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Me vs. Krugman December 23, 2016

Posted by geoff in News.

Y’all may remember those crazy days of yore when I made a little graph that we fondly called “The Chart.” It plotted the unemployment rates predicted by the Obama administration vs. what actually happened, showing that the “Stimulus” was not working in any meaningful way. It went viral back in 2009, so yay.

But after a year of updating that plot, I realized that the unemployment statistics had become meaningless, so I made my own version of the stats to give us a better feel for the real health of employment. It plots full-time employment divided by the “civilian non-institutional population” (basically a measure of the size of the workforce). I’ve been updating the new chart for over 6 years – here’s the latest:


Meanwhile, the president and Dems crow about the jobs added during his two terms:


And here’s Paul Krugman’s version:

So there’s a disconnect there: my chart says that things still suck, but according to the president and Paul Krugman, things should be peachy.

I think most of us would agree that in our personal experience, things are still not peachy.

Of course there are always subtleties hidden in the data that simple charts like those above (including mine) cannot capture. But I have to say that my chart is far more indicative of the real employment situation than Krugman’s or the Dem’s charts. I say this because the metric I use excludes part-time employment, and captures the effect of population growth and those who have fallen out of the job market.

And now it turns out that both Krugman’s and the Dem’s charts are a complete waste of time; just propaganda charts with no relevance to the actual health of employment in this country.

Why? Because part-time jobs is why:

Fast forward 6 years, when a report by Harvard and Princeton economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger, confirms exactly what we warned. In their study, the duo show that from 2005 to 2015, the proportion of Americans workers engaged in what they refer to as “alternative work” soared during the Obama era, from 10.7% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015. Alternative, or “gig” work is defined as “temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers, independent contractors or freelancers”, and is generally unsteady, without a fixed paycheck and with virtually no benefits.

Krueger, who until 2013 was also the top White House economist serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, was “surprised” by the finding.

Quoted by quartz, he said “We find that 94% of net job growth in the past decade was in the alternative work category,” said Krueger. “And over 60% was due to the [the rise] of independent contractors, freelancers and contract company workers.” In other words, nearly all of the 10 million jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were not traditional nine-to-five employment.

So Paul Krugman is spouting partisan clap-trap, as usual.

And my chart?

Well, I don’t mean to brag*, but…

*Totally lied right there


1. Jimbro - December 23, 2016

“…excludes part-time employment, and captures the effect of population growth and those who have fallen out of the job market.”
I wonder if the Dems will discover these groups after Trump’s inauguration.

2. geoff - December 23, 2016

Yes, like the homeless and casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.

3. lauraw - December 23, 2016

OMG, Krugman’s chart looks like a piece of misleading shit.

‘cumulative change?’

That chart says nothing about where each administration was starting from, in terms of total private employment. Bush’s economy started out with a greater proportion of employed people than Obama’s, relative to the population, didn’t it?

So, he’s measuring the progress of one guy who is starting off near the ceiling, against a second guy who is starting off from the basement.

Am I reading this right? Let me know.

4. geoff - December 23, 2016

Yep – you’re absolutely right. I considered making exactly that point in the post, but decided not to complicate the message.

Bottom line: Krugman knows the difference between good and cheesy analysis. So that means he’s willfully and knowingly lying.

5. lauraw - December 24, 2016

From the comments at Krugman’s post, one year ago, a lefty calls him out for presenting misleading information, and ends with this:

” Denying the problem will result in rage, which could possibly lead to a Trump victory.”

Haaa ha ha haaa. Bet he isn’t happy to be absomundo correctolute.

6. Jeffersonian - January 8, 2017

I consider myself rather fortunate. Despite having my income slashed 40% for 6 months following the 2008 crash I have recovered my full-time status. As for part time jobs, they should not be discounted. I have two to go along with my full time job. I’m still not whole. But I’ll get there. As for Krugman? Meh. Hack.

7. geoff - January 8, 2017

Your part-time jobs, while commendable, are a good example of why the unemployment rate stats are screwed up. The Establishment Survey, used in the U-3 calculation, would count you as 3 employed people. The Household Survey (which I use) would count you as one.

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