The dog wags back!

A sometimes funny, somtimes angry, but mostly progressive, blog on the politics and issues of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and America.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Battleground States

Several states are very close in the polls, and although the Dog thinks that the polls are critically flawed, it is worth looking at these states. According to polls from October 28, these states show the candidates within 2 percentage points of each other.

If the election were to turn on the economy, John Kerry would take most of the battleground states except for Florida and Hawaii (losing 31 electoral votes) while picking up 105 electoral votes in the suffering states.

Thanks to the maps and data from

Are you better off?

State of Suffering: Are you better off? Chances are the answer is no.

Which states have suffered most since the 2000 election? Well, it is not only the blue states, so all of the conspiracy theorists will have to try harder. No, our current economic policies can be summed up by the words, "misery loves company."

The table below lists the percent change in employment since the 2000 election.

-5.6% MI
-4.2% OH
-4.1% MA
-3.8% IL
-3.4% IN
-3.3% NC
-3.2% MS
-2.9% CT
-2.9% AL
-2.8% CO
-2.8% OR
-2.7% NY
-2.6% OK
-2.6% IA
-2.5% SC
-2.5% MO
-2.5% KS
-2.3% KY
-2.3% GA
-2.2% TN
-1.9% WI
-1.9% WA
-1.6% PA
-1.5% DE
-1.3% WV
-1.3% AR
-0.9% MN
-0.9% NH
-0.7% LA
-0.6% TX
-0.5% CA
-0.5% NE
-0.5% VA
-0.4% NJ
-0.1% UT
0.0% VT

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, Annual Data, 2000-2003.

Going Blue

Wagging the Dog has gone Blue as we hope most states will do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tech Outsourcing

New Reports Show U.S. Tech Job Loss, Offshoring Escalating

Separate reports released in the past two weeks, one by a national outsourcing firm and the other by a Congressionally mandated commission, reveal efforts to create jobs faster than they are being eliminated remains a challenge for many sectors of the U.S. economy.

The latest study released by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states during 2004, the U.S. will lose as many as 406,000 jobs as they are shifted from the U.S. to other countries. The figure compares to 204,000 jobs in 2001. Nearly one-fourth of the 2004 job losses are expected to go to China. Mexico and India are the other significant beneficiaries of the offshoring trend.

While the conventional wisdom in the U.S. is that companies need to offshore jobs to remain competitive, the report also says businesses engaged in production shifts "tend to be large, publicly held, highly profitable, and well established... The principal motive for production shifts to China is cost reduction rather than producing for the Chinese market."

Other key findings include:
  • "The number of jobs lost because of production shifts far exceeds that reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its report on mass layoffs due to overseas relocation.
  • "Trade adjustment assistance to workers laid-off owing to overseas job relocation is poor, covering less than one-third of the cases where production shifts occur."
The entire report and additional information on the Congressionally mandated Commission is available at:

Computer and related high-wage tech job cuts jumped 60 percent in the third quarter, according to the latest quarterly survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The 54,701 positions lost during the summer brings the total to 118,427 so far this year.

The largest number of layoff intentions were at computer companies, which planned 30,624 cuts in the third quarter (127 percent increase over the previous quarter). Also seeing increased job cutting are telecommunications (+8 percent to 19,825) and electronics (+75 percent to 4,092).

The year-to-date total jobs cut account for 16 percent of the 724,320 announcements for all industries
in the first nine months of 2004.

Source: Copied from the SSTI Weekly Digest for October 25, 2004.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

So what

I hate to say it, but a President really doesn't make a difference in the performance of the economy. In the United States, GDP in the US has consistently increased regardless of who has held the White House.

OK, now back to reality. The economy grows no matter what the President does, at least in terms of GDP. Where a President can make a difference is whether growth in GDP gets translated into jobs and income. As we have seen, with the current Administration, there is a disconnect between the growth in corporate profits and GDP and the loss of jobs.

Later we will examine how the economy is performing in terms of the international balance of payments and the import and export of goods and services. Here is one thing to consider, economists often talk about how imports are good for consumers - that is true in the short term because goods become cheaper. It is in the long-run that the full price of these cheap goods come due. When exports are shrinking, and more and more money flows out to pay for imports, there is less money to grow the local economy. In economic terms, the outflow of income to pay for imports is called leakage. The next installment will examine what is happening in terms of imports and exports.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Worse all around

There are more unemployed people, but that can be a misleading measure. Maybe I am trying to lie with statistics. There could be more unemployed people, but if they are unemployed for only a few weeks, then this is another mountain out of a mole hole thing. Sorry, that is not the case. Not only are there more people unemployed - they are unemployed for longer periods of time. The average length of unemployment has increased by nearly 7 weeks since January 2001. Of course the policy response to that has been to reduce the length of unemployment coverage. You tell me, does that make sense? Keep in mind, these are national statistics - so you can't explain it by a few individuals who are too lazy to keep looking. An increase this large, on a population this size, is what we call statistically significant. The chart below, reproduced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows the average number of weeks of unemployment.

Remember the old slogan, "It's the economy, stupid!" Well, after consistent reductions in the length of unemployment, we're returning to the level of misery that we thought was behind us.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The real unemployment story

The number of unemployed vary for a number of reasons - some get jobs, but more just stop looking for work. Economists call these people "discouraged workers." But the number of unemployed is not the best measure of the condition of the unemployed because so many may drop out of the workforce. A better measure is how many people are unemployed for long periods of time. These people are not discouraged, yet, but they can't find jobs. Since January 2001, the number of long-term unemployed, those unable to find a job in more than 15 weeks (nearly 4 months) rose by nearly 1.6 Million. That is a lot of discouragement folks! I am not making this up, but merely reporting the statistics that the government doesn't want to talk about. You can see for yourself the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The chart itelf is produced from the BLS website (yes, I am getting lazier, but it is also more significant to use a chart from their own system). The chart shows how many thousands of people were unemployed for more than 15 weeks, by month. Note that the number fell consistently until early 2001, and then has increased dramatically.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The 5 Million Job Gap

John Kerry has been criticized for deflating the jobs record of his opponent. The job numbers he cites in the debates and in his stump speeches do not count the government that were created. Well, those numbers are counted in the chart, however, to be fair, we also count the jobs that should have been created in order for the economy to keep up with population growth. When we look at the economic performance in this light, the job gap is actually more than 5 million jobs. Once again, John Kerry is pulling his punches.

Biggie Sized Government

Everyone wants more - we want to biggie size everything. That must be why government jobs have gone up so dramatically from January 2001 to September 2004. Some might see compassionate government, creating jobs for 700,000 people who would not have had them when we are losing so many private sector jobs, but others might see political calculation.

Falling Short

Economists estimate that the US economy has to add 150,000 jobs a month to keep pace with population growth. Compared to that benchmark, the US economy was 7 million jobs off the pace by the end of 2003!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Kerry is too kind

It is true, John Kerry is a liberal weenie. If he weren't such a nice guy - and if he had the same disregard for the truth as the other guy, well then he could make it all sound so much worse. But I don't think that liberals should wait around complaining that their candidate lower themselves to the standards of the opposition - it is our principles that make us liberal. So let me give some not nice facts. When we look at private sector jobs, from 2001 to 2003, 2.3 million, let me say it again, 2.3 million private sector jobs were lost. Sure, as a good liberal, I should count the uptick in jobs we've had in 2004, but some of that is seasonal, and, hey folks, 2004 aint' over yet, so don't count the chickens. On to the graph.

Profits vs. Jobs

We have already seen that corporate profits were increasing, perhaps boosted by the tax cuts. This has sustained the claims that the economy is growing stronger. But for the average American, those who cash a paycheck, this claim is simply out of touch with reality. Employment went up under Clinton-Gore, but, as predicted, when Gore won the election, millions of jobs were lost. 1.8 million of them from 2001-2003!

How W does it

Corporate Profits

If there has been any positive effect to the tax cuts, it has been in Corporate Profits. Corporate profits had begun to rebound before any reasonable person could attribute any impact to the tax cuts. It is clear however, that the net effect of Administration policies has been to sever the link between profits and jobs.

OK, some jobs were created

Those damn liberal impulses, they just prevent me from distorting the truth. Something else was up besides corporate profits, and though I am reluctant to admit it, jobs were created. And, guess what, here is the irony...the jobs created are just those that liberals are supposed to like the most. Federal government jobs! I know, crazy isn't it, and I am not complaining here because people right now need any job they can get, but you do see the irony that the supposedly "small-government" candidate has been creating far more government jobs than private sector jobs? In fact he has created only government jobs. This does not count 460,000 jobs created by state and local government, which can't be directly attributed to the current Oval Office seat warmer, but it is still worth mentioning. And finally, the proof from BEA:

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Another fraud

A Las Vegas television station reports a voter-registration firm has been tossing out Democrats' registrations and keeping those of Republicans.
On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee admitted that it has had ties to the firm, Voters Outreach of America. Hear NPR's Michele Norris and George Knapp of KLAS TV.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The ugly reality

Facts from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

John Kerry gives credit where it isn't due. His numbers reflect a recent uptick, but lets keep in mind the facts as they stand - these are the annual numbers, because 2004 ain't over yet.

1. 8 Million FTE jobs lost from 2001-2003
2.3 Million private sector jobs lost from 2001-2003
77 Thousand federal government jobs added 2001-2003
460 Thousand state and local government jobs added 2001-2003
FYI -this is a huge increase in government!

But what is up?

Corporate profits, they are up nearly $295 Billion from 2001 to 2003(or $395 Billion from Q1-2001 to Q2-2004). For 2001-2003 that equals $ 162,280 for every Full-Time-Equivalent job lost since 2001, and $ 127,190 for every private sector job that was outsourced or eliminated under this Administration.

But don't worry - you might get another couple hundred dollar tax break and maybe $1,000 for each child. It would be divisive to point out that the corporations get hundreds of thousands in profits even though jobs are disappearing. Do we want an "ownership society" in which those only those who own are the society?