Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Post: The Economy

I'd like to introduce a guest poster who goes by the nom de guerre "Scandacelt".
It would be an understatement to say we go back a LONG way. In fact, I'm honored to say he's the "Coach" I spoke of in my article "I had a lot of help" from two years ago. Back when he was my 8th-grade teacher he was kind enough to not call the police SWAT team on me when I arguably gave him reason to, and now that I'm over 50, that must make him... appallingly YOUNG, actually!

Gosh, Coach- uh, sorry, Scandacelt, you must've been a freakin' KID yourself back in those days!  Well, anyways, Nukers, he's the best teacher I've ever had, and the first Economics teacher to have to put up with me, so I am excited to share some of his articles with you, starting with this one on "The Economy".


I recently saw a post on Facebook boasting about the great economic statistic that unemployment was only 5.9%.  The person who posted the blurb added their own personal comment that this was a good reason to support President Obama.  

The recent mid-term elections made clear that we weren’t grateful and polling confirms that most people don’t think the economy in specific or things in general are going well.  So, let’s do some comparisons regarding employment and earnings.  

Last month over 200,000 more jobs were created than lost in the economy.  We certainly want more people employed.  But our population is growing.  Just to stay even, we have to move forward.  As Paul Krugman pointed out, until we start adding 300,000 per month, we really aren’t moving forward.  If we stay in the mid 200,000’s we are simply treading water and that is what we have been doing for months.

While my Facebook friend was excited about the 5.9%, his excitement stemmed mostly from ignorance.  It is true that that number is the best in President Obama’s time in office.  But it is also true that it is worse than George Bush’s AVERAGE of 5.3%.  That’s right, Obama’s BEST is worse the Bush’s average.  

That doesn’t tell the whole employment picture either.  Statistically, we call people unemployed if they don’t have a job and they are looking for work.  Stay at home parents who aren’t looking for a job aren’t counted in this number.  Neither are people who have simply given up or people who are getting disability payments.

Because of this fact, economists also look at work force participation.  The measure the number of people who are of age with those who actually do work.  When that is taken into account, America’s economy isn’t doing so well right now.  As of September, 59.0% of those who could participate in the work force have employment.  Again, when compared to President Bush, that is worse than Bush’s worst month in his entire presidency.

So, to put our current employment statistics in perspective, we are starting to move in the right direction but we aren’t doing well.  To use a medical analogy, the condition of the patient has been reclassified from critical condition to serious but stable condition.  That’s an improvement but the patient is still in the hospital. 

These employment statistics translate into income statistics as well.  And when that is looked at, the average American family isn’t doing well either.  Since the President took office in January of 2009, the median family income has dropped 8%.  

Not everyone is suffering.  The wealthiest quintile has really done well.  Just about every other group has lost ground, but not the wealthiest.  



  1. Didn't he HAVE to be 35 back then? Realizing that he was nearly twice our age then, but that he is merely 11 years our senior, can only mean 1 thing. But I refuse to say it out loud!

  2. Didn't he HAVE to be 35 back then? Realizing that he was nearly twice our age then, but that he is merely 11 years our senior, can only mean 1 thing. But I refuse to say it out loud!