On the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the unemployment numbers — but not this month. US economy is weak and in danger of foundering. The government shutdown is harming the still-fragile recovery. And now we are flying blind — because the shutdown has shut down the production of the official numbers and statistics that government and business and labor need to figure out what our public policy — and private investment policy ought to be.
Today, when you go to www.bls.gov, the first thing you see this announcement:
This website is currently not being updated due to the suspension of Federal government services. The last update to the site was Monday, September 30. During the shutdown period BLS will not collect data, issue reports, or respond to public inquiries. Updates to the site will start again when the Federal government resumes operations. Revised schedules will be issued as they become available. . . . Please visit www.opm.gov for the most recent information on Federal government suspensions, shutdowns, and closings.
Since we are all flying blind, we can only rely on the trends for previous months. And that trend has not been good. Month after month, a disappointing number of private sector jobs have been creating, but cuts to public sector spending have meant that public payrolls and jobs have been reduced. The result: not enough job creation to fill the huge “jobs gap” created during the deep recession — or even to create good opportunities for new entrants into the labor force.
And Richard Eskow of CAF dug up an estimate of the impact the shutdown on the economy from Morgan Stanley:
“Forty million dollars an hour. A third of a billion every day. $1.6 billion every week. That’s a conservative estimate of the money Republicans are wasting by keeping the federal government closed down. Loss estimates are based on the income of furloughed Federal employees, which has been estimated at one “basis point” of the U.S. gross domestic product (one 100th of one percent) per week. Using 2012 numbers from the International Monetary Fund, that comes to $1,623,774,600.
“That means the shutdown’s costing us $324,754,920 per day, based on a five-day work week. The cost per hour, based on an eight-hour work day, is therefore $40,954,365. A month’s losses are calculated by multiplying the weekly figure by 4.3, the number of weeks in an average month.”
But since we don’t have any numbers this September, and since the terrible impact of the shutdown wouldn’t have shown up yet in the September numbers, here is a CAF press release with our commentary on last month’s numbers. Since conservatives have shut down government and the BLS, it will have to do.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON – The Labor Department jobs report for August is yet more confirmation that Congress needs to reject “its failed austerity-lite policies” and move to “a jobs agenda,” Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, said today in response to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report that the economy created only 169,000 jobs in August.
This is even more important in light of the Federal Reserve’s anticipated move toward “tapering” back its effort to add liquidity to the economy to keep it afloat, Borosage said.
“The fact is this economy has not recovered from the Great Recession. It still is in dire need of jobs and greater growth,” Borosage said. “With the Federal Reserve likely to begin cutting back its boost to the economy, the Congress should step in to boost jobs and growth, not continue to cut them.”
The complete statement is below:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the creation of 169,000 net new jobs with the unemployment rate “little changed” at 7.3 percent. However mediocre, these figures are likely to reconfirm the Federal Reserve’s inclination to begin “tapering” back the $85 billion it is pumping into the economy each month. The Congress is headed into a debate on how much and what to cut in federal spending. These are steps that reinforce the notion that the economy has returned to normal.
But this new normal is neither normal nor acceptable. More than 21 million people remain in need of full-time work. The percentage of people in the labor force – the labor force participation rate – was down to 63.2 percent for the month. Before the Great Recession, it averaged about 66 percent. While some of that is due to boomers retiring, the difference largely represents millions who have lost hope in this economy. Worse, the jobs numbers reported for June and July were adjusted downward.
The jobs that are being created remain worse than those that were lost. Manufacturing added 14,000 jobs in the month, with levels remaining below what they were a year ago. The president’s modest goal of creating a million new manufacturing jobs in his last term remains a distant dream. The number of long-term unemployed remained at 4.3 million, a haunting 37.9 percent of the unemployed.
The fact is this economy has not recovered from the Great Recession. It still is in dire need of jobs and greater growth. As Paul Krugman states, some $2 trillion has been lost in economic activity in order to keep our debt-to-GDP ratio a handful of points lower. This is remarkable folly.
Instead of continuing its failed austerity-lite policies, Congress should be moving to a jobs agenda, making the investments we cannot avoid – in rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure, putting teachers and police back to work, and in renewable energy and energy efficiency – that will help put people back to work. With the Federal Reserve likely to begin cutting back its boost to the economy, the Congress should step in to boost jobs and growth, not continue to cut them.