February 23, 2024

Economix Blog: Keeping Up, Not Getting Ahead

The American economy continues to add jobs in proportion to population growth. Nothing less, nothing more.

The Jobs Report

Behind the April numbers.

The share of American adults with jobs has barely changed since 2010, hovering between 58.2 percent and 58.7 percent. This employment-to-population ratio stood at 58.6 percent in April. That is about four percentage points lower than the employment rate before the recession, a difference of roughly 10 million jobs. In other words, the United States economy is not getting any closer to recreating the jobs lost during the recession.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

This lack of progress has been obscured by the steady decline of the high-profile unemployment rate, which continued in April. But the unemployment rate is easily misunderstood. The government counts as unemployed only those who are actively looking for new jobs. As people have given up, the unemployment rate has declined – not because more people are working, but because more people have stopped looking for work.

The share of adults looking for work peaked at 6.4 percent of the population in 2010. It fell to 4.7 percent in April. But recall that over the same period, the share of adults with jobs did not change. What grew instead is the share of adults no longer counted as part of the labor force.

(The unemployment rate also uses a different denominator than the employment rate: Workers plus searchers, rather than the entire population. For the sake of consistency and clarity, the figures in the previous paragraph show “unemployment” as a share of the entire population.)

And the decline of labor force participation – the technical term for the share of adults working or searching – is primarily the result of a bad economy.

Baby boomers are aging into retirement. Even before the recession, the government projected in 2007 that participation would decline to 65.5 percent by 2016, from 66 percent. But the April rate of 63.3 percent means the labor force has lost roughly five million additional workers.

Furthermore, the projections were wrong. Participation has actually risen among people older than 55. The decline is entirely driven by younger dropouts.

The federal government counts 11.7 million Americans as unemployed. The real number, it follows, is more like 17 million.

There is always some unemployment. Millions of Americans are out of work at any given moment even in the best of times. But the economy is still roughly 10 million jobs short of returning to normal levels of unemployment and labor force participation. That’s a lot of missing jobs.

Some of those losses may be permanent. The number of Americans receiving disability benefits has increased by 1.8 million since the recession began, and people on disability rarely return to the work force, even if they would have preferred to keep working in the first place.

And as the economy improves, it is likely that labor force participation among older workers will finally begin to decline.

But the evidence suggests that the majority of the 10 million are just waiting for a decent chance.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/keeping-up-not-getting-ahead/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: NBC Lures Back Viewers With ‘The Voice’ and ‘Revolution’

NBC had a lot riding on the comeback of its twin hits from the fall — “The Voice” and “Revolution” — with “The Voice,” in particular, taking a big chance by coming back for a second arc in the same season (no singing competition had done that before) and with a new lineup of judges.

But “The Voice” soared back to the top on Monday, with a 4.7 rating among the target audience of viewers between the age of 18 and 49 and 13.4 million viewers. And “Revolution” was a winner at 10 p.m., averaging a 2.7 rating in the 18-49 group with about 7.2 million viewers.

Monday’s edition of “The Voice” actually beat the show’s performance from last fall, when its premiere averaged a 4.2 rating with about 12 million viewers.

The show, however, is down from where it was last winter when it followed the Super Bowl. And executives at Fox hurried to note the show did not come close to matching the 6 rating and 17.9 million viewers that its singing powerhouse “American Idol” attracted for its premiere this season.

But NBC, which has stumbled badly in the ratings since “The Voice” and N.F.L. football left the air, has reason to feel extremely pleased about the initial results for “The Voice.”

The competition on Mondays is the toughest in network television, with strong shows on other networks: CBS’s comedy lineup, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and Fox’s “Bones” and “The Following.” “The Voice” beat all of them handily from 8 to 10 p.m., and it grew impressively in every half hour, from a 4.0 rating to a 4.5 to a 4.9 to a 5.2.

The numbers for “Revolution” were down sharply from the fall premiere of the postapocalyptic drama, which averaged a 4.1 rating and about 10 million viewers. It was closer to what the show was scoring when it left the air in November, though still down from a 2.9.

NBC notes that “Revolution” has been among the most successful shows in television in adding audience when delayed viewing is counted, but one alarming note is that the show fell off sharply at the half-hour mark, from a 2.9 rating to a 2.4. That is often a sign that viewers don’t find the episode compelling and it might be especially unexpected in the highly promoted return of a serialized drama after a hiatus set up by a cliffhanger.

But for the moment, given its recent travails, Monday night was cause for enormous relief for NBC, if not quite celebration.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/nbc-lures-back-viewers-with-the-voice-and-revolution/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: Google+ Gains Traction, Researcher Says

Julian Staratenschulte/European Pressphoto Agency

Google’s mission to compete with Facebook in social networking may be gaining speed.

On Tuesday Paul Allen, a researcher, published an analysis saying that Google+, the company’s social networking service, has reached 62 million registered users. More important, one-quarter of all users signed up in December alone, he said, putting it on a path to sustained global growth.

Mr. Allen has an admitted self-interest in seeing Google+ succeed; he makes applications designed to be used on social networks. And his methodology in coming up with the number of users is innovative, and not exactly ironclad. He gathered from the United States Census Bureau a list of 400 surnames that are uncommon in the United States, like Distler, Wooding and Loup. Using Elance, a Web site where freelancers bid for jobs, he got a count of the number of people with those names on Google+, and extrapolated from his list what those numbers say about the overall population of Google+.

Over time, Mr. Allen has changed the mix of names to try to reflect the number of people on Google+ outside the United States, where some of those names might be more common.

Mr. Allen also tracks his estimates against information Google provides about the population of Google+ during its quarterly earnings calls. In July, Google said Google+ had 10 million members. In October, the number was 40 million. Google does not supply additional information about the population of Google+.

In Mr. Allen’s analysis, the high percentage of new users matters, because it would mean Google is getting people to join at an accelerating rate. “It’s gaining 625,000 people a day,” Mr. Allen said in an interview. “In the last week of November it was signing up 199,000 a day.” By the end of this month, Mr. Allen thinks Google+ will have 65 million users. When Google next announces its earnings in mid-January, he said, “I expect Larry Page will announce they have 75 million people.”

Maybe so, but a more important issue is whether an acceleration in sign-ups will continue. There is some reason to believe it will, because social networks tend to become more useful to people as more people they know join them, and keep them entertained with status updates and links to other things on the Web. Also, new versions of Android, Google’s mobile operating system, will have automatic signups for Google+. That will drive traffic, possibly along with some usage-killing resentment from being dragooned into yet another social network.

“Projecting my numbers linearly, they’ll have 293 million people by the end of 2012,” Mr. Allen said. But, he added that he thinks things will really speed up, to 400 million users. “I’m very bullish,” he said.

While that number is still less than the minimum of 800 million people that Facebook claims (and its total is probably much higher than that, because Facebook would like to file for its initial public offering with some kind of eye-popping number), it would make Google+ the second-largest social network within 18 months of introduction.

Mr. Allen’s analysis doesn’t look at the important statistic of total time spent on Google+ per user, and whether that is increasing. That number tends to show loyalty, and provides advertisers with more clues about what to pitch users while they are on the site. Facebook’s new Timeline feature, which allows people to insert older photos and mementos to create a narrative of their lives, will probably increase time spent on Facebook, as well as decrease the chances that people will leave that site. Timeline will also, Mr. Allen noted, enable more app discovery, as people see what games, sites, and social tools their friends are using.

Mr. Allen’s guess about the population in Google+ is not the highest one around. Last week the Global Web Index analysis firm claimed that Google+ had 150 million members. But it didn’t say how it reached that figure.


Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6adf6a95d0b59e98dae93d720fcdb208