Friday, November 6, 2009

Good employment news?

Unemployment is now over 10%, but Noam Scheiber is optimistic:

Grant and Gertner argue that the dynamics of the current recovery, in terms of those unemployment peaks, look a lot more the pre-1990 business cycle than the post-1990 business cycle. Which is to say, they resemble the era of "jobful" recoveries rather than the era of jobless recoveries. During the current recession/recovery, the number of people out of work 5-14 weeks peaked the same month as the presumed end of the recession (May, according to Bloomberg), and the number of people out of work 15-26 weeks peaked a month later.

The only real hitch in Grant/Gertner analysis was that final category: people out of work at least 27 weeks. As Grant and Gertner conceded, the number of people out of work that long hadn't yet peaked. In fact, in the last set of data prior to today, the number actually jumped pretty sharply, from 4.988 million to 5.438 million.

Which is why the latest 27-weeks-and-over number is so encouraging. After jumping by 450,000 in September, it only jumped about 150,000 in October, suggesting that the number of very-long-term unemployed could be about to level off. If it does peak in the next month or two, that would really strengthen the Grant/Gertner case that employment growth could come a lot more quickly than we think, since it resembles what we observed before 1990, when "jobless" recovery wasn't yet part of the lexicon.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.