Heidi Moore and numbers again

There are fewer Americans working than at any time since 1979.

Ummm:

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13 thoughts on “Heidi Moore and numbers again”

  1. Actually according to her measure, she’s right. Her article claims that the labour force participation rate is the right number to use, and that graph looks like this:

    http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LNS11300000_1979_2013_all_period_M03_data.gif

    So you’ll need to counter that before you criticise her numbers.

    Tim adds: I agree that participation rate is a very good way of looking at it. Not the only one, but a very good one. So why that amazing sentence from her above?

  2. I’ve no idea, don’t know enough about it. Just pointing out that by her definition that sentence is true.

  3. I went and looked at the stats she quotes from. Labor participation rates are currently at levels equivalent to those of 1989.

    There was a relatively strong rise from the mid 60s til the late 80s, then a more-or-less plateau til a steep-ish decline from 08 when the shit hit the fan.

    It might have been more useful if Heidi had actually shown the full graph. At least there’d have been some perspective. But then, given the tone of the article, that wouldn’t have been ‘useful’

  4. Basically she’s left out the “per capita” bit, right? Presumably because it makes for a less pithy sound bite.

  5. I cannot imagine why anyone would invest in the current climate. I mean we have an outside candidate for the Presidency of the US talking about a $22/hr minimum wage.

  6. Technology is not going to stop its trend of reducing the rational need for employment, especially in profit making systems. That is why those who oppose an evolution of such systems with a new financial paradigm of the individual gift of money are actually unconsciously working for the agenda of socialism….which is what we will have if we do not make that evolutionary step. It is a supreme irony.

  7. “There are fewer Americans working than at any time since 1979. … The real story is told by another number. Economists call it the “labor force participation rate”. ”

    You could be fairly accused of quoting out of context if only she hadn’t written a para of boilerplate where I’ve written “…”. But she has a problem of repeated imprecision: ” … the “labor force participation rate” .. tells us how many people are working”; I suppose someone who routinely confuses numbers with proportions is likely to confuse quantities with rates of change, lumps with flows, and apples with Tuesday.

  8. Richard Allan>

    “we have an outside candidate for the Presidency of the US talking about a $22/hr minimum wage.”

    That sounds like a very effective way of dealing with the US debt-load. The resultant inflation would all but wipe-out the debt within a year or two.

  9. But it could also be argued that the higher work force participation rate in 1979 shows that life was harder then and easier now. Higher GDP for less work.

  10. The last US Labor Secretary also confused levels with growth in an interview on CNBC last year. Plenty of innumerate people out there aside from Ms. Moore.

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