Updated, Friday at 8:35am ET: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported domestic employers added 192,000 to non-farm payrolls in the month of March, leaving the current unemployment rate at about 6.7 percent.
The numbers are considered an important way to check on the nation’s economic vital signs. A couple things we looked for on Friday:
Was it the weather after all? December and January weren’t so hot... neither in temperature nor in jobs. Whereas in November we added 274,000 jobs, December we added 84,000, and in January we added 113,000 144,000. February wasn’t great either at 129,000 197,000 jobs created. [Strikethroughs represent the original BLS estimates, they revised their numbers in the March jobs report released Friday].
Many economists lay equal parts blame and hope at the feet of the cold weather. Having warmed up since January, we might expect to see a bounce upward in total non-farm payroll. If we don’t, there will be more reason to think that it wasn’t really the weather, but rather that our economy is sicklier than we’d imagined.
How close will we inch to the pre-recession jobs peak? It’s a target that looms in the distance of every jobs report these days. The pre-recession peak for total non-farm payroll employment was 138.365 million people (seasonally adjusted) back in January of 2008. In February of 2014, we were tentatively at 137.699 million people (seasonally adjusted) with fulltime jobs. So we have 666,000 more to go. We aren’t going to get that tomorrow, but it’s conceivable we might in three months or so. Something to think about.
I can’t go without saying, though, that the pre-recession jobs peak is a misleading reference point.
We shouldn’t be happy with the level of employment back in 2007 Because we’ve had lots of new people join the workforce. The Hamilton Project (affiliated with the Brookings Institute) keeps track of the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.
The date when they'll really catch up? The estimate is 2020.
Curators say they'll use the big grant from Boeing to better highlight how exploratory flight — from the Spirit of St. Louis to the Starship Enterprise — has transformed the world.
American companies announced fewer layoffs January to March than in any first quarter since 1995. Might that be a hint of good things to come in the month's big employment report that's on the way? We consult Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.
Also, when it comes to measuring the health of a country's economy, using the nation's Gross Domestic Product is often the barometer of choice. But as more dollars change hands, why aren't the outcomes always better? There's a new listing of 132 countries that uses 54 different indicators that together measure how well a country is doing in giving its citizens good lives. It's called the Social Progress Index. Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, says that although GDP is important, it doesn't tell the whole story.Marketplace Morning Report for Thursday April 3, 2014by David BrancaccioPodcast Title: PODCAST: Fewest first quarter layoffs since 1995Syndication: All in onePMPApp Respond: No
People walk by a Citibank office in midtown Manhattan in New York City.
If you’ve overdrawn your checking account lately, you may have noticed a jump in the penalty. A recent study from economic research firm Moebs Services says the median overdraft charge reached $30 last year—up from $29 the year before.
Banks say they’re trying to make up for lost revenue. Since 2010, customers have to opt in to overdraft plans, which let you buy that $4 latte even when you have just $2 in your account. That’s cut into the fees banks can collect. Moebs says people are also being more careful not to spend money they don’t have.Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014by Amy ScottPodcast Title: Overdraft fees hit a record Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No
Updated Thursday, April 3: So, as it turns out, the ongoing political tensions in Ukraine will impact things in space. According to a statement released Wednesday, NASA will suspend "the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation."
This does not however, include the operation of the International Space Station, which will continue. But travel to Russia, bilateral conferences, and email are all out the (space) window.
As noted below in the original article, NASA hopes to have rockets launched from U.S. soil by 2017. And this could serve as a wake-up call to Congress. According to the statement, "The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It's that simple."
The ongoing political tensions in Ukraine might be one of the biggest diplomatic crises on Earth, but could it affect people in space? Since the American-Russian space partnership is more entwined than ever, it’s something to consider.
Both countries depend on each other to operate in space: Russia uses America's communication services and electrical systems, and (along with 13 other countries) the U.S. and Russia operate the International Space Station. NASA is extremely reliant on Roscosmos (the Russian space agency). The U.S. uses a Russian-built rocket, the RD-180, to put most of its national security payloads into space.
Perhaps most importantly, NASA is not capable of getting Americans off Earth without Russia's involvement. Due to the 2010 retirement of the space shuttle, NASA has been paying Russia around $70 million per astronaut to fly Americans up to the International Space Station. It's conceivable that Russia could simply refuse to let Americans use their Soyuz spacecraft.
According to John Logsdon, a space policy expert who is a professor emeritus at George Washington University, that scenario isn't likely but "it's a possibility."
"I wouldn't rank it as a very high possibility, but the reality is, it is in Russia's ability to do that," Logsdon says.
If that unlikely scenario did happen, we could, Logsdon says, have to wait two years until another American was sent into space – via NASA's Commercial Crew Program, a collaboration between NASA and several spacecraft companies. The basic idea is for NASA to facilitate the development of several spacecraft capable of transporting humans to the space station, and then choose which one it wants to use.
Right now, SpaceX is building the Dragon, Boeing is building the CST 100, and Sierra Nevada is building the Dream Chaser. The plan, as it stands now, is to have one of these spacecraft take Americans to the ISS by the end of 2017.
But this timetable could be rushed, and one of the spacecraft might be able to take off sometime in 2016. This would involve either spending more money for frequent test flights or requiring fewer tests. And fewer tests would make the entire project riskier.
Still, Roscosmos's refusing to cooperate with NASA due to the Ukraine situation is not an expected outcome. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs expressed that Russia and America have had a long and fruitful partnership in space and emphasized that the partnership wasn't affected by diplomatic crises like the Georgian invasion of 2008.
"Congress even approved an extension of NASA's exemption from the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act during that time, which was needed for everything from acquiring Soyuz seats to the purchase of hardware for some of our commercial providers," Jacobs says.
NASA also managed to cooperate with the Russians during the height of the Cold War, which, as diplomatic crises go, was not a minor one.
Even so, the situation in Ukraine might be the wake-up call to what the U.S. government needs, according to some.
"This dependence on another country, and particularly a former and potentially future geopolitical rival, for things of extreme strategic importance to U.S., is completely unacceptable," says Logsdon.
Many see the situation as a consequence of the government's slashing of the budget for space travel, which has left the U.S. in an unenviable scenario, one that advocates say only a larger budget can fix. And this might have even greater ramifications on the future of space exploration.
"Right now the big players with the money and capabilities are the U.S., Russia, and China," says Brian Weeden, technical advisor to the Secure World Foundation. "Congress has already blocked any cooperation between the U.S. and China on space activities, and the politics behind that are unlikely to change soon. If Russia is now off the table as well, then that could be a serious blow to any major human spaceflight mission to the moon or Mars in the near future. I just don't see how the other countries will be able to afford it without contributions from either Russia or China."
A container ship is docked at the Port of Oakland October 30, 2008 in Oakland, California.
When it comes to measuring the health of a country's economy, using the nation's Gross Domestic Product is often the barometer of choice. But as more dollars change hands, why aren't the outcomes always better?
There's a new listing of 132 countries out today that uses 54 different indicators that together measure how well a country is doing in giving its citizens good lives. It's called the Social Progress Index. Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, says that although GDP is important, it doesn't tell the whole story. He joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss the report.Marketplace Morning Report for Thursday April 3, 2014Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title: New study looks beyond GDP to measure economic healthStory Type: InterviewSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No
There it is: a wild animal, lurking. Here's Andrew, darting so fast, using his bare hands — and bingo! Suddenly, he's holding the animal. He doesn't use weapons — just his lightning-quick reflexes.
A job applicant and a potential employer shake hands at the 'Denver Hires Job Fair' in Denver, Colorado.
Lately, those numbers have been off, and economists have been upset. But ADP defends its numbers. “Every month we’re a little above or below, but on average we’re almost right on,” says Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody's, which works with ADP to come up with the jobs numbers.
Koropeckyj acknowledges that they’ve tinkered with the formula used to come up with the ADP jobs number, adding information from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. But she says, there are millions of jobs in this country, and their figure may be off by tens of thousands.
Here are their numbers for this month, via Jeoff Hall at Thomson Reuters:
Avg absolute miss between initial ADP and initial BLS estimates of private payrolls down 33% since methodology change pic.twitter.com/kT1dBiAugU
— Jeoff Hall (@JeoffHall) April 2, 2014Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014by Nancy Marshall-GenzerPodcast Title: Questioning the reliability of ADP job numbersStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No