US not a giant in the future global economy" Michael Spence describes the changing fortune of the United States' economy in the 21st century.
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FOX BULLS & BEARS
"How can the debt be reined in while boosting the economy?"
2001 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Michael Spence on why Republicans and Democrats need to find a compromise on the debt for the benefit of the economy.
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CNBC SQUAWK BOX
"Greece Cannot Avoid Default"
There is no way Greece can avoid a default, says Michael Spence, Nobel laureate, with Mark Olson, former Federal Reserve governor.
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CNBC SQUAWK BOX
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Michael Spence talks about current and future job creation.
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FOX BUSINESS/LOU DOBBS
"Resolving Greece's Debt Crises". Nobel Prize-winning Economist Michael Spence on why Greece can’t solve its debt crisis on its own without a default or restructuring.
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WABC RADIO -
John Batchelor and Michael Spence, Nobel laureate and author of "The Next Convergence" discuss globalization and the permanent changes it has on the global marketplace.

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CNBC SQUAWK BOX -
"Market Risk and the Economy" 

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PROJECT SYNDICATE -
Nobel laureate and Project Syndicate contributor, Michael Spence discusses global economic growth in a "multispeed" world and the challenges ahead for countries like the U.S. and China.

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TIME - What U.S. Recovery? Michael Spence weighs in on Myth #3.

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Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Nobel Laureate Michael Spence for a discussion of his new book, "The Next Convergence.

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REUTERS - "Why do we want our economy to grow?" -  In "The Next Convergence" Michael Spence asks this simple yet evocative question.

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NEWSWEEK - The Stanford economist and author of "The Next Convergence" talks to Newsweek’s R. M. Schneiderman about American inequality, the Chinese economy, and how to score a Nobel.

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INSTITUTIONAL INVESTER - Nobel Prize–winning economist Michael Spence warns that the era of discount money is coming to a jarring conclusion.

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CNN - China's economic rise and the future of the global economy.

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CNN - Michael Spence examines how emerging economies are reshaping the international order.

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Google Authors - Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence spoke to Googlers in Mountain View about his book "The Next Convergence."

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MSNBC - Dylan Ratigan Show: Getting America Back to Work - Michael Spence and panel discuss the sluggish job recovery and how the government can help change it.

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The New York Times - "French Minister to Seek Top I.M.F. Job"

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KUOW.ORG - "While the Economy May Recover, the Job Market Will Not"

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Bloomberg TV - Michael Spence on IMF Leadership, Greece's Default Risk.

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Author, Michael Spence at "Politics and Prose" discussing his new book,"The Next Convergence", as well as the rapid growth rates in China and India.

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Yahoo! Finance - "U.S. May Have to Live with Slow Employment Growth"

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Yahoo! Finance - "Why Globalization is Good for America"

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Yahoo! Finance - "Europe's Downward Spiral: Portugal Gets Bailout But Greek Default Unavaoidable"

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Carnegie Council - Public Affairs Program: Michael Spence addresses critical economic questions.

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Council on Foreign Relations's Michael Spence discusses his new book, "The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World," as well as the rapid growth rates in India and China.

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CNBC Squawk Box - Michael Spence discusses what the Strauss-Kahn arrest means for the European debt crisis;
weighs in on Europe and America's two different yet similar fiscal problems.

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Michael Spence

WNYC - Michael Spence and Leonard Lopate discuss his new book "The Next Convergence."

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Michael Spence talks about his new book with Ron Insana

Michael Spence joins Ron Insana to discuss his new book "The Next Convergence."

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