Punching Stupid and Evil in the Face Since 1986!

"We are on strike, we the men of the mind. We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties."-John Galt

Monday, August 30, 2010

Harvard economics professor says it's Obama Administrations fault unemployment so high.

Robert Barro says in today's Wall Street Journal that unemployment would likely be much lower if only this Administration would stop meddling in unemployment benefits. In fact, according to Mr. Barro there is an excellent chance it would be holding at 6.8% instead of the almost 10% it is, if they had just left unemployment insurance at the 26 week limit it has previously had.
To get a rough quantitative estimate of the implications for the unemployment rate, suppose that the expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks had not occurred and—I assume—the share of long-term unemployment had equaled the peak value of 24.5% observed in July 1983. Then, if the number of unemployed 26 weeks or less in June 2010 had still equaled the observed value of 7.9 million, the total number of unemployed would have been 10.4 million rather than 14.6 million. If the labor force still equaled the observed value (153.7 million), the unemployment rate would have been 6.8% rather than 9.5%.
These figures even hold true when compared to times when the unemployment rate has been higher, but none of this interfering was done. Then, average unemployment was still much less than it is now.

To begin with a historical perspective, in the 1982 recession the peak unemployment rate of 10.8% in November-December 1982 corresponded to a mean duration of unemployment of 17.6 weeks and a share of long-term unemployment (those unemployed more than 26 weeks) of 20.4%. Long-term unemployment peaked later, in July 1983, when the unemployment rate had fallen to 9.4%. At that point, the mean duration of unemployment reached 21.2 weeks and the share of long-term unemployment was 24.5%. These numbers are the highest observed in the post-World War II period until recently. Thus, we can think of previous recessions (including those in 2001, 1990-91 and before 1982) as featuring a mean duration of unemployment of less than 21 weeks and a share of long-term unemployment of less than 25%.

These numbers provide a stark contrast with joblessness today. The peak unemployment rate of 10.1% in October 2009 corresponded to a mean duration of unemployment of 27.2 weeks and a share of long-term unemployment of 36%. The duration of unemployment peaked (thus far) at 35.2 weeks in June 2010, when the share of long-term unemployment in the total reached a remarkable 46.2%. These numbers are way above the ceilings of 21 weeks and 25% share applicable to previous post-World War II recessions. The dramatic expansion of unemployment-insurance eligibility to 99 weeks is almost surely the culprit.

Maybe Obama should fire his economic team and hire guys like this. It is proven his team has no idea what they are doing by the fact that not only is unemployment staying high, but it has only gotten worse the more they have interfered.