Thursday, December 31, 2015

Labor Line

April 2015___________________________________

Labor line has job news and commentary with a one stop short cut for America's job markets and job related data including the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This month's job and employment summary data are below. This month's inflation data is below.

The Establishment Job Report and Establishment Job Details for data released April 3, 2015.

American Job Market The Chronicle

Current Job and Employment Data

Total Non-Farm Establishment Jobs up 126,000 to 141,183,000
Total Private Jobs up 129,000 to 119,285,000
Total Government Employment down 3,000 to 21,898,000

Employment Note
Civilian Non-Institutional Population up 181,000 to 250,080,000
Civilian Labor Force down 96,000 to 156,906,000
Employed up 34,000 to 148,331,000
Employed Men up 8,000 to 79,014,000
Employed Women up 26,000 to 69,317,000
Unemployed down 130,000 to 8,575,000
Not in the Labor Force up 279,000 to 93,175,000

Unemployment Rate stayed the same at 5.5%, or 8,575/156,906
Labor Force Participation Rate down .1% to 62.7%, or 156,906/250,080

Prices and inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all Urban Consumers was down 1.62 percent for 2014.

The March CPI report for the 12 months ending with February, shows the

CPI for All Items was unchanged 0%
CPI for Food and Beverages was up 2.8%
CPI for Housing was up 2.2%
CPI for Apparel was down 1.2%
CPI for Transportation including gasoline was down 8.3%
CPI for Medical Care was up 2.3%
CPI for Recreation was up .2%
CPI for Education was up 3.5%
CPI for Communication was down 2.2%

This Month's Establishment Jobs Press Report


The Bureau of Labor Statistics published its April report of jobs in March. The April report shows an increase of 279 thousand in working age adults not in the labor force. The increase was more than the monthly increase in the adult population creating a decline of 96 thousand in the labor force. The labor force decline was divided between a small 34 thousand increase in the employed and a large 130 thousand decrease in the unemployed. The unemployed total dropped to 8.6 million, its lowest level since the end of 2008 and the recession.

The decline in the unemployed in the numerator just offset the decline in the labor force in the denominator to keep the unemployment rate steady at 5.5 percent. The labor force participation rate was down .1 percent as a result of people leaving the labor force. The new rate is 62.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted total of establishment jobs was up 126 thousand for March. The increase was 142 thousand more private sector service jobs combined with a decrease of 13 thousand goods production jobs and a decrease of 3 thousand in government service jobs.

The goods production sector was a wash out with natural resources, construction and manufacturing all in decline. Mining was down 11 thousand jobs where mining includes oil and gas extraction and the industries that support mining and oil and gas extraction. Construction declined a net of a thousand jobs with residential specialty contracting jobs were down 6.5 thousand. Some of the decrease was offset with more jobs in building construction. Manufacturing was off a thousand jobs from a small decrease in non-durable goods employment. Durable goods remained unchanged.

There were only small changes in government service employment for March. The federal government was down 2 thousand jobs with a net decrease of a thousand jobs for state and local employment. State and local public education had a combined loss of two thousand jobs, but private education added 7.6 thousand jobs for net gain of 5.6 thousand jobs in public and private education.

Trade, transportation and utilities services had the biggest job increase among private service industries with 41 thousand new jobs for March. Wholesale and retail trade were both up with a combined increase of 31.7 thousand new jobs with retail leading the way adding 25.9 thousand of the jobs. Transportation was up again but only 9.5 thousand new jobs, about half of last month's increase. The job gains came in transportation support activities that have establishments doing port, terminal, harbor and airport operations that include loading, unloading, navigation, logistics, packing, crating, and towing, but very little transporting. Support jobs were up 8.4 thousand for March.

Professional and business services added 40 thousand new jobs, down from the increase last month. Professional and technical services had 23.7 thousand of the new jobs. Accounting, bookkeeping services added 6.5 thousand new jobs as the tax season approaches. Architectural and engineering services, computer design and related services and management and technical consulting all continue to add jobs month by month as they did for March with a total of 11.9 thousand new jobs. Legal services returned to itsb typical monthly decline with a loss of 1.2 thousand jobs. Management of offices of companies added 6.6 thousand jobs, a bigger increase than usual.

Administrative and support service sub sectors had a net gain of 9.3 thousand jobs with temporary help services up 15.9 thousand, after decreasing for the last two months. Services to buildings and dwelling dropped 9.3 thousand jobs erasing several months of increase.

Health care job increases settled back again this month with only 30 thousand new jobs for March. Ambulatory care had 19.2 thousand of the jobs and hospital care another 7.9 thousand jobs, both down slightly from last month. This month's health employment growth rate of 1.96 percent slumped below the long term trends. Growth rates around 2.5 percent are typical for health care.

Leisure and hospitality service had an increase of 13 thousand new jobs for March, way down from last month. Jobs were up 8.7 thousand jobs in food services and drinking places, a modest gain compared to most months. Accommodations were down 1.8 thousand jobs, a common occurrence in accommodations. Performing arts pushed up job totals with 6.2 thousand new jobs.

Information services had a net gain of 2 thousand jobs with modest gains in publishing, broadcasting and communications offset by a decline of 4.3 thousand jobs in motion picture and sound recording jobs. Financial activities added 10 thousand jobs for March with gains primarily in the insurance industry, which added 5.9 thousand jobs for a third month of increase. Real estate was off 900 jobs. Other services remained unchanged where repair and maintenance services and personal services added enough jobs to offset a 2.2 thousand decline in non-profit association employment.

The March increase of 126 thousand jobs for non-farm establishment employment amounts to a pause. Goods production seldom does as poorly as it did last month. All but financial services among private service providing industries did worse than last month, often with less than half the new jobs from February. Even restaurants did poorly. The overall growth rate dropped to 1.07 percent, when it has been above 2 percent in recent months. All in all March turned out to half a month compared to last month.


March Details

Non Farm Total +126
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Non-Farm employment for establishments increased from February by 126 thousand jobs for a(n) March total of 141.183 million. (Note 1 below) An increase of 126 thousand each month for the next 12 months represents an annual growth rate of 1.07%. The annual growth rate from a year ago beginning March 2014 was +2.27%; the average annual growth rate from 5 years ago beginning March 2010 was +1.69%; from 15 years ago beginning March 2000 it was .47%. America needs growth around 1.5 percent a year to keep itself employed.


Sector breakdown for 12 Sectors in 000's of jobs

1. Natural Resources -11
Natural Resources jobs including logging and mining were down 11 thousand from February at 884 thousand jobs in March. A decrease of 11 thousand jobs each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of -14.75 percent. Natural resource jobs are up 4 thousand for the 12 months just ended. Jobs in the 1990's totaled around 770 thousand. Job growth here will be small compared to America's job needs. This is the smallest of 12 major sectors of the economy with .6 percent of establishment jobs.

2. Construction -1
Construction jobs were down 1 thousand from February at 6.344 million jobs in March. A decrease of 1 thousand jobs each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of -.19 percent. Construction jobs are up 282 thousand for the last 12 months. The growth rate for the last 5 years is +2.76%. Construction jobs rank 9th among the 12 sectors with 4.5 percent of non farm employment.

3. Manufacturing -1
Manufacturing jobs were down 1 thousand from February at 12.319 million jobs in March. A decrease of 1 thousand jobs each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of -.1 percent. Manufacturing jobs were up for the last 12 months by 188 thousand. The growth rate for the last 5 years is +1.47%. In 1994, manufacturing ranked 2nd but now ranks 6th among 12 major sectors in the economy with 8.7 percent of establishment jobs.

4. Trade, Transportation & Utility +41
Trade, both wholesale and retail, transportation and utility employment was up by 41 thousand jobs from February to 26.797 million jobs in March. These jobs tend to increase at a slower rate than the total of non-farm jobs, but an increase of 41 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +1.84 percent. Jobs are up by 607 thousand for the last 12 months. Growth rates for the last 5 years are +1.75 percent. Jobs in these sectors rank first as the biggest sectors with combined employment of 19.0 percent of total establishment employment.

5. Information Services +2
Information Services employment were up by 2 from February to 2.782 million jobs in March. An increase of 2 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +.86 percent. (Note 2 below) Jobs are up by 59 thousand for the last 12 months. Monthly employment in information services gyrates month to month and has been doing so for over a decade. Information jobs reached 3.7 million at the end of 2000, but started dropping, reaching 3 million by 2004 and continues below 2.7 million now. Information Services is a small sector ranking 11th of 12 with 2.0 percent of establishment jobs.

6. Financial Activities +8
Financial Activities were up 8 thousand jobs from February to 8.083 million in March. An increase of 8 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +1.19 percent. Jobs are up 150 thousand for the last 12 months. (Note 3 below)This sector also includes real estate as well as real estate lending. Financial Services has been declining with negative annual growth rates, a 5 year growth rate of +.95 percent, and a 15 year growth rate of
+.27 percent. Financial activities rank 8 of 12 with 5.7 percent of establishment jobs.

7. Business & Professional Services +40
Business and Professional Service jobs went up 40 thousand from February to 19.541 million in March. An increase of 40 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +2.46 percent. Jobs are up 662 thousand for the last 12 months. Note 4 The annual growth rate for the last 5 years was 3.39 percent. It ranks as 2nd among the 12 sectors. It was third in May 1993, when manufacturing was bigger and second rank now with 13.8 percent of establishment employment.

8. Education including public and private +5
Education jobs went up 5 thousand jobs from February at 13.692 million in March. These include public and private education. An increase of 5 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +.40 percent. Jobs are up 121 thousand for the last 12 months. (note 5) The 15 year growth rate equals 1.08 percent, faster than the national average. Education ranks 4th among 12 sectors with 9.7 percent of establishment jobs.

9. Health Care +30
Health care jobs were up 30 thousand from February to 18.392 million in March. An increase of 30 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +1.96 percent. Jobs are up 476 thousand for the last 12 months. (note 6) The current month was below long term trends and less than growth from a year ago when the annual growth rate was +2.65 percent. Health care has been growing at +2.46 percent annual growth rate for 15 years, a rate greater than the national rate. Health care ranks 3rd of 12 with 13.0 percent of establishment jobs.

10. Leisure and hospitality +13
Leisure and hospitality jobs went up 13 thousand from February to 15.055 million in March. An increase of 13 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of +1.04 percent. Jobs are up 527 thousand for the last 12 months. (note 7) The 5 year growth rate is 3.07%. More than 80 percent of leisure and hospitality are accommodations and restaurants assuring that most of the new jobs are in restaurants. Leisure and hospitality ranks 4th of 12 with 10.7 percent of establishment jobs. It moved up from 7th in the 1990's to 5th in the last few years.

11. Other +0
Other Service jobs, which include repair, maintenance, personal services and non-profit organizations went up 0 thousand from February to 5.625 million jobs in March. Jobs are up 73 thousand for the last 12 months. (note 8) Other services had +1.09 percent growth for the last 5 years. These sectors rank 10th of 12 with 4.0 percent of total non-farm establishment jobs.

12. Government, excluding education -1
Government service employment was down 1 thousand jobs from February to 11.669 million in March. A decrease of 1 thousand each month for the next 12 months would be an annual growth rate of -.06 percent. Jobs are up 19 thousand for the last 12 months. (note 9) Government jobs excluding education tend to increase slowly but surely with a 15 year growth rate of .13 percent. Government, excluding education, ranks 7th of 12 with 8.3 percent of total non-farm establishment jobs.


Sector Notes___________________________

(1) The total cited above is non-farm establishment employment that counts jobs and not people. If one person has two jobs then two jobs are counted. It excludes agricultural employment and the self employed. Out of a total of people employed agricultural employment typically has about 1.5 percent, the self employed about 6.8 percent, the rest make up wage and salary employment. Jobs and people employed are close to the same, but not identical numbers because jobs are not the same as people employed: some hold two jobs. Remember all these totals are jobs. back

(2) Information Services is part of the new North American Industry Classification System(NAICS). It includes firms or establishments in publishing, motion picture & sound recording, broadcasting, Internet publishing and broadcasting, telecommunications, ISPs, web search portals, data processing, libraries, archives and a few others.back

(3) Financial Activities includes deposit and non-deposit credit firms, most of which are still known as banks, savings and loan and credit unions, but also real estate firms and general and commercial rental and leasing.back

(4) Business and Professional services includes the professional areas such as legal services, architecture, engineering, computing, advertising and supporting services including office services, facilities support, services to buildings, security services, employment agencies and so on.back

(5) Education includes private and public education. Therefore education job totals include public schools and colleges as well as private schools and colleges. back

(6) Health care includes ambulatory care, private hospitals, nursing and residential care, and social services including child care. back

(7) Leisure and hospitality has establishment with arts, entertainment and recreation which has performing arts, spectator sports, gambling, fitness centers and others, which are the leisure part. The hospitality part has accommodations, motels, hotels, RV parks, and full service and fast food restaurants. back

(8) Other is a smorgasbord of repair and maintenance services, especially car repair, personal services and non-profit services of organizations like foundations, social advocacy and civic groups, and business, professional, labor unions, political groups and political parties. back

(9) Government job totals include federal, state, and local government administrative work but without education jobs. back



Jobs are not the same as employment because jobs are counted once but one person could have two jobs adding one to employment but two to jobs. Also the employment numbers include agricultural workers, the self employed, unpaid family workers, household workers and those on unpaid leave. Jobs are establishment jobs and non-other. back


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Unions, the Supreme Court and the Ruling in Harris v. Quinn

In the Supreme Court Case of Harris v. Quinn the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union group, financed a challenge to the common law doctrine in labor law established in the case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education [431 U. S. 209] from 1977. In the Abood case some public school teachers objected to the requirement in the Detroit Public School’s collective bargaining agreement that required non-union members to pay a service charge in lieu of union dues. The Supreme Court allowed the requirement as payment for a non-member’s “fair share” as long as the union used the non-member funds only for contract negotiations, contract administration and grievance procedures rather than for political or ideological activities.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 as amended and administered by the National Labor Relations Board requires a majority vote in a democratic election to establish a union, and requires the union to represent all employees in the bargaining unit not just its members. Because United States labor law forces a certified union to represent all employees the Supreme Court declared a compulsory surcharge fairly distributes “the cost of the union among those who benefit” and “counter acts the incentive that employees might otherwise have to become ‘free riders.’ ” The court acknowledged in its Abood opinion that such a “fair share” provision has an impact on public employee first amendment rights of free speech; employees might object to policies adopted by the union in its role of exclusive representative.

Service Employees International Union

In the case of Harris v. Quinn concluded in 2014 Illinois used federal funds for a Medicaid Rehabilitation Program designed for Americans unable to live in their own homes without assistance but unable to afford the expense of in-home care. The Rehabilitation program provides federal funds for states to pay personal assistants chosen from a state approved pool of personal assistants who provide the in-home care.

In the 1980’s a majority of Illinois personal assistants voted to have Service Employees International Union represent them as their exclusive bargaining agent. SEIU petitioned the Illinois Labor Relations Board for permission to represent the Personal Assistants as their union, which at first the Board declined to allow. After some delay and discussion the Illinois legislature amended the state’s Public Labor Relations Act by declaring personal assistants working in the Medicaid program to be public employees for purposes of collective bargaining. The Public Labor Relations Act specifically permits a collective bargaining agreement whereby non-union members in the bargaining unit pay an agency fee as their fair share.

In 2010 three personal assistants in the bargaining unit petitioned a federal court for an injunction to end the non-union agency fee as a violation of their rights to free speech under the constitution. Petitioners wanted the court to abandon the common law doctrine established in the Abood case. The District Court and the seventh court of appeals dismissed the petition, but the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Labor and Free Speech

The labor movement has endured 150 years of free speech attacks; nothing is new in Harris v. Quinn. A hundred years ago business owners blamed strikes on outside agitators. Outsiders would come in and stir up the benevolent owner’s happy and contented employees and cause a strike, but he was not going to speak with any labor agitators. Instead he would faithfully defend and protect the liberty and free speech for his loyal employees who did not want to join a union.

There is suspicion that U.S. Courts treat free speech rights for labor unions differently than other free speech rights. A union under U.S. labor law needs a majority vote of employees in a union representation election. It is a democratic vote in a democratic society that elects representatives by majority vote to serve in legislative bodies that in turn make decisions by majority vote. If the U.S. Congress votes to declare war as they sometimes do, not everyone agrees with the vote to go to war. If Courts worried about free speech for the minority who oppose war in the same way Courts worry about free speech for those who oppose unions, then those who oppose war, or other matters of government, could withhold a percentage of their taxes in proportion to federal budget expenditures on a war.

Full-Fledged Employment

In Harris v. Quinn the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to strike down the “fair share” fee for SEIU, but only for the Rehabilitation Program. The majority of five included a long discussion ridiculing the Abood opinion of the 1977 Supreme Court majority, but they decided not to overturn it. Instead they decided to restrict the “fair share” rules to what they called “full-fledged” employees. To have the “fair share” rules apply to personal assistants, they wrote, “. . . asks us to approve a very substantial expansion of Abood’s reach.” Such an expansion has “important practical consequences” which “would invite problems.”

The mention of practical consequences and problems came on page 20 of the 39 page majority opinion. Much of the remaining 19 pages described the conditions of employment as full-fledged employees and how they differed from those of personal assistants they claimed to be partial public employees, but additional discussion infers problems. The majority wrote “Suppose, for example that a customer fires a personal assistant because the customer wrongly believes that the assistant stole a fork. Or suppose that a personal assistant is discharged because the assistant shows no interest in the customer’s favorite daytime soaps. Can the union file a grievance on behalf of the assistant? The answer is no.”
The majority worried that requiring a “fair share” fee for personal assistants in Illinois could bring an expansion beyond full-fledged employees to “individuals who follow a common calling and benefit from advocacy or lobbying conducted by a group to which they do not belong and pay no dues.”

The majority admitted “the wages and benefits of personal assistants have been substantially improved; orientation and training programs, background checks, and a program to deal with lost and erroneous paychecks have been instituted; and a procedure was established to resolve grievances arising under the collective-bargaining agreement . . . and we will assume that this is correct.” But the majority added that “the agency-fee provision cannot be sustained unless the cited benefits for personal assistants could not have been achieved if the union had been required to depend for funding on the dues paid by those personal assistants who chose to join.” The majority did not reference a previous case for their authority or give an example application for their assertion.

A blunt dissent of 25 pages written for the minority by Justice Kagen treats the majority opinion as a ramble of irrelevant excuses. Kagen would apply the Abood ruling as common law doctrine because “The only point in dispute is whether it matters that the personal assistants here are employees not only of the State but also of the disabled persons for whom they care.” . . . Yet “Illinois sets all the workforce-wide terms of employment. Most notably, the State determines and pays the employees’ wages and benefits, including health insurance (while also withholding taxes).”
Justice Kagan argues that Supreme Court “decisions have long afforded government entities broad latitude to manage their workforces, even when that affects speech they could not regulate in other contexts. . . . The “deci¬sion also enables the government to advance its interests in operating effectively—by bargaining, if it so chooses, with a single employee representative and preventing free riding on that union’s efforts.”

In a more blunt point, the minority argued, the majority declined to overrule the Abood doctrines as requested by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation because it has been used for so long the Supreme Court has come to apply the rule as “a general First Amendment principle.” As such the court has relied on “fair share” rules in deciding cases involving compulsory fees outside the labor context, although not for wars.

Maybe the majority decided it would be too difficult to write a legal justification to throw out compulsory fees just for labor unions, but needless to say they did not write that in their opinion. Ultimately they did accept when a federal law requires a union to provide union services, the government can make a collective bargaining contract to allow the union to be re¬imbursed for their required services. Five justices needed some excuses why it should only apply to “full fledged” employees. It is worth noting that four Supreme Court justices, one district judge and at least two appeals court justices make a majority of federal judges voting to uphold the Abood ruling. However five Supreme Court Justices made up a little bit of law to help their anti-union constituents; just politics as usual.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fighting Chance

Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance, (New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co. 2014), 277 pages, $28.00

Elizabeth Warren’s latest book, Fighting Chance, has the label Political Science on the back cover, but librarians catalog it in biography. It is a little of both, but more the politics of banking and finance and her two-decade role in it. The first chapter does chronicle her growing up in Oklahoma in typical fashion for a biography. It includes education, marriages, children, divorce, college, law school, teaching, and early interest in bankruptcy as a professor of law. Narrative is sprinkled with some personal stories and anecdotes.

One story occurred when her young son Alex attended a law school class at the University of Texas. Walking out with Alex, Mom asked “What did you think?” Alex answered, “Mom you’re not that funny.” “But they all laughed,” she defended. “They had to, Mom.” We can figure Mom has a sense of humor, but obviously Alex knows the truth. Trust me, all teachers learn that eventually.

The rest of the book explores national finance issues beginning in the mid-1990’s with a few more family stories and biographical asides thrown in to the narrative. Mostly though the remaining five chapters are serious politics beginning with Chapter 2 that covers her early career as a professor writing about bankruptcy law and practice.

The move from professor into politics came when Warren was invited to join the National Bankruptcy Review Commission in 1995 at the age of 46: a non-partisan commission appointed by Bill Clinton to review the bankruptcy law over 2 years and write a review and recommendations. Readers learn about her life on the commission and then afterward when she meets Senator Kennedy and gets to participate on work to draft and pass a new bankruptcy law.

From the late 1990’s until the 2008 financial collapse Warren was a professor who gained notoriety outside academia by authoring and co-authoring books and articles as part of an on-going analysis of bankruptcy, especially the book the Two Income Trap. She also appeared on talk shows to describe the family and personal hardships of bankruptcy. This part of the story has a bad ending when President Bush signed a new Bankruptcy law in 2005, gutting many protections for personal bankruptcy.

Another big change and chance for Warren occurs in Chapter 3. After the financial meltdown and crisis of 2008 Warren was invited by Senator Reid to be on a Congressional Oversight Panel, COP, intended to monitor and report on the congressional recovery plan known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Here readers get more into the grimy character of politics and the personal tussles that go with it. On page 96 Warren writes “Yes, the crisis involved complicated financial dealings, but a lot of the supposed complication was nothing more than BS designed to cover up what was going on.” We visit meetings and discussions with President Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and economist Larry Summers. In a lunch meeting with Summers he tells Warren that only insiders have influence if they follow the rule for insiders: They don’t criticize other insiders. Touche.

Chapter 4 begins discussion of Warren’s vision for an independent Consumer Protection Agency but there is more on negotiations for the financial reform bill known as the Dodd-Frank Act signed into law July 21, 2010. The new law included a Consumer Protection Agency, but another whole chapter describes the trials of getting it going. The bankers did not want Warren named to head the agency out of fear she would make it work.

Warren details a succession of meetings with President Obama who would praise her work but would not appoint her to run agency, once telling her “ . . .for some reason you are like a red hot poker in the eye of the Republicans.” We see the cautious side of Obama who would only offer her an interim position to get the agency going, which she finally accepted. She worked until July 18, 2011; the date someone else was nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she organized. From there it was onto to chapter 6 and her run for the Senate from Massachusetts and her eventual victory over incumbent Scott Brown.

Senator Warren uses an easy to read conversational style with many personal asides intended for a broad audience. Many of her human interest stories read like things the voters of Massachusetts might like to know about their Senator. Even though she is an academic she leaves out academic jargon and virtually all of the technical details of the financial topics and legislation she covers in a general way. Except for biographical material the book covers political negotiations and gives feelings and impressions of the many people who took part in national financial problems and crisis over the last twenty years.

The book has 57 pages of footnotes, some of them quite long and in small print. The notes have some of the technical legal and financial material left out of the narrative. We can almost hear the discussion with her editor of her target audience. That’s too technical for a general audience; put it in a footnote. She did.

By the end of the book I am comfortable that Elizabeth Warren will never be the cynical politician, or for that matter, the cynical Democrat, who talks a good game and sells out behind closed doors. She might lose a fight but not her work to have what is ethical and fair minded, and to end what is not.

One of her stories was about a congressman who spoke to Warren about some of his constituents who got swindled by the rogues and scoundrels sprinkled around the financial world. Then he said “if he stood up for the families who’d been hurt, he could find himself sidelined in Congress by the leadership of his own party.” Well, that will not happen with Senator Warren.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Healthy Families Act

President Obama and the Healthy Families Act

President Obama called on Congress to approve the Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee seven days of paid sick leave. He also announced a “Modernizing Federal Leave Policies for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care to Recruit and Retain Talent and Improve Productivity.” A brief discussion in the Washington Post [“Federal Workers Get Expanded Sick Leave”, WP, 1/16/2015] called that borrowing sick leave earned from the future. Apparently Federal supervisors can allow that already but now they cannot turn it down.

Sick Leave

The United States is the only country among developed countries that does not guarantee any paid sick days. American workers can be fired for absence from work for illness, whether its something as simple as the flu or whether it’s something that goes on for months. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employer to allow unpaid leave, but only those employers with more than 50 employees and only for the employees who have worked more than half time for the last twelve months. Allow really means unpaid time off without being subject to dismissal at the whim of their employer.

Not having paid sick leave pressures the sick to be at work where they can spread their germs around. Sick restaurant workers cough on your dinner or sick children spread contagious diseases around the daycare when parents cannot afford to take leave. Sick people are less productive. Some countries require employers to cover salaries when people are out sick while others have social insurance where the government pays fixed or sick leave salaries determined by formula. Some have a combination.

The Center for Economic Policy Research reported sick leave for 21 developed countries in Europe and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Sick leave in these countries is national policy with sick pay financing, maximum amounts, and waiting periods set for all employers. A number of countries guarantee sick pay for long periods. Norway guarantees 52 weeks at full pay, Luxembourg 11 weeks, Austria 8 weeks, Germany 6 weeks, Denmark 4 weeks, Switzerland 3 weeks, Greece 2 weeks. None of these countries have waiting periods to start benefits.

Finland has 9 days of sick leave at full pay financed by the employer, but in a continued illness employees get 300 days of additional sick pay over a two year period at a rate of pay figured as 70 percent of earnings divided by 300. The rate is adjusted for high earners to be 40 percent and the whole expense is 100 percent funded by social insurance.

Germany has 6 weeks of sick leave at full pay financed by the employer funds, but in a continued illness employees get 78 weeks of additional sick pay over a three year period up to a maximum of 90 percent of regular pay. It is 70 percent funded through social insurance.

The United States has nothing, although a few states and cities have paid sick leave requirements. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that Connecticut was the first state to require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, with a law enacted in 2011. California was next and Massachusetts third.

Common conditions in these statutes require a dollar of paid sick leave for every thirty hours of work with payment that begins on the eighth day of illness in California. Connecticut and Massachusetts use forty hours. San Francisco and Oakland, California, Washington, DC, Seattle, Washington, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, New York City, and Newark and six other New Jersey towns have some paid sick leave. Wisconsin does not require paid sick leave and reports are that Governor Scott Walker signed a bill to prevent cities from adopting their own paid sick leave proposals.

Family Leave Policies

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, already mentioned, also applies for a spouse, natural or adopted child or a parent, but still as an unpaid requirement. Since both partners in a marriage are eligible their combined leave could be 24 weeks. As with unpaid sick leave the law applies to those in their current employment for at least one year and who work at an establishment with at least 50 employees.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports twelve states with there own unpaid family leave laws but only three states – California, Connecticut, Massachusetts – have paid family leave statutes. All three states fund their programs through employee-paid payroll taxes with administration through their respective disability programs. The California program was first to take effect July 1, 2004. Recent review shows nearly 90 percent of benefits go to new mothers who take time to be with newborn children.

Holiday and Vacation Policies

The United States remains unique among developed countries by refusing to guarantee any paid holidays or any paid vacation. Austria and Portugal lead with 13 paid holidays, Spain has 12, Italy has 11, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand have 10, Canada and Ireland 9, Australia 8, but the United States has none. There are currently ten Federal holidays for Federal workers, but private employers can do as they please.

The Center for Economic Policy Research reports France is the leader in paid vacation with 30 days guaranteed. Great Britain is next with 28 days followed by Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden with 25. Germany guarantees 24, Austria, Portugal, Spain guarantees 22. Eight countries guarantee 20 days: Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Greece, Netherlands, Switzerland. Canada and Japan guarantee 10 days, but the United States has none. Private employers can do as they please.

The U.S. Private Sector

The United States primarily relies on private business to decide employee benefits where other countries regard them as a national decision to be decided through the political process. Without a Congressional or legislative mandate sick leave, family leave, holiday and vacation pay become part of an employers job offer and a source of labor market strategy and competition.

The 2012 results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey report 61 percent of private sector employers have paid sick leave and 11 percent offer paid family leave to take care of a spouse, parents or children. Of the 61 percent with paid sick leave 76 percent have between 1 and 9 days, lower than most of the countries reported above.

However, paid sick leave and paid family leave drop off for part time employees. Only 23 percent have paid sick leave and 4 percent paid family leave. Paid sick leave and family leave also varies by industry. The leisure and hospitality industry with arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food service establishments has the lowest paid sick and family leave coverage among United States industries. The National Compensation Survey reports only 27 percent have paid sick leave and 3 percent paid family leave.

Paid sick leave and family leave also vary by firm size. Only 50 percent of firms with 1 to 49 employees have paid sick leave while 82 percent of firms with more than 500 employees have paid sick leave. Only 7 percent of firms with 1 to 49 employees have paid family leave while 20 percent of firms with more than 500 employees have paid family leave.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a similar pattern for paid holidays and vacation time, but with higher percentages. The National Compensation Survey report 77 percent have some paid holidays and 77 percent have some paid vacation. Only 42 percent of firms allow all 10 federal holidays.

However, paid holidays and paid vacation also drop off for part time employees. Only 40 percent have paid holidays and 35 percent paid vacation. Paid holidays and vacations also vary by industry. The leisure and hospitality industry with arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food service establishments has the lowest paid holiday and vacation coverage among United States industries. The National Compensation Survey reports only 38 percent have paid holidays and 46 percent paid vacation.

Only 69 percent of firms with 1 to 49 employees have paid holidays while 91 percent of firms with more than 500 employees have paid holidays. Only 67 percent of firms with 1 to 49 employees have paid vacation while 90 percent of firms with more than 500 employees have paid vacation.

The varied employment benefits offered in the private sector suggests they are high or low depending on the same market conditions that affect wages. For example, the food service industry, mostly restaurants, pays among the lowest wages and also has the lowest benefits. Part time work does not often pay as well as full time work and it also has substantially lower benefits. Unequal benefits contribute further to inequality of income and wealth.

Company benefits make it harder to compare pay packages between firms and may allow firms with better benefits to keep employees from leaving for higher wage offers. Company benefits can also be adjusted to improve with years of service. Vacations often work this way. The National Compensation Survey reports that only 20 percent of private sector firms have 3 weeks or more of vacation after one year of service while 76 percent have 3 weeks or more after 10 years of service. Moving to another job will be less attractive if it is necessary to start over in vacation days.

President Obama’s proposal comes after six years in office and compared to other countries it is very modest. The Healthy Families Act he supports only applies to employers with more than 15 employers where paid sick days accumulate by 1 day for each 30 days on the job up to a maximum of 56 hours.

There is another proposed law not mentioned in the Washington Post article: the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, sometimes called the Family Act. It would allow up to 12 weeks of leave with partial income payment of 66 percent of monthly wages capped at a maximum amount. Payments would be financed with a payroll charge of twenty cents per $100 of wages. It is also a modest proposal.

These new proposals come at a time when new forms of competition pressure firms to reduce or eliminate employment benefits, especially for the service industry. The higher productivity that is possible using smart phones and GPS communications pressures companies with older traditional forms of employment to imitate or go broke. For example, companies like Uber offer taxi services through Uber’s centralized communications network, but drivers provide their own car and manage their own work and time as independent entrepreneurs. The new business model eliminates key conditions that define employment or to apply the requirement for employers to pay social security payroll taxes. Similar service arrangements are spreading to short term rental housing like Airbnb, or home repairs like Taskrabbit and home services like Homejoy.

The Health Families Act is a start, but it looks too much like too little too late.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jobs in Technical Writing

Standard Occupational Classification #27-3042 Technical Writers

SOC definition Technical Writers #27-3042 -- Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instruction manuals. Many assist in layout work. Examples of other common names are documentation writer, assembly instructions writer, specifications writer

Technical writing work is classified as a media and communications occupation with the largest share working in the professional and technical services industries, almost 36 percent of the jobs. Among the professional services computer systems design and related services has 18 percent of the jobs, but other professional services like architectural and engineering services, management and scientific and technical consulting services also employ a large number.

Another 16 percent are in various manufacturing industries that need owner’s manuals and repair manuals to go with manufactured products. Computer and electronic product manufacturing has 6 percent of these jobs alone with small percents scattered in many manufacturing industries.

The publishing industry employs a little over 8 percent with 5 percent working for software publishers. Government employs 3.4 percent; 2.5 percent in the federal government. The rest are scattered as small percents in many industries because finance, health care and so many industries need to explain technical material. A little over 9 percent are self employed.

National employment as technical writers was 47,300 in 2013. Jobs are down from 50,700 since 2000 in a modest decline. Annual average job decline was 262 per year since 2000 at a growth rate of -.53 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting job growth for technical writers of 280 per year through 2022 with a growth rate of 2.07 percent a year.

Job openings make a better measure of new hiring than job growth. Job openings are job growth and the number of net replacements. Net replacements are people who permanently leave an occupation for another occupation or retirement and must be replaced before there can be job growth. Job openings for technical writers are forecast to be 2,260 a year through 2022.

The recently updated BLS Education and Training Classification assignments lists BA degree skills as necessary for entry into jobs as technical writers. However, percentages from survey data are published for technical writing that show an educational distribution where 47 percent have a BA degree and another 26 percent have advanced degrees. Another 21 percent have some college, but no degree, or an associate’s degree. Some specialized knowledge or experience may be satisfactory in some industries, but less than 6 percent who work as technical writers have high school or less than high school training. Previous experience of 1 to 5 years is considered important, but short term on-the-job training is expected for new hires.

Relevant BA degree programs include Professional, Technical, Business and Scientific Writing, English Language and Literature, General and also Journalism degrees that teach writing as a career. For those interested in technical writing it is wise to find a college that offers the Technical Writing specialty in that only a few actually specialize in technical writing.

There were 685 Professional, Technical, Business and Scientific Writing BA degrees for the last full year of data reported by the Department of Education. In addition, there were 363 more advanced degrees. The ratio of relevant degrees to openings equals 0.464, or 1,048/2,260, assuring a shortage of highly trained and specialized candidates to fill job openings. There were also 43,260 BA degrees in English Language and Literature, General, and 12,249 BA degrees in journalism. Even though these degrees are not as specialized to technical writing, Professional, Technical, Business and Scientific Writing degree candidates should expect other qualified candidates in the applicant pool.

The entry wage for the national market in the 10th percentile for technical writers is reported as $40,270 in 2013. The 25th percentile wage equals $51,850. The median wage is $67,900, the 75th percentile wage equals $86,340 and the 90th percentile wage is $105,760.

The wages of technical writers have kept up with inflation for the last decade. For example, to have the buying power of the 2006 median wage of $58,050 in 2013, the technical writers wage would need to be $67,079.11. In stead it was $67,900, a 1.22 percent increase in the real wage for those six years.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Death's Door

Steve Lehto, Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913, (Detroit: Momentum Books, 1913) second edition, 397 pages

Steve Lehto first published Death’s Door in 2006. It includes a detailed account and review of evidence from a panic at a Christmas Eve party attended by children and parents of striking copper miners in Keweenaw, Michigan. The panic that took place on the second floor of Italian Hall in Calumet resulted in the death of 73, mostly children. The title Death’s Door derives from the pileup and suffocation of victims toward the bottom of the stairwell in front of the exit door. The book includes narrative history of the Keweenaw copper strike of 1913-14, which is necessary to understand the events at Italian Hall and the claims and charges in the aftermath.

The second edition published in 2013 added new material as the hundredth anniversary of the strike approached. It takes up old controversies that still remain and some new ones that recently surfaced in other books and accounts.

The discussion of the Christmas party comes as a brief version of events in the Introduction, then again in more detail in a chapter also titled Death’s Door, actually Chapter 7, although the book’s sixteen chapters are not numbered. The next chapter narrates several days after and the short chapter fifteen titled “What Actually Happened” provides further discussion and Lehto’s conclusions about the panic at Death’s Door.

The Western Federation of Miners strike in the copper mines of Keweenaw began July 22, 1913 and did not end until April 1914. Sketches of the local community, the mining companies and business groups, the union, and some biographical material of general managers, and other officials fill chapter 2. Chapter 3 narrates the strike from the beginning into mid August, a period that included picketing and parades, the governor mobilizing the National Guard, and the county sheriff deputizing hundreds of strike breakers and vigilantes. The rest of the events of the strike including Italian Hall are scattered in chapters four through ten.

Narrative in the first ten chapters takes several detours to examine specific events that occurred during the strike. For example, chapter four takes sixty pages to discuss the legal record in a brutal attack and shootings by private detectives and sheriffs deputies that occurred August 14 at a boardinghouse full of miners in Seeberville. Discussion of the Seeberville shootings and other violent events like the Italian Hall panic benefit from Lehto’s experience as a Michigan attorney. In each of several other episodes and the Italian Hall panic he reviews and evaluates the legal evidence with a microscope: arrest warrants, transcripts of testimony of preliminary examinations, coroner’s inquests, and trials.

After the hardships of nearly six months on strike miners planned a large Christmas Eve Party at Italian hall for union members and their families. After the party was well underway a man entered the hall, climbed the stairs and shouted “fire” into a room stuffed with 700 hundred people, which caused the panic and death already mentioned. Accounts of what happened varied dramatically depending on who told the story. Striking miners identified the man from a business group known as the Citizens Alliance; mining companies and the newspapers had other stories and supplied other explanations.

Chapter 8 has a thorough review of newspaper reports; chapter 9 covers the archival record of officials like the county sheriff, his deputies, the prosecutor and coroner; and chapter 10 reviews testimony at hearings of a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee sent to Keweenaw to investigate the strike and Italian Hall. Transcripts of official proceedings, especially the coroner’s inquest remain, which allows an evaluation of established legal procedures with the record of events that took place in 1913.

Lehto concludes the misconduct of mine owners with their cozy relationships with law enforcement officers and government officials made them co-conspirators and accomplices to crimes. He writes a strikebreaker named Edward Manley entered Italian hall, cried “fire” and ran out. While it is likely that Manley only wanted to create a disturbance and disrupt miner solidarity, his intentional actions killed 73 people.

Lehto’s views in the first edition published in 2006 got more controversial as the 100th anniversary approached and other accounts and views were discussed and published. More recent explanations have cast the mine owners in a more benevolent light suggesting what occurred at Italian Hall was a tragic accident the cause of which cannot be solved. The remaining six chapters address these controversies as individual topics.

Chapter 11, entitled Lingering Controversies, challenges five of the revisionist views such as the suggestion the exit doors opened inward and that was a cause of the tragedy. Italian Hall was torn down in 1984 and the State of Michigan authorized an historical marker at the site dedicated in November 1989, which allowed these revisionist views, but there are other points in contention reviewed in this chapter.

In the next chapter readers find out about a 2012 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council to Michigan Technological University in Keweenaw to create an exhibit on the strike entitled, Tumult and Tragedy. The authors of Tumult and Tragedy also published a revisionist book about the strike and the Italian Hall panic entitled, Community in Conflict. In the book they specifically attack Lehto’s work and so he devoted a chapter to review their book and reply to these attacks.

A few more short chapters reiterate conclusions to finish the book. The book reads as a mixture of historical narrative, legal analysis and journalism. The writing flows along easily, but the material does not always follow an obvious line of organization and so it sometimes feels jumbled. One aside, Lehto started over a hundred sentences with the word, interestingly, which got to be an amusing bit of surplusage. An insert of 36 pages of pictures and drawings of the floor plans of the Italian Hall adds a significant benefit to the book. It does not have numbered footnotes but a list of unnumbered footnotes at the end organized only by chapter heading, which makes it harder to find citations. There is no index, a serious shortcoming in my view.

The period of 1910 to early 1920’s is a period of vicious and violent attacks on organized labor throughout the United States and especially the Western Federation of Miners. WFM president Charles Moyer had a long career as a labor organizer in the western United States when he arrived to help in the Keweenaw strike. Out west he was frequently attacked, beaten, kidnapped and once acquitted in a long murder trial in Idaho that resulted from perjured testimony.

He arrived in Calumet at the time of the Christmas Eve party. After the Citizens Alliance decided to donate funds to families of victims of Italian Hall, the families and union President Moyer refused the money as inappropriate given events of the strike. Alliance members were enraged and the county sheriff and several Alliance members confronted Moyer at his hotel room. When he again refused their money they threatened him. The sheriff left but within minutes twenty men bashed down his door and physically attacked him. During the beating a hand gun went off and the bullet hit Moyer in the shoulder. Wounded and bleeding the gang dragged him to the train station and forcibly deported him to Chicago; no one was ever prosecuted.

The Moyer shooting and kidnapping and other shootings during the strike were committed by men paid by the mine owners. All of those killed were strikers. These known and admitted facts in the case along with Lehto’s careful examination of the written evidence refute the revisionist views. The Keweenaw copper strike was like strikes all over the country where organized labor and the working class struggled in divided communities to cope with the bitter opposition of business and their supporters among the well-to-do and middle class. Be assured Death’s Door is the definitive source for the Keweenaw copper strike of 1913.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Michigan Jobs 2014-2015

Michigan reached a monthly average high of 4.68 million establishment jobs way back in 2000, followed by a long slide to a low of 3.86 million jobs in 2010, a decline of 813 thousand jobs over the decade. Job growth returned in 2011 until average monthly employment reached 4.11 million in 2013, an increase of 241 thousand jobs over the three year period. Jobs are up for the first 9 months of 2014, but at a slower pace of increase with only 12.9 thousand new jobs for the new year.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder took office January 1, 2011 and after the 2014 election will continue until the end of 2018. His first three years in office included a significant improvement on jobs where 241 thousand new jobs equals an annual growth rate of 2.04 percent, higher than the national job growth rate and higher than the growth rate of forty-five of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. His re-election to a new term gives a good chance to make a mid-term assessment on jobs.


Michigan lost 422.6 thousand manufacturing jobs from 2000 through 2010 about 52 percent of the statewide decline in jobs. From 2010 to 2013 manufacturing employment increased from 474 thousand to 555 thousand, an increase of 81 thousand, or a third of the statewide increase in establishment jobs. The Michigan increase in manufacturing jobs was higher than any other state, even the five states that have higher non-farm employment than Michigan. As of 2013 manufacturing has 13.5 percent of statewide establishment employment compared to the national average of 8.8 percent.

Share Reversals – From Decrease to Increase

Manufacturing was part of the job reversals from 2010 to 2013. However, all three of the goods production industries, natural resource, construction and manufacturing, reversed from decreasing between 2000 and 2010 to increasing from 2010 to 2013. Goods production declined by 8.24 percent of statewide jobs over the decade ending 2010, but increased by 1.33 percent in the three years ending 2013.

Professional and business services are another group of industries that reversed direction in 2010 from a declining share to an increasing share of Michigan jobs. The professional and technical services component of these services have jobs in law, accounting, architecture, engineering, computer design, management consulting, scientific research, advertising, and veterinary services. Professional jobs were up from 222.8 thousand in 2010 to 260.7 thousand in 2013, an increase of 37.3 thousand jobs. The new jobs were up enough to raise their share of Michigan jobs by .57 percent to 6.3 percent by 2013, reversing a small decline from 2000 to 2010.

The administrative and support services component of professional and business services includes office and facilities support services, employment services, travel agencies, security services, and services to buildings and grounds. Administrative and support jobs were up from 242 thousand in 2010 to 284 thousand in 2013, an increase of 42 thousand jobs. The increase was enough over the three years to raise their share of Michigan jobs by .65 percent to 6.9 percent.

Percentage Share Reversals – From Increase to Decrease

When some industries have higher percent others must have a lower percentage, which guarantees other industries lost jobs or did not have enough new jobs to maintain their share of Michigan jobs. Job growth in health care, government and education faltered after 2010 even though these industries helped sustain Michigan employment with more jobs from 2000 to 2010.

Health care employment was up from 9.6 percent in 2000 to 13.8 percent of statewide employment in 2010, an increase of 4.2 percent, but health care lost a .11 percent of Michigan jobs by 2013. Government service including education dropped 1.85 percent of statewide employment from 2010 to 2013. The decrease includes a .96 percent drop in jobs for the public schools and universities.

Private school education also declined from 1.9 percent of statewide employment to 1.8 percent from 2010 to 2013. Combined public and private education was up by 1.7 percent to 10.5 percent of statewide employment in 2010, but after 2010 jobs dropped from 406 thousand to 384 thousand with a loss of 1.1 percent of statewide employment.

The New Direction

The new direction shows up primarily with an expansion of goods production, especially manufacturing, and professional and business services in exchange for less government services, health care, and education. Combined goods production and business and professional services increased from 27.6 percent of statewide employment to 30.2 percent in just three years. The combination of government services, education, and health care decreased from 32.3 percent of statewide Michigan employment to 30.1 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Jobs usually figure in elections. If that is true in the 2014 Michigan election then 2010 to 2013 job growth undoubtedly translated into positive votes for Governor Snyder. Job growth justifies his claim that Michigan’s job outlook improved during his first term.

If new jobs are a goal for newly elected politicians the safest strategy is to work for new jobs in all sectors of the economy. The Michigan mix of new jobs has a political component because the governor has taken steps to increase jobs in the private sector as he pressed for a reduction in government services, which have decreased jobs in government and education.

Lagging Service Sectors and Productivity

The expanded use of computers and digital technologies raises productivity and slows the growth of jobs across service industry sectors that make up a large share of Michigan jobs. For example, wholesale and retail trade made up almost 16 percent of jobs in 2000, but barely 15 percent now.

Productivity has also slowed the growth of other service industries like newspapers, broadcasting, phone services, and in financial services like banking, lending, insurance and real estate as America slowly shift to a paperless economy. Combined these sectors continue to have 21.3 percent of statewide employment but their slow growth, and sometimes decline, makes them an unlikely source for significant increase in the future.

Other small sectors like repair and maintenance services, transportation, utilities, arts-entertainment-recreation including gambling, accommodations including casino hotels, personal services and non-profit associations have small shares with a combined 9.4 percent of statewide employment in 2013, down about .15 percent from 2010. Gambling employment dropped a few hundred jobs to 7 thousand statewide jobs.

Government and education including private schools have 16.4 percent of statewide employment as of 2013, off 39 thousand jobs in the last three years. These remain an unlikely source of new jobs in the current political climate.

Restaurants reached their highest statewide employment in 2006 with 352.3 thousand jobs, but with moderate ups and downs it is 350 thousand in 2013 with 7.5 percent of statewide employment. The job changes over the last decade do not suggest restaurants will be a major source of future jobs, but it has been adding about 7 thousand jobs a year recently and may continue.

Health Care and Professional and Business Services

The combined total of the above service sector jobs comes to 54.6 percent, which leaves 45.3 percent of the remaining sectors as the most likely source of new Michigan jobs. Remaining sectors include health care with 13.7 percent of Michigan establishment jobs, professional and business services with 14.7 percent and goods production with 16.9 percent.

Michigan needs 80 to 90 thousand new jobs a year to sustain the growth of the last three years. Major sectors like trade and information services continue to lose percentage share and now education and government services are down for political reasons, which makes it essential to have replacement jobs from other sectors. To keep the job mill going health care, professional and business services, and goods production needs to grow a little faster than the statewide average to increase their share of jobs.

Michigan health care employment increased between 8 and 9 thousand jobs a year from 2000 to 2013, but the rate of increase has fallen below the statewide growth rate for the last three years. The pace of new jobs needs to increase so that Michigan adds 12 to 13 thousand health care jobs a year, which will help make up for other slow growth sectors. Michigan health care employment has 13.7 percent of statewide employment compared to 13 percent in the national economy, but it will be difficult for Michigan to meet its job needs unless it continues at 13.7 percent or ticks up toward 14 percent.

Professional and business services employment, which recall has the combination of professional and technical services, managerial establishments, and business support services, reached a statewide high in 2000 with 641 thousand jobs. It declined to a low of 501 thousand by 2009. Jobs started to increase the year before Governor Snyder was elected but has continued to increase to the present. The monthly average in 2013 was 602 thousand jobs.

Michigan professional and business services jobs were up between 32 and 35 thousand a years in the four year period. Except for legal services growth rates in these industries exceeded the statewide growth rate, often at double and sometimes at triple the statewide rate. Michigan already has 14.7 percent of its statewide employment in these industries when the national average is 13.6 percent, making it unrealistic to expect the pace to continue, but Michigan needs 20 to 25 thousand of these new jobs to keep pace for continued growth around 2 percent a year.

Goods Production

Goods production also reached a high in 2000 with 1.12 million jobs, but declined to a low of 597.6 thousand in 2009. Jobs started to recover before Governor Snyder took office, but 93 of the 98 thousand new goods production jobs came after he was in office.

Natural resources and mining was up a thousand jobs and construction was up 4 thousand jobs over the three years. While up is better than down both sectors have small shares of Michigan jobs. In the national economy natural resources employment is .64 percent, but in the Michigan economy it is only .2 percent. Natural resources has not added more than a thousand jobs a year in natural resources going back to 1990.

Construction jobs increased by 11 thousand to 132 thousand in the three years since 2010. Michigan has construction employment equal to 3.2 percent of statewide employment compared to the national economy where it is 4.3 percent. Construction needs just 3 thousand new jobs a year to keep pace with the current statewide growth rate. A good economy should be able to increase it to 5 or 6 thousand a year.

Motor Vehicles

That leaves manufacturing, the most uncertain variable in Michigan jobs. The Michigan increase in manufacturing jobs came primarily in motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts manufacturing with 36 thousand of the 81 thousand manufacturing increase. Another 29 thousand of the manufacturing jobs were in auto related primary metals, fabricated metals, and machinery manufacturing. Combined these auto related industries make up 80 percent of the Michigan manufacturing increase.

In spite of the national decline in manufacturing after 2000 and the national decline of more than a 100 thousand jobs in automobile manufacturing in the same period, Michigan still has more motor vehicle manufacturing jobs than any other state. In 2012, it had 39.1 thousand jobs making complete vehicles or the chassis and frame, which was 23.4 percent of national employment in this industry; in 2013 it was up to 42.4 thousand jobs, which was up to 23.8 percent of complete vehicle, chassis and frame manufacturing. Second place Ohio had barely 20 thousand of these jobs.

Michigan ranks sixth in motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing with 6 thousand jobs, but this is the smallest segment of the industry.

Michgian is first in the biggest segment of the industry: motor vehicle parts manufacturing. Employment here was 109.7 thousand jobs in 2013, which was 21.6 percent of the national employment. Ohio was second again with 63.6 thousand jobs.

From 2012 to 2013 jobs in the three component motor vehicle industries added 42.8 thousand jobs in nationwide employment. Michigan had 10.9 thousand of the new jobs, or just over 25 percent of them. It was more than any other state. Since five states had a decrease in motor vehicle manufacturing employment, and 13 states had a decrease in auto parts manufacturing employment, Michigan is clearly making gains in competition with other states in motor vehicle manufacturing.

The benefits of job gains depend partly on wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics now publishes wage distributions by state, by industry and by occupation. Production occupations make up 60 to 66 percent of jobs in motor vehicle manufacturing including assembly and parts manufacturing. The Michigan median wage for production workers in motor vehicle manufacturing was $22.92 in 2012 and was up to $23.69 in 2013. Wages were up as employment was up from 21,540 in 2012 to 31,450 in 2013.

For Michigan production workers in motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing in 2012 the median wage was $17.64 but was down to $15.27 in 2013. Employment here is low with only 2,640 jobs in 2012 and 2,680 in 2013.

For Michigan production workers in motor vehicle parts manufacturing in 2012 the median wage was $19.67 but was down to $17.09 in 2013. Wages were down as employment was up from 56,910 in 2012 to 61,290 in 2013. However, the wage bill (wage x employment) dropped for production workers who had less wage income to put into the Michigan economy.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data allows comparison between Michigan and other states. Production occupations for motor vehicle manufacturing in 2013 exceed 1,000 jobs in 10 states, but seven of those states report median wages higher than Michigan and two states with median wages below Michigan.

Production occupations for motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing exceed 1,000 jobs in 26 states, but nine states report median wages higher than Michigan and sixteen states have median wages below Michigan.

Production occupations for motor vehicle parts manufacturing exceed 1,000 jobs in 28 states, but three states report median wages higher than Michigan and 24 states have median wages below Michigan.

A Cautious Future

Michigan needs at least 80 thousand new jobs a year to meet statewide employment needs. The job shifts over the last three to four years make Michigan more dependent on selling exports to other states or countries and therefore more vulnerable to job losses in an economic downturn. Through the first 9 months of 2014 manufacturing is up 8.9 thousand jobs out of a statewide increase of 12.9 thousand. Motor vehicle and motor vehicle related manufacturing in fabricated metals and machinery manufacturing were up 9.1 thousand in the same period, which means other manufacturing industries have a net decline in jobs.

The narrow advance of jobs in the three industries motor vehicle manufacturing, professional services expect legal services, and employment services makes a future forecast hard to make. In the first 9 months of 2014 retail trade, financial services, education, health care, accommodations, repair and maintenance services, personal services, non-profit associations, and federal, state and local government all had small job losses. Michigan has a better outlook on jobs than it did in 2009 and 2010, but it needs a broader advance across more industries to be optimistic it will continue.