Topic: Employment
Sept. 26, 2017

Many are concerned about the state of the American job market, convinced that improving employment indicators mask pervasive hardship. In particular, some are concerned about the increase in the number of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work—men who are out of the labor force, or inactive. While this upward trend is routinely taken as a sign of the economy’s weakness, other interpretations are possible.

Scott Winship considers why inactivity in the labor force among prime-age men—those between the ages of 25 and 54—has grown so steadily for so long. The study examines trends in a number of labor market indicators to assess the extent to which rising inactivity rates reflect a worsening of the job market (lower demand) or reduced job-seeking (lower supply). It takes a detailed look at four different types of prime-age inactive men: the disabled, the retired, those who want a job, and those who do not.

Policymakers should focus on helping the unemployed and inactive men who want jobs and on reforming disability programs to promote independence. The unemployment rate provides a reliable indicator of changes in the labor market’s strength, even if it understates the level of involuntary joblessness. The Bureau of Labor Statistics should consider adopting a new “U5b” rate that includes inactive people who want a job along with those counted by the existing unemployment rate, in order to institutionalize a broader measure of joblessness and increase faith in our jobless statistics.

Sept. 25, 2017

Brian Sabean, executive vice president of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, says California’s high taxes make it more difficult for his team to compete with teams in other states. During a discussion of the Giants’ lackluster season and the likelihood of shaking up the roster next year, Mr. Sabean told San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins: “Let’s face it, how many free agents are going to come here? They’re not. For two reasons: the ballpark and the California taxes. That’s just a fact.”


The reported cuts would dwarf the 600 layoffs the firm reported last year to California authorities, and would eliminate some 5,000 employees — 10 percent of its workforce, the report said.

“The cuts at the company, which has about 50,000 workers, are likely to affect workers in the U.S. and abroad, including managers,” Bloomberg reported, based on unnamed sources.

Sept. 19, 2017

The average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower, according to a major survey.

Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association.

Sept. 19, 2017

Leaders of the U.S.’s largest companies plan to ramp up hiring in the coming months, as management teams eye regulatory rollbacks and the possibility of a tax overhaul.

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook’s employment measure, which gauges chief executives’ hiring plans, rose to 80.2 in the third quarter of 2017, the highest reading in more than six years.

. . . More the half of the CEOs questioned in the second-quarter survey said they would scrap current plans for hiring and investment if Congress doesn’t change the tax code, but, during the third-quarter survey announcement, Mr. Bolten wouldn’t give specific tax rates the Business Roundtable would want to see in a bill.

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Nov. 17, 2017 / Andrew Khouri

Nov. 17, 2017 / The Editorial Board