By Ben Casselman
Mark, 22 and unemployed, sleeps late in the morning.
His roommate has to get up for work, but Mark has nowhere to be. He rolls out of bed at 11 a.m. He checks his email — still no response to his last round of resumes — and heads out for a run. When he gets home, he spends 45 minutes filling out job applications, then plops down in front of the television for a couple hours before cleaning up the house — he’s taken on more chores since his roommate is cutting him a break on the rent. In the evening, his buddies are catching a game at the local bar, but Mark has class at the local community college, where he’s working toward a certificate in HVAC repair.
That deep divide between those with jobs and those without them reveals itself not just in well-known statistics on hiring and income but in the day-to-day details of how people live their lives. The unemployed have higher rates of depression, obesity and suicide. In interviews, they frequently report that the social and emotional impacts of joblessness — isolation from friends, the loss of a daily routine, feelings of uselessness — can be as hard as the financial toll. Many say it’s hard just to get out of bed in the morning. Continue reading @FiveThirtyEight: It’s Hard to Get Off the Couch When You’re #Unemployed
Over the past three decades, Congress has conducted a major experiment in anti-poverty policy. Legislators have restructured benefits and tax breaks intended for the poor so that they penalize unmarried, unemployed parents — the modern day version of the “undeserving poor.” At the same time, working parents, the aged and the disabled are getting larger benefits.
Before 1996, Aid to Families With Dependent Children was the single most important program that provided direct cash payments to poor families, the overwhelming majority of which were headed by single women. Just under 60 percent of adult recipients were never-married mothers, and 24 percent were divorced or separated mothers. Continue reading Thomas Byrne @Edsall: Cutting the #Poor Out of #Welfare – NYTimes
Efforts to alleviate poverty are often seen as being separate from the debate on overall economic policy, with the former involving a distinct set of issues that only marginally overlap with the latter. This is unfortunate, since the health of the economy and specifically the level of unemployment, has an enormous impact on the prospects of the poor. In fact, there are few policies that are likely to have as much effect on improving the plight of the poor or near poor as a genuine commitment to full employment economic policies.
There are three separate channels through which a reduction in the unemployment rate is likely to benefit low-income people. The first is simply by increasing their probability of finding jobs. Unemployment is not evenly distributed throughout the workforce; the less-educated and disadvantaged see the sharpest rises in unemployment when the economy goes into a downturn. Continue reading @BillMoyersHQ: The Full #Employment Route to #Poverty Reduction
Yesterday’s productivity report for 2014q1 was predictably negative—we already knew that real GDP fell in the quarter while employment grew apace—but I don’t read much into the noisy quarterly changes.
But then there’s this: year-over-year, productivity growth was up 1% last year and has averaged 0.8% since 2011. The figure below plots the yearly changes, which are themselves pretty noisy. What’s more instructive is the smooth trend through the numbers.
The trend suggests that the pace of productivity growth has decelerated since the first half of the 2000s and this begs an important question. There’s considerable speculation that the pace at which machines are displacing workers has accelerated. I keep hearing about “the end of work” based on the assumption that the pace of labor-saving technology—robots, AI—has accelerated.