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Recession? What Recession?
October 22, 2012 2:26 AM   Subscribe

UK dividends hit new record in Q3 2012: "Dividend payments in the UK hit highest quarterly total of £23.2bn, up 10.4 per cent in the third quarter compared with last year, according to Capita Registrars."

"Capita has increased its headline forecast for the full year by £300m, which would push the total dividends for the year to £78.6bn, including additional special dividends. This would surpass the pre-crisis peak of £77bn, the previous record annual total."

Capita Registrars Dividend Monitor Google Search.
posted by marienbad (57 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whooohooo! And they said were in a recession? Bah! Look at us breaking records!

Wait. Oh. This is a bad thing.
posted by litleozy at 2:33 AM on October 22, 2012


The biggest cash increases came from miners, oils and chemicals.

Don't these industries pay other... um... dividends down the line? They are like the gift that keeps on giving, cash to some, environmental costs to others!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:44 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the fact that some many publicly held companies are paying out record dividends to shareholders sort of undermines the idea that too high corporate taxes are stifling economic growth. Companies and investors are sitting on huge piles of cash already. The pumps are primed. The problem seems to be that consumers are broke and no amount of corporate or investment tax cut is going to change that.
posted by three blind mice at 2:49 AM on October 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


They're paying out record dividends because they don't know where to invest their money for future growth. It might be making shareholders happy, but it should be making them worried.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:59 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Almost nobody is making new investments with cash on hand because everyone knows nobody else is so their customer base has shrunk. Et voila.
posted by jaduncan at 3:00 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem seems to be that consumers are broke and no amount of corporate or investment tax cut is going to change that.

To fix it, raise minimum wages and apply tariffs to imports from low-wage countries.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:01 AM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just a question to our brothers across the pond...

How has the Conservative Party's economic austerity and sweeping cuts to regulations been working for you? Are you all rich yet? Do *any* of you have any personal stories to share about how David Cameron's policies have made your life better? Or is the money increasingly going to the privileged few?

I'm just mentioning this, because we have a similar decision to make over here.
posted by markkraft at 3:17 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


They're paying out record dividends because they don't know where to invest their money for future growth.

Yes, but the point is that companies already have tons of money to invest. Huge piles of money. Policies that put more cash into their hands (via tax cuts or less regulation) would seem to me to change nothing. The problem OBVIOUSLY isn't here so why should the solution be applied here?
posted by three blind mice at 3:25 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe they should invest some of that in building concentration camps for the poor and get started on it already.
posted by yoHighness at 4:00 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a nice graphic presentation as to why the US can't afford the economic tightening of the British Conservative Party - style austerity promised by Romney-Ryan.

It's interesting that Gordon Brown's economic recovery was more-or-less mirroring that of President Obama's, up until the Conservatives took over. It just shows you how quickly public and investor sentiment/behavior can change when faced with a rapid about-face in government policies. New hiring, spending, and the economy as a whole can quickly do a 180, if faced with a quick shock to the system.
posted by markkraft at 4:05 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Any chance we could engage in a little austerity by cutting the extraction industry's subsidies given they've this windfall they cannot figure out what to do with anyways?
posted by jeffburdges at 4:09 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Any chance we could engage in a little austerity by cutting the extraction industry's subsidies given they've this windfall they cannot figure out what to do with anyways?"

If it hurts the average person trying desperately to stay afloat, that's austerity.

If it hurts them, that's socialism.
posted by markkraft at 4:13 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here's a nice graphic presentation

I KNEW it! Obama's wrecking the UK's economy!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:35 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


markkraft: I'm okay! And I'm a Brit. But I'm only okay because about 75% of my income comes from sales of fiction to overseas markets—sometimes it feels like I'm the UK's only successful export industry.

Otherwise no, not so good here. Epic survivor's guilt, lots of friends who are feeling the pinch hard (especially folks with mental health issues and the ATOS fiasco (although that link points to some relatively good news for Scotland)). Not happy about my income tax payments—and I seem to be paying a bit more tax than the average medium-sized multinational right now—going to buy a bunch of unnecessary new Trident missiles to keep the USSR at bay, not to mention paying back-handers to the large conservative corporate donors to whom our essential services are being out-sourced. We seemed to get a lot more for our money back before the idiots voted in a government that prioritized shrinking the public sector over keeping the wheels of industry greased with the lubricant of social stability.

(And as someone who voted Lib-Dem at the last election, I include myself in the category "idiot". Won't make that mistake again.)
posted by cstross at 5:38 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


It might be making shareholders happy, but it should be making them worried.

I am willing to worry while being happy if someone would be so kind as to send me a big fat dividend check. I promise to spend some of it on goods and services too, while I am worrying.
posted by spitbull at 5:54 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


cstross, sounds like what you guys need is a CAPITAL GAINS TAX CUT for the middle class!

More seriously, the reason things are like this in Britain is because it's basically the same set of motherfuckers (known as 'scoundrels' in Britain) who are hoarding all the dough and capturing the regulatory apparatus of the state and winning elections by appealing to base emotions.
posted by Mister_A at 6:00 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"We seemed to get a lot more for our money back before the idiots voted in a government that prioritized shrinking the public sector over keeping the wheels of industry greased with the lubricant of social stability."

Well you weren't going to vote Labour after the mess Blair and Brown made of things. That would have been true idiocy.

What can you do? As someone who against McCain/Palin at the last U.S. election, I can't really include myself in the category "idiot", but it feels like I would have to become one to vote again for Obama so that he can continue his bench warming duties for four more years.
posted by three blind mice at 6:03 AM on October 22, 2012


Well you weren't going to vote Labour after the mess Blair and Brown made of things.

Heh. If you offered me (then and now) a continuation of Brown I'd bite your hand off for it. Presentation was terrible, yes. The cabinet was backbiting and bitter, yes. Was Brown autocratic? Probably yes.

Would he have destroyed as much of the NHS, union rights, EU links and the social welfare system as he could get away with? No.

So there we are.
posted by jaduncan at 6:16 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Charlie, you're not just okay... you're a damn fine cup 'o' joe.

And as an American citizen with a British mum, all I can say is that I was openly rooting for Lib-Dem too. So was Brian Eno. So were a lot of very smart people who thought that the Liberal Democrats would never become the enablers of a sodden rampage through the British social contract. You know that there was something rotten at the core when the LibDems partnered with the Conservative Party anyway... rather than saying -- quite rationally -- that 15.5 million people trumps 10.7 million. They could've been heroes and guardians of the public trust, rather than goats.

The sad fact is that the people at the core of the Liberal-Democrats were ultimately the wrong ones. They certainly weren't accountable to all the people who joined their ranks.

You probably have a greater insight on this than I do... but who are these 10-percent or so that still are sticking by the Lib-Dems? Randians? British fans of Ron Paul? Battered spouses?

What's needed is more of a discussion amongst many of the very influential, very smart people like you, Brian Eno, and many others, about how best to get people inside the system and make the kind of changes necessary. Maybe that means organizing to destroy New Labour and bringing back the older model. Maybe there should be a marriage of convenience between the new technologists, the Pirate Party, and the Greens, at least as far as electing local MPs goes.

All I know is that the current outcome is arguably just as bad as a two-party solution. The only positive aspect -- if you can call it that -- is that the Lib-Dems will deservedly be disposed of along with the Conservatives... but that still will likely leave a largely unaccountable Labour Party in charge of things.
posted by markkraft at 6:32 AM on October 22, 2012


"not to mention paying back-handers to the large conservative corporate donors to whom our essential services are being out-sourced."

"Paying back-handers" is actually an expression I seem to have missed growing up.

I initially wanted to say "Is that anything like a handjob", but after reading the context of your remark, I became certain of that fact.

*sigh* I miss Ming the not-so-Merciless.
posted by markkraft at 6:48 AM on October 22, 2012


I'm with Bevan on the scale of feelings about the tories and yet Brown was an unbelievably bad Prime Minister (which considering the man's history is one of the greatest political puzzles of the last few decades). Labour had completely lost their way and although there was no way I would ever vote Tory, the feeling that Labour needed a reminder of what they stood for was palpable. At one point during Brown's tenure as PM (the debate on extended questioning of "terror suspects") I remember remarking the Tories sounded less crazy than Labour).

Obviously that was a mistake, but it's not like everyone knew the Tories would make Thatcher looks sane and the Lib-Dems would be cheering them on. Also, the fact the coalition has lasted as long as it has is an indication of how utterly craven the Yellow Tories have been. The Lib-Dems should have forced a no confidence vote years ago and their failure to do so has finally ruined them as a viable national party like the SDP before them.

As for he "austerity measures" they have about as much to do with the economic crisis as the invasion of Iraq had to do with Al Quaeda. The Tories saw an excuse to fill their boots and boy have they done so.
posted by fullerine at 7:14 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


What can you do? As someone who against McCain/Palin at the last U.S. election, I can't really include myself in the category "idiot", but it feels like I would have to become one to vote again for Obama so that he can continue his bench warming duties for four more years.

Honest question, do you think Romney would do a better job? His party helped bring about the first downgrade of U.S. debt in history to stick it to Obama, he wants to increase the defense budget even more and won't give specifics about how he'd finance his tax-cutting plan, which shouldn't make much of a difference as companies are already flush with cash yet sitting on it.
posted by ersatz at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks, maybe less with the shticky rape analogies and more actual communication with actual people here?]
posted by jessamyn at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2012


Also, the Obama/Romney analogy is flawed. Imagine if Obama had started a couple of wars, gone after the elderly and Romney was running as a Massachusetts moderate. That would make it about the same as "call me" Dave Cameron and Gordon "I hate Gurkhas" Brown.
posted by fullerine at 7:38 AM on October 22, 2012


Honest question, do you think Romney would do a better job?

Probably not, but I'm sick of these either/or choices. I'm going to write in or vote for a third party this time around, and I don't care if I'm "throwing my vote away."
posted by cosmic.osmo at 7:49 AM on October 22, 2012


"it feels like I would have to become one to vote again for Obama so that he can continue his bench warming duties for four more years."

Yeah, I get sick of our team constantly popping the ball foul. I can't wait until the other team is up, because I really, really want to lose, badly.

I'm sorry, but the Bush administration not only cost me much of my life's savings, but also two friends lost in Iraq. Romney has already said that he regrets leaving Iraq early, doesn't want to leave Afghanistan anytime soon, wants to start a war on a country of 75 million people, feels we should be waging a proxy war against them in Syria. Oh... and he also thinks that Russia is "without question, our "#1 geopolitical foe".

Meanwhile, our troops are out of Iraq, are being reduced in Afghanistan, and the drone war has markedly decreased. despite the increased outrage.

The fact of the matter is that people have so many things they don't like about the nature of a drawn-out -- albeit winding down -- war on terror and a drawn-out -- yet improving -- economic recovery that they cannot rationally see that President Obama has done quite a bit in a quiet, unassuming way to wind down the war on terror and improve our economy.

It took 3 years or so for Obama's critics in the LGBT community to back off of some really irrationally angry, disrespectful, vitriolic tirades enough to see that he's done more to advance their cause than any president in history.

It will be another 2-3 years or so before the general public reaches the same conclusion about President Obama... if they've got the patience for it. But they aren't known for their rationality, patience, or attention to trendlines and what is actually happening, as opposed to what they are angry about. They failed to realize that if the POTUS acted too aggressively and soon in regards to some of his desired policies, he risks severe political blowback that could've cost Democrats their chance to make any meaninful changes at all.

Ultimately, the real problem you are having is that you're too angry and impatient of the political process to actually achieve the kinds of outcomes you would like to see.
posted by markkraft at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


"it feels like I would have to become one to vote again for Obama so that he can continue his bench warming duties for four more years."

Because Clinton's second term was so horrible.
posted by markkraft at 8:18 AM on October 22, 2012


Is there any way we could maybe raise taxes on corporations and implement austerity measures? I'm not a big fan of corporate interests, but I really don't like government unions either, and it bothers me that we seemingly have to choose between punishing one or the other when they're both so deserving of it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:27 AM on October 22, 2012


I really don't like government unions either

Why?
posted by jaduncan at 8:33 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there any way we could maybe raise taxes on corporations and implement austerity measures?

Of course we could. I mean, it would guarantee another recession, but perhaps that's what you want for some reason?

By the way, no significant savings to the federal budget of any kind whatsoever are to be had from payments to "government unions"--if you want to start slashing government spending in any meaningful way you need to begin by being honest about what the government spends its money on. Defence, medicare and Social Security are where the money is. "government unions" sounds like a nice, palatable target, but you might as well talk about getting tough on the Unicorn breeding budget for all the real impact that would have.
posted by yoink at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't like government unions either, and it bothers me that we seemingly have to choose between punishing one or the other when they're both so deserving of it.

POLITICAL COURAGE WOLF SEZ PUNISH EVERYONE TO AVOID BOTHERSOME CHOICES!
posted by srboisvert at 8:38 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of bad economics here. It's totally normal for there to be a long lag between increased corporate profits and increased spending. And dividends aren't necessarily closely related to corporate profits; some sectors (like energy) pay much higher dividends than others, and if those sectors are doing well, total dividends go up. Finally there is very little relationship between the current situation in the UK and the current situation in the US, the two countries took very different paths during the recovery.
posted by miyabo at 9:42 AM on October 22, 2012


Suddenly a wild conflation appeared, yes.
posted by jaduncan at 9:48 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Finally there is very little relationship between the current situation in the UK and the current situation in the US, the two countries took very different paths during the recovery."

Except, of course, that the economic recovery in Britain almost exactly mirrored that of the one in the US during the Obama/Brown years, when the paths that were being taken were quite similar. Almost like they were taking comprehensive, coordinated action, or something...
posted by markkraft at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2012


Do *any* of you have any personal stories to share about how David Cameron's policies have made your life better?

I've had the joy of an atos interview, apparently I was completely a-ok as I travelled by bus to the interview - travelling by bus means you're healed apparently. Greater men than me have perished after such interviews - Paul Reekie in particular.
I heard Rebel Inc are currently working on releasing his unpublished work, which is meant to be very good indeed.

I dont blame Cameron for that, I seem to recall labour were the ones who brought this in ?
Anyway, you know what you're getting with the tories - the most positive thing is he has annoyed scots sufficiently enough to make an independence vote possible - which of course would secure a tory majority in England for generations.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2012


Do *any* of you have any personal stories to share about how David Cameron's policies have made your life better?

His government's destabilizing impact on secondary education and the undermining of scientific research resulted in my de-immigrating from Birmingham and emigrating to Chicago. Huge Quality of Life upgrade (other than comcast internet). This also means there is one fewer jerk in the UK. So thanks Dave and Nick!
posted by srboisvert at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2012


By the way, no significant savings to the federal budget of any kind whatsoever are to be had from payments to "government unions"--if you want to start slashing government spending in any meaningful way you need to begin by being honest about what the government spends its money on. Defence, medicare and Social Security are where the money is. "government unions" sounds like a nice, palatable target, but you might as well talk about getting tough on the Unicorn breeding budget for all the real impact that would have.

OK, let me explain to you how unions get funded. The government does not make payments directly to the unions; instead, they pay government workers who then pay that money to the unions. So when I say "implement austerity measures" I mean cut salaries for federal employees, who have long been sheltered by their union umbrella from financial realities that the rest of us have had to face.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf testified that the government spent about $200 billion to compensate federal workers in the fiscal year that ended in September. That’s 15 percent of total discretionary spending -- the spending levels that lawmakers control through appropriations. We could breed a lot of unicorns with that cash.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:40 AM on October 23, 2012


Of course we could. I mean, it would guarantee another recession, but perhaps that's what you want for some reason?

Sorry, I forgot to address this. It sounds like you're an advocate of Keynesian economics with regard to government spending. While I agree that counter-cyclical government spending is indeed the best way to stimulate the economy, it's unrealistic to try to put Keynesian economic principles in practice over the long term, since they reflect a helplessly naive view of how politics impacts spending. Keynes's countercyclical spending idea was that government would spend more during a recession and cut back on spending during prosperous times. However, in practice, it's political suicide to cut spending during a healthy economy, so Keynesian economics usually ends up with the government spending more during a recession (as a stimulus package) and then even more when the recession ends (because the economy is healthy). This leads to huge amounts of excess waste because no politician is willing to kill their own career by pruning the tree of government.

You're absolutely right that implementing austerity measures during a recession is likely to make the economy worse in the short term, and certainly will worsen the recession. However, recessions are the only time that it is possible to make significant long-term cuts to government spending since it's the only time that the bleating masses are frightened enough that they will allow politicians to take an axe to all that dead wood without fear of hurting their careers. So in the long term, implementing austerity measures during a recession benefits the economy, even though in the short term, it damages it. Even Keynes admitted that his plan was focused on short-term results, saying "in the long run, we are all dead."

Obviously in an ideal world, it would be better if people were educated enough to understand countercyclical spending so that politicians could make rational spending decisions (ie, make cuts to the government during a healthy economy without fear of dooming their careers). In such a world, Keynesian economics would work extremely well. However, we don't live in that ideal world, we live in the real world where most people are predictably irrational so it's important to incorporate that understanding of political necessity into any reasonable economic model.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:00 AM on October 23, 2012


So when I say "implement austerity measures" I mean cut salaries for federal employees, who have long been sheltered by their union umbrella from financial realities that the rest of us have had to face.

Oh, I see, that must be why Federal salaries lag 35% behind the private sector!

We could breed a lot of unicorns with that cash.

Not without hiring more workers to fill the already empty positions.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:10 AM on October 23, 2012


Oh, I see, that must be why Federal salaries lag 35% behind the private sector!

That's a frequently-quoted but highly misleading statistic because it only takes into account people who are employed and ignores unemployment. Government employees are insulated from layoffs to a much larger extent than private employees are, and your statistic deliberately does not factor the zero incomes of unemployed people into that average salary - it only averages the salaries of employed workers. If you calculated the overall average salary of people in the public sector vs people in the private sector, they would be very similar since there are always many more unemployed people in the private sector than in the public sector. In other words, people in the private sector need to make more during their employed periods to balance out the fact that they will be unemployed more frequently. Government workers, by contrast, have fewer peaks and valleys in their income-vs-time graph.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:28 AM on October 23, 2012


there are always many more unemployed people in the private sector than in the public sector.

Brilliant.
posted by ninebelow at 8:44 AM on October 23, 2012


"Government employees are insulated from layoffs to a much larger extent than private employees are..."

...which is obviously why government jobs continue to be cut, even as the private sector continues to recover in a fairly robust manner.

Please do elucidate more on this vaunted public sector job security. I know some teachers who would find it very promising.
posted by markkraft at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2012


...which is obviously why government jobs continue to be cut, even as the private sector continues to recover in a fairly robust manner.

Please do elucidate more on this vaunted public sector job security. I know some teachers who would find it very promising.


Seriously, Markkraft? Seriously? You're going to make the ignorant case that the public sector is less secure than than the private sector, when almost all the top google hits on "private vs public sector unemployment" indicate that the public sector is doing much better?!?

Furthermore, out of all those hits, the rare few which imply something contradictory are all liberal web sites like ThinkProgress.org, which means that they're hand in hand with the unions. And even on those highly biased websites, close examination of the comparisons in question reveals that they are using highly misleading statistics to misrepresent the truth. For example, look at the graph that they use - if you assume that the line is representative of total unemployment, then it makes it seem that the private sector is doing much better. However, if you look more carefully, you see that the line does not correlate to total unemployment but rather the percent change in unemployment, which is completely different. In other words, even though there are more unemployed public sector employees and fewer unemployed private sector employees now than there were 12 months ago (percentage change in unemployment), public sector employees are still doing much better than private sector employees (total percent of unemployment) - it's just that the public sector advantage shrank from "huge" to "very large."

In fact, even the article that you yourself linked to as evidence uses this same misleading statistic - their graph doesn't reference total unemployment, it references the change in total unemployment. In other words, you just ended up supporting my case. If you're going to try to be clever and cite statistics at me (and even act like you have the intellectual credentials to get sarcastic at me), at least do your homework and understand what the statistics actually mean.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:37 PM on October 23, 2012


That's a frequently-quoted but highly misleading statistic

Frequently quoted? The report just came out last week. Why would you include people not in any job in a comparison of salaries? Someone without a job is not equivalent to someone without a job. It's not apples vs. oranges, it's not even fruit! Someone who is unemployed is not in a sector, they are unemployed.

Of course it is oft quoted by the right-wing organizations that publish their own contradictory reports, but their bias doesn't appear to sway you, only assumed left wing bias does...

which means that they're hand in hand with the unions

Ah, here comes more fact-based arguments! I guess that's what you get when you base you argument on number of google hits.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:53 PM on October 23, 2012


Jesus Christ, I can't believe I have to explain elementary math to you people.

Look, suppose that unemployment in the public sector is 4% and unemployment in the private sector is 10%. It would be very clear that the public sector is doing better, right?

Now, suppose that unemployment in the public sector goes up to 5% and unemployment in the private sector drops to 9%. The public sector is still doing much better, right? Any graph which reflects total unemployment will indicate that.

However, if you're a liberal website and you want to build sympathy for the unions in the public sector - while at the same time keeping your figures completely accurate - you don't run charts showing total unemployment. Instead you run charts showing the percentage change in total unemployment. This lets you convey the false impression that the public sector had a very depressing month (since their unemployment increased by 25% whereas the unemployment of the private sector decreased by 10%) while still being a completely inaccurate view of what is actually happening. Of course, this only works on chumps who can't follow the bouncy ball or distinguish between the percentage of something and the percentage change in that thing, but most of the American electorate are chumps and they won't examine the data too closely because it already supports their preexisting viewpoint.

In fact, if you examine Markkraft's link that he *claims* supports his case, you'll see that it does exactly what I described - it references a percentage change rather than the total percentage. In other words, if you look at the actual numbers rather than text fluff, my argument is data-driven and supported by 100% of all reputable sources. It's just that the liberal sites (while using the exact same figures) frame the data in a misleading way by alluding to that misleading statistic of percentage change.

Is that fact-based enough for you?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:18 PM on October 23, 2012


OK, so point to the chart that shows the two unemployment rates separately over time.

This will be hard to find, because "unemployed" people aren't "private sector unemployed" or "public sector unemployed," they're just "unemployed."
posted by miyabo at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2012


No, actually it's quite easy to find, and I already got those stats through a simple google search - those were the websites that I linked to earlier (in my comment about the top google hits). If you actually looked at them, you'd have seen charts and numbers galore which confirm exactly what I've been saying all this time. Here they are again for your convenience.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-chart-public-sector-vs-private-sector-employment-2012-6
http://www.governing.com/blogs/by-the-numbers/public-private-sector-cuts-during-recession-by-state.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-the-public-sector-thats-doing-fine/2012/06/11/gJQAKNpvUV_story.html
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:35 PM on October 23, 2012


(On a related note, I don't want anybody to think that my debunking of this unemployment nonsense constitutes an endorsement of Romney. I plan to vote for Obama - also on data-driven principles - and I encourage everyone to do the same. The reason I'm being so adamant on rubbing the actual numbers in your faces and making my critics eat crow isn't because I lean conservative on this topic; it's simply that I don't like being talked down to just for insisting on fact-based analysis rather than drinking MetaFilter's liberal kool-aid.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:54 PM on October 23, 2012


Look at the first chart you linked to. It seems to directly contradict your point -- public sector employment declines sharply (excluding a big temporary spike for Census workers in 2010).

Moving on to the second link, which does support your argument. I assume they call a worker a "government worker" based on the last job they held prior to being laid off (which is not intuitive to me -- a laid off public school teacher can easily become a private school teacher, a laid off cop can become a security contractor).

The table seems to show a 4.3% unemployment rate for government workers. This doesn't seem out of line considering virtually all government employees have college degrees, and the overall unemployment rate for college grads is just 4.1%?
posted by miyabo at 1:59 PM on October 23, 2012


(clicked straight through to this table for the second link, hope that wasn't unclear)
posted by miyabo at 2:08 PM on October 23, 2012


"You're going to make the ignorant case that the public sector is less secure than than the private sector, when almost all the top google hits on "private vs public sector unemployment" indicate that the public sector is doing much better?!?"

Actually, no. *I* didn't say that the public sector was less secure, did I?

Truth is, you said it was *more* secure. Specifically, you said that "government employees are insulated from layoffs to a much larger extent than private employees are..."

You also said that " If you calculated the overall average salary of people in the public sector vs people in the private sector, they would be very similar"... even as you basically accepted the evidence put before you that Federal salaries lag 35% behind the private sector. And certainly, teacher's salaries are no picnic either. They are, in fact, some of our most educated workforce, but make much less than similarly educated individuals in the private sector. According to the non-partisan OECD, we pay our teachers about 60% of what their educational peers earn.

You explained this huge difference to a similarly educated private sector salary as justified, because they have far more job security... which has shown itself to not be true. You cited several Google links... some of which say things like this:
Government cuts historically lag private sector job losses, and this was further extended by injection of the federal funds. ARRA money is now depleted, though. State and local payrolls shed an estimated 220,000 jobs last year alone, and governments have continued to cut jobs in recent months, according to Labor Department data.

... which isn't exactly what I would characterize as, in your words, "doing much better".

"out of all those hits, the rare few which imply something contradictory are all liberal web sites like ThinkProgress.org"

Or, perhaps, The Wall Street Journal.
posted by markkraft at 2:15 PM on October 23, 2012


Sorry Miyabo, I accidentally sent you a link to a chart that is unclearly labelled. Here are a few more that are more explicit.

http://www.aei.org/article/economics/only-the-public-sector-is-doing-fine/
http://reason.com/blog/2012/06/11/private-sector-and-public-sector-job-tre

Apparently, you can also generate your own charts at at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' website, so you can get your info straight from the horses mouth. In summary: public sector has lower unemployment, though the trend is negative (so assuming that the trend continues for long enough, eventually they will get to a point where total unemployment is equal).

Markkraft, I don't even know where to begin. Even President Obama - the man most motivated to claim that the private sector is doing fine - acknowledged that he was incorrect about this, but you continue to grasp at straws somehow. Since you are clearly protected by a barrier that is impenetrable to logic, I'm just going to disengage from you now.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:25 PM on October 23, 2012


Unemployment rate among government workers = 4.2 percent. Unemployment rate in the private sector (national average) = 7.8 percent.

(These figures are from May, so there may be some variance.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2012


"suppose that unemployment in the public sector goes up to 5% and unemployment in the private sector drops to 9%. The public sector is still doing much better, right?"

Ah, I see... if there were a 4 percent difference -- which there isn't -- then that would justify cutting salaries for public sector employees who already make 1/3rd less than everyone else, because it would, um... only be fair?!

Of course, even Fox News said that the actual public sector unemployment -- less the military, which Mitt Romney has promised to expand -- is 5.1% in August, down from 5.7% in July. Of course, what they don't say is that the sudden dip isn't due to government hiring them back. Rather, government is *still* cutting public sector jobs, and many, many of them are starting to fall off of unemployment all at once, because their benefits ran out. Most who did get jobs are now working in... wait for it! -- the private sector.

In other words, some of the recovery in the private sector unemployment stats you'd like to see is being impacted by all sorts of unemployed -- and increasingly long-term unemployed -- workers from the public sector, competing for the same jobs.

So, yeah... basically, I would have to concur with everyone else here, and say that your statements would be of more use to this discussion, were they actually factual ones... but for now, I don't see the justification for your rather vindictive singling-out of teachers, police, firemen, etc., unless, of course...

Scott Brown?! Is that you?!!
posted by markkraft at 2:45 PM on October 23, 2012


" Even President Obama - the man most motivated to claim that the private sector is doing fine - acknowledged that he was incorrect about this, but you continue to grasp at straws somehow"

Did *I* say that the private sector was doing fine? No. What it is doing is growing fairly well, considering the level of opposition to *any* kind of government job plan from the GOP. Hell... they even filibustered a jobs program for returning veterans, who are unemployed at about twice the national average.

It's hard to argue that any sector of the US economy is doing wonderfully, when we're still in recovery from the deepest economic dip in the last 80 years or so. However, the private sector has been growing at a respectable rate. The problem is, there is a large unemployment backlog that will take years to fully address.

So far, unfortunately, the only serious plan that Mitt Romney has put forward that would actually increase jobs is a war with Iran.
posted by markkraft at 3:15 PM on October 23, 2012


(Of course, it would also kill more jobs than it creates, by raising world oil prices...)
posted by markkraft at 3:15 PM on October 23, 2012


[Dial it back to before you called people dumb. Maybe it's time to take this to email? This has totally monopolized and/or ruined this thread.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:44 PM on October 23, 2012


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