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Yesterday, I wrote about my prediction for an “official” double-dip recession. One of the points I covered was the release by the Commerce Department of the second quarter GDP figures (along with the downward revision of the figures for the first quarter 2011 back to before the start of the Great Recession/Lesser Depression.)
Today, I have seen a couple of articles pointing out that the (lack of) government spending at all levels has been a large factor in the “disappointing” GDP figures. First up is this blog post from yesterday’s Washington Post with the title “GDP Shocker: ‘Much of the drag was government’:
So what was the problem?
Government, according to Faucher. “The major drag came from government, on both the federal and state and local sides. Government subtracted 1.2 percentage points from growth in the first quarter, with the federal government accounting for about two-thirds of that,” he said.
While there hasn’t been a lot of economic news for me to rant about today, there have been a few articles I came across in my search of news sites that help to continue to paint the not-so-pretty picture of life in the US these days. First up is this from today’s (Wednesday, May 11) Hartford Courant about layoff notices for Connecticut state employees:
On a somber day in state government, the first employees started receiving layoff notices Tuesday in a process that could eventually reach more than 5,000 state workers under a worst-case scenario.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered the layoffs of 4,742 employees in more than 40 agencies, but that number could increase by hundreds if more cuts in state programs are approved by the legislature.
Because many of the employees are being notified individually and in person, the process of notifying all of them could take weeks. Tuesday was marked by confusion among state employees as many did not receive a notice and they remained unsure if they would have a job in the coming months.
I and many others have concentrated mainly on the actions of the Republican governors but the reality is, most all of the states are struggling to balance their budgets and have been forced to cut jobs. Probably the biggest difference between states with Democratic governors and legislatures and those run by Republicans is the Democrats aren’t (at least outwardly) aren’t cutting the jobs while simultaneously cutting taxes for their campaign contributors.
1. Republicans will be forced to admit they actually do like some aspects of government when they realize services they want will be eliminated — like teachers or actually finding someone to answer the phone at the DMV.
Of course, I also have no belief that any Republicans anywhere will actually admit to there being valid government services. It does highlight one of the aspects of the US political systems where (theoretically) there are negotiations between the two dominant parties with compromises and all folks working toward the common good. Yeah, I know, but I still have to believe it is possible for the system to work as otherwise, it means we are all wasting our time and I refuse to give in to that belief.
The government reported Wednesday that there were 3.1 million job openings in March, up slightly from the previous month. About 4 million people were hired in March, also a slight increase over the previous month.
Still, the Economic Policy Institute reports that there continues to be more than four jobseekers for every job opening. Read the rest of this entry →
So today (February 16) the current governor of the state in which I reside (there is no ef’fing way I’m going to lay any claim of ownership to this person and call him my governor) decided that he would follow in the footsteps of his fellow first term Republican governors of Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Jersey and reject federal rail funds for Florida (via CNN):
Washington (CNN) – Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected $432 million in highly-touted funding from the Obama administration for an Orlando to Tampa high-speed rail Wednesday. Slamming government for becoming “addicted to spending,” Scott listed three reasons why accepting the federal funds would amount to a “recipe for disaster.”
In a statement, Scott said “I was elected to get Floridians back to work and to change the way government does business in our state.”
He “was elected to get Floridians back to work…” yet cuts a program that would have created a few thousand jobs for Central Florida and a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando and eventually Miami. Outgoing Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio called it:
…the worst decision she’s seen a governor make in her 26 years of public service.
“This is such a bad decision on so many different levels. I cannot believe that the governor made this decision,” Iorio said. “This is an example when you have someone who governs from ideology instead of practicality and really looking at what’s best for Floridians in the long run. This is what you get and I don’t know when I’ve been more disappointed and concerned about a decision a governor has made for our state.”
Four of the five candidates running to succeed Iorio in the upcoming municipal elections appeared at a press conference today at the site where Tampa’s high-speed rail station was supposed to be to voice their outrage and to call for Scott to reconsider his move. Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco was not present.
Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday if some federal workers lose jobs because of Republican-proposed spending cuts, “so be it.”
“So be it” just might become as famous a statement of a lack of empathy for the unemployed that this country has ever had.
This morning’s NY Times The Caucus asked if the Republican concern for the jobless ended with the jobs of federal workers:
But there’s one category of jobs that appears exempt from Republican cheering: federal workers.
During his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner claimed that Mr. Obama had added 200,000 federal workers since he took office (a figure that has been disputed), and shrugged at the idea that Republican efforts to slash government spending would put many of them out of work.
Republicans want the public to know they’re “serious” about “cutting the deficit” but they really don’t want the public to know that their plan would a) cost a million jobs and b) not materially impact the deficit in any serious way.
Unemployment — and not the economy in general — ranked as the most important problem facing Americans for the second month in a row, according to a Gallup poll released Friday.
When asked to name the biggest problem facing the country, Gallup poll found that 35 percent of Americans said “unemployment.”
That’s the highest percentage in more than a quarter century, since October of 1983.
And it is a weak demand for jobs, not the supposed lack of skills of the un and underemployed that is driving things at this point (via Yahoo News):
The sluggish state of the job market over the past year has led many analysts to suggest that the American labor market suffers from a structural malady. The recovering economy has created so few jobs, the argument goes, because 21st-century jobs require a set of skills that jobless workers in many geographical regions don’t possess.
But a new government study appears to undercut that view–finding that the economy’s chronic state of high unemployment stems more from a simple lack of demand in the labor market. And it could bolster the position of those Keynesian-minded economists arguing for continued government efforts to increase demand.
Initial Unemployment Claims for last week were at a 2 1/2 year low. With the deficit hysteria in DC combined with the states struggling and the ideologues who wish to prove that government is incompetent by making sure there are no workers around to do things, that low figure is probably not going to go much lower and stay much lower over the coming weeks and months. And just as we learned that cutting taxes does not raise revenues and magically balance budgets, so we will learn (I know, many of us already know this) that cutting jobs and killing programs will not create more jobs. VooDoo economics indeed.
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