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Would You Like Fries With Your Chrysler?

February 21st, 2004

The Bush administration has been under attack for the “jobless recovery,” and has hardly been doing a skilled job at covering for itself. Recently, there have been three attempts to create the appearance of job recovery without the actual job recovery itself.

First was the claim that we should be including household employment in the job numbers. In January, only 112,000 new jobs were created by the traditional Current Employment Statistics counting method. Because this looked bad, conservatives tried to spin the numbers by suddenly insisting that we look at the household measure of job growth, which gave a more impressive number of 496,000 new jobs. The household measure includes self-employed and home-working jobs; aside from being a completely different counting system, these jobs are typically not as well-paying, and are usually not considered as important to the economy as jobs counted in the traditional method. Also, if we were to switch to the new counting system retroactively, we would still see the same pattern of job loss, just on a different scale.

But that was not what the conservatives were pushing; they wanted the pure smoke-and-mirror effect that would make people think that half a million new jobs had been won instead of a less-than-satisfactory 112,000. That is redefining, however, not actual recovery. Suddenly switching to a different counting system does not mean there was greater job growth, any more than changing from Celsius to Fahrenheit means that it just got a lot hotter.

Second came the claims that what we did get–366,000 jobs since last August–was somehow a very good number, and the administration deserves praise for this. Again, redefinition, not recovery. 750,000 jobs in that time period would have been breaking even; 366,000 is bad.

And now, with the exporting of America’s manufacturing job base as a hot campaign issue, we are getting a sneak peek at yet another new attempt at redefinition by Bush economists with Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, actually suggesting that jobs at fast food restaurant’s like McDonald’s and Burger King be counted as manufacturing jobs.

As a reporter on Lou Dobb’s show put it, it would be funny if they weren’t actually serious about it.

Isn’t the recent bent towards redefining the economy to make things look good when they are not going way too far?

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  1. Raymond Pairan Jr
    March 15th, 2004 at 09:21 | #1

    The interests of big business are driving the off shoring of jobs. EVERY professional job is at risk of being off shored due to labor arbitrage NOT free market dynamics!

    [the rest of this comment deleted]

  2. Luis
    March 15th, 2004 at 09:50 | #2

    [strike]Ummm… Okay, fine. But remember, this is not a professional Econ site. I’ll allow the papers to stay, but please in the future keep the comments to direct remarks, not publications of essays, all right? If you want something longer posted, take it to an Economics forum, or start a blog using one of the services. Thanks.[/strike]

    Edit:

    The comment above used to go on for several pages, consisting of two essays by this “Raymond Donald Pairan Jr.” guy. As you can see from my now-stricken note above, I was going to let him keep it here. But a trackback ping from the Meta Roj Blog alerted me to the fact that this guy had posted the exact same thing on no fewer than 460+ blogs. I don’t care if the guy wasn’t selling merchandise, that’s spam. Maybe he wants his academic work posted everywhere so people will find it and admire him, I don’t know and don’t care. I am among the many bloggers who believe that it is, to say the very least, “improper” to appropriate hard disk space and bandwidth on a site someone else is paying for just so that you can advertise yourself or your wares. In other words, get your own site and pay for it yourself.

    The guy’s name is Raymond Donald Pairan Jr., he lists his email as rptime@earthlink.net, and his IP Address for today is 69.68.213.111.

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