Where Middle Class America Has Gone « Modeled Behavior: The long term trend in goods and government vs. everything else I think also shows part of what has happened to the American middle class. Goods and Government are what we might have thought about as backbone jobs. These are police officers, fire fighters, school teachers, factory workers, construction workers. When you think of a stereotypical 1950s American, they are doing one of these jobs. And, in the 1950s half of Americans were employed in these sectors. Yet, since then the labor market has radically shifted.
Notice these two are plotted on the same axis so from 1939 to 1965 – not including the war boom – goods and government was roughly half of the nonfarm labor force. Then a rapid falling off. One thing I hadn’t considered but is probably true is that goods (via the magic of boxes) and government via transfers between jurisdictions, is not as dependent on urbanization as the rest of the economy. This probably supported the stagnation in land rents that occurred over this period, which also supported real wages.
Anatomy of a Recession and a Recovery « Modeled Behavior: The following chart I have found useful in analyzing the baseline for this entire recession and seeing past lots of what I would consider noise about the causes and consequences. Here I basically split the labor market into two parts: Goods and Government and everything else.
Everything else hit a wall in 2008 but as you can see it was a nice natural V. It was not even the job-less U of 2000. And since the beginning of 2010 everything else has been growing just as fast as the last recovery. As we moved into 2012 job growth seems to be speeding up faster than anything we saw last time around.
The difference this time was goods and government. To cut it down to the micro-level I like we are largely talking about construction workers, metal and automotive workers, and school teachers. These workers are massively influenced by credit constraints. One cannot build a building without credit. One cannot buy a vehicle without credit and state and local governments have very little credit room by statute. So what we need for job growth to really hit its stride is for construction to comeback, cars to comeback and school teachers to come back.
The process is well on its way with cars, though could be derailed. Construction is building and my best guess is that school teachers will start to be rehired in about 12 – 18 months. Though again because these sectors respond so much to liquidity the job recovery is still fragile.