President Trump has mocked the unemployment rate. That's why bipartisan think tanks and multiple former government officials, including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, are sounding the alarm about the integrity of the government's economic data. Cristina Alesci reports.
Proposals to augment survey data with administrative data, with appropriate confidentiality safeguards, would likely improve the quality of data in a cost-effective manner. Agencies should build off the success of Census’ Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program and continue finding ways to link different data sources together. “Data synchronization” should finally pass Congress and be enacted. Improving the data requires resources. The return on this investment is significant — to businesses, policymakers, and families. It’s an investment worth making.
Last week, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution (often described as a center-left think tank) and the American Enterprise Institute (often described as a center-right think tank) held an event on the “vital role of government statistics.” The event was, in short, a full-throated, deeply passionate, bipartisan defense of the value and importance of government statistics.
Rubin, who spoke to CNNMoney from the Brookings Institution in Washington, says Trump's financial stimulus -- infrastructure spending and tax cuts -- may provide a short-term boost to the economy, but at a cost in the future.
You will often hear proponents argue for this policy by citing soaring longevity rates in the United States. But the data can mislead. At the start of the 20th century, average life expectancy was 46 years for men and 48 years for women; now, it is 76 for men, and 81 for women, according to Brookings Institution research. But that measures longevity from birth, and fails to factor in sharp declines in infant mortality.
As Schanzenbach notes, implementing SNAP restrictions on sweetened beverages or other sugary foods likely wouldn’t be a simple process. There are approximately 20,000 new food products introduced in this country every year — all of these would have to be evaluated by the USDA to determine eligibility. Nor is determining eligibility necessarily a straightforward proposition. Some granola bars, for example, have more sugar per serving than candy — should those foods be restricted? What about juice, specialty carbonated beverages, or flavored waters or sports drinks with small amounts of added sugar?
A report recently released by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution recommends using chronic absenteeism — meaning the rate of students who are absent more than, say, 10 to 15 days each year — for accountability purposes. An estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students miss 18 or more days of a school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Banning soda purchases would likely have no impact on what recipients buy at the grocery store, because they would likely shift their budgets and use their own money to buy soda, while relying on food-stamps for their other purchases. On top of that, the burden of restricting soda and candy purchases would fall on retailers, adding to their costs, The Hamilton Project director Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach told the committee.
Some might be concerned that less occupational licensing will lead to less consumer safety, but for many currently licensed occupations the evidence suggests otherwise. In a recent Brookings report, economist Morris Kleiner notes that: "Economic studies have found little impact of occupational licensing on service quality in occupations that are not widely licensed; even in occupations that are widely licensed, studies have found few impacts of tougher requirements for licensing on health measures or quality outcomes."
The hardest, but most important, part of any education reform shown to be effective in one setting is determining whether and how it can be implemented elsewhere. A March 2016 paper for the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution — co-authored by Guryan as well as Roseanna Ander and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago — recommends expanding intensive tutoring like in the Chicago model to schools nationally.
In this light, “buy American and hire American” is an extreme version of an economic nationalist tradition that dates back to Alexander Hamilton, who favored protection of American industries, at least until they could compete on the global stage. The Hamilton Project, a mainstream bipartisan initiative based at the Brookings Institution, rests on the belief both in markets as engines of economic growth and in the use of government power “to enhance and guide market forces.” If those market forces favor the interests of foreign workers over those of American workers, even if American consumers benefit from lower prices, why shouldn’t we put American workers first?
Earlier this week, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution held an event exploring the ins and outs of infrastructure investment. While a panel full of superstar economists agreed that the United States is approaching full employment and doesn’t need much in the way of fiscal stimulus right now, they nonetheless argued that government investment in infrastructure might still be a good idea. As illustrated by the chart below, which comes from a framing paper that The Hamilton Project released in advance of the event, the U.S. is just not spending nearly enough money on infrastructure.
The relationship between social skills and economic success is a relatively new phenomena, it’s impact varies from generation to generation. It’s rose up from a changing labor market, a US economy, like others around the world, that abandoned manufacturing and left a huge swath of baby boomers out of work with a set of skills that had become obsolete. A recent study (pdf) from The Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution, points out that while social skills had almost no impact on likelihood of future employment for those born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they have large employment effects for those born in the early 1980s.
By one important measure of the inadequacy of federal, state and local policies, annual public investment in infrastructure has declined from 1.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 1980 to just 0.6 percent of the overall economy in 2015, as the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project notes in a new report. Indeed, the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2013 estimated that $3.6 trillion would be required just to bring U.S. infrastructure into a state of good repair, not counting any expansion to the existing infrastructure.
In the long run, licensing reform efforts may be most effective when they focus on reducing the difficulty of obtaining licenses and preventing inappropriate new licensure. The deployment of accurate cost-benefit analysis by state governments is a crucial part of achieving both goals.
Alan Auerbach, an economist at UC Berkeley, worked out a detailed proposal for a border-adjusted corporate tax back in 2010 in a paper for the Center for American Progress and the Hamilton Project, two institutions with links to the Obama administration and the Democratic Party establishment more broadly. The center-left Century Foundation issued a report from University of Michigan law professor Reuven Avi-Yonah in November calling for a similar system.
Twenty-five million jobs over 10 years comes out to about 208,000 jobs per month. This is only slightly higher than the pace of 180,000 jobs per months we’ve seen over the past year. The problem is (according to the Hamilton Project’s jobs gap calculator) we’re only about five months away from reaching pre-recession employment levels if we add 208,000 jobs per month. We’re very likely to see slower job growth than that over the next 115 months of Trump’s pledge — keeping up with population growth at that point would only entail about 90,000 jobs per month.
Let’s not forget that SNAP has been a clear policy success. It lifted nearly 5 million people out of poverty in 2014 (the most recent data available), is efficiently targeted to families who need benefits the most, reduces the likelihood that families have trouble affording food, serves as an automatic fiscal stabilizer in times of economic downturns, and has extremely low rates of both error and fraud. SNAP also has long-term benefits. My own recent research study found that those who had access to SNAP benefits during childhood grew up to be healthier, and women in particular were more likely to become economically self-sufficient due to childhood access to SNAP benefits.
Before becoming nauseated, however, consider that on the day your baby is born you don't have to have $233,610 sitting around to pay for baby food in a few months or Adidas and a computer later. If you consider your lifetime earnings, your income will total a big number too. A parent with a college bachelor's degree is likely to make $800,000 to $2 million during their working years, according to an estimate by the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution. A person with only a high school degree will make about $580,000.
The key is to recognize that a constructive working relationship with China offers bilateral and multilateral benefits, and, conversely, a tense relationship presents serious risks. The greatest American threat to the economic future of China would be America’s failure to succeed economically, and, conversely, the United States’ greatest economic danger would be Chinese failure. By contrast, if each country gets its own house in order, and succeeds economically, that should increase confidence about the future, which should foster a constructive relationship.
Unsurprisingly, non-college educated workers are far more likely to work in lower paying service occupations in the modern economy compared to the past, according to the think thank, The Hamilton Project.
With 2016 behind us, it’s time to think about fresh starts again. But whether that means a small change or a complete life overhaul, finding a new or better job surely will top many Americans’ list of goals. If that’s your mission for the new year, it’s a good time to be on the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report, the national unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6 percent — the lowest since 2007.
Inclusive growth offers an economic vision that reflects and reinforces our country’s broad values. The policies exist to achieve it. Now it’s up to us to make it happen.
“The question at the core of all the speculation is whether the Fed will raise a short-term interest rate called the federal funds rate by one-quarter of one percentage point or hold off until later this year. The decision to raise could make mortgages and other loans a teeny bit more expensive, but the effect on the economy will be hard to detect.”