Good Jobs Report

We’re partying like it’s 1999:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in June, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for April was revised from +282,000 to +304,000, and the change for May was revised from +217,000 to +224,000. With these revisions, employment gains in April and May were 29,000 higher than previously reported.

Time for more tax cuts.

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122 replies
  1. 1
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Good news, everybody!

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Wonder what percentage of these jobs are low wage.

  3. 3
    muddy says:

    @BGinCHI: 99%.

  4. 4
    Cassidy says:

    @BGinCHI: Low wage is better than no wage.

  5. 5
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The labor force participation rate, 16 years and over, is actually lower than it was a year ago.
    Some of that’s due to an aging population, to be sure, but it’s nothing to warrant champagne-popping.

  6. 6
    LAC says:

    @Davis X. Machina: it is a positive trend. But don’t hurt yourself seeing something positive in this. Meh it is.

  7. 7
    shelley says:

    Response from the Right. 1. Not good enough, or 2. Cooking the books!

    Take your pick. Boehner still plans to sue.

  8. 8
    Mike in NC says:

    The nearby hardware store had a “Help Wanted” sign on the door yesterday. I thought about it for a minute and then decided “Screw it, if they wouldn’t hire me last year why even bother with the paperwork?”. I’m retired. Period.

  9. 9
    WereBear says:

    We need to make things again. China is NOT filling that gap properly, and I’m downright afraid to use their products. Sometimes I have no choice, but NEVER for food, either us or the pets.

    Mr WereBear & I joke, “We need a Marshall Plan,” but you know, that worked. If we give this President a Democratic Senate and Congress, he’ll put everyone back on a living wage.

    Really. He would.

  10. 10
    Keith P says:

    @shelley: 3. Distraction from BENGHAZI!

  11. 11
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    The labor force participation rate, 16 years and over, is actually lower than it was a year ago

    It’s been declining since 2002, and is projected to decline until at least 2022. Thanks for the news flash, sport.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @LAC: Estimates of the demographic impact run in the -0.2% – 0.6% per annum range. Year-to-year, the difference is -0.7%. We’re treading water.

  13. 13
    Roger Moore says:

    @shelley:

    Response from the Right. 1. Not good enough, or 2. Cooking the books!

    Can’t we have both?

  14. 14
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @WereBear:

    We need to make things again,

    Beginning in the Eighties, the manufacturing sector was gutted. When we sent the work overseas we also sent the equipment. I saw whole machine shops sell off their tooling and equipment by the pound. The stuff was all put on pallets and shipped to Taiwan, Korea and China. We’ve lost the knowledge base so most people don’t know how to make things anymore.

  15. 15
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @shelley: It actually is not good enough… but the next question is, whose fault is that?

    Mostly the Congressional right’s, and to the extent it’s Obama’s, it’s for being too far to the right on economics himself.

  16. 16
    Belafon says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Please tell me how he was too far to the right.

  17. 17
    Citizen_X says:

    *Gasp!* Good news! Quick, everybody piss on it!

  18. 18
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: The US is still a major manufacturing nation, and the sector is growing.

    But it’s not employing many people, because the manufacturing that’s growing is highly automated. We’re replacing the overseas workers who replaced American workers, but we’re replacing them with robots.

  19. 19
    Cassidy says:

    Well that didn’t take long.

  20. 20
    piratedan says:

    makes you wonder where things might be if the GOP wasn’t doing everything they could to thwart the guy in office and how much more infrastructure spending could have been performed and how many more folks would be working trying to modernize and fix the things that we have.

  21. 21
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Belafon: Obama took the Republicans’ government-destroying mania in 2011 as an opportunity for a Grand Bargain to balance the budget. In the middle of an economic depression. That’s just crazy thinking, but it’s crazy thinking born out of the political center of the 1990s.

    He seems to have recovered somewhat, but we wasted a lot of time.

  22. 22
    El Caganer says:

    Dean Baker seems to think it’s a very positive report, and he’s no Pollyanna:

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/.....bs-2014-07

  23. 23
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    I am seeing it in an odd way – got layed off in June and I can’t keep up with the number of job openings posted on the job boards. Recruiters are even cold calling me they are so frantic to find people. Really more of a vacation than the horror story of the last few years.

  24. 24
    Cassidy says:

    Another day of Obama not being liberal enough, another day of failing to account for a an opposition party grounded in nihilism and death cult dogma.

    Just another day at Balloon Juice.

  25. 25
    Belafon says:

    @Matt McIrvin: So, let me ask you, what could Obama have done to improve the economy?

  26. 26
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @piratedan:

    makes you wonder where things might be if the GOP wasn’t doing everything they could to thwart the guy in office and how much more infrastructure spending could have been performed and how many more folks would be working trying to modernize and fix the things that we have.

    unfortunately that window is closing – if the government tries a massive infrastructure program they will just end up competing with the rest of the economy for the workers who can do the job. That should have been done 5-6 years ago.

  27. 27
    muddy says:

    The unemployment rate in the socialist paradise of Vermont is 3.6%. Clearly the state is very unkind to business.

  28. 28
    The Moar You Know says:

    China is NOT filling that gap properly, and I’m downright afraid to use their products. Sometimes I have no choice, but NEVER for food, either us or the pets.

    @WereBear: You should be. Everyone should be.

    For three years, back in the late 1990s, I was product manger for a Company That Shall Not Be Named, in charge of going over to China and supervising the factories making the stuff we sold.

    After my first trip over there, I came home and threw out every single utensil, piece of “silverware” and dish I had that was made in China, and I have never allowed anything from China near my kitchen again. Or my bathroom, or my bed…you get the idea. If it touches me or my food, it will not be made in China. I’ve seen how they make things there. You have no idea what goes into the product. Neither do most of the final assembly factories (they work on the Asian model of subcontracting everything). Could be sugar, could be lead, they both taste sweet!

    They make medical supplies, surgical tools and implants there are well. Something to think about. They regulate nothing, we test nothing. That’s a combo that always ends poorly.

  29. 29
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @muddy: They’re benefiting, clearly, from all the Canadian asylum-seekers.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Belafon: Leaderly leadership. Bully pulpit.

  32. 32
    muddy says:

    @Cassidy: A couple of nights ago on msnbc Steve Kornacki was saying how horrible that the Democrats in the Senate are not bringing things to a vote! The Dems control the Senate, derp derp. Can’t blame it all on Republicans in Congress he says.

    As though the Republicans in the Senate are allowing a damn thing to come up for a vote when they threaten to filibuster every single item. FFS.

  33. 33
    NorthLeft12 says:

    Numbers like these are putting more pressure on the Cons who are running Canada to do something, as for the last five years they have been bragging about how much better we have weathered the 2008 Crash than those guys south of here.

    Now? Not so much.

    The downside of this is that the Cons are even less likely to do anything to slow down the development of the oil sands as that is the big driver of any Canadian economic growth. So much for the environment.

  34. 34

    @BGinCHI: I saw a chart yesterday, that obviously I can’t find today, that showed that the largest employers have had the best recovery and the smallest employers are only now getting back to pre-recession job levels.

    The suggestion there is that large companies have both capital reserves and access to capital that small companies lack to be able to invest during a down market. Basically, recessions kill small business and help grow big business.

    As to wages, large employers pay higher wages overall. Yes, you have Walmarts in there, but they’re dominated by large manufacturers, banks, etc. That suggests that the job growth has likely been with higher wage jobs. Healthcare has been a big driver of the job recovery, and those are generally not low-wage jobs. Nurse assistants only make about $25K, but it goes up pretty steadily from there.

  35. 35
    Belafon says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Why is it closing? if the government puts up infrastructure projects, a scarcity of workers drives up wages. Win.

  36. 36
    The Moar You Know says:

    I am seeing it in an odd way – got layed off in June and I can’t keep up with the number of job openings posted on the job boards. Recruiters are even cold calling me they are so frantic to find people. Really more of a vacation than the horror story of the last few years.

    @Belafon: I pointed out a “help wanted” sign to my wife the other day. It had been a long time since either one of us had seen one. They’ve been popping up all over the place for the past few months.

    So, let me ask you, what could Obama have done to improve the economy?

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: BULLY PULPIT

  37. 37
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    That’s good to hear. When I quit machining there were suddenly too many machinists. Wages, when you could find a job, were one-half to one-third what they’d been.

  38. 38
    muddy says:

    @Davis X. Machina: In which direction are the Canadians moving?

    Years ago I had a roommate who was into political conspiracies(Bircher), and in the 80s was saying that global warming was a real thing, but instigated by “the government” to raise land values in Canada. I tried to find out from him which government was doing it (why would the US care about Canadian land values?), but apparently all governments are the same single entity or something. Naturally he does no longer believe in the warming. However the gov’t is still behind everything.

  39. 39
    NonyNony says:

    @muddy:

    A couple of nights ago on msnbc Steve Kornacki was saying how horrible that the Democrats in the Senate are not bringing things to a vote! The Dems control the Senate, derp derp. Can’t blame it all on Republicans in Congress he says.

    And yet if Democrats do bring things to a vote it’s “red meat” for “Democratic voters” because “everyone knows it won’t pass the House/will be filibustered”.

    It’s pretty much a continuation of the “everything Democrats do is wrong” narrative that has been in effect since I first became politically aware in the 80s. It’s reached the point where watching TV pundits even as entertainment is worthless to me because I can predict exactly what they’re going to say just based on the topic.

  40. 40
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Belafon: Appointed Fed officers less terrified of inflation and eager to taper off the stimulus, for one.

    I admit that in the face of the Congress that got elected, the rest is mostly bully-pulpit stuff, but he shouldn’t have been actively legitimizing the idea that the government is like a family that has to tighten its belt in hard times.

  41. 41
    feebog says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    “The labor force participation rate, 16 years and over, is actually lower than it was a year ago.
    Some of that’s due to an aging population, to be sure, but it’s nothing to warrant champagne-popping.”

    Uh, no. About 9 million baby boomers have retired in the past 10 years. That number is going to grow even faster, because we are still on the front end of the baby boomer generation. Baby boomer retirement is the most significant factor in the decrease of the labor force population rate. But you don’t have to believe me, you can get the stats from 538.com.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/fea.....s-economy/

  42. 42
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @muddy:

    In which direction are the Canadians moving?

    To the Land of the Free. Because socialized medicine.

    You missed all those tent cities all around St. Johnsbury, or what?

  43. 43
    The Republic of Stupdity says:

    @piratedan: Yeah but if we DID do those kinda things here, like infrastructure spending, we wouldn’t have the money to go bomb the living shite outta someone else’s country endlessly…

    We gotta bomb them over there, so we don’t have to bomb them over here…

    Priorities, people, priorities…

  44. 44
    BGinCHI says:

    @⚽️ Martin: Glad to hear it. I was not implying that it was somehow the Obama administration’s fault that even good numbers have negatives in them. It’s just clear that we have to look at how middle and lower class wages are trending.

    Income inequality does not just happen all at once. It’s a slow slide.

  45. 45
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @feebog: I used Christine Romer’s high-end estimate for the fall-off due to an aging population — 0.6% — to make the claim we’re moving sideways. Figured she’s a decent source.

    Job quality something of a mixed bag, too. Less-than-full-time-for-economic-reasons was actually up.

  46. 46
    NonyNony says:

    @muddy:

    I tried to find out from him which government was doing it (why would the US care about Canadian land values?), but apparently all governments are the same single entity or something.

    Clearly your roommate was not able to articulate the horror that is the One World Government. All governments are just shadow puppets of the tentacled octopus that is the One World Government.

    Misguided fools think that it’s the United Nations. But those with true understanding know that the United Nations is just a front like any other government. The true One World Government lurks in the shadows pulling strings and setting up the world as a chessboard for their schemes to do something something something.

  47. 47
    muddy says:

    @NonyNony: I know! I expect this kind of thing from broadcast media, not fucking msnbc.

    I told Steve on the tv that I’d prefer watching Tweety saying this stuff. At least he’s entertaining in his atteetude.

  48. 48
    piratedan says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: and that’s bad how? Can we agree that we really do STILL need to address this with the amount of bridges failing, the number of wastewater treatment plants and inefficient power grid structures that exist. It seems to me that it might ya’know spark an engineering boom of sorts. I never have understood why the GOP hates this country so much as to watching their attempts to kill Western financial markets 6 to 7 years ago that they could feel any reluctance (much less shame) for allowing us to reinvest in ourselves. I do think their myopic IGMFY should be their undoing but then again, those fuckers have done a great job of buying the media as well.

  49. 49
    aimai says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Competing with the rest of the economy? Who do you think does the work in a massive jobs program? People in the economy who need jobs. People still need jobs–lots of jobs. And the infrastructure of the country like roads and bridges don’t get done without a public/private consortium of money anyways. Those are always government spending. Private industry doesn’t pay for those jobs, ever.

  50. 50
    Xantar says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Or Obama took the opportunity in 2011 to cast himself as the reasonable guy who was willing to compromise and make a deal that would piss off his base in order to get a grand bargain. And in the process, the Republicans got portrayed as the party which couldn’t say yes to getting 90% of what they wanted. And their image hasn’t recovered ever since while Obama’s approval ratings have remained steady.

  51. 51
    muddy says:

    @NonyNony: In any case, I’m happy to accept the increase in my property values from being so far north, altho I am not in Canada to get the really sweet $$.

    This Bircher guy owns a lot of acres about 15 miles from Canada, I’m not sure why he isn’t pleased by the “global warming increase of property value” thing. I guess you don’t get the full socialist $$$ property benefit on this side of the line. Even tho the gov’t is all ONE.

  52. 52
    LAC says:

    @Citizen_X: if you can get around David maxima. He drank a lot of water and will be there a while.

  53. 53
    Belafon says:

    @Matt McIrvin: It’s funny how people knew you were going to say bully pulpit.

    But let’s get back to the original point: How is the health of the economy affected by Obama’s supposedly being too far to the right? You talk about his proposal, which never made it into Congress or into law, so that couldn’t have actually had an effect. I personally think his proposal was made just so that something could be done for the economy, because you have to get something through the House, and it’s not like his proposal was new, it was what the House said would pass.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Preach it brother. If only he had given us all the feels and tingles in the right places.

  55. 55
    JGabriel says:

    @NonyNony:

    The true One World Government lurks in the shadows pulling strings and setting up the world as a chessboard for their schemes to do something something something.

    Goddamn Illuminati. Even the goals of their schemes are secret!

  56. 56
    Tone In DC says:

    @The Republic of Stupdity:

    Yeah but if we DID do those kinda things here, like infrastructure spending, we wouldn’t have the money to go bomb the living shite outta someone else’s country endlessly…

    We gotta bomb them over there, so we don’t have to bomb them over here…

    Priorities, people, priorities…

    LULz. That sentiment sends a tingle up McCain’s leg.

  57. 57
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @LAC: I don’t see where a sustained upwards pressure on wages is going to come from under conditions like this. And that’s where a real attack on inequality needs.

    Transfer payments aren’t going to do that on their own — and you’ll see even less activity on that front after the Senate flips in the fall.

  58. 58
    muddy says:

    @JGabriel: But but the global warming thing turned out to be true! That’s no secret. AHA!

  59. 59

    Gist of many Balloon Juice comments.
    Everything sucks. Always. There is no hope. This is the worst country in the world.

    Am I forgetting anything?

  60. 60
    Violet says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Pets rule. Mustard is lost. Subarus are outstanding in fields.

  61. 61
    MomSense says:

    @muddy:

    Well when we are all at the pawn shops struggling to figure out how many Ameros each ounce of gold is worth so we can buy our survival rations–you will wish you had listened to your friend.

  62. 62

    @Violet: You forgot naked moping.

  63. 63
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    It’s all Obama’s fault!

  64. 64
    The Moar You Know says:

    Am I forgetting anything?

    @schrodinger’s cat: WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE

  65. 65
    MomSense says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    naked moping.

    HA!!

  66. 66
    Betty Cracker says:

    We still have a situation where those at the top are doing as well as ever but middle-class families all across the country are still struggling to get by.

  67. 67
    Tone In DC says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Gist of many Balloon Juice comments.
    Everything sucks. Always. There is no hope. This is the worst country in the world.

    Am I forgetting anything?

    Also too… All of the above is good news for John McCain.

    As for the mustard, I think that Steve has it. If this is the case, I doubt that John will get it back.

  68. 68
    Violet says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: And naked mopping. Also, too.

  69. 69

    @Betty Cracker: How is the beatific seal dog?

  70. 70
    LAC says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: voting is hopeless, the senate already lost, dogs and cats living in sin, 2016, I saw Hilary’s visage in my turnip patch.

    :-)

  71. 71
    Seanly says:

    @piratedan:

    Speaking of infrastructure, I am scared to death of the Highway Trust Fund running out of money & nothing to augment the funding. We could easily spend $70 billion a year on highways, but Congress only appropriates around $45 to $50 billion (and federal gas tax only brings in around $35 billion).

    The president isn’t kidding when he says we could lose 700,000 jobs when the trust fund goes insolvent in August. I’m on FMLA so my position is protected through February, but I am still deeply concerned…

    One of the odd items is that many (90%?) of the contractors who build roads and the engineers who design them are staunch Republicans. Surprised there hasn’t been more of a push to get something done.

  72. 72
    burnspbesq says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Am I forgetting anything?

    You forgot to mention that none of those commenters are emigrating from the so-called worst country in the world. There are many inferences that can be drawn from said lack of emigration.

  73. 73
    Tripod says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Oh God, not Hillary……

  74. 74
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Lazy as ever!

  75. 75
    Violet says:

    @Seanly: Seems like there’s a real opportunity for someone–a left-leaning SuperPAC owner maybe?–to start an “Invest in the USA!” campaign. Highlight how all that money we were spending overseas could be spent here on roads and bridges and other infrastructure. Enough bridges all over the country have collapsed that people might think it’s a good idea.

  76. 76
    Belafon says:

    @Seanly: Because the cuts to money will only happen to the other contractors, not mine.

  77. 77
    catclub says:

    @Matt McIrvin: The handling of HAMP was practically sabotage.
    Thanks Geithner, and Obama.

  78. 78

    The big shift has been from low-medium precision manufacturing to high precision. Not everywhere, there’s still plenty of cheap crap being made off of cheap labor, but if you look at where the leading edge of manufacturing is, it’s all high precision. The reason for the automation there is that some of the stuff simply can’t be done by a machinist – turbo in Koenigsegg, SpaceX Dragon thrusters. These are high-performance, low-volume products. They would have been incredibly expensive to make by hand (if at all possible) because they are effectively one-offs. Maybe a few hundred of the turbos, and a few dozen of the thruster chambers. Boeing is 3D printing landing gear components that allow geometries that simply cannot be fabricated otherwise, except by breaking the part into multiple components and welding, etc. Additive manufacturing (laser sintering) is lighter, cheaper, stronger, and more predictable.

    On the other end, companies like Apple are using CNC (subtractive manufacturing) on a very large scale. Every iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S made a run through a CNC machine. Every laptop since 2009 or so has as well. Large production CNC is barely even a thing – mostly invented by Apple. Apple bought up tens of thousands of individual CNC machines for this production effort, and employed tens of thousands of CNC operators.

    What’s going to happen is these high-precision, single-step manufacturing techniques will mature and equipment will become more flexible, more consistent, and faster. Dump materials in one end, load up your model, and parts will fly out the other end. The operator adds no value to the result, they just keep the machine running. That job will also try to be eliminated. The value-add jobs will be in redesigning traditional manufacturing to this new manufacturing to allow for new, better, or cheaper components. Designing things that are only possible with new machines. Designing and building the machines themselves, and of course, setting up the operation. Simply setting up a production line to be safe and efficient is non-trivial. We don’t have many of those people either in this country any more. But there are 3D printers now that will print circuitry directly into a part. They are working on integrating traditional 3D printing, PCB printing, and a pick and place. Print the case, the circuitry and install the components in a single machine. Your next garage door opener might be a single sealed (waterproof) unit made in a machine like that.

    We’re working on large scale additive manufacturing as well. Printers that can print houses. Basically, a large frame with a nozzle and a tank of fast-set concrete. It can print the structure of a house or small office building in a day – one that won’t collapse in an earthquake, or burn to the ground. In China they’re printing small houses for $5000. A machine can print 10 per day. Go in and hang your windows, doors, etc. And their walls will actually be straight compared how we build in the US (homeowners know what I mean). There are now 3D printers that print using continuous carbon-fiber. At some point soon it’s going to be cost-effective to 3d print an entire car chassis or engine block. They’ll cut the weight of the vehicle considerably, make it more fuel efficient, faster to produce, etc.

    So, the shift in the last 20 years has been toward fast-to-market manufacturing, which China has excelled at. The US is terrible at that. It takes years to bring products to market here. This move toward automated additive/subtractive manufacturing could even things up, but we need to be investing in it. We are, a bit – Haas Automation is one of our SoCal industries, and one of the largest CNC companies in the world, but it should be a moonshot project in the US. It’s picking up further, but we’re going to get passed if the GOP doesn’t get off their ass and put some government money in this.

  79. 79
    catclub says:

    @Xantar:

    recovered ever since while Obama’s approval ratings have remained steady.

    His approval has probably remained steady with you and me, but the rest of the US has become less happy with him. He peaked, conveniently, in 2012.

  80. 80
    catclub says:

    @Belafon:

    How is the health of the economy affected by Obama’s supposedly being too far to the right?

    HAMP and the FED, for two examples.

  81. 81
    Elizabelle says:

    Your daily Andy Borowitz:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — A new poll released Wednesday revealed that people rank President Barack Obama as the worst President since the Second World War, and also blame him for starting the Second World War.

  82. 82
    Seanly says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Not quite. Highway construction is somewhat specialized work. Engineers are very specialized – for example, at the end of the 90’s people were talking about using out of work aerospace engineers to do other engineering work. They would’ve been mostly useless in other disciplines.

    The bid prices on highway work nosedived in 2008 and had made some recovery but there are still a lot of hungry contractors out there.

    Also, spending on infrastructure should be somewhat steady. The volume of work is too much to address in a couple of years. Also the wear & tear on the highways & bridges is constant – a stretch of road or a bridge that is in decent shape now may be a wreck in 5 years. So, when the work is constant & always there, we can take the approach of doing more work when the economy is slow & less when it is hot.

    I’d rather see a trillion dollars spent over 10 or 12 years than over 2. Sure, front load it to get things going.

  83. 83
    Cassidy says:

    If only he had used the right words that would have affirmed our tribalism. #thanksfornothingobama

  84. 84
    Elizabelle says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Gist of many Balloon Juice comments.
    Everything sucks. Always. There is no hope. This is the worst country in the world.

    Tell it.

    I scan threads, or ignore them, when that’s the prevailing vibe.

    Eeyore is not meant to be a role model.

  85. 85

    @Belafon:
    That didn’t sound like ‘bully pulpit’ to me. It sounded like a fantasy land policy derived from guilt by association tropes.

  86. 86
    The Republic of Stupdity says:

    @Tone In DC: Come to think of it…

    When we let the place get so run down, ya know… bridges collapsing, roads going to pieces… it kinda looks like we ALREADY might have bombed here… so mebbe when they DO get here, paddling their little rubber boats across the ocean kinda like the Mouse That Roared, they’ll be tricked and think we DID bomb ourselves and just turn around and go home…

    Strategery, people… strategery…

  87. 87
    mai naem (mobile) says:

    @⚽️ Martin: I read the story about the Chinese houses. MIT is working on even bigger buildings . I am figuring most construction people don’t realize their halfway decent middle class jobs will be on the chopping block next.
    BTW if this jobs report had come under Dub by a he would be out there with his mission accomplished banner and the media would be giving him a blow job. With Obama, it’s ” black man can’t even get us to 2.5 % UE” wahhhh! !!

  88. 88
    StringOnAStick says:

    @⚽️ Martin: Cool stuff, Martin; thanks for posting that. I do enjoy a hopeful, forward thinking insight into technology and innovation! We should damn well be putting money into this, but we all know why we aren’t. Freedumbs.

    As for infrastructure, I have 2 examples. Our little town put up for bid a repaving & adding roundabouts project this spring; they only got one bid, and it was for $500k more than the city planned on so they will wait a year and see if they get more bidders next time. My husband hypothesized that so many smaller firms went out of business in the slump that they just aren’t there to bid on these smaller jobs now.

    My second example is of a friend who took over his dad’s engineering firm that specialized in things like water storage tank design and build, water treatment plants, and general civic water infrastructure. He’s a liberal, and he also made it a point to offer honest bids rather than the now apparently standard practice of underbidding and then doing lots of change orders/cost changes once things got started. He always made sure to point out that his bid was honest and accurate in his presentations, and that his firm had a very good record on being on-time and on-budget. He closed his business in 2010 because of cities having no funds to spend on this stuff when federal money dried up, and from being an honest bidder. The last project he tried to get (it would have saved the firm) was lost to a dishonest bidder, and sure enough, the change orders now have that project to well over what his original bid was and it is behind schedule too. His contact person at the city admits it and says he tried his hardest to convince the city council that this would happen but all they could see were the numbers on the page, and now it is costing that city a LOT more because of it.

  89. 89

    @mai naem (mobile): I’m going to keep repeating it until I see someone put it in print: “If your job is not value-add to the consumer, it’s going to be eliminated.”

    Deliverymen add no value – the goal is to get the package to the recipient. The deliveryman doesn’t make whats in the package better by how they do that. Self-driving vehicles will replace all of those jobs within a decade or two.

    Most construction jobs add no value. You’re putting the stud where the architect said to put it, or to the specs that the architect said to. A lot of the end decisions are made on site, but they don’t need to be. They could be made in the plans and handed off to the 3D printer instead. There will still be work for bespoke construction, but the mass-produced stuff we all live in will get automated. If anything the trades that built my house did nothing but fuck it up. They sure as hell didn’t make it better than the architect intended.

    So, think about what it is that you do. If you make the value of the product or service better – you’re good. If you don’t, then someone, somewhere is looking to replace you with a machine. Learn how to make that machine.

  90. 90

    @burnspbesq: Some do talk about dual citizenship and leaving, although none so far in this thread, as far as I can tell.

  91. 91
    Cassidy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: My wife could be assigned in London (theoretically) and I contacted the London Fire Department recruiter. They’re not hiring right now.

  92. 92
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @⚽️ Martin: I’ve been stressing this in conversations with fellow language teachers.

    If software can do a passable job of translation, then you’ve got to be better than passable, and pushing the troops to get to better than passable means changing what you do.

    Best of all would be to be one of the people writing the software. That’s going to require a different kind of understanding of what a language is and does.

    Knowing the answer to question #6 is useless. Knowing how to get the answer to #6 is better. Knowing why #6 is even a question is better still.

  93. 93
    muddy says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I must have! Last tent cities I saw here were the ones students put up at UVM to protest South Africa decades ago.

    I did see a “golden buddha” nearby there in Lyndonville though. Actually it was a boulder painted yellow, the accent was so thick I didn’t understand the directions. If I’d had a sharpie on me I’d have drawn a bellybutton on it.

  94. 94
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @catclub:

    His approval has probably remained steady with you and me, but the rest of the US has become less happy with him. He peaked, conveniently, in 2012.

    As I said in the other thread, Obama’s job approval polling dropped from a really short honeymoon period to about 40% in 2011, went back up a little above 50% by reelection time, then went back down to around 40%.

    By comparison with most other recent presidents it’s been a really flat line. Clinton had the Reagan pattern: a really low dip in the first term, recovery by the reelection campaign and then great popularity in the second, until a scandal hit (except that Reagan’s popularity was hurt far more by Iran-Contra than Clinton was by Monica Lewinsky, so Clinton came out ahead eventually).

    George W. Bush had the giant spike after 9/11 that took his entire first term to dissipate, recovered slightly just in time to be reelected, then continued to fall into the basement.

    But at this point Bush was already doing worse than Obama is now: Republicans started actually not liking him. Obama’s job approval basically varies between hard limits set by Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans not approving, and that never changes. Right now it’s just near the bottom of the range.

    I don’t see Democrats turning against him, like Republicans eventually did against Bush, to any significant degree; there’s no real reason for them to. In this thread I’ve been complaining about stuff he did years ago; he’s not really following that line now.

  95. 95
    catclub says:

    Charlie Pierce does have a way with words.

    (Yeah, I, too, think it’s funny that the story about how America is Yearning For Willard runs below a headline about the “booming” Dow and the jobs numbers that have begun to “skyrocket.” Oops.)

    and relevant to jobs post. Keep Mitt unemployed.

  96. 96
    muddy says:

    @⚽️ Martin: I don’t know how self-driving vehicles could do it on their own. Wouldn’t you still need someone picking up the box, taking it from the truck to the door? A robotic arm can’t just launch it out the roof.

  97. 97
    Cassidy says:

    @muddy: Catapults. An actual delivery human is a premium service and would cost more s&h.

  98. 98
    muddy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I also think Obama gets his criticism from both sides more. People disapprove thinking he’s too left and too right. When Bush2 was in, there was not much disapproval from his right, from his own party.

  99. 99
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @muddy: There wasn’t from pundits, but toward the end when the economy was really going into the crapper you got a lot of conservative rank-and-file declaring that they were now independents, which I think was one of the roots of the Tea Party.

  100. 100

    @Cassidy: Could you become a London Bobby?

  101. 101
    Cassidy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I don’t know, but I’m assuming no. The FD can hire people on work visas, but I’m thinking the PD couldn’t do that.

  102. 102
    mai naem (mobile) says:

    @⚽️ Martin: I agree with you but I’ve worked with 20 somethings in construction and I don’t see them learning programming, and they’re in those no value added construction jobs. I just wonder if they’ll end up being the unemployed rust belt factory worker version of the 2020s.

  103. 103
    canegiallo says:

    @Davis X. Machina: More than 90 percent of those ‘Not in the Labor Force’ are not looking for a job; the other 10 percent includes people discouraged workers and people marginally attached to the labor force. While the number of people Not in the Labor Force (NILF) has increased compared to June of last year, the absolute number of discourage/marginal workers and that group as a percentage of the Not In the Labor Force have declined. So it appears that the vast majority of the increase in the NILF is due to retirement and people choosing not to work for other reasons.

    People keep on complaining about the NILF numbers without looking under the hood to see what the numbers really mean. In short, the numbers are better than you think and are improving.

  104. 104

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Best of all would be to be one of the people writing the software. That’s going to require a different kind of understanding of what a language is and does.

    Indeed. One of my first jobs out of college was writing parsing algorithms for ancient greek. That was over 20 years ago and was a an effort to break natural language down into semantic form so that you could do functional things with it. I had a few years of greek in college, but my experience was in programming. It was a lot easier for them to find a programmer and have a few experts collaborate, than to try and do it the other way. Programmers (and engineers) know going in that they will need to acquire knowledge expertise in areas outside of programming – the code is just a tool to do some other thing. I don’t think most students in most other fields quite get that and so they either don’t chase that other knowledge expertise, or they are resistant to it when its offered.

    I don’t mean to turn all ‘get off my lawn’ here, but one of the things I thank my dad for is not instilling in me a ‘chase your dream’ attitude. He always told me, ‘At the end of the day, your employer needs a job done and you can either step up and do it, let someone else step up and do it. Your dreams will have fuckall to do with anything. The more you can do, the farther you’ll go, the more you can align your job to your dreams and the more you’ll enjoy it.’ So, I will learn any job that needs to be done.

    There’s been massive breakthroughs in natural language processing in just the last few years. Watch this video (good stuff about 3 minutes in). Toss in a few years of computational development and refinements to the algorithms and better voice synthesis and you’ll have good-enough translation for anything other than diplomatic and legal interactions in free software in every mainstream language on every phone.

    Now take that tool a few years further out, with better algorithms and a large online database of edge cases, idioms, etc. and rework it into an immersive language learning tool that could also handle assessment, and you’ve now automated 90% of language instruction. Every high school could offer every language, and just periodically test for proficiency.

  105. 105
    andy says:

    @muddy: Marxist Minnesota is doing it’s part- 4.7% unemployment!

  106. 106

    @muddy: Yeah, the last-foot problem is actually the hard one to solve. I’m guessing there will be some demonstration of standardized post boxes for standard mail (the nations million letter carriers are the bigger target), which is easier because postal mail is standardized. Mainly you need a fixed target-aquirable object. You still have the problem of cars parking in front of mailboxes and the like, and my guess is that mailboxes will become like fire hydrants, and a failed delivery will cause a message to be sent to your postbox indicating a failed delivery because the box was unreachable. But mail can then be delivered 24/7. Instead of a given time each day, you’ll be guaranteed a delivery no less than every 72 hours, that kind of thing.

    When you get to packages, things do get difficult. You can set up a locker/key situation, but that’s got problems. I’m sure somebody will figure it out. Amazon is looking at drones for delivery. It’s a $200B industry just in the US (mail+packages). That’s a lot of money that doesn’t convert into value-add. That’s $200B of something else that can be produced and bought instead, and the folks on the other side of that delivery are working damn hard to get that money back.

    But getting the vehicle to your house is one of the easier problems to solve at this stage. That should have a lot of delivery folks worried.

  107. 107
    Kay says:

    The economy has been quietly getting better for a while here. It’s nice because it was obviously slowing early, 2006 or so, and that was ignored too.
    Wages are stuck but everyone is working again and for now I think that’s enough.
    It took forever to go from everyone doing lots of overtime to actual re-hiring but that’s well underway.
    Now they’re moving, applying around, and I think that’s good for wages. In my admittedly anecdotal local view, they’re working AND looking for higher wages which hopefully gives them a little leverage.

  108. 108

    @mai naem (mobile): Yes, they will. There will be some jobs for operating those machines, but not many. There will still be trades for repair, and additions, and so on. But these industries change fast. 40 years ago it was white collar workers bitching about learning Lotus and Wordperfect, secretaries being eliminated wholesale, clerical workers of all stripes getting wiped out. Those jobs were offset by programming jobs, website builders and designers, etc. They required greater skills and not many workers made that transition.

    It’s more a warning for the next generation. Not about specific industries, but to make sure their skillset isn’t better suited to automation. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be programmers. It might mean everyone needs to be artists, though.

  109. 109
    NonyNony says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    It’s more a warning for the next generation. Not about specific industries, but to make sure their skillset isn’t better suited to automation. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be programmers.

    Programmers shouldn’t sit on their laurels either, because the same automation that is leading to self-driving cars and whatnot will also lead to code that can be written with fewer programmers. Your argument about construction workers not “adding value” to the designs provided by an architect could be rewritten word for word to be about many programmers not “adding value” to the designs provided to them by a project lead.

    We’re not there yet, obviously, but it’s coming.

  110. 110
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @NonyNony: That already happened, really: it’s been happening continuously ever since the first generation of compilers were written. A compiler automates the job that a machine-language programmer would otherwise do; the human effort moves up the chain, and implementing a given feature becomes less labor-intensive.

    Once a software library is written, it doesn’t have to be written again (though it does have to be maintained). The kind of graphics code I was writing 20 years ago is now commoditized and few organizations would hire anyone to write it now; they’d use something off the shelf.

    It’s a continuous scramble to keep your skills relevant. Overall growth of the industry has been high enough that we don’t see the overall number of jobs decreasing, but that won’t last forever.

  111. 111
    Calouste says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    Main problem that needs to be solved is that someone doesn’t steal your unmanned delivery vehicle and its contents while it’s out there.

    Oh, and unmanned vehicles that can actually drive (or fly) safely in weather conditions prevalent outside California/Nevada/Spain.

  112. 112
    Morzer says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    if the GOP doesn’t get off their ass and put some government money in

    I wonder whether ideological inertia is now a constant rather than a variable.

  113. 113

    @Matt McIrvin: Absolutely. The algorithm is the the hard part. The coding beneath the algorithm is largely tradework and will get automated away. And it’s converting business processes into algorithms where the really difficult work takes place.

  114. 114

    @Calouste: Driving in conditions isn’t necessarily hard. Hell, the only way half the people out there can drive in the snow now is because the computer-controlled ABS is doing the hard work for them. Flying is a whole other ballgame. I don’t see aerial coming along for some time. The primary safe mode for a car that doesn’t know what to do is to stop. That will almost always lead to the least damage/fatalities. It may be inconvenient, but it won’t be terribly dangerous. In terms of sensors for road, unmanned cars can use IR and other sensors to pierce conditions better than people can, and they can reliably be programmed to not drive beyond the conditions. That might mean delivery trucks sitting unmoving on a highway somewhere, but right now we’d have some fraction of those plowing through the fog/rain/snow trusting that the bridge isn’t out or that someone isn’t jackknifed closer than they can stop. Self-driving vehicles are guaranteed to be statistically safer than human-driven ones.

    There’s no good safe mode for anything aerial. Everything involves some magnitude of crashing. That makes the regulatory solutions for air much, much harder than for land, at least based on what’s being offered up now. They bypass a lot of infrastructure inconveniences, but with the potential of harming people when a spinning rotor comes down on their head from some altitude.

    Stealing them is a problem, but probably not a massive one. They’re going to have hard connections to GPS, which means every one of them will be lojacked, probably with video being sent back home as well. I think stealing them will have a very low likelihood of success. The bigger worry will be theft of the payload, which is already a problem, but one that is more expensive to solve than to reimburse. That is, if you can cut $100B from the cost of delivery nationally, will it cost less than $100B to replace all of the stolen goods? I think that’s unquestionably yes.

    Remember your fear of your Amazon package getting stolen isn’t relevant so long as Amazon is willing to re-ship.

  115. 115
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    I had a few years of greek in college, but my experience was in programming. It was a lot easier for them to find a programmer and have a few experts collaborate, than to try and do it the other way.

    40 years ago, it was the other way round. The TLG people took classicists, like myself, and taught us to code – in a long-dead and forgotten language, for a long-dead and forgotten OS.

  116. 116
    Morzer says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    I remember dear old Ibycus. Mind you, it did rather bring Plato’s remarks about the loss of memory in a literate society to mind. They probably should have called the system Theuth.

  117. 117
    DougJ says:

    The Walker/Paul recovery has finally begun.

  118. 118
    Seanly says:

    I don’t want to be like the IBM engineer who said we’d never fit movies onto a medium like compact discs, but I am pretty sure that our future will not be spent living in 3D printed houses, being driven around by automated cars, working in a 3D printed office and going home to wait for the Amazon drones to drop off supplies for my 3D food printer. If we don’t wipe ourselves out by global warming devastating our food production, we might want there to be something for some of the 10 billion folks jammed onto our planet to do.

  119. 119
    Calouste says:

    @⚽️ Martin:

    and they can reliably be programmed to not drive beyond the conditions. That might mean delivery trucks sitting unmoving on a highway somewhere

    Not going to be fun to be spokesperson for Amazon/UPS/FedEx/whoever if it’s the third time in a week one of your delivery trucks clogs up the local interstate due to being too cautious in the snow. I guess they will get there (I.e. safe, weather appropriate driving under all circumstances) eventually, but there are going to be some hick ups along the way.

    In some sense my Amazon package getting stolen is relevant even if Amazon is willing to re-ship, because I will receive it later. Maybe not as much as a problem with Amazon, but for next-day shipping of time-critical items via the normal delivery services losing a higher percentage of items is an issue.

  120. 120
    divF says:

    @Seanly: Uncle Karl referred to this as “The Crisis of Overproduction”. If too few people have jobs so that they can afford to buy all of this stuff that we can produce without human labor, the system collapses.

  121. 121
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @GHayduke (formerly lojasmo): Yes the jobs report is good news. Period. Thank you Obama.

  122. 122
    AnotherBruce says:

    @Seanly: Exactly, but then again, our overlords don’t currently seem to worry about this. But billions of hungry people will eat what they need to to survive.

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