The Economy

Nov 172014

By Mary Lou Byrd — November 17, 2014

Underemployed seek meals from food banks

Food Bank


Food banks across the country are reporting shortages as the holidays approach and the underemployed and the long-term unemployed are utilizing them to stave off hunger.

Food bank lines continue to swell despite claims by the federal government that the economy is improving and increased spending on food stamps: Forty-six millionAmericans, or one in five, are now receiving food stamps.

“The need continues to be strong. Even though the state level unemployment percent is low, this does not address the underemployed and long-term unemployed,” said Bruce Wilson, director of operations for the New Hampshire Food Bank.

NHFB has already distributed more food this year than last.

“We have been fortunate to have adequate inventory available to serve our 400 member agencies (soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, boys and girls clubs, seniors, and veterans). This Thanksgiving season we will be distributing over 19,000 turkeys through our agencies. This, too, is an increase from last year,” said Wilson.



According to Wilson, 71 percent of those served by NHFB are underemployed. Other client statistics provided by the organization show only five percent of its users are homeless.

A larger percentage of its clients cannot make ends meet. Sixty-eight percent must choose between food and utilities; 64 percent must choose between food and medical care; and 53 percent choose between food and rent. Thirty percent of its clients are children under the age of 18.


Food banks across the country are seeing an increase in need.


Food pantries in all five boroughs of New York are dealing with “crushing” numbers of New Yorkers seeking food, wrote Assembly Member-Elect Latoya Joyner (D., 77th District), in an op-ed published last week.

“Food pantries across the five boroughs are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked with nutritious foods. Meanwhile, the economic situation for many in New York City, especially families, has not improved and food lines just continue to grow,” Joyner wrote.  One food pantry executive she quoted said the number of people needing food is “crushing.”

Food Banks in Virginia, Ohio, Alaska, and Texas report similar trends. The CEO of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, who did not respond to a request for comment, told the local media the hungry are not just the unemployed, but also the underemployed.

“Wages aren’t up with what’s going on out there, so even though people are getting some jobs back, underemployment is incredible,” Joanne Badson told 10 on Your Side.

Idaho has also witnessed an increase in families who are coming to the food bank for meals. Many who the food bank serves are working families.

Lee Kimball, director of the food bank of the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency in California, said their numbers have increased this year. By comparison, she said the number her food bank served in their California county doubled when the recession hit.

Currently the food bank serves between 8,000 and 11,000 people a month of the total 56,000 residents.

Water restrictions in California and the increase in residents’ water bills has taken its toll on Amador and Tuolumne counties.

“The water situation has impacted the increase, I believe,” said Kimball. She explained that those who do not have any discretionary funds have been hit with higher water bills, and it has impacted the residents’ ability to put food on their table.

Kimball said some residents don’t even have $5 in discretionary funds to spare, and even a minor increase in bills “could make all the difference.”

The ATCAA asks every person who visits the food bank to also help out. “I believe you never do for someone what someone can do for himself,” Kimball said.

“Hunger is a symptom of poverty and the real conversation is poverty. We can start the conversation about poverty,” said Kimball, who believes hunger in America could be stamped out in one generation.

A recent study by Feeding America found one in four families with an active military member is served by an agency in the Feeding America network.



“The data also suggest that the recovery from the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009 has been slow to reach people in the direst economic circumstances. Although many clients who visit programs in the Feeding America network are working towards an education and/or searching for work if they are not already employed, they still experience challenges with food security, underemployment, limited income, and poor health,” the study stated.

A failure by the Senate to pass a food donation tax deduction passed by the House this summer could severely impact food donations, according to Feeding America. Without the food donation tax deduction, millions of pounds of food will be lost.

“Passage of this legislation will make it easier for farmers, retailers, restaurants and food manufacturers to donate more food,” Wilson said. “With the uncertainty surrounding food donation tax deductions, donors will often send surplus food to landfills. Current tax incentives do not reflect the changing food industry because increases in operational efficiencies mean that there is now less food available for donation.”

feed the hungry


President Barack Obama has indicated he would veto the food donation tax deduction if the Senate passes it.


via Obama Economy Leaves People Hungry | Washington Free Beacon.

Sep 062014

by Caroline Lee Smith — September 5, 2014 3:34 pm

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) released a statement Friday expressing his disappointment regarding the Department of Labor Statistics’ August report.

Jeff Sessions

Senator Jeff Sessions on dismal August 2014 jobs report

The U.S. economy added just 142,000 jobs in August, falling short of a projected 225,000 new jobs. Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told Forbes the numbers were “worrying,” as they continue a downward trend of new jobs throughout the summer months.

“Today’s jobs report came in far below expectations,” Sessions said.

“Twice as many people left the labor force last month as found jobs, and there are now 92.3 million people outside the workforce entirely. The number of workers in the labor force has fallen by more than 7 million since President Obama took office, even though the working-age population is 13.4 million larger.

“Nearly one in three African-American teenagers are unemployed. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is down $2,300 since 2009. Yet with millions of Americans out of work, the President persists in pushing a plan that would double the number of legal workers who can take any job throughout the economy.

He further declares that he will issue executive actions to grant unilateral amnesty and work authorization to 5 million or more illegal immigrants. This is likewise stunningly bad policy, and is a violation of legitimate executive power. This idea has been rejected by Congress and the American people. The nation must focus directly on putting Americans and legal immigrants living here today to work, not unlawful workers.”

Jobs prospects on 8-14

Former employees of two recently shuttered casinos in Atlantic City met to sign up for unemployment benefits this week.

Sessions recommended creating more jobs by producing more energy, eliminating unnecessary regulations, and enforcing immigration laws.


via Sessions: Twice as Many People Left the Labor Force as Found Jobs in August | Washington Free Beacon.

Sep 032014

By Stephen Moore — August 25th, 2014

President Obama was doing a little jig on the tables last week at the White House – figuratively, or course – when we got a decent jobs and GDP report. Mr. Obama even chided those who would dare question his economic stewardship by saying: “Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the U.S. economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.”


Oh really. Well, you could have fooled the American people. The disconnect between the way Washington and Wall Street describe the state of the economy, and how real Americans feel its impact, is as wide as the Grand Canyon. 

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 64% of Americans are “dissatisfied” with “the state of the economy” versus only 35% “satisfied.” And 71% of Americans think the country is “on the wrong track.”

Apparently the big boom in the economy President Obama is boasting about hasn’t trickled outside the borders of the Washington Beltway.

Worst recovery in history

Worst recovery in history

Here’s the problem. Nobody believes the statistics out of Washington and often for good reasons. A 2% inflation rate. Ha. Most Americans see the rate of price increases for the things they have to buy – milk, bread, vegetables, medicines, health insurance premiums, college tuitions, gas at the pump – rising at sometimes two to three times faster than the official CPI.

Even more laughable is our headline 6.2% unemployment rate. It’s that low, of course, only because about 5 million Americans have dropped out of the workforce – probably because they aren’t having any success finding a job. The real rate is closer to 12% and Americans know it.

And what about our vaunted 4% GDP growth rate from April through June? That’s a good number for sure, but in the first three months of the year the economy shrank by 2.1%. Oh and the feds lowered the estimates for how much the economy expanded in the previous three years.

Click LikeFor middle class families so far in this recovery, which officially began in June of 2009, real median household income adjusted for inflation has fallen by more than $1,500, according to Census Bureau data. That’s some recovery.

We would have just about $2 trillion more GDP according to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress if this economic recovery had been as strong as the Reagan recovery. In other words, if that money were evenly divided to all families, the typically family would have about $25,000 MORE income to spend every year.

And here’s one more economic statistic that is much worse today than when Mr. Obama entered office. The national debt is $7 trillion higher. This is the Obamanomics spending and borrowing binge hangover. How many decades will it take to pay all this off? That party is over.

Probably the dreariest assessment by Americans in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was that 76% — or three or four Americans “don’t feel confident” that their children’s generation will be better off than this generation. Yikes. The American Dream appears in big trouble for a lot of Americans after the terrible recession of 2008 and 2009 and the Obama recovery. 

Corporations are rich but humans are poor

What economic recover? — Corporations are rich but humans are poor

In 2009 Joe Biden promised a “summer of recovery” but five years later we are all still waiting for it to arrive. The poll also finds the public hates politicians and the way our political system is working to solve problems. And that’s the least shocking result of all. It turns out people aren’t as dumb as Washington thinks they are.

via What economic recovery?.

Mar 072014

By Curtis S. Dubay and Stephen Moore

The new Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report measuring how fast the economy grew in the fourth quarter of 2013 and for the entire year of 2013 confirms that while the U.S. economy has clearly picked up steam, it is still in the grip of a subpar recovery from the recession that ended in 2009.

The cost of this slack-paced expansion—compared to past recoveries—has been $1.3 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Joint Economic Committee.[1] In other words, the U.S. economy would be generating about $1.3 trillion more in output and income to American workers and businesses if recent policy mistakes had not prevented an even average recovery. This growth deficit is a major reason opportunity remains stagnant and talk of income inequality is growing.


Growth Is Picking Up, but Is It Sustainable?

The good news from the BEA report is that growth for the second half of 2013 was 3.5 percent and private-sector growth, which is what matters, was closer to 4 percent.[2] That is hardly warp speed, but it feels like taking a lap in a race car on the Indy 500 track compared to the slow-motion growth rate since the recession officially ended.

Over the full year of 2013, however, the economy grew at an anemic 1.9 percent. That is an alarmingly slow rate of expansion this far into the recovery, especially considering the economy has never had a breakout year of exceptional growth since the recession ended. Growth during the recovery has averaged 2.3 percent annually compared to over 4 percent during the average post–World War II recovery.[3]


Growth in the fourth quarter indicates that a pickup in the economy to a more normal rate of expansion might not be on the horizon as many had hoped. In that period the economy slid to 3.2 percent growth from 4.1 percent in the third quarter. While the economy did pick up steam in the second half of 2013 compared to the first half of the year, the fourth quarter deceleration is worrisome.

Adding to the concern about the fourth quarter slowdown is a recent spate of other weak economic indicators. The stock market has shed more than 7 percent since mid-January this year, car sales were weak in January,[4] and the manufacturing outlook deteriorated in January compared to December.[5]

The monthly jobs report for January comes out tomorrow and will add another data point indicating whether the economy is slowing down or continuing the momentum it built at the end of 2013.

Some argue that decreases in government spending were a contributor to soft growth in 2013.[6] They have the story backward. Government spending has fallen over the past six months even as the private economy shifted into a faster gear. The reduction in spending facilitated the pickup rather than inhibiting it.

worst economic recovery

Substantially Weaker Growth Than After Similarly Severe Recession

Money the government did not spend is resources it did not take out of the private sector either through taxing or borrowing. The private sector either spent those resources in 2013, boosting other sectors of the economy, or will spend them going forward which will result in stronger growth then. Either way the economy does not suffer when the government spends less.


Substantially Weaker Growth Than After Similarly Severe Recession

The current recovery looks to be particularly troubling compared to what happened following the last severe recession from July 1981 to November 1982. In 1986, the fourth full year of the recovery from that recession, the economy grew 3.5 percent—almost twice as fast as in 2013, the fourth full year after the recent recession ended.

The much bigger disappointment is the failure of this expansion to experience a breakout period of growth. At this stage of the post-1982 expansion, the economy averaged 4.9 percent annual growth, with seven quarters exceeding 5 percent. In 1984, growth sprinted forward at a 7.3 percent clip, while the fastest growth rate for the current recovery has been 2.8 percent in 2012.

During the first four years of the post-1982 recovery, the economy created 11.6 million jobs. The current recovery has created just over 6 million.[7]


Anti-Growth Policy Blunders to Blame

The stark difference between these recoveries raises the question: What is different this time that is preventing the economy from growing faster? The answer is that persistent policy failures emanating from Washington are causing the economy to fall short of expectations for four years and running.

The litany of policy abuses is long and includes:

  • The near $1 trillion stimulus in 2009;
  • $6 trillion added to the national debt since President Obama came into office[8];
  • Obamacare;
  • The Dodd–Frank financial reform law, which has suppressed bank lending;
  • Environmental regulations on oil, gas, and coal production that have interfered with a more robust energy-sector boom;
  • A general and sharp increase in regulations[9];
  • The inability of Washington to confront the looming explosion of spending on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare as millions of baby boomers enter retirement;
  • The uncharted waters of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program and its ongoing tapering of that initiative, which has financial markets in a guessing game of what the Fed will do next and how these maneuvers will affect interest rates and inflation; and
  • Tax increases from Obamacare and the 2013 fiscal cliff deal that raised taxes on investment and small businesses.


Troublingly, this list is not exhaustive. These mistakes have all contributed to a ratcheting down of growth and help explain why so many Americans believe that the recession has never really ended.

The policy failures all have one thing in common: They enlarged the size of the federal government and its role in the economy and lives of the American people.

Contrasted with the approach followed by President Reagan and Congress following the 1982 recession, the approaches could not be more different. President Reagan and Congress enacted a pro-growth agenda that cut taxes and reduced the reach of government. The wide disparity between growth during the ensuing recovery then and the current recovery speaks volumes about which approach is better for the economy.

Faster Growth Hopefully in Store for 2014

Hopefully, 2014 will be that year of breakout growth for the recovery that the economy so desperately needs and Americans lacking opportunity crave. The case for optimism is twofold. American businesses are in strong financial shape on balance, with large cash surpluses and bullish profits, as reflected in the rapid stock market run-up in 2013. And there is a small likelihood of Washington enacting any new anti-growth legislation this year such as more stimulus spending, a cap-and-trade regime to regulate carbon emissions, and more harmful tax increases.

The gridlock in Washington now is mostly a plus for the economy. The new GDP report confirms that in Washington these days, less is more.

Curtis S. Dubay is Senior Analyst in Tax Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, and Stephen Moore is Chief Economist, at The Heritage Foundation.

via U.S. Economy Growing Slowly Because of Anti-Growth Policy.

Jan 122014

by Matthew Vadum — January 10, 2014

Fifty years after liberals launched their sacrosanct “War on Poverty,” Americans, and black Americans in particular, aren’t better off.

But neo-Marxist ideologue that he is, President Obama is determined to double-down on leftist failure, widening the so-called war by calling for the biggest welfare spending increases in American history— amounting to more than $10 trillion over a decade, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector.

This War on Poverty that Obama wants to escalate came on the heels of the death of President John F. Kennedy.

Black and Homeless in Obama's America

Black and homeless in Obama’s America

As the country was reeling in shock just seven weeks after Kennedy was assassinated, his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, urged Congress to embark on a new metaphorical war effort against poverty. In that State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, Johnson said, “Let this session of Congress be known … as the session which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

This “unconditional war on poverty in America … will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won,” Johnson said. ”The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

The War on Poverty also gave taxpayers’ money to so-called community groups like ACORN and Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation in order to encourage them to agitate against the status quo. This, in turn, stimulated demand for more government spending as taxpayer dollars became a kind of ever-increasing subsidy for pro-Big Government activism. The federal government still hands out huge grants to left-wing groups to subsidize their efforts to take away our economic freedoms.

A half a century later, federal and state welfare spending, adjusted for inflation, is now 16 times greater. The country has spent $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars over the past 50 years on welfare programs, far exceeding what the U.S. has spent on every war it has fought.

Already the federal government administers 80 different means-tested welfare programs. Government blew $916 billion on these programs in 2012 alone, and about 100 million Americans accepted aid from at least one of the programs, costing $9,000 per recipient on average, a figure, Heritage’s Rector notes, that doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare benefits.

Yet “victory” in the War on Poverty is nowhere in sight. In 2012, 15 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line, roughly the same percentage as in the mid-1960s. Currently, around 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the government defines as a four-member family earning $23,550 a year. And 47 million Americans receive food stamp benefits, 13 million more than when President Obama was first sworn in.

“Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money on poverty-fighting programs, but that’s not the problem,” according to Rector. “In reality, we’re losing the war on poverty because we have forgotten the original goal, as LBJ stated it half a century ago: ‘to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.’”

Despite an orgy of federal spending, blacks and other minorities have suffered the most from big government poverty alleviation efforts. The anti-marriage, anti-family tilt of welfare policies has devastated black communities.

black poverty

The slavery of poverty

“The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do, and that is to destroy the black family,” says economics professor Walter E. Williams of George Mason University, a black man who rose from poverty.

As a result of misguided government policies that grew out of the War on Poverty, out-of-wedlock birthrates have mushroomed, David Horowitz and John Perazzo report in “Government vs. the People.”

By 1976, the illegitimacy rate for whites jumped to 10 percent from 3 percent in 1965. Blacks fared far worse, as their illegitimacy rate skyrocketed to 50.3 percent, more than double the percentage in 1965. “In 1987, for the first time in the history of any American racial or ethnic group, the birthrate for unmarried black women surpassed that for married black women,” they wrote.

Currently, whites have an illegitimacy rate of 29 percent, compared to a shocking 73 percent for blacks. Overall, the poverty rate for single parents with children was 35.6 percent in 2008, but for married couples with children it was a much lower 6.4 percent.

The poverty rate for single Hispanic parents with children was 37.5 percent in 2008, but for married Hispanic couples with children it was 12.8 percent. The poverty rate for single black parents with children was 35.3 percent in 2008, but for married black couples with children it was 6.9 percent.

The economic situation of blacks has deteriorated sharply during Barack Obama’s presidency, in particular. Nationally, unemployment stands at 7 percent but among black Americans unemployment has essentially stood still. When Obama was inaugurated in 2009 black unemployment was 12.7 percent. Today it is 12.5 percent.

In 2008 the black poverty rate was 12 percent; now it is 16.1 percent. Median income fell by 3.6 percent in white households to $58,000 in the same time frame, but slid 10.9 percent to $33,500 for black households, according to the Census Bureau.

“The data is [sic] going to indicate sadly that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category,” Tavis Smiley, a black, left-wing radio talk show host said in the fall. “On that regard, the president ought to be held responsible.”


What has happened to blacks in America?

These terrible numbers help to explain the president’s recent attempt to change the subject from the economy to “income inequality,” an abstraction that fails to register with most Americans.

They also help to explain why Obama intends to push for an increase in the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

Left-wingers have successfully been changing the subject, moving the discussion away from their policy failures for 50 years now.

Why should they change a winning formula now? They know they can continue to count on taxpayer funding for their adventures in leftist activism.

via The War on Poverty’s Biggest Casualties | FrontPage Magazine.

Dec 072013

By James Sherk and John L. Ligon

President Obama and some Senators have proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next two years—its highest level ever, after accounting for inflation. The proposed increase far outstrips the productivity growth of minimum-wage workers and would force employers to curtail hiring.

Some proponents of the increase theorize that increased spending power for low-income workers stimulates the economy and offsets these job losses. However, conventional macroeconomic modeling shows that this minimum-wage hike would likely eliminate 300,000 jobs per year and reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by over $40 billion annually.

Unprecedented Increase

President Obama and Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA) support legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by early 2016 and subsequently index it to inflation via the Consumer Price Index (CPI).[1]

This proposal would raise the minimum wage to unprecedented levels. The minimum wage already stands above its historical average. Since 1950, the federal minimum wage has averaged $6.62 per hour in 2013 dollars.[2] It peaked in purchasing power at $8.28 per hour in 1968.[3]

This legislation would raise the minimum wage one-seventh above its all-time high.[4] It would significantly raise the cost of hiring unskilled and inexperienced workers during an already weak economy.


Many advocates of the increase argue that a $10 rate would simply restore the minimum wage to its purchasing power in 1968.[5] They argue it would no more burden the economy today than it did then. They can make this argument because the government calculates several different measures of inflation, notably the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Personal Consumption Expenditures deflator (PCE). The minimum wage stood at $1.58 per hour in 1968. Using the PCE to adjust for inflation equates that to $8.28 per hour in 2013 dollars, while the CPI equates it to $10.56 per hour in today’s money. Proponents of minimum-wage increases use the latter figure.

However, the CPI suffers from several serious biases. Economists have found that the CPI:

  • Inadequately accounts for changing consumption patterns (such as Americans purchasing more smartphones as prices fall),
  • Does not account for savings when consumers shift to less expensive retail outlets (such as Wal-Mart or online stores),
  • Takes several years to incorporate new products (such as the iPhone) after they are introduced—precisely the time they tend to fall rapidly in price, and
  • Inadequately adjusts for quality improvements in goods and services.

These biases artificially inflate CPI-measured inflation by about one percentage point per year.[6] In the short term, this has only small effects, but when compounded over decades, it heavily distorts perceptions of prior earnings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognizes these problems and has made some changes to the CPI methodology to address them.

An alternative measure of inflation, the CPI Research Series (CPI-RS), calculates past inflation rates using the current methodology. Inflation adjusting with the CPI-RS shows the minimum wage at $9.24 per hour in 1968.


Nonetheless, many significant biases remain in both the CPI and the CPI-RS.[7] Although the PCE does not correct all of them, it more accurately accounts for consumers’ changing spending patterns. Economists who study these issues consider the PCE a better inflation measure than the CPI.[8] Both the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office use the PCE as their preferred measure of inflation.[9] Using the PCE shows that Senator Harkin would increase the minimum wage to an unprecedented level.

Fewer Entry-Level Jobs

Businesses would respond to this increase the same way they respond to other cost increases—by purchasing less of the more expensive good or service.[10] This would hurt less-skilled workers’ prospects for advancement.

Most minimum-wage jobs are entry-level positions filled by workers with limited education and experience. Almost three-fifths of minimum-wage workers have no more than a high school education, and half are under the age of 25.[11] They work for the minimum wage because they currently lack the productivity to command higher pay.

Minimum-wage jobs give these workers experience and teach them essential job skills. Often these skills pertain more to general employability than to a particular job: the discipline of being a reliable employee, learning how to interact with customers and coworkers, how to accept direction from a boss, etc. These skills are essential to getting ahead in the workplace but difficult to learn without actual on-the-job experience.

Once workers gain these skills, they become more productive, and most quickly earn raises or move to higher-paying jobs. Over two-thirds of workers starting out at the minimum wage earn more than that a year later.[12] Minimum-wage increases saw off this bottom rung of many workers’ career ladders.

Negative Macroeconomic Effects

Proponents of minimum-wage increases argue that increasing minimum-wage workers’ pay would boost their spending and stimulate the economy, offsetting potential job losses.[13] Macroeconomic modeling does not support these claims.

The Heritage Foundation used the IHS Global Insight macroeconomic model—which many financial institutions, manufacturers, and government agencies use to make economic forecasts—to estimate the consequences of increasing the minimum wage. The Global Insight modeling accounts for minimum-wage workers’ higher pay, employer reactions to higher labor costs, and price increases passed onto consumers.

The model shows that increasing the minimum wage would hurt the economy on net—real GDP would decline by $42 billion in 2017 relative to the baseline. Moreover, by 2017 the legislation would reduce employment by 287,000 jobs annually.[14]

Minimum-Wage Pay Tracks Productivity

Minimum-wage hike advocates further argue that productivity gains have enabled businesses to absorb higher minimum wages.[15]The New York Times, for example, recently editorialized that “if the minimum wage had kept pace over time with the average growth in productivity, it would be about $17 per hour.”[16] In this view, minimum-wage employers could easily pay more if the government forced them to.

This argument conflates economy-wide average productivity with the productivity of minimum-wage workers. Labor productivity in nonfarm businesses increased 72 percent between 1987 and 2012. Compensation increased almost as much—55 percent.[17] However, the productivity of minimum-wage workers increased much less. Between 1987 and 2012, the average productivity of fast-food workers rose 12 percent—very close to the 9 percent increase in hourly compensation in the fast-food sector.[18]

The pay of workers in entry-level jobs (such as fast food) closely tracks their productivity. Restaurants that gave 72 percent raises to workers whose productivity increased by one-tenth would soon go out of business.

Hurting Low-Income Workers

President Obama has proposed an unprecedented minimum-wage increase. A $10.10 per hour minimum wage would set it one-seventh above its inflation-adjusted historical high. Businesses would have difficulty absorbing these cost increases—minimum-wage workers’ pay has closely tracked their productivity. Businesses would have to instead cut jobs, making it more difficult for unskilled workers to gain the experience necessary to get ahead.

While proponents of raising the minimum wage theorize that higher pay would stimulate economic growth, macroeconomic modeling shows that this proposal would in fact eliminate jobs and reduce GDP.

James Sherk is Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics and John L. Ligon is Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.

Appendix A: Methodology

Heritage analysts used the IHS Global Insight (GII) 2013 November Short-Term U.S. Macroeconomic model adjusted to reflect per hourly federal minimum wage set to $7.25. The series in the GII model reflecting the federal hourly minimum wage is set to $7.25 in 2013 and $8.00 in 2014, with annual increases to $10.065 in 2023, the last year of the forecast period. This series was adjusted to reflect a federal hourly minimum wage rate of $7.25 for each quarter of the forecast period (2013:4 to 2023:4).

IHS Global Insight is a leading economic forecasting firm in the United States. This model is used by private-sector and government economists to estimate how changes in the economy and public policy are likely to affect major economic indicators. The methodologies, assumptions, conclusions, and opinions presented here are entirely the work of analysts in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. They have not been endorsed by, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, the owners of the Global Insight model.

The analysis in this report reflects a counterfactual forecast scenario where the federal hourly minimum-wage rate adjusts to the schedule outlined below. The counterfactual minimum wage assumes annual CPI growth of 2.4 percent per year after 2016. This counterfactual forecast scenario is run against the adjusted baseline reflecting a federal hourly minimum-wage rate of $7.25 for each year of the forecast period (2013 to 2023). The change in the model in this simulation is the adjustment to the minimum-wage rate series in the GII model. There were no other adjustments made to the GII model.

via Unprecedented Minimum Wage Hike Would Hurt Jobs and the Economy.

 Posted by at 7:16 pm
Sep 052013

Wednesday, 04 Sep 2013 01:48 PM

The demographic groups that provided President Barack Obama with his 2012 election victory have fared worse economically than others during his presidency, according to The Wall Street Journals’ Stephen Moore.

“According to a new report on median household incomes by Sentier Research, in 2012 millions of American voters apparently cast ballots contrary to their economic self-interest,” the editor wrote Wednesday.

Sentier found that real median household income for Americans dropped 4.4 percent during the four years beginning in June 2009, when the economic recovery started.

“Those who were most likely to vote for Barack Obama in 2012 were members of demographic groups most likely to have suffered the steepest income declines,” Moore observed, noting that the president’s re-election victory stemmed largely from his support among young voters, single women, voters with a high-school diploma or less, blacks, and Hispanics.

Black Teen Unemployment

Black Teen Unemployment Rate around 43%

According to the Sentier Research report, households headed by single women experienced an income drop of about 7 percent, while the decline was 9.6 percent for those younger than 25, 10.9 percent for black heads of households, 4.5 percent for Hispanic heads of households, and 8 percent for workers with a high-school diploma or less.

“This is a stunning reversal of the progress for these groups during the expansions of the 1980s and 1990s, and even through the start of the 2008 recession,” Moore said, referring to Census reports showing that from 1981 to 2008 the biggest income gains came for black women, followed by white women, black men, and white men.

“Mr. Obama has often contemptuously, and wrongly, branded the quarter-century period of prosperity beginning with the presidency of Ronald Reagan as a ‘trickle down’ era,” Moore continued.

“For many in the groups that Mr. Obama set out to help, a return to the prosperity of that era would be a vast improvement.”

Moore also noted that Census income figures included cash government benefits, such as unemployment insurance, disability payments, and the earned-income tax credit. The costs for most of these cash programs have jumped during Obama’s presidency, he wrote, but incomes have still decreased for the lowest-income eligible groups.

.”This suggests that wages and salaries from employment have shrunk at an even faster pace than the Census data show,” Moore said.

“What all of this means is that the stimulus-led economic revival that began officially in June 2009 . . . has only resulted in lower incomes for at least half of Americans, the very ones who were instrumental in electing Mr. Obama twice.”

via WSJ’s Moore: Obama’s Key Supporters Worse Off Under his Presidency.

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Aug 202013

Exclusive: Stan Marszalk (WND) reveals progressives’ methodical attacks on business

Obama’s 2013 Refi Program:
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Ever since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Americans have heard a lot about “progressivism,” Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” of orchestrated chaos – basically, intentionally causing an existing system to break down in order to “rescue” it by instituting a new system. In other words, a “fundamental transformation.”

Conservatives believe this is Obama’s playbook, while liberals dismiss it as rightwing paranoia. But consider Obama’s economic policies with this paradigm in mind.

For any economy to function properly depends on the availability of capital and credit, raw materials, manufacturing capacity and production, and labor. To intentionally cripple an economy, one or more of these elements would have to be controlled or withheld.

Cold Hard Cash

Your Tax Dollars

American leaders have been overloading the economy with debt to pay for goodies promised to the populace since long before Obama, but the first big push for outright misallocation of capital (something strongly promoted by progressives) started with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, signed by Jimmy Carter. After all, the two principal economic engines driving the U.S. economy were automobiles and housing. The Act forced banks to misdirect their investment capital to areas and individuals that previously did not merit credit because of the high risks involved.

Thus, in place of 30-year mortgage loans that in the 1960s had fairly strict standards and required 20 percent down, we ended up with “liar loans” and 0 percent down, all with the support of Fannie Mae and the blessings of progressive officialdom. At the peak of the housing bubble in 2007, there were roughly 450 trillion dollars’ worth of derivatives and mortgage junk bonds floating in the world markets, while the combined total of GDP of all world economies was estimated at only 57 trillion dollars! Once the housing bubble burst, it almost took the developed capitalist countries down for the duration, and we are still suffering from the after-effects of this blowup.

The 2008 financial fiasco has brought us the Dodd-Frank legislation that will generate many thousands of pages of new regulations and put a stack of new restrictions on the financial community. It has also brought with it a number of new councils, committees, offices and bureaus that will give us an army of new public servants! Much of this legislation is still not too well understood and many regulations still have not been hatched by that new army of bureaucrats. But one thing is certain: It will substantially increase the operating costs of the banks. The large money center and regional banks can ill afford it, but the burden will be beyond the capabilities of the small, privately owned local institutions that in due course will fold.

In the end, the government will control the allocation of credit, capital flows and the uses of money.

During the past three years, the progressive planners in government have been strong-arming the heavily regulated banks into refinancing previously defaulted loans at substantial losses to investors and banks themselves. The latest data indicate that 46 percent of such refinanced loans now have defaulted a second time, paving the way for a second financial bubble in the future.

Before we leave the subject of housing and its effect on the economy, consider the new federal rule unveiled by HUD, dedicated to “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” What that means is a forced integration of housing through zoning laws, infrastructure planning, financial policy and transportation. For an extreme example, it might transplant a “welfare case” from his cardboard box under an overpass into an upscale gated community! What a wonderful example of equality! But one thing is for sure. It would shatter the values in the housing market and achieve one of the goals of the Cloward-Piven Strategy: Push the dissatisfied population to the brink of rioting so the authorities can step in with remedies that result in a new form of government.

As an added “benefit,” this new regulation will also re-energize school integration whose previous incarnation was the government’s intensely controversial forced-busing program.

Finally, if you ask a reality-based economist what is the single most effective way to grind an economy to a crawl, he will have to agree it is curtailing the availability of abundant and affordable energy. This is one reason the Environmental Protection Agency has become one of the favorite tools of progressives in controlling the economy. It came into being to enforce the Clean Air Act of 1963, signed by Lyndon Johnson. Since then, it has muscled its way into almost every area of environment and production, exploding into a force of 17,000 bureaucrats. It mandates, enforces and punishes.

EPA has expanded into a monstrosity that will ultimately strangle this country, as all its actions have the net effect of diminishing the availability of affordable energy. The recently planned additional use of ethanol will increase the cost of automotive fuels, ruin millions of older automobile engines and sharply increase the cost of food and anything else moved by road transport. (They are also looking at how to restrict fracking, which would otherwise unlock untold amounts of domestic energy sources.)

Add to this Obama’s declared war on “dirty coal” and you will see a sharp increase in the promised skyrocketing electricity costs, which in turn will affect everything from household power to production and manufacturing in this country. (Even driving the Volt will cost more!)

All of this will have an enormous effect on the middle class. Although the announced goal of the EPA is to improve the quality of life, the middle class just will not be able to afford all that wonderful quality.

What is disconcerting about all of this is that the right-of-center politicians, journalists and commentators who should know better get preoccupied with some relatively insignificant issue the progressives throw out to them to obsess and fight over, all as a diversion to keep us from focusing on the main agenda and goal of Obama, which is so well defined by the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It is the main method by which Team Obama is attempting to accomplish the promised “fundamental transformation” – another term for “revolution.”


via How Obama is deliberately crippling U.S. economy.

 Posted by at 1:34 pm  Tagged with:
Aug 202013

by Michael Snyder — August 20, 2013

You can see it coming, can’t you? The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is skyrocketing, the S&P 500 has been down for 9 of the last 11 trading days and troubling economic news is pouring in from all over the planet.

The much anticipated “financial correction” is rapidly approaching, and investors are starting to race for the exits. We have not seen so many financial trouble signs all come together at one time like this since just prior to the last major financial crisis. It is almost as if a “perfect storm” is brewing, and a lot of the “smart money” has already gotten out of stocks and bonds.

Alex Jones During His Interview with Esquire Magazine

Alex Jones During His Interview with Esquire Magazine

Could it be possible that we are heading toward another nightmarish financial crisis? Could we see a repeat of 2008 or potentially even something worse? Of course a lot of people believe that we will never see another major financial crisis like we experienced in 2008 ever again. A lot of people think that this type of “doom and gloom” talk is foolish. It is those kinds of people that did not see the last financial crash coming and that are choosing not to prepare for the next one even though the warning signs are exceedingly clear. Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst, and right now things do not look good at all. The following are 18 signs that global financial markets are entering a horrifying death spiral…

#1 The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has risen for 5 of the past 6 days, and it briefly touched the 2.90% level on Monday.

#2 Rapidly rising interest rates are spooking investors and causing them to pull money out of bonds at a very rapid pace…

Investors have yanked nearly $20 billion from bond mutual funds and exchange traded funds so far in August. That’s the fourth highest pullback ever, according to TrimTabs data. In June, investors took out $69.1 billion — the highest on record.

#3 The sell-off of U.S. Treasuries is being led by foreigners. In particular, China and Japan have been particularly aggressive in selling off bonds…

China and Japan led an exodus from U.S. Treasuries in June after the first signals the U.S. central bank was preparing to wind back its stimulus, with data showing they accounted for almost all of a record $40.8 billion of net foreign selling of Treasuries.

The sales were part of $66.9 billion of net sales by foreigners of long-term U.S. securities in June, a fifth straight month of outflows and the largest since August 2007, U.S. Treasury Department data showed on Thursday.

China, the largest foreign creditor, reduced its Treasury holdings to $1.2758 trillion, and Japan trimmed its holdings for a third straight month to $1.0834 trillion. Combined, they accounted for about $40 billion in net Treasury outflows.

#4 Thanks to rapidly rising bond yields, some of the largest exchange-traded bond funds are getting absolutely hammered right now…

• The $18 billion iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond fund (ticker: LQD) has fallen 7.94% since May 2, according to S&P Capital IQ. That’s including reinvested interest from the fund’s bond holdings.

• The 3.7 billion iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond (TLT) has plunged 15.9% the same period. Longer-term bonds typically get hit harder when rates rise than shorter-term bonds. For example, the iShares Barclays 3-7 Year Treasury Bond fund (IEI) has fallen 3.2% since May 2.

• PowerShares Emerging Markets Sovereign Debt (PCY), which invests in government bonds issued in developing countries, has fallen 12.7%. The fund has $1.8 billion in assets.

#5 In recent weeks we have witnessed the largest cluster of Hindenburg Omens that we have seen since prior to the last financial crisis.

#6 George Soros has bet a tremendous amount of money that the S&P 500 is going to be heading down.

#7 At this point, the S&P 500 has fallen for 9 out of the last 11 trading days.

Debt Bomb

Debt Bomb

    #8 Margin debt has spiked to extremely dangerous levels.  This is a pattern that we also saw just before the last financial crash and just before the dotcom bubble burst…

The exuberant mood comes as margin debt on Wall Street hovers near $377bn, just below its all-time high and well above peaks before the dotcom crash and the Lehman crisis.

“Investors have rarely been more levered than today,” said Deutsche Bank, warning that the spike in margin debt is a “red flag” and should be watched closely.

#9 The growth rate of new commercial bank loans and leases is now the slowest that it has been since the end of the last financial crisis.

#10 According to a shocking new report, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are masking “billions of dollars” in losses.  Will they need to be bailed out again just like they were during the last financial crisis?

#11 Wal-Mart reported very disappointing sales numbers for the second quarter.  Sales at stores open at least a year were down 0.3%.  This is a continuation of a trend that has been building for years.

#12 U.S. consumer bankruptcies just experienced their largest quarterly increase in three years.

#13 The velocity of money in the United States has hit another stunning new low.

#14 The massive civil unrest in Egypt threatens to disrupt the steady flow of oil out of the Middle East…

After last week’s bloody crackdown by the Egyptian army, fears of a disruption of oil supplies to the West have boosted the oil price. Brent crude prices were propelled to a four-month high of $111.23 on Thursday. If the turmoil gets worse – or unrest spreads to other countries – the risk premium currently factored into the price of crude is likely to increase further.

#15 European stocks just experienced their biggest decline in six weeks.

#16 The Japanese national debt recently crossed the quadrillion yen mark, and many are expecting the Japanese financial system to start melting down at any time.

#17 In Indonesia, the stock market is “cratering“.

#18 In India, the yield on their 10 year government bonds has skyrocketed from 7.1 percent in May to 9.25 percent now.

As the coming months unfold, keep a close eye on the “too big to fail” banks both in Europe and in the United States.  When the next great financial crisis strikes, they will play a starring role once again.  They have been incredibly reckless, and as James Rickards told Greg Hunter during an interview the other day, we are in much worse shape to deal with a major banking crisis than we were back in 2008…

What’s going to cause the next crisis?  Rickards says,“The problem in 2008 was too-big-to-fail banks.  Well, those banks are now bigger.  Their derivative books are bigger.  In other words, everything that was wrong in 2008 is worse today.” Rickards goes on to warn, “The last time, in 2008 when the crisis started, the Fed’s balance sheet was $800 billion.  Today, the Fed’s balance sheet is $3.3 trillion and increasing at $1 trillion a year.”  Rickards contends, “You’re going to have a banking crisis worse than the last one because the banking system is bigger without the resources because the Fed is tapped out.”  As far as the Fed ending the money printing, Rickards predicts, “My view is they won’t.  The economy is fundamentally weak.  We have 50 million on food stamps, 24 million unemployed and 11 million on disability, and all these numbers are going up.”

We never even came close to recovering from the last financial crisis and the last recession.

Now the next major wave of the economic collapse is coming up quickly.

I hope that you are taking this time to prepare for the approaching storm, because it is going to be very painful.

via » 18 Signs That Global Financial Markets Are Entering A Horrifying Death Spiral Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

 Posted by at 11:24 am
Aug 112013

By Karoun Demirjian  — Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013 | 2 a.m.

In just about seven weeks, people will be able to start buying Obamacare-approved insurance plans through the new health care exchanges.  But already, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is predicting those plans, and the whole system of distributing them, will eventually be moot.


Sen. Harry Reid talks about the benefits offered to small business as a result of the health insurance reform, March 21, 2011

Reid said he thinks the country has to “work our way past” insurance-based health care during a Friday night appearance on Vegas PBS’ program “Nevada Week in Review.”

“What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever,” Reid said.

When then asked by panelist Steve Sebelius whether he meant ultimately the country would have to have a health care system that abandoned insurance as the means of accessing it, Reid said: “Yes, yes. Absolutely, yes.”

The idea of introducing a single-payer national health care system to the United States, or even just a public option, sent lawmakers into a tizzy back in 2009, when Reid was negotiating the health care bill.

“We had a real good run at the public option … don’t think we didn’t have a tremendous number of people who wanted a single-payer system,” Reid said on the PBS program, recalling how then-Sen. Joe Lieberman’s opposition to the idea of a public option made them abandon the notion and start from scratch.  Eventually, Reid decided the public option was unworkable.  “We had to get a majority of votes,” Reid said. “In fact, we had to get a little extra in the Senate, we have to get 60.”

Reid cited the post-WWII auto industry labor negotiations that made employer-backed health insurance the norm, remarking that “we’ve never been able to work our way out of that” before predicting that Congress would someday end the insurance-based health care system.  Reid also had some strong words for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller concerning their ongoing dispute with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz over shipments of low-level nuclear waste from Oak Ridge, Tenn., to Nevada.

Sandoval disputes the existence of “many memos” that Moniz said were signed between state and federal officials, permitting the import of the spent fuel rods.  Heller has asked Moniz to clarify the existence of the memos, which Moniz first referred to in testimony before the Senate Energy Committee on July 30.

Reid acknowledged that Moniz may have been mistaken about the memos but suggested that Sandoval and Heller were “flailing away” with their complaints, before establishing the facts, which Reid said he “just do(es)n’t think we have.”  “If there are these memos flying around then somebody should be able to find them someplace, but this is not the point,” Reid said. “Gov. Sandoval knows his powers are limited.  This is interstate commerce … you can’t just say ‘we’re not going to take it.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

via Reid says Obamacare just a step toward eventual single-payer system

 Posted by at 7:00 pm  Tagged with:
Jul 282013

By Alison Acosta Fraser

To read the news, you’d think America’s fiscal problems are under control. After all, following four years of $1 trillion-plus deficits, this year’s will be “only” $642 billion.  And Congress cut spending this year by letting the sequester happen. So rather than worry about the debt, some are using this “progress” as a reason to focus on jobs and the economy.

But this would be wrong.

Here are the facts: The sequester cuts affected only a part of the budget and shaved just 2.4 percent of all spending over the next decade. It left entitlements, the largest and fastest growing part of the budget, essentially untouched. So even though some programs were cut, total spending barely budged this year.

Next year it will take off again.

While deficits are smaller now, by the end of a decade they’ll be back up around the $1 trillion mark. And they will soar as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and Obamacare costs skyrocket. All this mounting spending will only add to the already huge levels of federal debt.

Debt held by the public will jump from $11 trillion in 2012 to $19 trillion by 2023, a 73 percent increase. We will reach the debt limit again shortly. The debt limit includes both publicly held debt and debt owed to federal trust funds such as Social Security’s. Today it is more than 100 percent of GDP — at $16.7 trillion and climbing. But it will swell to $25 trillion after a decade.

So for those who think our federal finances are improving and the job is done — think again. Debt does matter.

First, high levels of debt mean that too many of our taxpayer dollars are wasted on paying interest. This is money that could have been better spent elsewhere, by letting us all keep more of our hard-earned money or by better funding national priorities such as defense.

Second, when debt gets high enough or rises fast enough, capital markets will notice and interest rates will rise. Worse, this can happen quickly and dramatically. Interest rates on mortgages, car loans and credit cards would go through the roof.

Third, inflation could become a problem. As debt rises, the Federal Reserve could turn to an age-old, but dangerous tactic: printing money. This would reduce the value of the debt, but it would also usher in a new age of inflation.

Fourth, high levels of debt usually translate to much lower levels of economic growth. For countries with debt at 90 percent of GDP, that growth can be nearly 25 percent slower, higher levels of debt mean even slower growth. So what does this mean for you and me? Fewer jobs and lower wages.

Fifth, this is a moral issue. Running up debts and passing them on to younger generations is wrong.

Washington’s progress on spending and debt is woefully inadequate. Rather than high-fiving over the deficit, lawmakers should promise us this year’s progress will be a first step toward more substantive steps to rein in spending and reform entitlements.

-Alison Acosta Fraser is director of the Roe Institute of Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

via Five Reasons to Worry About US Debt.

 Posted by at 12:16 am
Jun 062013

Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, November 23, 2009, 5:45 AM

It should be obvious by now that Barack Obama’s disastrous Cloward-Piven economic policies were not meant to lift the economy.

gateway pundit

After all, ask yourself, what would Obama be doing differently today if he intentionally set out to destroy the American economy?

He’s tripled the national deficit in less than one year.
obama deficit
He’s increased the national debt to $12 Trillion.
And he’s nearly doubled the unemployment rate since the Bush years.

Even Saturday Night Live and Chris Matthews can’t ignore it any longer.
Jim Simpson at The American Thinker reported today on Obama’s Cloward-Piven economic plan:

It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

The real goal of “healthcare” legislation, the real goal of “cap and trade,” the real goal of “stimulus” is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to government control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves, except in their ability to deliver power, and will make matters much worse, for that is their design.

This time, in addition to overwhelming the government with demands for services, Obama and the Democrats are overwhelming political opposition to their plans with a flood of apocalyptic legislation. Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Barney Frank said “the middle class will be too distracted to fight.”

These people are our enemies. They don’t use guns, yet, but they are just as dangerous, determined and duplicitous as the communists we faced in the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam and bush wars across the globe, and the Nazis we faced in World War II.

It is time we fully internalized and digested this fact, with all its ugly ramifications. These people have violated countless laws, and could be prosecuted, had we the political power. Not only are their policies unconstitutional, but deliberately so – the goal being to make the Constitution irrelevant. Their spending is off the charts and will drive us into hyperinflation, but could be rescinded, had we the political power. These policies are toxic, but could be stopped and reversed, had we the political power. Their ideologies are poisonous, but could be exposed for what they are, with long jail sentences as an object lesson, had we the political power.

Every single citizen who cares about this country should be spending every minute of his/her spare time lobbying, organizing, writing and planning. Fight every initiative they launch. It is all destructive. If we are to root out this evil, it is critical that in 2010 we win competent, principled leaders willing to defend our constitution and our country. Otherwise the malevolent cabal that occupies the seat of government today will become too entrenched.

After that all bets are off.

via Obama’s Cloward-Piven Strategy to Destroy American Economy Is Working Out Nicely | The Gateway Pundit.

 Posted by at 11:02 pm