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More on Economic Pessimism

On Friday, I pointed out that the good jobs report for April seemed unlikely to turn voters' negative views of Bush's economic management around. Here's some more evidence supporting that judgement.

First, note that both the new ARG poll and the new AP poll have Bush's approval rating on the economy down to the lowest levels recorded by these polls (38 percent and 43 percent, respectively). Guess voters haven't yet absorbed the good news about how the economy is "strong and getting stronger" and about how "tax relief is working".

And here's a result from the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that crisply captures voters' current economic pessimism and the difficulties Bush is going to have turning that pessimism around. By 2:1 (60/31) voters agree that "On the basis of what I see for the future, the signs point to an economy that is going to be in trouble--jobs are moving overseas, the budget deficit is growing, and too many jobs do not have health insurance or pensions.", rather than "On the basis of what I see for the future, the signs point to an economy that is going to be strong--jobs are being created, inflation is low, and the stock market is up".

Clearly, voters' economic pessimism is deeply-rooted in a wide range of economic problems that have uniformly gotten worse on Bush's watch. And it's not likely to go away because we've finally got some good monthly job numbers. In the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, he's still "got a lot of 'splainin' to do".


Well I suppose it took a lot of time for the lack of jobs to really impact the public perception on economics, it might take a while for that to be too.

I'm too close to these things, too informed. I honestly admit that I have little in common with the average public in reactions to these numbers.

I think the key indicator of the economy for most people is "when do I expect my next raise, and how big will it be?" And right now, I now a _lot_ of people for whom that indicator is very negative. Anecdotally, nearly everyone I talk to (including, unfortunately, my own employees) is clear that there will be no raises this year, and unless things change radically, next years' are likely to be small, too.

This contrasts very, very clearly with memories of the second half of the nineties, where raises (and even bonuses, remember those?) were regular and decently-sized, if not better.

From my reading, no matter what the numbers, the one major thing this recovery has not produced, and doesn't seem likely to produce, is any real wage growth any time soon.

So for most people, the recovery is not real on a personal level. Everyone is happy that there isn't any inflation (unless you're trying to buy a first house), but there certainly isn't any sense of hope that things are getting any better.

I suspect that SSJPabs is correct about a time lag. Especially given the competing news this week.

It'll go away eventually. It lags, of course. I don't think there's any doubt at this point that the economy, and particularly the job situation, will be considerably better by this time next year. I used to be afraid that it would improve quickly enough to help Bush, but I'm nearly positive that there's not enough time at this point. Thank god.

The jobs numbers aren't good according to BushCo's econ team. An average of 306,00 jobs/month, thanks to tax cuts. At least they outpace population growth again though.

The most important changes for an optimistic economy are wage growth, control over health care and insurance costs, and secure retirements. Allowing these to be dictated by employers like Bush seems content on doing will only drive more pessimism and insecurity and doubt. The party that wins public support for the economy must raise the federal minimum wage, especially for full time workers, and keep it indexed to price inflation. Sen. Kennedy made this important proposal that should be tacked onto any bill that Republicans use to eviscerate the middle class! Middle class and working class workers can't pay their bills and mortgages and health care costs, let alone save for retirement of Bush's ludicrous Health Savings Accounts. Bush is incredibly out of touch and REFUSES to see the error of his ways. Why do Republicans seem to only care about GDP growth, not stagnant wages? about newly unemployed numbers, not those out of work for years and years? Kerry is the only one who understands and aims to help average Americans.
No amount of priveledge can take away the fact that Kerry has the best ideas! And no amount of cowboy antics and acting chumy with voters can take away the fact that Bush's policies have emasculated most workers who don't earn, say, $100,000 a year and have only helped the superrich!

Perhaps voteres are waking up to the fact that we have embraced an economic policy with the moral equivalence of throwing a huge drunken party complete with booze, dancing girls, and a rented ballroom, then charging it all to our children. . .
Well, probably not.

Democrats need to understand that, on the economy, Bush has not "failed." He's succeeded in what he is trying to do. The only problem is that what he is trying to do, is only really good for about 1% of the population. Bush is trying to shape an economy in which there are tremendous productivity gains, but no wage gains, and guess what we've got? Duh!

In my field, information technology, over 900K jobs have been lost since 2001, and since January, 15K have been added.

This is supposed to cheer people up?

The problem with the Repub/CNBC line about how the economy is improving is that it is based on aggregate statistics. As the public rightly perceives, things aren't getting be4tter for ordinary people. The tax cuts, while nice sounding in the aggregate, went mostly to 1-2% of the population. New jobs, ok, but no one is saying how much they pay. If they are at Wal-Mart, it isn't good enough. Corporate profits may be up, but they aren't being spread around. The public understands that gasoline is going up, interest rates are going up, inflation is going up, wages aren't going up, and good jobs are still disappearing. As someone upthread said, Bush's economic policies are succeeding, but the result is bad for 98% of the population.

Where are all these new jobs? I am highly educated and skilled, and I've been out of work for a year. It's been ages since I've even had an interview.

Is there any way to tell if the new jobs are actually lower paying sector jobs? I smell a rat.

ALERT: John Zogby has placed an article on his website in which he predicts, based on current polling numbers and history, that John Kerry will win the election. His arguments are quite similar to those espoused on this website...

Frank, it is possible to determine the approximate "value" of the "jobs" being created if you take a look at the full report put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.tl4.htm.

When you look at the numbers being offered, what you will find is that of those 288K net new "jobs", 60.1K are in Temporary Help Services and Business Support Services (shorter version: temp jobs) and another 29.8K are in Services to Building and Dwellings (groundskeepers in other words). You will find another 36K in Accomodations and Food Services (about 80% in Food Services and Drinking Places) and another 16.8K in Ambulatory Health Care Services (home health aides in other words). So, just add up these numbers (142.7K total) to see that about 50% of the new positions are in immediately identifiable minimum wage jobs. I haven't even teased out the other minimum wage jobs contained in the list yet but they can be identified (what percentage of Nursng and Residential Care Facilities positions aren't minimum wage in your estimation, for example?).

I'll let you draw your own conclusion about how sustainable Dubya's growth projections are. Take a look at the BLS report for more detail.

This just out, from Citizens for Tax Justice, an outstanding nonprofit group that has been monitoring the tax code for progressivity for decades now:


A May 8 analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, released today by Citizens for Tax Justice, shows that the federal tax code has
become so skewed in favor of investors over workers that personal taxes on earnings are now two-and-a-half times greater than personal taxes on
investment income.

The analysis shows that total federal personal taxes paid on wages now average 23.4 percent, while federal personal taxes on investment income now average only 9.6 percent.

The press release is available on CTJ's website at
http://www.ctj.org/pdf/earnpr.pdf .
The full ITEP analysis can be found at http://www.itepnet.org/earnan.pdf .

(end of CTJ communication)

Edwards in his two Americas speech worked in this theme about this Administration favoring wealth over work in its tax and other economic policies. Most Americans, based on polling results, already know that this Administration favors the wealthy in its tax policies. And that seems not (yet, anyway) to have coincided with the sort of hue and cry one would have hoped for in light of such an outrageous reality.

I liked Edwards' frame on this. It is a relatively easy to explain values-based statement which seems to resonate better with a broader portion of the public than others I've seen used to get at the same point. It is harder to attack with the class warfare line and lends itself better to putting a human face on this issue.

I think more people need to get off their lazy behinds and really look for a job. The Toledo Blade (Ohio) on Sundays has over 4 full pages of jobs, with more than 1 entirely in the medical field. Of course these jobs take an education and some hard work to get which many people don't want to do. Why do so many people think they should get paid a great wage for doing nothing? Socialism didn't work in the Soviet Union and it won't work here. Our country was based on you get what you work for, not making others give you something you don't deserve. I have gotten my first raise in 10 years so something must be starting to get fixed from 8 years of depression in jobs.

Norman Rogers?
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