Tag Archives: US Labor Department

Trade wars aren’t ‘good,’ really, they aren’t

I believe it was the character Gordon Gekko, portrayed by Michael Douglas, who said in the film “Wall Street” that “Greed … is good.”

That was about three decades ago. These days, we have another character, who happens to be the president of the United States, who is saying that “trade wars are good.”

Well, greed isn’t necessarily good. Trade wars aren’t good, either.

Yet the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has now officially gone to “war” with China, the world’s second-leading economic powerhouse.

Ladies and gents, we’re all going to pay for this.

Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. As the New York Times has reported: On Thursday, President Trump showed no signs of backing down from his fight, saying aboard Air Force One that the first wave of tariffs on $34 billion in goods would quickly be followed by levies on another $16 billion of Chinese products. And Mr. Trump continued to threaten Beijing with escalating tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese goods.

How are the Chinese going to respond? That remains the open question. According to the Times: “At the moment, I don’t see how this ends,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is very much in the president’s hands because he’s got advisers that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.”

Trump’s war against our traditional allies and trading partners has reached around the world. He’s imposed tariffs on Canada and Mexico, on the European Union and on Great Britain.

Tariff is another word for “tax,” meaning that the tax will add to the cost of producing the goods being shipped. If we’re going to impose these taxes on imported products, then the nation from which they come will respond with tariffs/taxes of their own on the goods that come from the United States.

Think, too, for a moment about the U.S. Labor Department’s report today that non-farm payrolls grew by 213,000 jobs in June. Good news, yes? Of course it is!

Will we continue to experience this continuing job growth if manufacturers no longer can afford to do business in this world of growing tariffs and taxes?

That’s my fear.

Trade wars aren’t good.

Another presidential directive tossed aside

Donald Trump told us he would be an “unconventional” president.

Oh, man, has he ever delivered on that campaign promise.

Case in point: Trump fired off a tweet about an hour before the Labor Department announced the May jobs figures. He said he was “looking forward” to the announcement. It came and the numbers were good. They were great! Joblessness is now at 3.8 percent, the lowest in many years.

Although the president didn’t break any law with the tweet, he violated a directive handed down some years ago that counseled presidents to avoid scooping these reports. They idea is to protect the integrity of the announcement and avoid any premature reaction by big-time financial investors.

This guy, the president, just cannot control himself. Sure, the news was good. He wanted to share it. I can’t blame him for that. I can, however, question the judgment of a president who cannot exhibit any sort of discipline that all of his predecessors have shown.

His getting ahead of the jobs figures once again betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the complexity of the office to which he was elected.

As I’ve noted before, the presidency of the United States is no place for on-the-job training.

Good news, then a trade war … nice!

Donald J. Trump has just managed to piddle on his own good-news report. This is weird, man.

The U.S. Labor Department this morning released some seriously positive news: 233,000 non-farm jobs were added to the payrolls in May, which is greater than what economists expected; the nation’s jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2000.

We’re cheering the news! Yes, the economy is showing signs of rocking along. The president deserves his share of credit for the serious uptick in employment activity.

But … wait!

The previous day, the president announced a huge tariff on imported steel and other goods. Who’s going to get slapped with this protectionist measure? Our major trading partners and allies: Canada, Mexico, the European Union.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement this week about how this policy might make sense to someone in Washington but at this moment he cannot figure out what Trump is trying to do.

I’m not an economist, but I know enough about global economics to understand that trade wars rarely produce winners. Everyone loses. The cost of manufacturing items goes up because companies — that are in the business for make maximum profit — must increase the price of what they produce to cover the cost of sending it to trading partners.

Who pays the cost? You do. So do I.

This is classic protectionist policy, favored by union leaders who understandably want to protect their members’ jobs against foreign competitors.

Free trade? It’s out the window, flushed down the crapper, tossed onto the trash heap.

I’m still unclear about what Trump is trying to do.

I’m delighted with the jobs report. The trade war might tamp down a lot of our enthusiasm.

Goofy.

Senate GOP makes yet another run at the ACA

Here we go … again!

U.S. Senate Republicans have come up with a scheme to pay for the big tax cut they’re trying to enact that involves the Affordable Care Act. They want to repeal the individual mandate portion of the ACA, which they say will save more than $300 billion over the next decade.

The savings would be used to pay for the tax cuts being pitched for many wealthy Americans.

This is so very maddening, in my ever-so-humble view.

Congress trying again to repeal ACA

Congress has been unable to repeal the ACA and replace it. The president has been unable push his Republican pals across the finish line. They have tried and failed since long before Donald Trump took office as president of the United States.

Now comes this bit of Senate trickery: attach the individual mandate repeal to a tax cut they say would jumpstart the economy. Moreover, is anyone on Capitol Hill or the White House worried any longer about the national debt and our annual budget deficit, which economists say are going to explode under the GOP tax cut?

I want to make a couple of points.

One is that the economy is rocking along just fine. The U.S. Labor Department announced earlier this month that non-farm payrolls jumped by 260,000 jobs in October; the unemployment rate is at its lowest rate in 17 years. Not bad, man!

Two, enrollment for the ACA is moving along at a brisk pace. Hundreds of thousands more Americans signed up for insurance when open enrollment began at the beginning of the month, despite the president’s efforts to undermine the ACA.

I remain totally opposed to any wholesale repeal of the ACA. I continue to insist that it can be improved. It can be made more affordable. 

Removing the individual mandate — which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty — is certain to do one thing: It will toss millions of Americans off the rolls of the insured.

How is that supposed to help?

Labor market loses jobs; no big deal … maybe

Donald J. Trump was all too quick while running for president to denigrate the nation’s stellar job growth during the final months of Barack H. Obama’s administration.

A couple hundred thousand jobs added to non-farm private payrolls during a given month? The number are phony, Trump would proclaim. The Labor Department is cooking the books, he would allege with no proof. The “real jobless rate” is something like 40 percent, he’d bellow.

OK. Today, the Labor Department came out with some dismal jobs numbers: employers shed 33,000 jobs in September. Yes, the jobless rate fell to 4.2 percent, which is pretty darn low!

But, but …

Still, the job losses aren’t the president’s fault. Really. They aren’t. Economists blame the job loss on business shuttering in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The hospitality industry was particularly hard hit along the Texas coast and throughout Florida, they said.

The good news is that the jobs are likely to rebound in the weeks ahead as Texas and Florida continue to recover, albeit slowly, from the savage beatings delivered by Harvey and Irma.

There’s no particular moral to this item, other than the jobs report issued today is no more “cooked” or “made up” than they were when they were reporting much happier economic news.

Let’s also remember that not even this president — the self-proclaimed “very smart person” who surrounds himself with “the best people” — can prevent nature’s wrath from damaging the nation’s business structure.

Big spike in job growth … is it still ‘fake,’ Mr. President?

I want to say something positive about Donald J. Trump’s stewardship of the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department announced a big spike in job growth over the past month; 222,000 non-farm jobs were added to the payrolls. Good deal, yes? Of course it is! The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent. Cause for alarm? No, as it signals — apparently — some renewed confidence in people’s ability to find work.

The growth was greater than economists had predicted.

The president’s previous disparagement of the Labor Department’s stats, though, taint any good word one would be inclined to say about robust job growth.

When jobs were being added during Barak Obama’s presidency, then-candidate Trump spoke ill of those monthly reports. He called them “phony,” “fake,” “cooked up” by politically minded statisticians intending to glorify President Obama’s economic record.

It’s different now that Trump has taken the watch. He’s said so himself. Imagine that, will ya?

That’s OK, though. The numbers look good and Americans should hail them as a sign of continued economic growth. Trump is on pace to exceed the job-growth numbers that occurred during Obama’s final months in office.

If only the president can take those numbers, accept them with dignity and class, and refrain from crowing about them. Do you think that’ll happen? Well, me neither.

This a ‘disaster,’ Mr. President?

The job numbers came in this morning — and they look pretty darn good.

The U.S. Labor Department reported today that the economy added 211,000 non-farm jobs to payrolls in April and the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent.

The boost in jobs was considerably greater than analysts had predicted. The jobless rate has inched a bit closer to what one might consider to be “full employment” in the United States.

Donald J. Trump used to disparage the Labor Department figures as phony, bogus, cooked up, fake. That, of course, was during the Obama administration. The president doesn’t say those things now that he’s on the job.

Hey, I’ll give the president credit for presiding over this sparkling jobs report. Let there be many more of them.

I do have one question: A little more than three months into your presidency, is this the economic “disaster” and the “mess” you have said repeatedly you inherited from Barack Obama?

‘Phony’ jobs numbers now become ‘real’

Donald John Trump is demonstrating yet again just why he makes me sick to my stomach.

The U.S. Labor Department today announced that 235,000 non-farm jobs were added to payrolls in February, the first full month of Trump’s presidency; the jobless rate declined to 4.7 percent.

Those are impressive figures. What does the president say?

He declares those numbers are “real” even though he said multiple times during his campaign for the presidency that the Labor Department was cooking the books during Barack Obama’s presidency. He called the job growth registered during President Obama’s time in office “fake”;  he said the numbers were phony; he said the “real jobless rate” was much greater than what the Labor Department was reporting.

As White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today, quoting the president: “They may have been phony in the past but they’re real now.”

Now they’re real?

Trump sickens me for many reasons. At many levels. You name it.

He lies, slings innuendo around, insults his foes, boasts openly about his own prowess.

The Trumpkins lap this crap up, giving this clown license to keep making patently, demonstrably untrue statements.

The job figures are impressive. The president should simply have acknowledged them as progress toward the nation’s continuing economic recovery.

But no-o-o-o! He had to remind millions of us why we detest him.

Jobless rate falls; look for the critics to chime in

jobseeking

The U.S. Department of Labor has just released its latest job report.

The nation added 178,000 private-sector jobs in November. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent. Both numbers were better than economists had forecasted.

Good news, yes? Well, not exactly. That depends on a single political factor, or so it seems: your political persuasion.

President Barack Obama has overseen an astounding string of consecutive months with job growth: the count now stands at 81 months. When he took office in January 2009, the nation was shedding three-quarters of a million jobs a month; we were in the midst of that worldwide economic/financial collapse, if memory serves.

Jobs are up.

The jobless rate is down to 4.6 percent. That’s the lowest since the days of the Clinton administration.

Good news, yes?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/stock-futures-mostly-flat-after-jobs-report-beats-expectations/ar-AAl2Dyb?li=BBnbfcN

Hold on! Not quite. Obama critics cite something called the “workplace participation rate.” That includes a metric that measures the number of people looking for work. When the jobless rate falls to this kind of level, the critics suggest that’s a symptom of folks who no longer are “participating” in the job search.

Thus, the good news becomes bad news … according to the critics.

There used to be a time when you could measure joblessness and economic health using the number of jobs being created and the rate of unemployment.

Jobs are up. Joblessness is down.

That’s no longer good enough.

My head is spinning.

Still trying to grasp the ‘problem’ with the economy

USEconomy1

I must need to crack open a few economics books.

The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs numbers this past Friday and they came in quite well.

The economy added 255,000 non-farm private-sector jobs; the unemployment rate remains at 4.9 percent. The jobs figures helped stimulate the stock market as investors — for a day at least — demonstrated confidence in the economy. The economy has added 14 million jobs since Barack Obama became president.

Is that bad news? Really?

But then we hear the politicians.

The economy stinks, they say. Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is leading the gloom-doom amen chorus by telling us how “incompetent” the government has been during the past eight years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of course, kept up the mantra during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Too much wealth belongs to too few Americans, he said. We have to spread it around, he said; we have to break up those big banks.

I keep hearing how “terrible” the economy is doing. What I hear, though, doesn’t quite match up with what I see.

I live in a section of Amarillo, Texas, that is undergoing a significant business and residential expansion. My wife and I drive north and south all the time along Coulter Street and are amazed at the transformation we’ve witnessed during the two decades we’ve lived here.

We joked just this weekend about how we had moved into our newly built house in late 1996 when it literally was one block from the edge of urban civilization. Everything west of us was pasture land. That’s it! Cattle grazed a block from our front door.

Today? We see nothing but rooftops for as to the horizon.

Businesses are springing up like the crab grass that envelops fescue lawns in this part of the world.

OK, I get that the economic recovery could be stronger. I read the economists’ reports telling us of their concern that the economy could tank at any moment.

None of this, though, matches up with what I’m seeing in this city where we live.

What in the world am I missing?