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More on Egypt; Reagan; Unemployment

Egypt Will Rise--Mubarak Must Go
Egypt Will Rise--Mubarak Must Go

(1) More Links on Egypt: I promised more links;  here they are:
—The latest from Middle East Report online, Into Egypt’s Uncharted Territory.
—On the economic basis of the uprising, by the excellent Nomi Prins, at Alternet: The Egyptian Uprising Is a Direct Response to Ruthless Global Capitalism.

—From the excellent Bill Fletcher, at ZSpace, A Spark Becomes a Flame: Uprisings Shake the Arab World.

—An interesting perspective from Turkey, which is also seeing labor unrest; hat-tip to Marco: Walking like an Egyptian; Acting Like Turkey

I’ll keep passing on interesting links; please send in anything particularly interesting that you come across.

(2) Reagan Centennial: I have blissfully missed any of the celebrations and/or white-washing of Ronald Reagan and his legacy, not being much of a TV viewer. Here are some nice left critiques of the celebrations:

—From the Real News Network, a whole series of videos critical of Reagan and his legacy; check out especially an interview with left economist Michael Hudson, Reaganomics Sucked Wealth up, Did Not Trickle It down. Also look for interviews with Yves Smith and Bill Black.

—From John Dolan at The Exiled, Reagan’s Cheshire Snarl, kind of a memoir—nicely written, personal memoir of growing up in Reagan’s California.

—Dean Baker has a piece at Common Dreams, The Real Effect of “Reaganomics”.

(3) Unemployment: Friday’s jobs report for January was pretty dismal, with non-farm payroll only adding 36,000 jobs, not enough to keep up with population growth.  The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report came out today, showing little change in the rate of job openings.  (See John Miller and Jeannette Wicks-Lim’s article in the current issue of Dollars & Sense, Unemployment: A Skills Deficit or a Jobs Deficit? for (among other things) an analysis of how to interpret JOLTS and the other data series that economists and business reporters routinely misread.

A case in point: check out how confused the New York Times article on the unemployment report is. The article trots out the notion (critiqued by John and Jeannette) that the dismal jobs situation is the result of a mismatch between job openings and workers’ skills, claiming that employers are seeking to hire people with college degrees.  But then the authors quote a recent job-seeker, but the point he is making undermines the claim that the new jobs require college degrees:

Michael Bove, who recently secured a job in San Antonio helping sports teams work with ticketing software a year after he was laid off as a manager with a soccer team in Houston, said he could not imagine what it would be like to search for a job if he did not have his college degree.

“You hear stories of the people who are in their mid-40s or early 50s that have been working 20 or 25 years as bank branch managers or I.T. people and have all this experience but now they’re out there competing for entry-level positions that in the past might go to someone who doesn’t have a college degree,” Mr. Bove, 30, said. “Now companies can pick and choose who they want.”

That employers are being picky–holding out for people with college degrees when they would never have waited around for such candidates for jobs like these in earlier economic conditions–suggests a lack of demand rather than a lack of skills. If there were enough demand that employers had to hire, and do so quickly, they’d be scrambling and hiring whoever they could get.

Meanwhile, a recent article at CNNMoney, Jobs Are Back, but the Pay Stinks, is also at odds with the Times‘s conclusions:

Overall, 55% of the jobs growth forecasted in the 30 fastest-growing occupations identified by BLS, are considered to be low- or very low-wage.

The greater number of low-wage jobs shouldn’t be a surprise, said Kristina J. Bartsch, chief of occupational outlook for BLS, simply because higher-wage occupations are always going to be in the minority. Some of the jobs projected to enjoy the fastest pace of growth are very high-wage.

For example, network systems and data communications analyst jobs are projected to increase by more than 50%, but they are still only a small portion of the workforce.

“By and large, occupations that are more high skill, and have high wages, are fast growing,” she said. “They’re just not as huge as waiters and waitresses.”

So the Times is right that the unemployment rate is higher for people without college degrees, but it turns out that the jobs being created for them are low wage–not surprising in this era of intensified union-busting, pressure for wage concessions, export of higher-paying blue-collar manufacturing jobs.

One last thing: Hat-tip to Geert Dhondt for the poster at the top of this post.


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