Four years ago, North Carolina’s unemployment rate was above 10 percent and the state still bore the effects of its battering in the recession. Many rural towns faced jobless rates of more than 20 percent.
But in 2013, a combination of the biggest tax rate reductions in the state’s history and a gutsy but controversial unemployment insurance reform supercharged the state’s economy and has even helped finance budget surpluses.
As Wells Fargo’s Economics Group recently put it: “North Carolina’s economy has shifted into high gear. Hiring has picked up across nearly every industry.”
The tax cut slashed the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.75 percent, near the regional average, from 7.75 percent, which had been the highest in the South. The corporate tax rate was cut to 5 percent from 6.9 percent. The estate tax was eliminated.
Next came the novel tough-love unemployment insurance reforms. The state became the first in the nation to reject “free” federal payments for extended unemployment benefits and reduce the weeks of benefits to 20 from 26. The maximum weekly dollar amount of payments, $535, which had been among the highest in the nation, was trimmed to a maximum of $350 a week. As a result, tens of thousands of Carolinians left the unemployment rolls.
[…]After a few months, the unemployment rate started to decline rapidly and job growth climbed. Not just a little. Nearly 200,000 jobs have been added since 2013 and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5 percent from 7.9 percent.
[…]Even with lower rates, tax revenues are up about 6 percent this year according to the state budget office. On May 6, Gov. McCrory announced that the state has a budget surplus of $400 million while many other states are scrambling to fill gaps.
[…]Because North Carolina built in a trigger mechanism that applies excess revenues to corporate rate cuts, the business tax has fallen to 5 percent from 6.9 percent, and next year it drops to 4 percent.
Although North Carolina is too liberal for me, it is nice to see them turning their economy around with tax cuts on job creators, and benefit cuts to those who choose not to work.
At the end of the day, the only real security that any of us has comes from the skills we have developed by working and the work experience we put on our resumes. The economy is in for some harsh conditions going forward. The more we can get Americans working, the better they will be able to weather the coming storm. A little kick in the ass might hurt, but in the long-term, it’s for the best.
This is a striking column from Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup polling company. His claim about the real unemployment rate is going to come as no surprise to most of my regular readers, who are used to me pushing labor force participation as the real measure of unemployment. Still, it’s nice to get some confirmation from high places.
Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.
Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.
None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
[…]Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America’s middle class.
Why does anyone think that higher taxes, massive government spending, huge deficits, and 18 trillion national debt would encourage job creators to create more jobs? Only a Democrat voter could believe that making things worse for job creators would actually result in more jobs. And maybe it does – just in some other country, when the companies here tire of high taxes and burdensome regulations and ship their jobs overseas.
Here is the labor force participation graph:
That’s where unemployment really stands – this is what Democrats like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid deliver. The Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in January 2007, and George W. Bush was a good President, but a lousy at vetoing socialist bills passed by Pelosi and Reid. Every dip in the labor force participation from 2008 on should be blamed on Democrats. They were in the driver’s seat, they crashed the car.
Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, a medieval-history Ph.D. and adjunct professor who gets food stamps: “I’ve been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”
“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau.
That’s how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.
“I find it horrifying that someone who stands in front of college classes and teaches is on welfare,” she says.
Ms. Bruninga-Matteau grew up in an upper-middle class family in Montana that valued hard work and saw educational achievement as the pathway to a successful career and a prosperous life. She entered graduate school at the University of California at Irvine in 2002, idealistic about landing a tenure-track job in her field. She never imagined that she’d end up trying to eke out a living, teaching college for poverty wages, with no benefits or job security.
Ms. Bruninga-Matteau always wanted to teach. She started working as an adjunct in graduate school. This semester she is working 20 hours each week, prepping, teaching, advising, and grading papers for two courses at Yavapai, a community college with campuses in Chino Valley, Clarkdale, Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Sedona. Her take-home pay is $900 a month, of which $750 goes to rent. Each week, she spends $40 on gas to get her to the campus; she lives 43 miles away, where housing is cheaper.
Ms. Bruninga-Matteau does not blame Yavapai College for her situation but rather the “systematic defunding of higher education.” In Arizona last year, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a budget that cut the state’s allocation to Yavapai’s operating budget from $4.3-million to $900,000, which represented a 7.6 percent reduction in the college’s operating budget. The cut led to an 18,000-hour reduction in the use of part-time faculty like Ms. Bruninga-Matteau.
“The media gives us this image that people who are on public assistance are dropouts, on drugs or alcohol, and are irresponsible,” she says. “I’m not irresponsible. I’m highly educated. I have a whole lot of skills besides knowing about medieval history, and I’ve had other jobs. I’ve never made a lot of money, but I’ve been able to make enough to live on. Until now.”
She’s irresponsible, because she expects the people who choose to study rather difficult and unpleasant subjects like nursing and computer science and economics to pay for her lifestyle through taxation and “higher education funding”. I do think it’s important to point out that the main driver of higher tuition is increasing government funding of education, and that this increasing funding of higher education is nothing but corporate welfare.
The most obvious way that colleges might capture federal student aid is by raising tuition. Research to date has been inconclusive, but Stephanie Riegg Cellini of George Washington University and Claudia Goldin of Harvard have provided compelling new analysis. Cellini and Goldin looked at for-profit colleges, utilizing the key distinction that only some for-profit schools are eligible for federal aid. Riegg and Goldin find that that aid-eligible institutions “charge much higher tuition … across all states, samples, and specifications,” even when controlling for the content and quality of courses. The 75 percent difference in tuition between aid-eligible and ineligible for-profit colleges — an amount comparable to average per-student federal assistance — suggests that “institutions may indeed raise tuition to capture the maximum grant aid available.”
Here are some of the comments that I posted in a Facebook discussion about the CHE story:
I know that some may disagree with me, but this is why people need to focus on STEM fields and stay away from artsy stuff and Ph.Ds in general. We are in a recession. Trade school and STEM degrees only until things improve.
Also, no single motherhood by choice. Get married before you have children, and make sure you vet the husband carefully for his ability to protect, provide, commit and lead on moral and spiritual issues. This woman is not a victim. She chose her life, and the rest of us are paying for it. Nice tattoos by the way – that will really help when she’s looking for a job.
I am actually better at English than computer science, but I find myself with a BS and MS in computer science. We don’t get to do what we like. We do what we have to in order to be effective as Christians. According to the Bible, men have an obligation to not engage in premarital sex, and to marry before having children, and to provide for their families, or they have denied the faith. I would like to have studied English, but the Bible says no way.
I have no problem with people who can make a career out of the arts, like a Robert George or a William Lane Craig. But you can’t just go crazy. And I think men have a lot less freedom than women to choose their major, we have the obligation to be providers and we have to be selected by women based on whether we can fulfill that role (among other roles).
Women have more freedom because they are not saddled with the provider role like men are. However, I think that the times now are different than before. There is more discrimination against conservatives on campus in non-STEM fields and fewer non-STEM jobs in a competitive global economy. The safest fields are things like petroleum engineering, software engineering, etc.
If [people who major in the humanities] can make a living and support a family without relying on government-controlled redistribution of wealth, then I salute and encourage you. If you rely on the government, know that this money is being taken away from those who are doing things they don’t like at all in order to be independent and self-reliant. It is never good to be dependent on government. That money comes from people like me.
In response to an artsy challenger:
I am happy to be scorned by those who make poor choices so long as I can have my money back from them so that I can pursue my dreams. I didn’t see any of these artsy people in the lab at 4 AM completing their operating system class assignments, nor do I see them here working overtime on the weekend in the office. They can say anything and feel anything they want, and write plays and poetry all about their feelings, too. Just give me the money I earned back first. It’s not their money. They have no right to it.
One person asked why I was “always winter, never Christmas”, and I replied:
It is Christmas for the Christians who I send books and DVDs to, as well as for the Christian scholars I support, and the Christian conferences, debates and lectures I underwrite across the world. Unfortunately, every dollar taken from me is a dollar less for that Ph.D tuition of a Christian debater, a dollar less for the flight of that Christian apologetics speaker, a dollar less for that textbook for that Christian biology student, and a dollar less for the flowers being sent to that post-abortive woman who I counseled who is now in law school. I have a need for the money I earn, and when it’s sent to Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions by the government, my plan to serve God suffers. And finally, should I ever get married, I would like my wife to have the option of staying home with the children and even homeschooling them. That costs money. Somehow, I feel that given the choice between my homeschooling wife and the public school unions, the government will choose to give my money to the unions. Just a hunch.
I’m not Santa Claus – I have goals for the money I earn.
I think that people should go into the humanities when they are serious about making a career of it and can get the highest grades. But if they are coasting and only getting Bs and Cs and not paying attention in class, then drop out and go to trade school. Don’t complain later when you can’t find a job. STEM careers pay the most.
The Obama administration’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could result in as many 1,084,000 jobs eliminated from the work force, according to a new study conducted by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI)
“No amount of denial by the president and his political allies — and no number of ‘studies’ published by biased researchers — can change the fact that minimum wage hikes eliminate jobs for low-skill and entry-level employees. Non-partisan economists have agreed on this consensus for decades, and the laws of economics haven’t changed,” Michael Saltsman, research director at EPI, said in a statement.
He offered an alternative to the president’s plan: “Instead of raising small businesses’ labor costs and creating more barriers to entry-level employment, the president and the Senate should focus on policies that help reduce poverty and create jobs.”
The study was released in the wake of an expected vote on a Senate bill that aims to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour — a nearly 40 percent increase.
Many Democrats argue that increasing the federal minimum will reduce poverty without having an adverse effect on unemployment.
EPI’s report, which used analysis from economists at Miami and Trinity University, reached a different conclusion.
Researchers used recently updated Census Bureau data from 2012 and 2013 to calculate how each individual state would be impacted by the proposed wage hikes. As a lump sum, Americans would see a loss of at least 360,000 jobs, and perhaps even over one million if hourly wages are increased to $10.10.
The number of job losses would be the most dramatic in large states, such as California and Texas. Economists found that California could lose as many as 100,016 jobs and Texas could see up to 128,617 jobs disappear from its economy.
But’s it’s not just this proposal that is the problem, it’s his past policies.
After FIVE YEARS of Obamanomics, we still have a record 100 MILLION people still out of work from when he became President. There has been NO RECOVERY since the housing bubble, which was caused by the Democrats in Congress. Policies like raising the minimum wage only make that worse, although it sounds great to Obama’s low information supporters.
How amusing to watch Democrats wring their hands over what they can do to get businesses to create jobs, when one of the biggest job killers is the minimum wage they keep hiking.
Recall that it was Democrats who raised the federal wage floor a whopping $2.10 an hour in the middle of the recession. The record 41% increase has led to record unemployment among young people, especially black teens.
Congress started ratcheting up the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour in mid-2007, arguing it would help abate poverty. But retailers looking to slash costs eliminated low-skilled, entry-level jobs rather than pay the mandated increases.
Now 1.5 million fewer teens are working. Last year’s unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 19 shot up to 26% from 2007’s 15%.
As for black teens, their joblessness soared to a record 43% after the final raise to $7.25 took effect in mid-2009. It helped put more than half of young black men out of work — a first.
The president proposes cranking the minimum wage even higher to $9.50. Then he wants to raise it every year thereafter as a “living wage” indexed to inflation.
Yes, this is the problem that happens when you elect someone who knows nothing whatsoever about economics. And when I say nothing, I mean he is in disagreement with virtually all economists across the ideological spectrum.
This is why it is important for voters to understand economics. When you raise the price of labor, fewer employers will purchase labor. Supply and demand. This is so basic, that I am surprised that someone as educated as Obama doesn’t understand it. It’s probably because he has virtually no experience working in the private sector.
A comprehensive disaster like the Obama administration can’t be summed up in one statistic, but the one that comes closest is labor force participation. The combined effect of many misguided policies–Obamacare, ballooning spending, massive debt, tax increases, subsidizing of inefficient energy, anti-growth regulation, encouragement of food stamp fraud, and many more–has been to drive many millions of Americans out of the labor force. Express Employment Professionals has produced a white paper that illuminates this human tragedy:
The labor force participation rate is currently at a level not seen since the 1970s – 63.4 percent.
While the unemployment rate has steadily decreased from its high of 10.0 percent in October of 2009 to 7.4 percent in July of 2013, the percentage of Americans in the labor force has not risen. It has fallen about 2.7 percentage points since the onset of the latest recession.
This is a tragedy in the making, and its impact on the country has been underestimated. When Americans quit looking for work because they conclude not working beats working, America faces a significant problem.
[…]President Obama’s policies have devastated all age groups, but the most heartbreaking impact is on the young:
Gallup reports that, “The lack of new hiring over the past several years…seems to have disproportionately reduced younger Americans’ ability to obtain full-time jobs.”
According to Gallup’s “Payroll to Population” measure, fewer Millennials were working full time in June of 2013 than in June of 2012, 2011, or 2010.
A recent 2012 Pew Research Center study found that 36 percent of the nation’s Millennials were still living with their parents.
And massive growth in the number of people collecting disability, too:
Fourteen million Americans on disability–that is more than the populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and West Virginia, combined: every man, woman and child in 13 states. The exploding ranks of the “disabled” are due to the absence of jobs in Barack Obama’s economy.
Keep in mind that we are blowing through over a trillion dollars in deficits for EACH of Obama’s 4 years in office. Shouldn’t we be getting a higher level of labor force participation? If you took out a loan to expand your business, you would certainly expect to be able to hire more people and get more sales and make more products, wouldn’t you? But it seems as if we took out a HUGE loan as a nation and we are actually contracting our business.