Friday, June 6, 2014

Employment just went down

Please don't forget that the establishment survey excludes agricultural workers and many of the self-employed. The establishment survey has a lot going for it, but only for the part of the economy it covers. For anyone interested in the national economy, I recommend using the establishment survey plus unincorporated self-employed (from the household survey, seasonally adjusted) plus agricultural workers (also from the household survey, seasonally adjusted). See also the BLS on this matter.

One of the critiques of the household survey is that it is noisy month-to-month -- I agree. But my proposed augmentation of the establishment survey is not particularly noisy because the vast majority of its employment is from the establishment survey.

Changes from April 2014 to May 2014 (100s of workers):

+217 establishment survey
-213 unincorporated self-employed
-109 agricultural workers (excluding self-employed)
-105 National employment change

[The average monthly change since December 2013 has been +152: just keeping up with population growth. The avg monthly change in 2013 was +171. This employment measure has increased 36 out of the past 40 months (going back to 2010, not counting this month). This month's change is 1.9 standard deviations below the average change since 2010.]
[2010 was the labor-market's low point by most employment measures. But unincorp self-employment has fallen another 567,000 since then. If you use the establishment survey, you miss that.]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Individual mandate penalties beginning to be paid (includes IRS link)

Matt Drudge famously said he's paying his.

Here are the IRS instructions, where self-employed taxpayers are told to consider including their 2014 individual mandate penalty with their estimated tax payments beginning April 15, 2014.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sell your copy of the Redistribution Recession!

sell your hard copy of the Redistribution Recession! There is a severe shortage and as far as I can tell used copies are going for $100.

When the publisher starts shipping again next month (they promised me that they will never charge more than $40), I recommend buying multiple copies so that you get more revenue during the next shortage.

If you don't already have a copy: what were you thinking?!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The ACA and wages

The ACA reduces hourly employer cost in at least 3 ways:

(1) employer penalty. I doubt the national accountants will count this as employee comp, so it will lower measured employer cost even if it raises marg prod of labor
(2) productivity. the aca changes the allocation of factors to sectors and the allocation of spending to sectors. my best estimate is that it lowers productivity one percent
(3) for large segments of the population, quasi-fixed costs of employment are amortized over fewer hours. ie, part-time jobs pay less per hour than full-time jobs do.

Trevor and I have a paper with two of these effects. "wedges, wages and productivity under the ACA"

A paper with the third is almost ready for NBER wp. Trevor also looks at the productivity losses from inducing employers to keep FT employment below 50.

Far more important than any of this is what the ACA does to AFTER-TAX wages: sends them to zero in too many cases. I'd like to see the empirical labor economists try to take the log of that!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cutler and Pollack are not with the White House Economists

Both Cutler and Pollack got the wrong impression that I called them dishonest. I did not write the WSJ article and did not call them dishonest. I told the WSJ interviewer that the 2011 letter authors and signers were unaware of the disincentives in the ACA:

there was "a general lack of awareness" and economists simply didn't realize everything that government was doing to undermine incentives for work. "You have to dig into it and see it,"

Regarding the White House economists and their allies this week (neither Cutler nor Pollack are in that group. Hardly any of the letter signers are either) who now praise the market-contracting/drudgery-avoiding attributes of their policies, I said "it looks like they're trying to leverage the lack of economic education in their audience by making these sorts of points."

To be clear, Cutler and Pollack did not and are not trying to leverage the lack of economic education ... That's Furman, Krugman, etc.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CBO moves toward my estimate

I have predicted that the ACA would contract the labor market about 3 percent. Maybe more, maybe less, but that was my best guess. I continue to work on it.

Meanwhile, CBO was saying 0.5 percent, and my critics (rather than giving an economic argument), point to the "nonpartisan CBO's" estimate as proof that I am out on the fringes.

Today CBO revised -- tripled -- its estimate to 1.5 percent. They still have a bit of the economics wrong, but it is a major step that they now acknowledge most (but not all) of the incentives that have been identified, and their analysis is vastly closer to mine now.

CBO should be credited for honestly re-assessing perhaps their most cited estimate ever. I imagine that it might have been tempting to stick with the original. But CBO Director Elmendorf was one of my teachers in college, and knowing him I expected that a better estimate would be forthcoming as research increasingly clarified what was missing in the original.

I also give the CBO credit for never falling into the trap that ACA = Romneycare, ergo the ACA's labor market effects are minimal. HHS will be asked to answer the CBO's revision, and I guarantee you that they will tempt the rest of America to fall in the trap.

The real problem for America was not the CBO estimate but that such a sweeping law was passed before the best economists in the nation could digest the incentives and unintended costs that it contained.