Quality of Life Indicators in Context by Hazel Henderson
Update: December, 2013
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 203,000 in November, despite 7,000 Federal jobs lost and the disruptions of the shutdown from October 1-16, 2013, which cost the US economy $24 billion. October’s total non-farm employment was revised from 204,000 to 200,000 and September’s revised upward from 163,000 to 175,000. The unemployment rate decreased from 7.3% to 7.0%. This news from the private sector shows the recovery is still on track. Employment gains have averaged 195,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. It remains difficult to find information on government jobs which are still omitted from the main BLS summary. Continued losses of government jobs are key to understanding the state of the recovery. The official unemployment rate is at 7.0% with the civilian labor force lower at 63%, up by 455,000 in November. Over the past 12 months, federal government employment has decreased by 92,000, in part an effect of the sequester. The continuing uncertainty in Congress on the budget and new fighting over the debt expected before new deadlines in January and February 2014 will have further adverse consequences – both domestically and on the USA’s reputation worldwide.
The some ten percent of Americans who gained from the stock markets rise were doing well with jobs in financial activities up by 15,000 in July. August saw increases of 23,000 jobs in business and professional services. The rest who rely on jobs in the real economy for their income had their spending constrained. While hard to find in the BLS statistics, total government jobs in October were 21,857,000. Let us remember when looking at employment in the USA, that as of December 2011, 21,950,000 jobs were those in government at all levels. By January 2013, job cuts reduced this total to 21,858,000. Q3 of 2013 GDP-growth is reported as 3.6% , better than the 2.5% growth for Q2 of 2013. Long-term unemployment remains at 4.1 million. Cuts in government jobs (mostly in the Pentagon) should remind Congress of the consequences of budget cutting and the sequester – just as we have witnessed in Europe.
The big news for policy wonks and statisticians was the set of revisions announced July 31, 2013, and backcast to 1929 to begin accounting for the evolution of the US economy from manufacturing to services. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) finally entered the 21st century. GDP will now include much of the intangible production and services which make up some 70% of mature 21st century economies: software, R&D, entertainment, trademarks, copyrights, design and other creative innovation. In the July 31, 2013 report from the BEA, US GDP rose 1.7% (with the revised accounting method adding .41% of the total) in the second quarter of 2013 while the revision added 0.93% of the 1.1% increase reported for the first quarter. This 1.7% growth in Q2 was revised upward on August 29th to 2.5%. So far, the shifts of these intangibles from “costs” to “investments” is slight. Still not included is the most important investment all societies make in their future: education, still categorized as an “expense”! Read more