Policy Points

14.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on What Are They Thinking?

What Are They Thinking?

In The New Republic, journalist Noam Scheiber describes the key economic policy debate taking place within the Obama administration. The central problem is how to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable issues: the need for more economic stimulus and a desire to manage the federal budget deficit. Writes Scheiber:

“The entire town is more schizophrenic than I’ve ever seen,” says one senior administration official. “Everyone cares about jobs, and everyone cares about fiscal discipline. The weight shifts week by week, unemployment report by unemployment report.”

The basic problem is that any additional stimulus adds to the deficit, while deficit reduction steps on a weak economy. And so, Democrats now find themselves having to pull off a balancing act that would seem to defy the laws of economics: taking on both tasks simultaneously. “We’ve got about as difficult an economic play as is possible,” the president observed at his recent jobs summit.

11.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Weekend Wonk Out

Weekend Wonk Out

A round-up of policy reports from the week ending on 12/11:

11.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on A Numbing Statistic

A Numbing Statistic

In articles describing the newest UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast, state media outlets have adopted the idea that the state’s economy is improving. And while that may be true on some levels (and if forecasts prove accurate), that “recovery” will do little to put a dent in state and local unemployment rates anytime soon.

Since the start of the recession, the state’s non-agricultural employers have eliminated 238,100 more positions than they have created. Not only have employers eliminated jobs, but they also have failed to create the minimum number of positions needed to accommodate the natural growth of the state’s workforce. So when the recovery starts, the state will need to recapture the jobs that were lost and the ones that were needed yet never created.

Yet there is little evidence that this will happen anytime soon. In fact, the UNC Charlotte forecast suggests that the entire state will only gain, on net, 32,800 net jobs in 2010. That is a numbing statistic as that level of job creation is insufficient to accommodate population growth, let alone offset some  the losses that have occurred since December 2007. Consequently, the problems of unemployment and joblessness only will mount in 2010, and those mounting problems likely will further retard growth and further extend the time to a full recovery years into the future.

10.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/21

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/21

For the benefit week ending on November 21st, 13,868 North Carolinians filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, and 177,515 individuals applied for continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial and continuing claims;  however, this is partly due to the fact that the filing week contained fewer than five workdays owing to the Thanksgiving holiday. These figures come from data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 18,147 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 181,033 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, both initial and continuing claims were somewhat lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 20,437 and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 130,567.

The graph (right) shows the changes in unemployment insurance claims (as a share of covered employment) in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.

Although new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this business cycle, the claims levels remain elevated and point to a labor market that remains extremely weak. Especially troubling is the high level of continuing claims, which suggests that unemployed individuals are finding it extremely difficult to find new positions.

10.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Dec. 10

Around the Dial – Dec. 10

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest: