Monday, June 1, 2020
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Is the Recession Really Over

Your answer might depend on government data, or your answer might depend on what you see, when you look around. In many cases, these do not agree at all.

If you own stock and bonds, the answer is affirmative. Just check out the results from Wall Street.

For the rest of us, the answer is no.

There is more than one piece of official data, although the one seized upon by the press is called U-3, shown below. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can only give us what it has. We are now closing in on the 6th anniversary of "the crash," made far worse by the near refusal of the government to do anything to stimulate employment, except on Wall Street, and by the insane implementation of "austerity," except of course for people with money, accompanied by shame and blame of everyone who lost out.

Happy Days might be here again for banksters and Wall Street, but on Main Street, the situation is very different. Six years in on this never-ending awful recession and I can guarantee you - no matter what the Feds say - there never has been a recovery for a lot of people, decent, hard-working people who have worked and saved and contributed to the social good every day of their lives.

All you have to do is to dig past the homogenized pabulum fed to you by the press. I am unable to upload the BLS table, but here is the link:


And here are the notes:

NOTE: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for
not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

U-3 Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force or "Official Unemployment Rate"  is currently at 6.2 percent, down from 7.7 percent a year ago, but nothing to cheer about. This is the one you hear and read about.

But what about all the others didn't get counted in the "official" rate?  These people burned through their unemployment, savings, sold their homes nd pulled every penny out of their savings and IRAs, and are now reduced literally to charity food banks and figuratively to eating cat food heated over Sterno.

They were doing this in the dark because they could no longer afford candles.

These people made good choices and in many cases worked all their lives.

Are they all lazy, shiftless, bums, as some of what passes for our solons frequently claim, usually accompanied by demands that we eliminate unemployment insurance, eliminate the minimum wage, and repeal the ACA?

I do not think so. These include a lot of people who worked hard, paid taxes, and played by the rules who are now considered, because they can't find a job, to be less than garbage. They include the others who

* Have exhausted their unemployment benefits;
* Are working less than full time because they cannot get full time employment;
* Have given up looking, because there are no jobs;
* Have aged into Social Security Status; or
* Have acquired Social Security Disability Insurance.

The BLS has only recently added unemployed military veterans to the list.

When you add all of them in the true unemployment number is a whopping 12.2 percent,  who want (or used to want) jobs that they cannot get, or no longer can physically do.

If you were young when the crash came, you may not have ever been able to find a job that matches your skills.

If you were in your  40s when the market tanked, you may never recover, even if you find those on call, minimum wage, zero hours guaranteed, no benefits jobs and work until the day they drop dead.

If you were in your 50's when the crash came, you stood-in a two income, no kids left at home, no pressing medical problems-a fair chance of at least surviving until you reached minimum social security age.

Many people who were hale and hearty seven years ago - including your author-no longer are.

The final degrading choice is between lying, or exaggerating at the margins about an all too real disability, or starving.

Some choice. As a nation, we ought to be ashamed.  We have lost the capacity to even admit we're ashamed at not being ashamed.  

Top 10 Virginia Political Blogs in Terms of Traffic: May 2011

Starting now, this will be a monthly feature on Blue Virginia, providing the most accurate traffic statistics rankings possible for the Virginia political blogosphere (not counting corporate media or politicians' blogs). Based on Sitemeter statistics, for those Virginia blogs which show them publicly (at least a couple have Sitemeters, but oddly don't show the results publicly), the top Virginia political blogs in May (in terms of traffic to their sites) were:

1. Blue Virginia: 47,587 visits (NOTE: Blue Virginia also has 740 Twitter followers, plus I have 1,333 Twitter followers and 809 Facebook friends)
Not Larry Sabato: 45,782 visits (NOTE: NLS also has 3,504 Twitter followers and 1,058 Facebook friends)
3. Bearing Drift: 34,066 visits (NOTE: JR Hoeft has 520 Twitter followers and Brian Kirwin has 253 Twitter followers)
4. Moonhowlings: 22,619 visits
5. BVBL: 18,464 visits (NOTE: Greg Letieq has 50 Twitter followers)
6. NOVA Townhall: 12,225 visits
7. NOVA Commonsense: 7,621 visits (NOTE: Brian Schoeneman has 380 Twitter followers)
8. The Green Miles: 3,988 visits (NOTE: Miles also has 2,866 Twitter followers and 1,472 Facebook friends)
9. The Richmonder: 2,703 visits (NOTE: The Richmonder has 50 Facebook fans and JC Wilmore has 305 Facebook friends)
10. Red NOVA: 1,567 visits

Now, if we could just get Sitemeter stats for a few others, particularly Too Conservative (my guess is that they'd be in the BVBL/Moonhowlings range, maybe a bit higher) and Vivian Paige (based on the # of blog posts and local focus, I'd guess the middle of the pack somewhere, but hard to say), we'd have a pretty comprehensive idea of the major political blogs (not counting corporate media or politicians' blogs) in Virginia.

P.S. As we've discussed, Technorati and Alexa are almost completely unreliable proxies for "traffic." They also have other serious problems which make them essentially unusable for the purpose of tracking blog traffic. What I'd urge is for every Virginia political to get Sitemeter or Google Analytics and display the stats publicly. Then, we can all compare "apples to apples" and get as accurate a read of the most "popular" Virginia political blogs as possible.

P.P.S. Waldo Jaquith hasn't been blogging much for the past couple years, but his blog used to be (back in 2005, for instance) the leading progressive blog in Virginia in terms of influence, by almost all accounts. However, Waldo never displayed a public Sitemeter, so I have no idea how much traffic he received.