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基思·亨尼西(Hennessey)的博客

美国前国家经济委员会主任、乔治·布什的首席经济顾问Keith Hennessey

 
 
 

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就业战  

2009-10-31 11:16:23|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 [点击查看Keith Hennessey的英文博客]

为了描绘出就业形势的图景,总统的顾问们投入了许多通信方面的努力。看来,到2010年,“就业战”仍会是政治、经济的热点议题。以下是一些关于政治、经济和政策的议论。都是以前写的,但是我认为把它们放在一个地方总结归纳一下是极有意义的。

·美国的就业形势持续衰退中,尽管下降速度慢于2009年年初。

·缓慢的下降并不等于增加。总统的团队迫不及待的想要散布好听的消息,他们言之过早。几周前(迫于实际情况)他们不得不变更自己乐观的说辞。这是获取信息的失误,而不是一个政策的错误。

·就业率将会攀升。但是我们不知道哪时候才会开始,也不知道哪时候才是政治和经济的关键时刻。

·大部分预测者认为,10月29号星期四发布的三季度GDP数字,将会十分强劲。有两个大问题是:(1)GDP的增长能够一直持续到2010年吗?(2)GDP的增长能够转化成就业率的增长吗?财政刺激的效果是短暂的,有必要把它转化成持续的就业增长和消费增长。

·在复苏刚开始时,就业并不会攀升,这很正常。随着对产品的需求的增长,雇主通常会在雇佣新人之前增加原有劳动者的工作时间。一旦增长的需求变得稳定、可预见时,一旦现有的雇员完全发挥出劳动力时,雇主就会开始招聘新人。增长先从工作时数开始,随后就是工作人数的增加。

·我建议看一下这两个数字:

1、              失业率—9月份时,这个数字是9.8%。当它开始锐减的时候,大多数经济学家认为百分之5的失业率是“完全就业”。还需要多久才能够重新回到完全就业的状态呢?

2、              非农就业人数的净变化—9月份时,是负的263000.首先,这个数字需要变成正的才好。其次,随着人口中劳动力的增加,这个数字要达到每月+10万到+15万才能跟上人口的增加和失业人数的增加。最后,为了让失业率降到5%,有必要超过这个增幅。

·新闻界在U-6失业+不充分就业的统计上投注了过多的注意。这是个有意思的、且有着重大政治意义的统计,因为它远远大于传统的失业率指标。但是,到目前为止,我认为,关于趋势的发展,它并不会比以上两个指标告诉我们的更多。

·当我们的新增就业人数连续两个月大于10万时,我将对就业形势抱持乐观态度。同时,你也会预期失业率开始下降。当你询问一个经济预测师时,我认为当下最重要的问题是:“你认为失业率哪时候才开始下降?”

·在2003年—2004年的复苏期间,就业增长开始的十分缓慢。你也许还记得在2004年大选时期,来自左翼政治势力把那抨击为“失业的复苏”。最近的严重萧条也是由金融冲击导致的。经济学家普遍在以下两个问题上展开论点:

    ·2003-2004年间的失业型复苏是否意味着:在“正常”复苏阶段,就业增长的速度起了根本的变化?

    ·在经济萧条时,是否有些不寻常的因素影响了复苏期的就业增长速率?

·关于短期内就业增长的预测甚至有着更多的不确定。我通常把超过12个月的经济预测当做瞎猜。今年,我把这个时限缩短为6个月。我不认为有谁可以对(从现在开始)9或12个月以后的就业状况有什么了解。

·这种不确定性使得商业活动更难计划。消费支出在GDP中占70%,而消费的最决定性的因素是:(1)有多少人在工作,(2)他们的薪酬是否上涨?

·右翼人士认为财政刺激没有帮助促进经济的增长。这是愚蠢的。政府正在推出数千亿美金。至少在短期内,这会促进GDP的增长。9天后,我们将看到第三季度GDP中产生的效果。财政刺激将踏入并贯穿2010年全年,它将继续帮助促进GDP的增长。尤其在上半年,更是如此。

·除了财政刺激没有其他的是可行的,我相信刺激方案正帮助GDP的增长。但是它来的太慢了,效率太低下,而且是浪费的。财政刺激确实取得了成就,但是这个成就来得太不划算了,效率太糟糕了。

·同时,本届政府不负责任的夸大了、并过分详细的强调了财政刺激对就业的影响。

  ·他们关于“创造或挽救的工作机会”的数量只是声称,而并非计量所得。由于我们不知道,没有政策的改变的话将会失去多少工作岗位,因此我们就无法衡量出政策带来的变化。

  ·这意味着,他们无法证实他们的声明--有关创造或挽救的工作岗位数量是相关政策应用的后果;而批评者也不能证明这些声明是不正确的。这种缺乏可证明的数据,这种容易受政治偏见误导的统计,使得政府可以灵活的调整他们的说辞以迎合政治需求。政府用这些数字做判断是不负责任的行为;新闻界不附带说明的报道也是不负责任的行为。

  ·每次我听到“挽救或创造的工作岗位(数量)”时,我直接忽略数字,认为它们是些杜撰出来的数据。当数字十分具体时,更是如此,比如:“250000个教育职位被挽救或创造。”我认为这是不负责任且极具误导性的。那些数据就好像是他们随便组合出来的。看看得出数据的方法更是明确了这一点。

  ·财政刺激方案是几个旨在振兴经济增长(或者减缓经济的衰退)的政策之一。美联储和财政部的行动(去年9月开始的),对稳定大型金融机构和金融市场起到了极大的助益。联储也维持着极低的利率。政府官员例行公事地把无法计量的经济利益归功于三大政策之一。这是不正确的。

·鉴于上述的难以预测的性质,政府对2010年的预测是悲观灰暗的。当局的预测认为,整个2010年失业率讲徘徊在百分之九左右。如果他们的预测是正确的,那么将会有一段时期就业会出现轻微的正增长,失业率则会缓慢下降。这会产生一个很危险的政治状况。政府和国会民主党人本来会振振有词地宣称情况已经逐渐好转,但是如果失业率仍保持居高不下,他们当不会作如是之想。

·如果经济预测是错误的,这将构成2010年国会选举时的一个有趣的问题。失业水平,或者(失业水平)的改变方向和速度,将极大的决定着美国的大选。极有可能的是,到明年11月份,情况仍然会十分糟糕,而改善只会缓慢的进行。选民们会因为失业水平而怪罪执政党,还是会因为当下的政策变革而嘉奖当局呢?

·两党的选举官员都很正确的看出,只要在修辞上下足功夫,还是可以影响民众对经济的看法的。预期中,政治上的就业战仍然会持续到来年。

 

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)

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英文原文(地址:http://keithhennessey.com/2009/10/20/the-jobs-battle/):

The jobs battle

Posted on October 20th, 2009 by kbh in economy, featured, labor  

 就业战 - hennessey - 基思·亨尼西(Hennessey)的博客

The President’s advisors are devoting a lot of communications effort to framing the employment picture.  The “jobs battle” is likely to continue as a first-tier economic and political issue through 2010.  Here is some context on the intersection among the economics, the policy, and the politics.  I have written much of this before but thought it might be useful to summarize it in one place.

  • U.S. employment continues to decline, albeit much more slowly than at the beginning of 2009.
  • Declining more slowly is not the same as increasing.  The President’s team wanted to trumpet good news as early as possible and they jumped the gun.  A few weeks ago they had to adjust their message (again) to a less optimistic one.  This was a communications mistake, not a policy one.
  • Employment growth will return.  We just don’t know when, and the when is critical economically and politically.
  • Most forecasters expect a strong Q3 GDP number, to be released Thursday, October 29th.  The two big questions are:  (1) will that GDP growth be sustained through 2010, and (2) will it translate into job growth?  The fiscal stimulus is temporary, and needs to translate into job growth and consumption growth to be sustainable.
  • It is normal for employment not to grow at the beginning of a recovery.  As demand for their products begins to increase, employers typically make their employees work longer hours before hiring new workers.  Once the increased demand looks stable and predictable, and once the current workforce is working as much as they can, then employers start hiring.  First you increase hours per worker, then you increase the number of workers.
  • I recommend watching two numbers:
    1. the unemployment rate – It was 9.8% in September.  Most economists consider about 5% to be “full employment.”  When will it begin to decline, and how long will it take to regain full employment?
    2. the net change in payroll employment – This was –263,000 in September.  First this needs to turn positive.  Second, since the labor force grows with population, this number needs to reach +100K to +150K per month to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate constant.  Finally, it needs to exceed this range for the unemployment rate to decline toward 5%.
  • The press is paying a lot of attention to a third statistic, the U-6 measure of unemployment + underemployment.  It’s an interesting and politically significant statistic, because it’s so much bigger than the traditional unemployment rate metric.  But so far I don’t think it tells us a lot more about the trends than the above two metrics.
  • I will begin to feel good about the employment picture when we have had two consecutive months of payroll numbers >100K.  At the same time you would expect the unemployment rate to start declining.  I think the most important question you can ask an economic forecaster right now is, “When do you think the unemployment rate will begin to decline?”
  • Job growth was slow to start in the 2003-2004 recovery.  You may remember the political attacks from the left about the “jobless recovery” in the 2004 campaign.  The recent severe recession was cause by a financial shock.  Economists have widely dispersed views on two questions:
    • Did the jobless recovery of 2003-2004 signal a fundamental change in the pace of job growth in a “normal” recovery?
    • Will the somewhat unusual cause of this recession affect the pace of job growth in the recovery?
  • There is even more uncertainty than normal in projecting near-term job growth.  I generally treat economic forecasts more than 12 months out as wild guesses.  This year I have shortened that window to 6 months.  I don’t think anyone has a clue what the employment picture will look like 9 or 12 months from now.
  • This uncertainty makes it hard for businesses to plan.  Consumer spending is about 70% of GDP, and the most important determinants of consumption are (1) how many people are working and (2) are their paychecks going up?
  • Some on the right argue the fiscal stimulus is not helping increase economic growth.  That’s silly.  The government is pushing hundreds of billions of dollars out the door.  At least in the short run, that’s going to increase GDP growth.  We should see some of that effect in the Q3 GDP numbers nine days from now.  The fiscal stimulus should continue to help increase GDP growth above what it otherwise would have been into and through most of 2010, especially in the first half.
  • I believe the stimulus is helping boost GDP growth now above what it otherwise would have been, but that it is too late, poorly designed, and horribly inefficient and wasteful.  They are getting some bang, but their bang-for-the-buck and effectiveness are terrible.
  • At the same time, the Administration irresponsibly overstates and overspecifies the employment impact of the fiscal stimulus.
    • Their “jobs created or saved” numbers are claims, not measures.  Since we can’t know how many jobs would have been lost without policy changes, we can’t measure the change that policies have caused.
    • This means they cannot prove their statements about the number of jobs saved or created by policy, and critics cannot prove those statements are incorrect.  This lack of verifiability, and the vulnerability of these statistics to political bias, allow the Administration flexibility to adjust their claimed success to meet political demands.  It is irresponsible for an Administration to use these numbers as definitive, and irresponsible for the press to report them without heavy caveats.
    • Every time I hear “[number] jobs saved or created,” I ignore the number and assume I am being spun.  This is particularly true when the numbers are specific, e.g., “250,000 education jobs saved or created.”  I think this is irresponsible and misleading.  It feels like they’re just making these numbers up.  Reading the methodology behind the numbers only reaffirms this view.
    • The fiscal stimulus is one of several policy moves contributing to stronger (or less weak) economic growth.  The Fed’s and Treasury’s actions (begun last September) to stabilize large financial institutions and financial markets helped a lot.  The Fed is also keeping interest rates extremely low.  Administration officials routinely attribute all of the unmeasurable economic benefit to one of three major policy changes.  This is invalid.
  • Given the above caveats about unpredictability, the Administration’s forecast for 2010 is gloomy.  The Administration forecasts an unemployment rate hovering in the high 9’s throughout 2010.  If they’re right, there will be a period where net job growth will be slightly positive (say, 100K-150K jobs per month) and the unemployment rate will be inching downward.  This could create a dangerous political dynamic, in which the Administration and Congressional Democrats will be tempted to argue that things are getting better, but where it won’t feel like they’re getting better because the unemployment rate is still so high.
  • If this economic forecast plays out, it will pose an interesting question for the 2010 Congressional elections.  Which is a more important determinant of how Americans vote:  the level of unemployment, or the direction and rate of change?  It’s possible that next November things will still be bad, but getting slowly better.  Will voters punish the party in power for the level, or reward them for the change underway?
  • Elected officials in both parties correctly think their rhetorical efforts can affect how voters view the economy.  Expect the political jobs battle to continue for another year.

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