Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SUFFOLK, NY | Job Growth – A Zero for Zeldin

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, data released May 23,
The Congressman from CD 1 in Suffolk County, New York, was elected in 2014. 

He has made creating jobs a central part of his program, one of the main issues highlighted on his own web site.

He said in 2016 he would go to Washington, work with the Tea Party to reduce environmental and other regulations, and "help grow our economy and create more good paying jobs".

So how's it going with that, Mr. Zeldin?

Numbers just came out today for the fourth quarter of 2017. They show that Suffolk County ranked 309th out of the 347 largest counties for growth during 2017, fourth quarter compared with the fourth quarter of the previous year.

The growth rate was Point One Percent. That's one-tenth of one percent. That is statistically equivalent to Zero.

Compare that with Brooklyn (King's County), which grew 41 times as fast, 4.1 percent, and ranked 14th out of the 347 largest counties.

Zeldin has had two terms to prove he can make a difference in job growth. I would say he flunks his own test. He has not helped grow the economy. He has not "created more good-paying jobs". Time's up!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

LABOR MARKET | Dana Chasin Update 268

Two months ago, teachers in West Virginia began a statewide strike that would last for weeks.  It would pay off, winning gains for educators who have endured some of the lowest wages and worst benefits in the country. Yet the stuck wages afflicting so many workers stand alongside a 45-year low in new unemployment claims last week.  What explains this disparity? What in fact are the prevailing labor and wage conditions in the country? What are the political implications for November? The following comments are from an email from Dana Chasin, posted here by permission.

Inspired by the efforts in West Virginia, teachers across the country’s low-wage states have initiated job action. Tens of thousands of teachers have walked out across Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado to protest low wages, poor benefits, and shrinking education funding.  Tensions are simmering in North Carolina and Mississippi, and calls for action in Texas and Indiana suggest that the wave of teacher strikes is likely far from over.
Americans overwhelmingly support teachers’ demands for higher wages.  Over 50 percent of the country would support higher taxes to raise teachers’ wages.  Perhaps this support is attributable to familiarity. If the grievances that these educators cite to justify labor action sound familiar, that’s because stagnant wages and declining benefits have come to define the American labor market conditions in recent years.
For Most, Stuck Wages
As with red-state teachers, a vast majority of Americans rely on their paychecks and employer-provided benefits to make ends meet, and these have hardly improved in decades.  
Between 1950 and 1970, Americans enjoyed a post-war boom that saw wages grow in line with the broader economy.  Economists have long thought that if worker productivity rises, wages will also increase in kind. The three decades after WWII supported this notion.  Over this period, wages rose by 91 percent, almost exactly in step with the 97 percent rate growth in national productivity.
In 2016, American workers were 75 percent more productive than they were in 1973, but had only seen their take home pay rise 12 percent in that time. American workers have seen their share of productivity gains collapse.
Paradox:  Plentiful Work, Slow Wage Growth
President Trump and congressional Republicans say that the stable and historically low unemployment rate is their doing, not that they inherited an economy that saw steady reductions in unemployment for five straight years.
Real wages have been stagnant for even longer, but Trump is not taking credit here.  In many cases even the declines seen in unemployment rates are concentrated predominantly in low-wage, low-quality job sectors.  While the economy has been adding jobs, in many places around the country these jobs tend to pay the minimum wage. Regional differentials in labor markets can also confuse national-level statistics.
A Look Behind The Numbers
Beyond this, while today’s unemployment rate is certainly low, this can obscure real problems in the labor market.
During the Great Recession, the labor force participation rate fell from 67 percent to 63 percent.  Many people fell into underemployment or lost faith in the notion that any opportunities existed for them. The size of the workforce has remained around 63 percent since, suggesting fewer opportunities and a lingering disillusionment among those that have fallen out of the workforce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) quantifies an alternative measure of slack in the labor market that takes the above categories of workers into account. While the unemployment rate (measuring only those seeking jobs within the last four weeks as being unemployed) is 4.1 percent, another measure reveals a more substantial underutilization of the workforce.  When taking into account the workers who are involuntarily part-time, marginally attached workers, and discouraged workers, the U-6 unemployment rate is 8.3 percent today – more than twice that of the conventional measure.
New Ideas About Bargaining Power
There is considerable debate as to why incomes have stagnated for as long as they have. Some theorists see “market-exogenous” changes in technology and globalization to explain the rise of inequality.  In this formulation, advances in shipping and information technologies allowed capital unfettered access to the entire world’s labor supply, causing a shift in production from high wage areas to low wage areas.
More recently, economists and policy thinkers have turned their attention to the role of market power or labor market concentration in wage analysis.  This theory focuses on concentration as a driving factor in wage stagnation. Market concentration accounts for 10-15 percent of annual wage losses, suggesting that workers’ wage bargaining power is weakening in certain robust labor markets.
The last forty years has seen a retreat from policies and institutions that support the relative bargaining power of workers. The decline of American unions is an oft-cited reason for the erosion of workers’ bargaining position vis-a-vis employers, but other factors tether employees to low wages as well, including:
  • a retreat from the pursuit of full employment by policymakers
  • the predominance of noncompete clauses in low wage environments
  • salary history disclosure requirements
  • public infrastructure degradation and a dearth of mass transportation options.
The concentration of labor markets and the collapse of worker power have played an important part in the divergence between labor productivity and wage growth, and can at least partially explain the why wages are hardly responding to very low unemployment rates.
Labor Market Not Monolithic for Midterms
America is comprised of very diverse economies across many regions. While technological changes and shifting market power have depressed employment levels and wages overall, the composition of local economies determine the effect those developments have on a local workforce.  Regional economies with significant vulnerability to trade competition have seen commensurate declines in employment. Those exposed to technological change have undergone a reorganization of the local workforce.  Those that have experienced market consolidation have seen other deleterious effects.
President Trump and Congressional Republicans may try to take credit in the run-up to the November midterm elections for the nation’s continued low unemployment rate.  But their claims will likely fall on deaf ears in communities where trade competition have depressed employment and where laborers have lost negotiation power relative to their employers.  After cutting taxes overwhelmingly for the corporations and the wealthiest, the GOP hasn’t shown many voters yet the benefits they were promised; instead, they continue to struggle with continually stagnant wages and precious few good jobs.  But with all the GOP tax talk, they increasingly perceive another threat to their retirement security, which we will address next time.

To be added to the news digest assembled by Dana Chasin and the 20/20 team, go here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

OPENING IN DC | Economic Policy Assistant

Vacancy: Economic Policy Assistant Position in Washington, DC

The position supports the work of an economic policy research and advocacy firm participating in the national economic policy making process, working with legislators, academics, public interest groups, and progressive organizations via engagement in economic policy legislative and political projects with a principal focus on fiscal and financial policy. 

The position involves working with a team of writers/researchers on policy products and projects relating to a range of domestic economic policy issues.  It includes various administrative responsibilities.  The work is a mix of legislative and political projects and offers hands-on experience collaborating with colleagues and partners and preparing deliverables for clients.  
Compensation:  Competitive, commensurate with experience and performance, $15-20/hr, plus expenses 
Schedule:   Flexible; 20-40 hrs/week
  • Research and writing on a range of domestic economic policy issues
  • Administrative tasks such as planning meetings, taking detailed notes, tracking timelines for projects and specific to-do lists
  • Assist in distribution of a regular newsletter
  • Occasional event planning and tech support (iPhone, printer, wireless networks) 
  • Proven experience as a policy researcher 
  • Knowledge of office management systems and procedures and office equipment
  • Proficiency in MS Office/Google Drive, and MailChimp programs
  • Excellent time management skills, the ability to prioritize work, pay attention to detail, and troubleshoot problems
  • Excellent written and verbal communication and organizational skills
  • Bachelor’s degree
Location:   Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.

Application Due Date: Friday, April 27, 2018
Target Start Date: Mid- to late-May, 2018

To apply, send a copy of your resume and a cover letter to: 

Dana Chasin

Thursday, April 5, 2018

TRUMP | Stealing America Blind

April 5, 2018 – If you are not in New York City, you may be missing seeing an empiggened Trump looking up at us from every newsstand.

The cover of the new (April 2-15, 2018) New York Magazine has a way of commanding our attention.

The stories inside do not disappoint.
1. Corruption Is Trump's Greatest Political Liability

“My whole life I've been greedy, greedy, greedy,” 
declared Donald duringthe 2016 campaign.

2. Trump & Co. Are Stealing America Blind: A Timeline

Donald Trump's love of money has no limits; his greediness rules all. Here's a timeline of 501 days of corruption within the Trump administration and the Trump Organization.

Video for New York Magazine Trump Corruption
New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait argues that it's not Russia or Stormy Daniels that can stop Trump.

New York magazine is taking a harsh swipe at President Trump with its new cover depicting the president as a pig.

5. New York Mag empiggens Trump | Media ...

The April 2, 2018 issue ofNew York Magazine depicts President Trump as a pig to illustrate a Jonathan Chait story about Trump Administration corruption.
And see also:

Corruption | The New Yorker

Read more about corruption from The New Yorker. ... “Mark Felt,” the Movie, and Donald Trump, the President. The deal in Georgia raises some of the same questions as many other deals the Trump Organization has done around the world. By Adam Davidson.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

WOODY SCHNEIDER | His 100,000th racquet

Woody Schneider strings his 100,000th
tennis racquet, a Yonex.
I left my tennis racquet in Florida and needed to play yesterday.

So I got a new racquet from Woody Schneider at NYC Racquet Sports, at 157 West 35th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue, close to Penn Station.

This is now his main place of work although he has had three other retail stores until October last year. He is still located where he started, in Grand Central Terminal between tracks 38 and 39, and at the NTC Pro Shop at the National Tennis Center.
Woody Schneider (L) with Björn Borg.

When I walked in, Woody was about to start on another racquet. He said he would put that one aside and string another one while I went nearby for coffee. He had the racquet ready in 25 minutes.

I reminded him that last time he had recommended a smaller grip for me because I have a "meaty hand."

Woody focuses on his (now
my) racquet.
Last year I wrote about Woody's long career as a racquet stringer and store owner. He started his own retail store 26 years ago and 20 years ago he took over the 44th Street tennis store, familiar to anyone who walks 44th Street to Grand Central Terminal.

He gave up the 44th Street store in October because the construction work going on in the area hurt his sales and competition from the Internet meant that revenue was off.

Last year my wife Alice and I purchased Babolat racquets from him.

This time he did not have a suitable Babolat racquet and recommended a Yonex, which is made by a Tokyo-based company that first made its name half a century ago making badminton racquets.

The founder of Yonex, Minoru Yoneyama is now Honorary Chairman and has been named a Japanese Sacred Treasure. His son Ben Yoneyama is the current Chairman.

As Woody was stringing the racquet, I asked him if he was stringing his 50,000th racquet.

He paused briefly to consider. "Ten  racquets strung a day, average; 50 a week, average; 2,500 a year, average; over 40 years. So this would be personally my 100,000th racquet." 

We had a small celebration with his associate, who was working on another racquet. 
Woody Schneider (R) with Roger Federer.

I asked Woody how it was going these days, competing with the online sellers. He said that the quality of the stringing of these racquets left something to be desired, but it was hard to compete with these sellers on price.

He has a 2,000sf space at the Penn Station site and really uses only one-fourth of it. I suggested he reduce cost by sharing the space with another similar business, like sports clothing. He thought that was a great idea, but how would he find someone? I called a friend in the sub-leasing business but she only does office space, not retail.

Any ideas? Comment or email