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EconomicPolicyInstitute December 2, 2011

Job growth strengthens but remains insufficient to cure sick labor market

November’s job growth of 120,000 was enough to allow the share of the working-age population with a job to nudge up one-tenth of a percentage point. Revisions to earlier months were positive as well. However, at this pace of job growth, it will be more than two decades before we get back down to the pre-recession unemployment rate. Moreover, a shrinking labor force is not the means by which we want to see unemployment drop.  Today’s jobs numbers suggest that we are looking at a long, long schlep before our sick labor market recovers.

Inaction on payroll tax cut would decrease average family’s income

Yesterday, the Senate blocked two proposals to either extend or expand the one-year payroll tax cut enacted last December. Drawing on earlier EPI analysis, this week’s Economic Snapshot shows if Congress does not agree to continue the payroll tax cut or replace it with a comparably sized temporary tax rebate, declining consumption and related economic activity will decrease employment by almost one million jobs and could reduce the average family’s disposable income by $920 next year, relative to current policy.

EPI in the News

As the year closes with the economy and labor market still in need of resuscitation, numerous news outlets look to EPI’s research to understand how economic and labor-market trends will impact America’s workers and their families.  Here are some of the highlights:

What do EPI and Bruce Springsteen have in common?

In “American’s Haven’t Gotten Lazy,” veteran political strategist and Newsweek/Daily Beast columnist Paul Begala praised EPI President Lawrence Mishel and EPI’s seminal publication The State of Working America, noting how critical its data have been to disproving the myth that America’s workers have gotten lazy.

“There is only one problem with all this bashing of working people: it’s untrue. Working Americans haven’t gone soft. They’re not lazy. It’s politicians who refuse to check their facts who are the lazy ones. All they need to do is grab a copy of The State of Working America, the indispensable compendium of economic statistics published by the Economic Policy Institute,” wrote Begala.

Mishel is quoted in the article noting the lack of “any metric that would show U.S. workers as lazy,” instead calling the notion “both wrong and insulting.” Begala concluded by calling for a Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band reunion complete with honorary member Lawrence Mishel. “I can’t wait to hear Springsteen and the band sing about the workin’ life again: Little Steven on guitar, Max Weinberg on drums, the Boss on vocals … and the man who ought to be an honorary E Streeter, Larry Mishel, on economic data,” Begala mused.

As protestors occupy more and more cities across America and the world, media outlets and working people continue to rely on EPI’s data and analysis.  EPI’s research on the vast income and wealth growth disparities between the nation’s highest earners and the majority of America’s workers has been cited by multiple top news outlets, including the New York Times, New Yorker, Mother Jones, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune.

  • In “Occupy the Agenda,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof emphasized how astounding the wealth disparity statistic truly is. “The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute,” he wrote.
  • The New Yorker’s John Kenney highlighted the extreme differences between the lived experiences of the nation’s top earners and the other 99 percent in the humor piece, “We Are the One Per Cent.” “Average wealth of the top 1 percent was almost $14 million in 2009, according to a 2011 report from the Economic Policy Institute,” wrote Kenney.
  • Speaking to Tom Petruno of The Los Angeles Times, EPI President Lawrence Mishel said, “We have an economy that works for corporate America even if it doesn’t work for anybody else.” Mishel expounded on this topic during The Economist’s Buttonwood Gathering, the magazine’s annual finance and economics event. Watch a clip from Mishel’s panel, “The backlash: Zuccotti Park and beyond.”

EPI’s research on the positive economic impact of extending emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and the payroll tax cut was cited by Roll Call, the Hill, Bloomberg, Las Vegas Sun, Sun Chronicle, Daily Beast, and SmartMoney.

  • In his Roll Call opinion piece, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) cited EPI’s data to explain the urgency of extending UI benefits. “According to the Economic Policy Institute, cutting off unemployment benefits would also cost more than 500,000 jobs,” he wrote.
  • In Bloomberg and the Las Vegas Sun, EPI labor economist Heidi Shierholz explained why the immediate stimulative effect of extending UI benefits should make passing an extension a nonissue. Speaking to the Sun’s Karoun Demirjian, Shierholz said, “the economics are so clear,” extending UI benefits “should be an absolute no-brainer.”
  • The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky used EPI’s data to detail the stimulative value of extending the payroll tax cut. “Two economists at the Economic Policy Institute say ending the holiday would reduce GDP by $128 billion and cost 972,000 jobs in 2012,” wrote Tomasky.
  • From SmartMoney: “Higher payroll taxes could result in higher unemployment. An estimated 1.1 million people will lose their jobs if this cut gets eliminated, says Andrew Fieldhouse, federal budget policy analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank.”

After the bipartisan supercommittee failed to reach a deal to lower the nation’s deficit, multiple media outlets turned to EPI for perspective, including National Journal, the Fiscal Times, and the Washington Post.

  • Ethan Pollack, EPI federal budget policy analyst, told National Journal’s Catherine Holder that the U.S. is unlikely to hit the debt ceiling until after the election, “But if there’s a recession, there’s a very good chance” the U.S. would hit the debt ceiling before the end of 2012, which would be disastrous.
  • From The Washington Post:The ‘trigger’ that takes effect once the supercommittee fails, meanwhile, will cut an additional $294 billion from domestic discretionary over that time. The Economic Policy Institute’s Ethan Pollack drew a graph showing that, as a result, domestic discretionary spending will be far lower, as a portion of GDP, than it was during the Reagan or Clinton or Bush years.”
From the EPI Blog
Joshua Smith
Myths and Facts About Corporate Taxes, Part 3: Are American Companies’ Profits Trapped Overseas?
Joshua Smith
High-income Households Pay a Large Share of US Taxes—But This Doesn’t Make Our Tax System Progressive
Lawrence Mishel and Will Kimball
The Top 1 Percent of Wage Earners Falters in 2013—Was it a Temporary Event?
Joshua Smith
Myths and Facts About Corporate Taxes, Part 2: Will Congress’s Idea of “Base-Broadening, Rate-Lowering Tax Reform” Fix What’s Wrong With Our Corporate Tax Code?
Ross Eisenbrey
Corporations Are Stealing Your Constitutional Rights: Forced Arbitration Clauses
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