Quote of the Day

“So Mitt Romney didn’t personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have.  He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction; if Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits.”

Paul Krugman, “Off and Out with Mitt Romney,” NYT

Another Disappointing Jobs Report

The June jobs report came out today, and as expected, it continues to be bleak.  The economy added just 80,000 jobs (after 69,000 in May), and the unemployment rate stayed the same at 8.2%.

On the one hand, the economy has added jobs for 28 consecutive months, but on the other hand, unemployment has been over 8% for 41 straight months.

On the bright side, Obama still has Mitt for his opponent.

Middle Skills

Joe Nocera has a thoughtful column, “Filling The Skills Gap,” at the NYT pointing out that about one third of American jobs are “middle-skill jobs” that require more than a high school degree, but less than a college degree.  He also points out that thirty years ago such jobs didn’t exist.

Nocera argues that we must put more resources into our community colleges — “Community colleges can be our salvation if only we let them.”

The whole “middle skills” job market argues not just for more young people going to two-year colleges, but also against so many people going to four-year colleges.  The recent battle over student loan rates accepts without question that more and more American kids should go on to four-year colleges and that we have to make it affordable.

But we are creating more college graduates than there are jobs for them.  Lots of these graduates are currently working (if they’re working at all) in jobs that a high school or community college graduate could do just fine.  They have incurred unnecessary debt getting that B. A.

Traditionally, college graduates earn more over their lifetimes than high school graduates and high school graduates earn more than drop-outs.  But with these “middle skill” jobs all that many college graduates will ever get, I believe that is going to change, and some college graduates will never achieve an earnings bonus that will justify their having earned a four-year degree.

But we have to re-think not just four-year colleges, but also high schools.  Nocera says put resources into community colleges.  I say put them into high schools and return the value of a high school diploma, so that we don’t need so many people going to community colleges.

To a large extent, community colleges are, as Gov. Mike Huckabee is fond of pointing out, taking high school classes at college prices.  Nocera himself notes that at Miami Dade College, tuition is $3,000 a year, and 60% of the students need “remedial classes,” which means stuff they should have learned in high school.

I believe the big push in education in this country should be to prepare students for a “middle skills” job with a high school diploma.  Students shouldn’t have to spend money and another two years at a community college to get the education that we used to provide with a solid high school program.  Employers shouldn’t have to demand a two or four-year degree for jobs that don’t really require it except for the fact that they know a high school diploma has become so devalued.

Parents need to focus on the marketable skills their children are getting, not the pieces of paper.

Mitt the Cry Baby

Mitt’s campaign is insisting that WaPo retract its story from last week asserting that Bain specialized in helping grow companies that offered job outsourcing services to other U. S. companies.  They have demanded a sit down with the Post!

Meanwhile, President Obama is running ads in swing states saying we don’t need an “Outsourcer in Chief.”  Amen to that.

Mitt is whining that we “little people” don’t understand the difference between “outsourcing” and “offshoring.”

That’s a distinction you might make in a Harvard Business School paper, but if Mitt thinks that argument will help him win the election, he’s more trapped in his 1% bubble than I thought.

Young Lives on Hold

Only  16% of those who graduated from high school in 2009-2011 and didn’t go on to college have full-time jobs.*  Another 22% have part-time jobs.

60% of these graduates are still living with parents or with other relatives.

We are looking at a “lost generation.”


*  “More Young Americans Out of High School Are Also Out of Work,” Catherine Rampell, NYT

Reagan More Keynesian Than Obama

“Appearing Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ the New York Times columnist and Princeton professor [Paul Krugman] argued that Reagan was able to reduce unemployment after taking office in part because he grew government jobs — unlike Obama, who has significantly cut them.

“’If you actually look at the actual track record of government spending, government employment, Reagan is the Keynesian and Obama — mostly because of political constraints, although a little bit of lack of conviction on the part of his own people — has been the anti-Keynesian,’ Krugman said. ‘He’s been the one who’s been doing what Republicans say is the right answer.’

“Just over three years into Reagan’s first term, government jobs grew by 3.1 percent; at the same time during Obama’s tenure, they’ve been cut by 2.7 percent. Hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs have been shed in recent years.”

From “Krugman:  Reagan Was More Keynesian Than Obama,” Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo

Uh Oh!

A really bad, awful, horrible jobs report for May.   The economy added only 69,000 jobs, which is anemic, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2%.  They were expecting 150,000 jobs, which still isn’t great.

It gets worse.  The March and April jobs numbers were revised down by 49,000.

Lots of F-bombs dropping in the White House and Chicago this morning, lots of high-fives in Boston among the Mitt men.

Green shoots seem to be turning to dust.

One bright spot for Obama is that except for Florida, things are better in the swing states than they are nationally.  So voters may be happier where he needs them the most.

Why Is Press Giving Mitt a Pass?

From “The Morning Plum:  Stop letting Mitt Romney off easy,” Greg Sargent, The Plum Line:

“So Romney will now go back to claiming Obama subtracted jobs. But there’s a new twist: Romney will claim that the effect of the stimulus has been to destroy jobs. As it has in the past, the Romney camp will justify this by pointing to a bogus metric — the net jobs lost on Obama’s watch. That includes the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost before the stimulus went into effect. Really: The Romney camp’s claim is that we can calculate that the stimulus destroyed jobs overall with a metric that factors in all the jobs destroyed before the stimulus took effect. That’s not an exaggeration. It really is the Romney campaign’s position. It’s time to ask Romney himself to justify it.

“The Romney camp will also begin claiming that Obama has “never created a job.” Will anyone ask Romney about the two dozen straight months of private sector job creation we’ve seen?

“And if Romney is now going to start hitting individual stimulus projects, it’s also time to ask him what he would have done if he had been president in January of 2009. He has previously said positive things about stimulus spending. Are those no longer operative? Would Romney really not have proposed any government spending to stimulate the economy when it was in free fall? What would he have done instead? This question is absolutely central. How about asking it?”