Monday, June 27, 2022

The unemployment figures are meaningless

They ignore the low participation rate

Low labor force participation rate for less-educated Americans
Washington, D.C. (June 23, 2022) – A new Center for Immigration Studies analysis of employment shows that while the overall unemployment rate for immigrants and the U.S.-born has returned to pre-pandemic levels, this obscures the low labor force participation rate of the U.S.-born, particularly those without a bachelor’s degree.

The "unemployed" includes only those who have actively looked for a job in the prior four weeks, while labor force participation measures the share of all working-age people holding a job or actively looking for one. If the labor force participation rate for these less-educated Americans were the same in 2022 as it was 2000, seven million more people would be in the labor force.

“The low unemployment rate is largely meaningless because it does not include all the people on the sidelines,” said Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research and co-author of the analysis. “With more than 54 million working-age people not in the labor force, we need to adopt policies that get more people back into jobs — not perpetuate the situation by bringing in ever more foreign workers.”

Among the findings:

The unemployment rate of about 4 percent for both the U.S.-born and immigrants (ages 16-plus) in the first quarter of 2022 is similar to what it was before Covid-19, as is the total number (6.7 million) unemployed.

Perhaps more important than the 6.7 million unemployed are the 54.5 million working-wage (16-64) U.S. residents not in the labor force — neither working nor looking for work

Of all 61.2 million not working in the first quarter, 35.3 million (58 percent) were U.S.-born adults (18-64) without a bachelor’s degree.

Among the U.S.-born, labor force participation is lowest and has tended to decline the most among the least-educated — dropouts and those with only a high school education, though it has also declined among those adults with some college.

Prime-age (25-54):

Focusing only on “prime-age” (25-54) men, who traditionally have the highest labor force participation, shows a large decline for the U.S.-born, but not so much for immigrants.
Of U.S.-born men of prime working age without a bachelor’s degree, only 84 percent were in the labor force in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 89 percent in 2000. In contrast, 91 percent of less-educated prime-age immigrant men were in the labor force in 2022, compared to 92 percent in 2000.
Like their male counterparts, the labor force participation rate of less-educated U.S.-born women of prime age has declined — from 77 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2022. At 62 percent, the labor force participation rate for immigrant women is lower than their U.S.-born counterparts, but has not changed much since 2000


While less-educated U.S.-born blacks tend to have lower rates of labor force participation than U.S.-born whites and Hispanics, all three groups show a decline over the last two decades.

Among prime working-age U.S.-born Americans (25-54) without a bachelor’s degree, labor force participation between 2000 and 2022 declined for whites from 84 percent to 79 percent; for blacks it declined from 79 percent to 75 percent; and for Hispanics it declined from 81 percent to 78 percent.


Russia is sidestepping American oil sanctions

When the European Union finally made the decision to ban 90 percent of Russia’s crude oil imports by the end of the year, the bureaucrats in Brussels were jubilant. The EU’s adoption of oil sanctions was thought be a big blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who depends on the revenue generated by his country’s oil exports to fund his war in Ukraine.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why European officials were so thrilled. The EU imported 2.2 million barrels per day of Russian crude last year, amounting to tens of billions of dollars in profits for the Kremlin every month. Prohibiting 90 percent of that supply, with the exception of Hungary (the country received a waiver after its prime minister, Viktor Orbán, held up a deal for about a month), would be a gargantuan loss for the Russians at a time when its troops are engaged in their largest war since the ten-year occupation of Afghanistan four decades earlier. That was the theory, anyway.

The global oil market, however, isn’t exactly cooperating. Far from celebrating, the EU today is scratching its head over the amount of money the Russians continue to scoop up as a result of high oil prices and Moscow’s ability to counteract the West’s sanctions regime. Indeed, Moscow is earning more money from oil exports than it was before the war in Ukraine began. The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an organization in Finland, calculates that Russia’s export prices for fossil fuels in general are about 60 percent higher than they were last year. Asked by lawmakers whether Moscow was raking in more money from oil sales now than in the months before the war, Amos Hochstein, the Biden administration’s envoy for energy affairs, wasn’t cute with his answer: “I can’t deny that.”

What’s going on here? There are two factors to consider.

The first and most obvious is the extremely high price of crude oil. On June 21, Brent Crude opened at $114 a barrel, approximately 55 percent higher than this time last year. For major petro-states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, these are the good old days, when high demand and tight global supply produces record profits. Naturally, the more profits Russia earns, the more resources Putin will have available to finance his war of aggression and ensure discontent on the Russian street doesn’t get out of hand.

Current prices are so sky-high, in fact, that Russia continues to make hefty earnings even after offering significant discounts to buyers. At spot rates of about $73 a barrel, and based on current market prices, customers are saving about 51 percent if they go with Russian Urals crude instead of Brent (how long the current supply-demand dynamics will hold is another question entirely).

This leads to the second reason why the EU’s oil sanctions aren’t having an immediate effect: Russia is reworking its entire oil distribution network. The Russians aren’t standing around; they’re creating new opportunities. Before the war, about 60 percent of Russia’s oil exports went to Europe, with the rest going to China. Now, the Russians are redirecting previously Europe-bound oil cargoes to countries in Asia, which are looking for the cheap and most reliable energy supply they can get. In May, Russian crude exports to China increased by 28 percent from the previous month, replacing Saudi Arabia as Beijing’s biggest source of the black stuff. India is receiving 760,000 Russian barrels a day, an exponential jump compared to previous levels, which were near zero.

The Biden administration is obviously disappointed that partner nations are prioritizing their economies over their morals. Biden urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a virtual summit in April to lay off buying more Russian crude and offered help in acquiring different energy sources. Some lawmakers, like Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, have called India out for giving Putin a financial lifeline; others have hinted at possible US sanctions against the Indians. But would Washington really go as far as undermine a strategic partnership that successive presidents have cultivated since the dawn of the century (and one, it must be stressed, that the administration is hoping to enlist in a balancing coalition against China)? More importantly, should it?

American and European policymakers evidently fooled themselves into believing that cutting off Russian oil would be the beginning of the end for Putin’s war machine — or at least force the Kremlin to deplete whatever reserve funds they have left on the war. But the market has something else in mind.


Leftism triumphant in Philadelphia

There’s “No Price to Pay” for Crime in Philadelphia, Says Mayor and Victim’s Families

Another week in Philadelphia and another major real estate deal—with developers announcing yesterday a $22 million sale for business space and 73 residential units in the Spring Garden neighborhood. Recently redone with the kind of luxury finishes that have become standard on new development projects, the building offers high-end accommodations and nearby amenities like newly opened microbreweries and the city’s peaceful elevated rail park.

Days earlier, eight stops north of Spring Garden on the Broad Street subway line, a young woman named Alyssa Morales was attacked by a group of men in Hunting Park. Beaten and set on fire, she was discovered by others who came to the park assuming there was a trash fire. Because Morales was unable to speak her name at the ICU, it took two days before the staff learned who she was while they attended to the second- and third-degree burns that cover more than half her body.

Before and since the attack on Morales, a cruel, menacing wave of violence has washed over Philadelphia. Blocks from that same park, Loi Nguyen was out on his Monday morning walk, as had been the 76-year-old’s routine for years, when a man shot him dead with a bullet to the skull and ran off, leaving Nguyen’s family bereft and mystified about the cause of the violence. Days before, a man named Malcom White was arrested on charges of one rape and three separate assaults against women, including two attacks in the city’s bustling South Passyunk neighborhood. White had brutally beaten three women walking together, leaving one with a bloody nose, before coming upon another woman, Noelle Liquori, who was waiting on the sidewalk as her boyfriend finished his afternoon shift at work nearby. “The first hit came from behind. He hit me in the ear, put me down, and punched me in the face a couple of times,” Liquori said. “The last thing I remember, I was being dragged on my back. He had my feet, dragging me down the pavement. I kept kicking him and screaming to get someone’s attention.”

Two dozen people traveled to the capital city of Harrisburg on Monday because they, too, are asking for someone to help them. They were at the capitol building to bring attention to an effort to impeach Larry Krasner, the district attorney in Philadelphia serving his second term. Taking turns at the podium in the rotunda, family members of those who’ve been killed in the city described feeling that the crime in Philadelphia is ceaseless, with no one able to stop it. Since the start of this year, 830 people have been injured in shootings in Philadelphia, with another 200 killed in gun homicides.

“At what point do we hold those responsible to accountability? How many sons and daughters do we have to lose?” said Nakisha Billa, who’s son was murdered last spring while buying clothes for an upcoming job interview. Billa stood beside other parents who held up photos of their children, portraits from graduation days and school sports. The men who killed her son had several previous convictions between them. “The lawlessness that is going on in Philadelphia is beyond control.”

The attempt to impeach Krasner was initiated this week by three Republican members of the Pennsylvania House. Citing the state’s constitutional provision that allows lawmakers to impeach a public official if that person has committed a serious crime or a “misbehavior,” the lawmakers argue that Krasner falls afoul of the latter clause, in breach of his prosecutorial oath and derelict in his duties to protect the residents of the city. It’s unlikely the impeachment will garner the two-thirds majority support it would need in the state’s upper chamber, where at least five Democrats would have to join the Republican-led campaign.

It’s uncertain whether impeaching Krasner would make an immediate or significant dent in what’s happening in Philadelphia. The DA is not wrong when he speaks of systemic, institutional failures that have plagued the city for decades, as developers and city council members have poured money into some neighborhoods while the schools, community programs, and public parks in the less desirable zip codes were left to rot. It’s what has allowed Kensington, the nation’s largest open-air drug market, to flourish into a massive bazaar where the guns trade just as freely as the fentanyl kills scores of people in Philadelphia. On the other hand, the DA’s job is not to cure the root causes of every social ill but to uphold the law and help maintain public order, and while Philadelphia’s problems may not all be of Krasner’s making, the district attorney hasn’t exactly made much of an effort to combat them.

Facing criticism in January for the record number of homicides in Philadelphia in 2021, Krasner brushed off the complaints that there was a problem. “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” he said. Since he was elected in 2018, Krasner, following the same agenda as other prominent progressive DAs, has pushed for shorter sentences and for forgoing charges against defendants arrested by police for illegal firearms. “We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings,” a representative from Krasner’s office said in January, which, when you think about it for a moment, is absolutely fucking insane for the prosecutor’s office to believe, let alone to say out loud. On the district attorney’s website, Krasner keeps a running tally of how many fewer years served convicts have received since he began his tenure: 28,100 years in total.

Krasner’s approach has also led to a startling exodus of prosecutors from his office—including those he’s hired himself. After Krasner took over the office in 2018, at least 70 of the prosecutors Krasner recruited to join the office have since left, adding to the total of some 261 attorneys who’ve departed the office under Krasner’s leadership. “I joined this office for a reason. I came to Philly to work for Krasner because I believed in what he was trying to do,” one member of his staff told a reporter. “I feel betrayed a lot by this office and the promises of what I thought this job was going to be.” The high turnover rate has burdened those who stay with unsustainable caseloads and forced Krasner last month to seek more money from the city so he could entice new hires with higher salaries. One council member said they were reluctant to give more money to the office because of how many complaints they receive from residents who feel they suffer from the “revolving door” of crime committed by the same offenders in their neighborhood.

Following the mass shooting on Philadelphia’s South Street that left three dead and 11 wounded earlier this month, Philadelphia’s mayor, Jim Kenney, expressed dismay at the city’s atmosphere of lawlessness. “It’s gotten to the point where there’s no price to pay for carrying illegal guns, so people carry them because they don’t think anything is going to happen,” said Kenney. Of 303 arrested in 2019 and 2020 for illegal firearms in the city’s 18th police district, two went to prison.

The feeling of being unprotected in Philadelphia has swiftly driven up firearm purchases, with almost 50,000 guns bought in the city across 2020 and 2021, more than doubling the 22,000 guns that had been bought during the two-year period prior. The uptick in people arming themselves for protection has also led to an escalation of justified homicides, aka people using guns to kill people attacking them. In 2018, just six people had been found to be justified in killing someone with a gun in self-defense. Last year, the city’s police department saw justified homicides rise 67% to 20 killings, with six more awaiting approval by the district attorney’s office.

In March, Junwan Perkins-Owens, a 22-year-old assistant manager of a Philadelphia Dollar General, shot and killed a gunman wearing a ski mask and threatening to shoot his cashier as he demanded the money from the store’s register. Perkins-Owens’ store had recently been robbed by a man who held off employees by threatening to stick them with a hypodermic needle. But that wasn’t why Perkins-Owens bought the gun he later used in self-defense. He bought the gun when he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg in a separate incident.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened, but victims are tired of being victims,” said Perkins-Owens. “People are actually standing up for themselves.”


Biden slams SCOTUS vote to overturn 108-year-old NY gun law requiring 'proper cause' to carry concealed weapon

The Supreme Court has struck down a New York law that severely restricted licenses to carry a concealed weapon, in the high court's biggest Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade.

President Joe Biden said he was 'deeply disappointed' in the ruling, saying in a statement that it 'contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.'

The 6-3 ruling on Thursday reversed a lower court's opinion, which had upheld the 108-year-old New York law restricting licenses to carry concealed weapons in public only to those demonstrating 'proper cause'.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion, writing that the New York law prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

New York is not alone in severely limiting who can get a license to carry concealed in public, and the new ruling will likely make it easier to legally carry a gun in major cities including Los Angeles, Boston and Baltimore.

The court decision comes as the Senate was poised on Thursday for a vote to advance a bipartisan gun-control bill, in what could be the first new federal gun legislation in decades.




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