Jun 7, 2017

For workers, this economy could be as good as it gets

Despite falling unemployment, the 2017 economy appears to be leaving a growing number of workers behind.

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Take for instance the gap between official joblessness and a much broader rate that includes people who have stopped looking for a job but say they still want one, along with part-time workers who want full-time jobs. Today this broader jobless rate is 8.4%, almost double the official 4.3%. The last time the official rate was this low, in 2001, the broader rate was almost a point lower.

Why it matters: A greater share of Americans are cut off from the work force today than in prior periods of low official unemployment.

In a research note to clients this week, Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics predicted that the main jobless rate will fall below 4% by the end of next year, which would be the lowest since December 2000. But he also noted that, according to recent survey data, business owners report a harder time finding qualified candidates for their job openings. That means that broader unemployment could remain stubbornly high.

Why aren't wages rising faster? Salaries began to rise faster in recent months, according to government data, but the movement should be greater when considering how low unemployment is. Economists expect wage growth to accelerate as joblessness continues to fall. But even if this occurs, it will be cold comfort to chronically jobless and underemployed on the fringes of the labor market.

Rising delinquencies: The struggles of poorer Americans can also be seen in the rise in subprime auto loan delinquencies in recent months, which are now well above pre-recession norms.

Then there is the Fed: Markets expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest interests rates at its meeting next week, and economic history shows that when the Fed starts hiking rates, recessions often follow, which, if one occurs, will be another blow to workers.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,931,112 — Total deaths: 357,929 — Total recoveries — 2,388,172Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,711,313 — Total deaths: 101,129 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. States: New York to allow private businesses to deny entry to customers without masks.
  4. Public health: Louisiana Sen. Cassidy wants more frequent testing of nursing home workers.
  5. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, directing users to "get the facts about COVID-19."

Why it matters: The labels were added after criticism that Twitter had fact-checked tweets from President Trump about mail-in voting, but not other false claims from Chinese Communist Party officials and other U.S. adversaries.

Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter, round two

President Trump is escalating his response to Twitter’s fact check of his recent tweets about mail-in voting, issuing an executive order that's designed to begin limiting social media's liability protections. Dan digs in with Axios' Margaret Harding McGill.

Go deeper: Twitter vs. Trump... vs. Twitter

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy