Policy Points

25.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

Policy Points will not be updated over the Thanksgiving holiday. Regular posting will resume on Monday, November 30, 2009.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

25.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/7

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/7

For the benefit week ending on November 7th, 17,184 North Carolinians filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, and 179,243 individuals applied for continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial and continuing claims. 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 18,048 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 180,045 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, both initial and continuing claims were slightly higher.

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One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 19,857 and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 122,929.

The graph 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 cycle, the claims levels remain elevated and point to a labor market that remains extremely weak.

24.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Nov. 24

Around the Dial – Nov. 24

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

24.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Measuring Job Creation

Measuring Job Creation

One of the more contentious issues surrounding federal recovery efforts is how to measure job creation and retention. In the current context, a job saved arguable is as good as a job created, yet analysts argue over how to measure the number of jobs saved.

In a recent research brief, economist Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress discusses how to measure the number of jobs saved under the recovery package and how public policy can retain more positions. Concludes Boushey:

Over the past year, policymakers have taken often extraordinary steps to avert economic collapse and to stop the economy from hemorrhaging jobs. That has been successful. But even so, the economy crossed the threshold into double-digit unemployment in October, with unemployment now at 10.2 percent. Employers have slowed the pace of lay-offs—saving somewhere between 1.1 and 1.5 million workers from losing their jobs—but they have yet to begin hiring anew.
Stepping up policies that focus on job creation will all make a difference in generating job growth in the months to come. These should include filling in the budget gaps for state and local governments so they can avert job losses and maintain necessary services; focusing on direct job creation, especially for younger workers; and continuing investments in our infrastructure development and clean energy economy.

Over the past year, policymakers have taken often extraordinary steps to avert economic collapse and to stop the economy from hemorrhaging jobs. That has been successful. But even so, the economy crossed the threshold into double-digit unemployment in October, with unemployment now at 10.2 percent. Employers have slowed the pace of lay-offs—saving somewhere between 1.1 and 1.5 million workers from losing their jobs—but they have yet to begin hiring anew.

Stepping up policies that focus on job creation will all make a difference in generating job growth in the months to come. These should include filling in the budget gaps for state and local governments so they can avert job losses and maintain necessary services; focusing on direct job creation, especially for younger workers; and continuing investments in our infrastructure development and clean energy economy.

24.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on A Good Question

A Good Question

At Grasping Reality with Both Hands, economist Brad DeLong poses an interesting question:

… the Obama administration’s fiscal boost program has also significantly helped the economy: aid to impacted states has been a big win, the jury is still out on the effect of the tax cuts in the stimulus, and the flow of government spending on a whole variety of relatively useful causes is in train and is boosting production and employment in the same way that everyone’s boost to spending boosts production and employment. And the cost of carrying the extra debt incurred is extraordinarily low: $12 billion a year of extra taxes would be enough to finance the fiscal boost program at current interest rates, and for that cost American taxpayers will get an extra $1 trillion of produced goods and services and employment will be higher by about ten million job-years.

Thus the big valid complaints about policy over the past fourteen months are not that it has run up the national debt and not that it has rewarded the princes of Wall Street, but rather that it has, if anything, been on too small a scale–that we ought to have done more.

Yet these policies appear, somehow, to be political losers in Washington right now: nobody is proposing to do more along the same lines. This is strange: usually when something works the natural impulse is to do it again.

So what is going on?