Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Living Wage Calculator

New from MIT: A "Living Wage Calculator" (select your State on the right side of the page, then select your county.)

The living wage that is then displayed is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family (and/or themselves), if they are the sole provider and are working full-time (40 hours X 52 weeks = 2080 hours per year).

The charts show what a real living wage should be (for single people and those with children), and what that State's minimum wage actually is. The charts also give a break-down of typical monthly living expenses; and what the typical annual salaries are for various professions in that particular location.

But the numbers also seem to UNDER-estimate "living" expenses. For example: In Clark County Nevada (Las Vegas, where I live) it shows rent for a single person at $675 a month (and doesn't mention utilities, but does mention "other"). So one would have to live in a pretty crappy neighborhood — meaning, a "living wage" would really mean the very basic wage necessary just to survive. (But maybe that is only "average", as rural areas and smaller cites in Clark county may be more affordable.)

As for "real" wages (not "nominal" or "average", but "median inflation-adjusted" wages), 50% of all wage earners in the U.S. earn less today that they did in 1999. Source: Bud Meyers (via Social Security wage data) More on 40 years of stagnant wages here at the Economic Populist.

Latest Jobs Report

The jobs report for July showed 215,000 jobs created; but it didn't (as usual) mention another 144,000 who dropped out of the labor force from the previous month — which is at another all-time record high — 93.7 million. Source: BLS

The last jobs reports shows:

  • The number of new unemployed decreased by 107,000 from the month before.
  • The number of long-term unemployed was little changed at 2,200,000
  • The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.6 percent
  • The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 59.3 percent

  8,299,000 Total counted as unemployed in the media-reported U-3 unemployment rate
       33,000 --> Less from the month before — so most of all those new jobs weren't going to the unemployed. Source: BLS

More on the Labor Force

Labor Force Partcipation Rate

Over 3 million people graduate from high school every year (not counting dropouts and colleges grads.) That averages out to 250,000 a month — but another 144,000 dropped out of the labor force since last month. And it's not because people are retiring, going on disability, or attending college. Most of the decline in the labor force is attributed to prime-age workers between the ages of 25 to 54.

There's also lot of talk about the rise of the share economy — so, will we become a nation of bartering dealmakers rather than employees? And there's also this: "The changes in robotics may come so rapidly that human worker and labor market institutions and workers will have a hard time adjusting quickly enough." (As I noted before: When Human Labor becomes Obsolete).

The 2016 Election

If a popular vote decided the next presidential election (and not the electoral votes in each party's political machine) we might have Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running against each other.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

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