Sunday, May 11, 2014

8.9 Million on Disability vs. 92.5 Million not in Labor Force

In a post from the Federal Reserve of Atlanta: How Has Disability Affected Labor Force Participation? they note, "How much can the change in demographics during the past decade explain the rise in disability or illness as a reason for not participating in the labor market? The answer seems to be: Not a lot."

They claimed in their post that "from the fourth quarter of 2007 through the end of 2013, the number of people claiming to be out of the labor force for reasons of illness or disability increased almost 3 million (or 23 percent)." But that number is actually much less.

Number of disabled workers only --> Awards (not applications) minus terminations for total in payment status:

As of Dec 2013: 8,942,584
From Dec 2007: 7,101,355
= 1,841,229 net increase on disability (not 3 million as stated in the Atlanta Fed post). Source: Social Security

The Atlanta Fed's article also goes on to say, "Only about one fifth of the decline in labor force participation as a result of reported illness or disability can be attributed to the population aging per se." So their fraction of (one fifth) would be even less --> It's actually 9.6% of those not in the labor force who receive disability.

NOTE: The 8.9 million total on disability (to date) is a very small fraction of the 92.5 million total that are currently not in the labor force. That is because offshoring to environmentally unregulated countries has been the primary cause that contributed to the lack of jobs that created the largest decline in the labor force participation rate.

Also, we have over twice as many high school graduates every year than we have people retiring on Social Security. The increase of those in payment status for disability is minuscule compared to these demographics.

After being laid off during the Great Recession and collecting their maximum weeks of unemployment benefits, many 62 year-olds took early retirements. U.S. News reports that according to a 2011 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, 68 percent of retirees ended up retiring before reaching age 65 (before qualifying for their full benefit amount). I suspect that after being laid off in 2008//2009 they were already "long-term unemployed" and unable to obtain another job when employers began hiring again. So when workers turned 62, they were forced to take a lower Social Security benefit. (The first Baby Boomer retired at 62 in 2008 and the First Baby Boomer turned 65 in 2011).


My other posts on this subject at the Economic Populist:

Record Number of Boomers Left the Labor Force: February 10, 2014
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/record-number-boomers-left-labor-force-5523

Long-Term Unemployed Baby Boomers in 2013: August 26, 2013
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/long-term-unemployed-baby-boomers-2013-5345

The Last Word on Social Security Disability: July 22, 2013
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/last-word-social-security-disability

Report: Disability Claims and Awards Declined: July 19, 2013
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/report-disability-claims-and-awards-declined

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bill Maher: The Disappearing Middle Class

From New rules -- Real Time with Bill Maher -- April 4, 2014

And finally, New Rule: now that the media is done freaking out about the missing jetliner, how about going on a search for America's vanishing middle class? (audience cheering)

Now I say this because the number of Americans who identify as middle class has never been lower. And if you don't believe me, just go shopping. The stores like Sears and Penny's that always catered to the middle market are dying. But you know who's doing great? Tiffany's and Gucci and Cartier for the Marie Antoinette crowd. And the dollar store for people who don't see a problem with Halloween candy in June.

I mean, just think of how many dollar places there are now. The Dollar Store. Dollar Tree. Dollar General. Dollar Giant. Family Dollar. The 99¢ Store. The 98¢ Store. (audience laughter)

Bill Maher: The Disappearing Middle Class

Where does it end? Just a homeless guy handing out expired toothpaste for free? (audience applause) But that's our economy now. You're either buying Rembrandts or Chinese cosmetics made from dirt. But in the middle, tough times. True of restaurants as well. The moderately priced ones, like Applebee's, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden, are all in trouble because they've lost their best customers — people with a little money who fill up on bread. (audience laughter) They're the restaurants that say, "I still love you, baby, but just barely."

50 years ago, America's biggest employer was General Motors, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 dollars an hour. Today, America's biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour. Which means you can share a room in a transient hotel with a drifter who cuts his toenails with a machete. (audience laughter)

And Walmart released their annual report this month, and in it was the fact that most of what Walmart sells is food. And most of their customers need food stamps to pay for it. Meanwhile, Walmart's owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, 500 miles away from the nearest person who ever would want to look at art.

And she said about it, "For years I've been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference." How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit? (massive audience cheering and applause)

And what we are seeing now as the income inequality increases is a lot of Americans who work hard and play by the rules starting to not play by the rules. At a McDonald's in Pittsburgh, an employee was arrested for selling heroin packed right in with the Happy Meals. And she didn't do it because she likes heroin — although it's probably no worse for you than the filet o' fish. She did it because you can't raise two kids on $7.72 an hour. (audience applause)

And for those who say she shouldn't have had two kids then, well, maybe. But she did. So what's she supposed to do now, give them away in front of the Petco on Saturday? (audience laughter)

Or take the case of Belle Knox. She's the Duke University freshman who was recently outed as a porn star. But she doesn't have the typical porn star biography — abused by an uncle, addicted to coke, locked in a closet by Charlie Sheen. (audience laughter) No, she's a level-headed articulate 18-year-old majoring in women's studies, just like I did.

So people are saying, why the porn? Because Duke costs $61 grand a year! (audience applause) Since 1980, college tuition has increased 600% above the inflation rate. I'm surprised they're not all doing porn. And even if Miss Knox wanted to pay her way through school serving hot dogs at Wienerschnitzel, there are no jobs at Wienerschnitzel! So instead she occasionally takes a wiener in the schnitzel. (wild audience laughter and applause)

And this is what the Paul Ryans of the world don't understand — that this is not a country of lazy people and good people, so much as it is a country of rich people and desperate people. Do you know how much Americans owe in student loans? $1.3 trillion dollars. We're going to have to sell a lot of ass to pay that tab. Yeah, I'm afraid we're treading water and losing ground. And if you just said, hey that's a mixed metaphor, congratulations, that's your English degree in action. (audience applause)

Now lube up, it's time to do some porn!

Money, Money, Everywhere (by Rep. Alan Grayson) a good article, but we pretty much know all this (as does Congress). We can't do anything about it except depend on members Congress to change things. But for the past 40 years Congress has done pretty much the exact opposite, no matter who The People vote for. And the Supreme Court says corporations are people and money is speech. America needs a dictator, because Congress and the Supreme Court is destroying our democracy, our nation and The People.

* I believe corporations are hoarding much more cash than Rep. Alan Grayson mentions (and that doesn't include billions more in tax evasion). 

And the annual "median wage" is much less than the "average wage" of $24-an-hour he cites from the labor department. That would be almost $50,000 a year (based on a 40-hour week) The "median household income" is only $51,017 a year (with multiple earners).

AVERAGE vs. MEDIAN INCOMES: If 25% of the work force earned $0, and 25% earned $25,000, and 25% earned $50,000, and 25% earned $400,000 --- the average yearly wage would be a little over $100,000 --- but the median wage would only be $37,500 (meaning, half earn less and have earn more.)

But the actual annual median wage in the U.S. is currently only $27,500 a year >>> SOURCE: Social Security Administration

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who Cares about the Long-term Unemployed?

The Washington Post (March 24, 2014) The long-term unemployed are not lazy, coddled, hammocked or enjoying a taxpayer-funded vacation. They are extremely unlucky — and getting unluckier by the day. It was already known that the longer workers have been out of a job, the lower their chance of finding work. From 2008 to 2012, only one in 10 people who were already long-term unemployed had returned to steady, full-time employment a year later. The rest had been toiling in part-time or transitory jobs or had dropped out of the labor force altogether.

Fox Business (March 25, 2014) According to a new study on the short-term unemployed, this unlucky subset of the unemployed will more likely not find a job than find one. People out of work six months or more are in a hapless situation that has little hope of changing course. They will continue to encounter difficulty finding employment even if the unemployment rate continues to fall. Only about 11% of the long-term jobless found steady employment a year later. The long-term unemployment rate in the U.S. at such high levels is somewhat of a phenomenon.

Brookings Institute (the recent study everyone has been talking about) The collapse in job vacancies, coupled with a decline in labor force withdrawal rates, accounts for the sharp rise in the number of long-term unemployed workers in 2009-13. A larger proportion of the long-term unemployed is over age 50 and is unmarried compared to the short-term unemployed.

LA Times (February 6, 2014) The odds of finding a job decrease the longer people are out of work. A person out of work for eight months will get called for an interview half as often as someone who has been out of work for just one month, even if the resumes are the same, one study has indicated.

The Atlantic (February 4, 2014) There is a near-consensus in the academic community that long-term unemployment is the most serious crisis in the U.S. job market. There are 4 million people who count themselves as long-term unemployed, more than any time on record before 2007. This number has declined in the last three years, but most of the decline is illusory. It's people leaving the jobs market, not people finding new jobs.

Slate (March 21, 2014) The hawks note that short-term unemployment is roughly back to normal, and real hourly wages are inching up. Inflation, they say, could be just around the corner. In other words: The Federal Reserve probably can’t help the long-term unemployed to begin with, nor should it risk trying. We can all probably agree that Congress is not going to step in and do something dramatic to help the unemployed find work. That makes the Fed is more or less their last hope. If it can’t help, or decides not to try, nobody will.

Media Matters (March 26, 2014) On the Fox News channel Charles Payne argued against extending long-term EUC benefits, claiming that the unemployed "have to be pushed back into the job market" and that being unemployed should not be "too comfortable."

Video from TIME -- The 99ers: The Real Lives of the Long-Term Unemployed

It seems that only the Democrats (most of them at least), unemployed Republicans, the new Fed Chair Janet Yellen, a few good people in the media who still focus on this subject, and the long-term unemployed are the only ones who really care about the long-term unemployed—even though the jobless crisis in America has touched everyone in one way or another (whether they realize it or not).

* My other posts on the long term unemployed

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Longest Bar in the World (In Las Vegas?)

In the 1930's the longest bar in the world was at the Subway Cafe (pictured below) on 507 N. Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

The Subway Cafe Bar

Reported to be anywhere between 240 and 300 feet long, Tijuana's Mexicali Beer Hall (pictured below) was once billed as the “longest bar in the world". It was as long as a city block. But soon after prohibition ended in the US (1933) business at the Mexicali Beer Hall declined and it was eventually replaced by a Woolworth store.

Mexicali Beer Hall

The Lulu's Roadhouse's bar in Ontario, Canada made it into the 1985 Guinness World Book of Records as the longest permanent bar in the world but lost that distinction when the last owner cut a walk-way across the middle of it.

The bar inside the Mildura Working Man's Club in Victoria, Australia was also once in the Guinness Book of World Records for its 299-foot length; but it has been reported that it has since been cleared away to make room for more free-standing poker machines.

The Longest Bars Today

The Dubai York Hotel in the United Arab Emirates has a bar 66 feet long (below left), but the Stills Bar & Brasserie has the longest bar in all of Dubai at 85 feet (below right).

Stills Bar & Brasserie

The Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club (pictured below) in the Turks And Caicos Islands is often billed as the longest bar in the Caribbean at 90 feet long.

The Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club

The Great Banking Hall in Toronto, Canada used to be a center of financial commerce. It's said that now the 100-foot-long "teller counter" is the longest bar in Canada (no recent photo or info is available).

Also around 100 feet long is the bar at the Rand Club in Johannesburg, South Africa (pictured below). But it isn’t just the longest bar in the country, but maybe the entire continent of Africa. It's said to be "the longest bar in the Southern Hemisphere" and "reputed to be the longest bar in Africa." (no info as to the length or number of bar stools).

Rand Club in Johannesburg

The Hyatt Regency Chicago at 151 East Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois makes this claim on their website: "Our open-air mezzanine-level bar and lounge boasts the longest free-standing bar on the continent." (pictured below) I emailed them at they were nice enough to tell me that the "free-standing" bar (meaning uninterrupted by columns, corners, bar doors, etc.) is 103 feet long and currently has 28 bar stools with plenty of room for more if they ever need them.

Hyatt Regency Chicago

A bar claiming to be the longest in the world is at the Port of Tel Aviv, in Israel. But the 394-foot bar doesn’t quite land it in the first-place slot (no good photos are available)

Generally considered to be the longest bar on the entire planet, according to the 1994 Edition of the Guinness World Book of Records, the world's longest permanent bar is the 405-ft 10-inch-long counter in the Beer Barrel Saloon at Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio (pictured below). It opened in 1989 and has 160 bar stools.

Beer Barrel Saloon

Things in Texas might be BIG, but in Nevada they're very long. The title for "World's Longest Bar" may soon have a challenger with the "D Bar" (pictured below) at the D Hotel and Casino, located on the world famous Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas (also known as Glitter Gulch). They were called to inquire about the length and number of bar stools, but I've had no answer yet.

* With a little remodeling, the "D Bar" could very well have the most bar stools, the most TVs, the most bottles of liquor and stocked beer and the most bar-top video poker machines in the entire Universe. (As it is now, it's still the longest bar in Nevada).

D Bar at the D Hotel and Casino,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Farewell or so Long? Or taking a Break?

Just a quick note...just in case.

I've been blogging for over 5 years now—more than 3 years here and for 2 years on a previous website that I used to maintain. I'm getting pretty tired. Sometimes I think I've already said all that I've had to say, often repeating myself because sometimes, some things can't be said enough. But did anything I ever write make any difference? Did I do my small part to change the world for the better? Or have I just been spinning my wheel like an insignificant hamster in its cage?

America's Race to the Bottom Continues

Congress made sure that America drastically cut costs for infrastructure spending to give rich people and their unpatriotic "multinational" corporations big tax breaks.

Meanwhile, countries such as China invests in their country by building roads, bridges, dams and transportation. See the before and after photos of Shanghai after the past 26 years of China's growth.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Old and Angry White People

Neither the GOP or the "Third Way" Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) will save this country. Only those in the Progressive Caucus have a REAL plan to restore America's middle-class. The progressive's “Better Off Budget” sounds like something everyone could get behind: 8.8 million new jobs by 2017, $4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years and the end of the universally-maligned sequestration cuts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Losing Dignity: The Fall from Grace, Once Middle-Class


This article in the Atlantic is one of the best (and the most depressing and sad) stories I've read about a successful middle-class person's fall from grace after losing their job. This is a perfect example of what millions of Americans have been going through since the onset of the Great Recession.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Retirees and the Declining Labor Force

The unemployment rate stood at 5.0 percent when the Great Recession started in December 2007. According to Labor Secretary Perez this week: "For four years uninterrupted now — 48 consecutive months — private-sector employment has grown, to the tune of 8.7 million new jobs."

According to the Economic Policy Institute, we should be DEAD EVEN today, because over the last four years the labor market has gained back all of the 8.7 million jobs we lost during the Great Recession.