Thursday, June 8, 2017

JOBS | Suffolk County, NY

How is Trump doing?
In 2010, Randy Altschuler attacked the incumbent congressman from Suffolk County, NY, Rep. Tim Bishop, for not doing enough for the Long Island economy.

He said that 30,000 jobs had left Long Island during Bishop's incumbency. I pointed out in an article on Huffington Post that the number was a lie. The correct figure was a gain of 36,000 jobs. Altschuler stopped using the number, but not until after he sent a glossy card to every voter with the lie plastered all over it.

Lee Zeldin was next to campaign against Bishop, in 2008. He lost badly in a Republican-leaning district. But in 2014 he adopted a straight Tea Party program, one of the first campaigners to do this. Here were his four main programs:
  1. Oppose raising the Federal minimum wage.
  2. Curtail Medicaid benefits. 
  3. Simplify the Federal tax code and cut taxes on the rich. 
  4. Cut Federal spending.
Zeldin was one of the first of the Tea Party electeds, in 2014. The GOP gained a majority in both the House and Senate in the 114th Congress, 2015-16. So how have Zeldin and the GOP Congress been helping Suffolk County? Let's ignore the first year, during which Zeldin was finding out where the bathrooms are in the maze of Capitol offices. Few Members of Congress make a dent in Washington in their first year (one reason for respecting seniority). Let's look at the second year of his term of office. How has the Suffolk County economy performed in 2016?

County-level numbers for jobs and wages are released quarterly and the numbers for the fourth quarter of 2016 were just released by the BLS on Wednesday. Here is the story for Suffolk:

Jobs. Suffolk's nonfarm payroll jobs rose to 661,400 in the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 900 jobs.

That's fewer than 1,000 jobs, compared with Bishop's presiding over growth of   36,000 jobs when he was attacked by the GOP for not doing enough for the economy.

The tiny growth rate during 2016 ranks 205th of 345 large counties for which the BLS computes this information, about 60 percent down the list. Within New York State, the growth rate is in the bottom half of the 18 large counties on the BLS list.

Wages. But maybe, has the quality of the jobs improved under Zeldin? What has happened to weekly wages? The news is much worse. Wages in Suffolk County declined by 3.5 percent, placing the county 289th out of 345 large U.S. counties, i.e., in the bottom fifth. Only two counties out of the 18 in New York State did worse.

This is not a good record. Since November 2016 the GOP has not only Congress but the White House, and a president who promised more jobs. We are waiting and watching.