One of the data points that has been getting some attention is the total withholding tax receipts, as reported by the IRS.

According to the table below, it is down year over year. Some are interpreting this to contradict BLS, and likely means that the improving jobs data are bogus. Bill King specifically noted that “as of May 20, IRS data shows Withheld Income & Employment Taxes declined 3.36% y/y. This means income is still declining and by extension, meaningful jobs are still decreasing (the BLS considers someone that has done one hour of work on the day that it samples as ‘employed’. So theoretically a person can work one hour a month and be counted as employed.)
>

Witholding Data, 2009, 2010

click for larger table

BLS, via the King Report

>
That certainly is a possibility. Might there be a better, higher probability explanation?

I am less sure of that conclusion. While I have been skeptical over the years about BLS model changes, I do not believe they are simply making up numbers to please their political masters. Before jumping to conclusions, I suggest we consider other possibilities: If the Employment data is okay, then what might explain the change in withholding?:

- The 2009 tax cut that impacted the vast majority of salaried workers.

- A shift down the payscale by workers;

- Changes in with holding rules as part of the Stimulus package;

- Start up business founders working for little or no pay;

- Hours worked continues to get cut

We can come up with others, but each of these facts impacts the amount of dollars withheld by the IRS, and would explain a modest decrease in W/H while employment rose year-over-year.

Sometimes, we can look at the psychology of thew crowd for some insights. In this case, it is the willingness to change jobs — replace the devil you know with one you don’t — as insight into the labor market.

The WSJ reports that more employees are quitting their jobs and moving on:

“As the job market begins to loosen up, human-resource managers might increasingly be surprised by an announcement from employees they haven’t heard in a while: “I quit.”

In February, the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before February, the BLS had recorded more layoffs than resignations for 15 straight months, the first such streak since the bureau started tracking the data a decade ago. Since the BLS began tracking the data, the average number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs per month has been about 2.7 million. But since October 2008, the average number dropped to as low as 1.72 million. In March, it was about 1.87 million.

And recent sentiment indicates that the number of employees quitting could continue to grow in the coming months. In a poll conducted by human-resources consultant Right Management at the end of 2009, 60% of workers said they intended to leave their jobs when the market got better. “The research is fairly alarming,” says Michael Haid, senior vice president of global solutions for Right Management. “The churn for companies could be very costly.” (emphasis added)

Why is this significant? It implies the job market is improving. Turnover more or less froze during the recession, because jobs were scarce. Even for those who found new gigs, Fear kept employees staying with the safety of the known.

Moving while the world is in flux is not something that many workers find comfortable. So the backlog of “workers waiting for better times to make a move to better jobs” is now acting like pent-up consumer demand — only for employees. The natural wanderlust of a segment of employees was suppressed, and is now busting out again.

Note that the Journal reports the median monthly voluntary turnover rate in 2009 was 0.5%, half of the rate in 2008. I’ll see if I can dig up the data for the first half of 2010 . . .

>

Sources:
More Workers Start to Quit
JOE LIGHT
WSJ, MAY 25, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704113504575264432377146698.html

Category: Economy, Employment, Wages & Income

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

55 Responses to “Positive Sign: Worker Mobility”

  1. dead hobo says:

    BR quoted someone :
    ———————————
    Bill King specifically noted that “as of May 20, IRS data shows Withheld Income & Employment Taxes declined 3.36% y/y. This means income is still declining and by extension, meaningful jobs are still decreasing (the BLS considers someone that has done one hour of work on the day that it samples as ‘employed’. So theoretically a person can work one hour a month and be counted as employed.)”

    Then, BR concluded:
    ————————————–
    Sometimes, we can look at the psychology of thew crowd for some insights. In this case, it is the willingness to change jobs — replace the devil you know with one you don’t — as insight into the labor market. …. The natural wanderlust of a segment of employees was suppressed, and is now busting out again.

    reply:
    ——————
    So, people feel so confident about the future they quit their jobs and have either no job to go to or choose to replace their existing job with lower paying one. All voluntarily. And this serves as evidence of an improving economy. Thus lowered tax withholdings are a good things and foreshadow an economic explosion of growth. It’s so simple! Time to take cash off the sidelines.

    ~~~

    BR: We are discussing two distinct periods: During the recession, when people were afraid to switch jobs — and during 1H 2010, when folks began to move jobs more frequently.

    Don’t conflate the two distinct periods.

  2. rktbrkr says:

    I would think that withholding changes should be relatively easy to compute, sliding down the payscale with furloughs and reduced hours would be a little more complicated.

    Interpreting job changes in a drecession has to be about the most subjective exercise imaginable, think of it as pent up demand for mental health!

    Take this job and shove it
    I ain’t working here no more
    My woman done left and took all the reasons
    I was working for
    You better not try to stand in my way
    As im a walking out the door.
    Take this job and shove it
    I ain’t working here no more

    Ive been workin in this factory
    From now on fifteen years
    All this time I watched my woman
    Drowning in a pool of tears
    And Ive seen a lot of good folk die
    Who had a lot of bills to pay
    I’d give the shirt right off of my back
    If I had the nerve to say

    (Chorus)

    Well that foreman, hes a regular dog
    The line boss, hes a fool
    Got a brand new flat-top haircut
    Lord, he thinks hes cool
    One of these days, Im gonna blow my top
    And that sucker, hes gonna pay
    Lord I cant wait to see their faces
    When I get up the nerve to say

  3. destor23 says:

    One other thing about quitting — it shows a real pushback against what happened over the last 2 years, Let’s face it, there’s a good chance your boss fired the two guys next to you and gave you their work for either no raise or a pay cut. So this could be those chickens coming home to roost. Look at the massive productivity gains during the recession. People can only be exploited for so long!

  4. Hit the Reset button says:

    BR, couldn’t some of those in the “I Quit” category be simply leaving the workforce and filing for Social Security?

    ~~~

    BR: They are leaving the labor force, which is a different measure

  5. Marcus Aurelius says:

    We have become Animal Farm. The pigs have become people. Everyone not a pig is working harder for less.

  6. constantnormal says:

    I think there are too many unknowns to make anything other than an endless series of theories about what this means. For instance, as more and more years of new graduates spill forth onto the job market, we have a greater and greater fraction of workers who do not have mortgages, families with kids in schools, or spouses with jobs in a particular region, and thus are considerably freer to pull up stakes and move to North Dakota seeking employment.

    And I’m sure there are many other stories that can be spun to fit this data.

  7. wally says:

    I think you are scratching too hard here. First, some of the alternate reasons you suggest are no better for the economy than a worsening job market. In fact, they have the same net result. Second, whether or not the numbers are ‘made up to please political masters’, there still is no argument about the fact that a large component of the numbers are, in fact, made up. The reason does not matter; made up is made up and there is inherent bias in that process.

  8. wally says:

    “Why is this significant? It implies the job market is improving.”

    I also think that is quite a leap in logic. People might just be quitting because their jobs are becoming intolerable or are not worth the time put in.

  9. SCTTD says:

    If mobility is improving might this be a net positive for the economy (velocity improves, proof of self sustaining recovery building, etc) AND be net NEGATIVE for business and earnings as productivity declines and labor costs potentially rise as business rushes to back fill positions?

  10. R. Cain says:

    the national average jobless rate – like the national average house price – can mask significant variance by locale

    map of US unemployment rate by state:
    http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/mstrtcr1.gif

    Current Unemployment Rates for States and Historical Highs/Lows:
    http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/lauhsthl.htm

  11. dead hobo says:

    An underclass with lowered wages and uncertain job security are a requirement for a growing economy. If one didn’t exist, you would see inflation and a lowered rate of growth. This is a dirty little secret for all economies. The low cost American labor slowly becoming a part of American life is a necessity for economic growth.

    Mexicans aren’t rounded up except for show purposes and ejected because their low cost labor is a requirement for the rest of us to have a higher standard of living. The occasional ICE raid is only a charade, although those making the arrests probable believe they are doing good work protecting the borders. If illegal Mexicans were paid a living wage and could live without fear, the cost of Mexicans would rise and inflation would be the result.

    A growing underclass of Americans is now needed to support a higher standard of living for all who can avoid this trap. This is the new economics. Cheap labor is coming from Americans rather than illegal aliens and more is probably on the way.

    Think about it. An underclass provides cheap labor that the rest of us benefit from. The only way to keep an underclass in place is to create barriers on the exists. As a society, we need methods to create cheap labor and then exploit it. Mexicans were the most common way a couple of years ago. Now, the underclass is being populated more and more by American citizens, who subsidize the res of us via cheap labor. Equitable solutions that raise living standards will be inflationary.

  12. destor23 says:

    Hey one other possibility — rising state and local fees, levies and taxes that are federally deductible?

  13. contrabandista13 says:

    OT:

    Another good one from the Onion….

    “… White House Jester Beheaded For Making Fun Of Soaring National Debt
    MAY 25, 2010 | ISSUE 46•21….”

    “….Tensions rose when a happily beaming Obama demanded to be riddled. After a string of well-received topical posers, Motley asked the following:

    A pocket-hole that grew so large,

    A giant couldn’t eat it.

    A cache of gold that never was,

    But nonetheless depleted.

    When the President confessed to being stumped, Motley revealed the answer to be “the National Debt, of course.”

    Witnesses said Obama’s mood immediately darkened and, pounding on the arm of the Presidential Throne, he demanded new jesting. After nervously clearing his throat, Motley was heard to ask, “Wherefore is the National Debt like a sprouting leaf of spinach?” When a glowering Obama demanded the answer, Motley stated, “For it shall rapidly grow into something our children cannot bear.” …..”

    Best regards,

    Econolicious

    Here’s the link……

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/white-house-jester-beheaded-for-making-fun-of-soar,17495/

    “…. At this, Obama reportedly dropped the large turkey leg in his hand ….”

    Eco

  14. Hondo says:

    It’s the total amount of wages that matter……if more people are employed but the total wage amount is lower it’s still not good…..the bottom line is for the economy to grow it needs higher personal income growth and credit growth in some combination……

  15. WNL says:

    Another factor may be a switch from regular employee status to independent contractor. Such a change eliminates benefits (like health insurance costs and retirement) for the employer and still offers a ‘job’ to the worker. There was a segment on NPR highlighting a small company that had gone that route.

  16. Lamont says:

    The analysis of the data is flawed. Bill King is comparing 2010 withholdings from a Wednesday to 2009 withholdings from a Tuesday. Since companies tend to pay their employees on the same day of the week for years on end, you have to compare withholdings from the same day of the week this year from the same day of the week last year, or the same week of this year to the same week from last year. And if you compare the same week this year to the same week last year, you will find that over the last three to four weeks that withholdings have been increasing at about a 5% rate year over year. That is a positive sign for jobs and personal income. Granted many of the job gains are from Census hiring and much hiring in the recent months will be taken out because of seasonal adjustments, but there is still fairly substantial hiring going on now.

  17. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    C’mon, guys! Don’t be so negative. Durable goods orders have just come in much better than expected. So it can’t be too bad. Consumers ordered a whole bunch of new aircrafts in April.

  18. The Curmudgeon says:

    Bad data…the withholding rate changed in 2008. But also, the fact aggregate withholdings aren’t growing speaks to Dead Hobo’s arguments and that wages are declining. Which is necessary if the unemployment rate is to substantially decline.

  19. R. Cain says:

    by US standards, the unemployment rate is still very high

    chart: unemployment rate 1990-2010

    http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=usunemployment&met=unemployment_rate&tdim=true&dl=en&hl=en&q=chart+us+unemployment+rate

  20. bdg123 says:

    That’s quite a stretch of interpretation of a statistic. It reminds me of the babies drinking beer story we used to use while pitching data mining. ie, Receipts showed a high correlation to diaper purchases with that of beer. On the surface we can conclude babies drink a lot of beer. When understanding the data, we find dads were picking up diapers….and beer. It’s an urban legend but it proves a point.

    Here’s the point. In our Orwellian world where large corporations wish to minimize bad press, layoffs have become a thing of the past. Instead workers “volunteer” to be fired by being offered a choice. Leave now and get nothing or sign this piece of paper where you are legally bound to a bunch of lawyer-ese including not to say anything bad about the company or to discuss the terms of your termination and we’ll give you a big fat check for leaving. That article citing people who are just up and quitting because they are all cheery about an economy with 80 million people near poverty, 40 million people on food stamps and no new job creation anywhere but government is certainly concluding babies drink one hell of a lot of beer. Employment is NOT recovering. Numerous data points which are more direct and less open to imaginative interpretation validate this.

    ~~~

    BR: I have to pull out the WTF flag on this one, and assess you 10 yards:

    There is a weekly unemployment report, and Challenger does a monthly layoff announcement

  21. Robespierre says:

    BR.

    I agree with dead hobo (first comment). May be you want to see things getting better so badly that you ma be a suffering from some kind of “cognitive bias”? As an anecdote of some things I’m seeing: Many of my suppliers are already discounting some of their products because of “too much” inventory. My theory if I could get some verification from other segments of the economy is that the”building and they will come” action of inventory rebuilding will not pan-out and there will be a new round of discounts to get rid of “siting” inventory…

  22. ashpelham2 says:

    Amen to Dead Hobo. This is a large scale basic principal for this economy and really any other. On a small scale, there is a reason why the boss can’t pay everyone under him the same wage he earns: Because if he did, then the price of the product goes up, and he doesn’t sell as much of it, thus reducing everyone’s pay.

    This is really very basic stuff, yet it’s so large and considered to be “understood” as the way things are. But it’s something that can’t be overlooked, because it stipulates where you and I will fall on the pay scale. This whole idea of a middle class is pretty revolutionary, if you think of it. But it’s hard to maintain. All of this income class discussion really is a moving target, because what might be considered middle class in Birmingham is probably not going to be as comfortable in Chicago or San Fransisco.

    I always make the argument that our Republic was built by cheap labor, and yes, expliotation, even though I really hate to start that whole discussion. Much of the early agriculture in this country was done by lower income class or enslaven peoples. Since slavery is “illegal”, we have to use illegal people to capture that low income work that must be done that the rest of us can profit from.

    It really is simple, but it’s such a foundational piece, we just look right past it.

    Sorry to be off topic, but it’s thought-provoking, if nothing else.

  23. Look, we went from losing 700k jobs a month to now gaining 200k.

    That is the data, and I am challenging those who use the IRS data to declare it not so.

  24. dead hobo says:

    BR: We are discussing two distinct periods: During the recession, when people were afraid to switch jobs — and during 1H 2010, when folks began to move jobs more frequently.

    Don’t conflate the two distinct periods.

    reply:
    ————
    I wasn’t. You appear to be missing your own point.

    First, withholding is lower … implying fewer taxpayers OR more lower paying jobs. Then you claim things must be getting better because people feel confident enough to job hop. This kind of logical association is of the type that makes one’s head shake and re-read what you wrote to see if you meant what you appeared to say. I really don’t see the link between lowered tax withholding and a renewed interest in job hopping and the implications of economic expansions one associated with the fearlessness of job hopping.

    Also, the idea of substituting an American underclass for a Mexican underclass won’t work. US citizens have a right to the social safety net. Since this is financed by debt, all that will be accomplished is kicking the can down the road for the eventual US debt explosion. This only works with imported and illegal underclass labor.

  25. dead hobo says:

    I know, maybe that withholding guy who gets really mad at others for pointing out his blatant errors can come back and tell us the right way to use ADJUSTED data. HA Ha. We’ll just adjust the shit out of the data and make it say unemployment is nearly gone.

  26. dead hobo says:

    Barry Ritholtz Says:
    May 26th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Look, we went from losing 700k jobs a month to now gaining 200k.

    That is the data, and I am challenging those who use the IRS data to declare it not so.

    reply:
    ———–
    Yes but 185000 were BD adjustment estimated jobs and 60000 were temp census jobs. How much withholding comes from estimated BD jobs? $Billions and $billions?

    Look, I wan the economy to improve as much as anyone. But using government fabrications to make your case isn’t credible. You used to be smarter than that.

  27. Robespierre says:

    @Barry Ritholtz Says:

    “Look, we went from losing 700k jobs a month to now gaining 200k.

    That is the data, and I am challenging those who use the IRS data to declare it not so.”

    To me the IRS data is way “cleaner” than the BLS data and this is why I don’t buy it the WSJ jump. I just don’t know of anyone that will move to a lower paying job unless they expect their positions to be eliminated. Many people I talk to are looking around because they think they are “next” where they are and therefore will move to a lower paying more “secure” job when they can. I can hardly call that a “healthy” job market!

  28. Lamont says:

    Withholdings for the week 5-17 to 5-21 2010 was $33.928b, compared to withholdings in the week 5-18 to 5-22 in 2009 which was $32.174b. This is an increase of 5.4% year over year. The WSJ fella in the article doesn’t make an apples to apples comparison. He is comparing the same date year to year, but they aren’t the same days. You have to compare, for example, a Monday to a Monday or Tuesday to a Tuesday; but even that often doesn’t give an accurate picture. The best way is to compare week to week, as long as there isn’t a holiday in one year and no holiday in the other. Over the last few weeks, federal withholdings have been up over 5% year over year.

  29. Transor Z says:

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf

    Ok, let’s put this to rest. Barry, the quits rate was unchanged YoY — see May 11 JOLTS report, table 8

    Over the 12 months ending in March, the quits rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total
    nonfarm, total private, and government as well as in every industry and region. (See table 8.)

    So the flaw in your logic is to assume that the quits rate is improving. It isn’t. Worker behavior hasn’t changed. Workers are quitting at the same rate as they did in 2009.

  30. bdg123 says:

    You are missing my point. I can obviously see the employment reports. Take away the census workers and a few other machinations and tell me where the employment gains are? The total number of people employed in the United States hasn’t improved by one person under Obama.

    I need to assess you a bigger WTF and eject you from the game. :)

  31. tradeking13 says:

    I realize this is only an anecdote, but 3 of the 11 co-workers in my department have left this year (and more are looking to leave). We had not had a defection in the prior 18 months. Taking advantage of employees through working them harder, taking away bonuses/benefits, and freezing wages only works for so long. Payback is a bitch.

  32. rootless_cosmopolitan says:

    Lamont,

    Thanks for pointing this out. It also makes much more sense to compare data on a weekly or monthly basis, and also trends, instead of taking just one single day from the previous year and compare it to a single day of the current year. As if there couldn’t be any strong fluctuations on a daily basis. If the withholdings increased on a weekly basis consistently over recent weeks, then King obviously would have got a totally different result for certain other days, if he had picked those. So he either fell victim of pure randomness in the data, or he deliberately cherry picked his data to support the conclusion he desired to draw.

    Are the withholding data available to the public? I haven’t found them in the Internet. If they are could you tell me where, please?

  33. R. Cain says:

    if W/H taxes have gone down, could it not simply be because the unemployment rate has gone UP in the past 12 months?
    most recent data:

    4/09 = 8.9%

    4/10 = 9.9%

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/Economics/Unemployment-Rate.aspx?Symbol=USD

  34. OkieLawyer says:

    You know, Barry, I remember you posting a story of a company hired to challenge unemployment claims by showing that employees quit rather than get fired. Is is possible some of the increase in people quitting is coming from employers demanding that their employees quit instead of firing them in order to save some money on unemployment claims?

    I don’t quite understand how it saves employers money, as it is outside of my expertise in the law.

  35. constantnormal says:

    @BR 9:55 am

    “Look, we went from losing 700k jobs a month to now gaining 200k.”

    And how fast (and unevenly, this being graduation time) is the workforce expanding? Or is that somehow factored into the jobs/month? and if so, is it factored in using an annual rate or a seasonally adjusted metric?

    Simply looking only at jobs/month is a very narrow view of the landscape, and almost certain to produce a distorted conclusion. The rate of job creation varies with demographics and geography. And if we’re seeing a significant increase in the job creation (exactly what IS the size of the error bar here, anyhow?) rate, then since most of the jobs come from small businesses, it stands to reason that we should be seeing a resurgence in small businesses, no?

    But out in my part of the world, there seem to be a lot more empty offices seeking businesses to occupy them than a surge in new office construction. There are a number of items that just don’t jibe with the theory that we are seeing a significant improvement in employment. But if we were, since employment is almost always the last thing to recover, then we well and truly are completely out of the woods economically, and can look forward to the next boom arriving any day now.

    Now THAT would truly be a Black Swan.

  36. R. Cain says:

    9.9% / 8.9% = 11% increase in unemployment rate

    4/10 vs 4/09

    ‘stimulus’ notwithstanding

  37. Transor Z says:

    Folks, please parse the sketchy logic of the WSJ quote above:

    In February, the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Just because a piano is dropping towards my head doesn’t mean I’m getting taller.

    Since the BLS began tracking the data, the average number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs per month has been about 2.7 million. But since October 2008, the average number dropped to as low as 1.72 million. In March, it was about 1.87 million.

    We can’t use absolute numbers to quantify a change in a population’s behavior where the total pool of that population has varied due to exogenous factors! See my comment at 10:24 am. Per BLS data, the quits rate is unchanged as a % of separations from employment over the last 12 months. Game, set, match.

  38. Lamont says:

    The Treasury data is public record and easily accessible over the internet.

    The current month data is here:

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/index.html

    Past months and years data is here:

    http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/backissues.html

  39. constantnormal says:

    And instead of looking only at job creation, how about posting a chart of monthly job creation, along with monthly charts of numbers of employed and numbers of unemployed — or simply a chart of the total population of people seeking employment, divided up into those that have employment and those that do not. That would implicitly take into account the increasing theoretical labor force (driven by population increase).

    I’d like to factor into that chart some aspect of the average work week, which ought to be increasing rather smartly before we see actual hiring increases, but I cannot think of how to represent that.

  40. dwkunkel says:

    The really top engineers that have choices are leaving in significant numbers from the large company that I work for. Many are going to various energy related start ups here in Silicon Valley.

  41. DrungoHazewood says:

    I don’t really know what this means-maybe nothing. I know two people that worked for HD HQ in Atlanta. One was unemployed until he got an instructor’s job at a CC, at much less pay. Less than half, and he was thrilled to get it. Another thought for months, that as soon as the dust settled, he would be able to get a similar job than the one he had at HD. He was doing that ‘I am not going to work for that’ bs. Finally someone just told him to his face that his former compensation was a thing of the past. In fact he would not make anything near what he was making before. He finally bit the bullet and is now working for about half of what he was making.

  42. Thor says:

    dwkunkel – Add programmers and developers to that list.

    Also – people do indeed quit higher paying jobs for lower paying ones all the time. If a person moves from NYC to Denver, or SF to Houston, the drop in salary is usually more than offset by a reduced cost of living. I don’t think this number is massive, just responding to someone’s comment earlier than they couldn’t see workers doing this.

  43. [...] review of positive economic indicators.  (Value Plays also Free exchange, Big Picture, Daniel [...]

  44. DrungoHazewood Says: May 26th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I don’t really know what this means-maybe nothing. I know two people that worked for HD HQ in Atlanta. One was unemployed until he got an instructor’s job at a CC, at much less pay. Less than half, and he was thrilled to get it. Another thought for months, that as soon as the dust settled, he would be able to get a similar job than the one he had at HD. He was doing that ‘I am not going to work for that’ bs. Finally someone just told him to his face that his former compensation was a thing of the past. In fact he would not make anything near what he was making before. He finally bit the bullet and is now working for about half of what he was making.
    ~~
    these types of anecdotes are useful..

    peep keep playing the “What Letter-shape will the ‘Recovery’ look like-Game”

    get out your Mirror, it’ll look like a “y”..

    here’s the ‘short story’ (w/ Pictures) .. http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

  45. Greg0658 says:

    I’ve taken interest in this non-numbers thread .. here Census work finished up and I had w/h taken out and most likely will return to me next spring (cross fingers) I’ll recirc by spending on something .. saw an uptick in my focus business – maybe the lower w/h taxes – maybe try to have fun with that one life and save the memory the Kodak way .. my trucker friend lost his off-duty health insurance so he’s not a happy camper – I might see a f–kit attitude from him – but no fear city dwellers our CC is pumping out new drivers .. that building buildings industry got overbuilt for years of past glow .. we have the soldier business .. we have the Gulf cleanup ramping up .. storage of excess cash for retirement days is a question … maybe a new world strike with the new world understanding of human vs nature – we’ve never had it better and worse at the same time … number crunch them for a living $

    thought I’d forward this post from HuffPo:
    “GUANGZHOU, China — A Chinese employee of Foxconn Technology Group jumped from a building to his death Tuesday, state-run media said, in the 10th suicide this year at the world’s largest contract maker of electronics, such as the iPod, Dell computers and Nokia phones.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/25/foxconn-suffers-10th-deat_n_588524.html

    another post that keeps come’g to mind as I read this thread:
    “Couple rescued from mound of belongings in home”
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-05-25/news/ct-met-elderly-couple-trapped-in-home20100525_1_belongings-mound-rescued
    I can relate – but unlike them – everything I’ve worked for over the years has a place and everything is in its place – but but that nagging feeling – song by the Eagles “the streets they have no pity once your down thats where your stay” .. maybe the younger generation is in a new mindset .. I think that is wise

    this story ran the airwaves last night round here too:
    generally a story of school debt, long hours, and multi bed crash pads to survive our nations push to crunch numbers for wall street profits for TBP investing crowd
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/flyingcheap/

  46. SummerRain says:

    How many are saying “I quit” and are really just retiring to get on Social Security before the government abolishes it?

  47. [...] especially since turnover essentially froze during the height of the recession, Barry Ritholtz notes at The Big Picture. “The backlog of ‘workers waiting for better times to make a move to [...]

  48. willid3 says:

    I am wondering if its a case of less pay (pay has been declining ) and lower tax rates on most workers, and fewer hours (furloughs are hurting employees). and more is coming in that regard as the states and locals jump on that band wagon. and of course with lower incomes for customers (aka workers) that means less buying of companies offerings leading to less income for employees. and companies will start to make less profit too. leading to, you guessed it, less income for employees. wonder if there is a stopping point for this exercise? probably not. but won’t help us compete, as 3rd world countries already don’t pay much, and can easily lower that even more to keep up.

    and the race to the bottom is on!

  49. cognos says:

    Anecdotally… there seems to be an enormous increase in job creation and job postings (and raises). This is also supported by the DATA on NFP, household survey, etc.

    Maybe the “tax withholdings” are effected by the difference in bonuses? 2008 was still a pretty good year on that account as 3 quarters were “pre-crisis”… so any comparisions which include Q1 of 08 versus Q1 of 09 have that bias.

  50. garrisongold says:

    Does the withholding data include government workers or just private sector jobs?

    I think you have to consider the source of the wages. How much has the wage base for federal government workers grown. Same for state and local governments. How much by private industry? Surely transfer payments by the government are not as healthy of a reflection on economy growth as private sector jobs.

  51. garrisongold says:

    Employers file there social security tax and withholding reports every payday (for most weekly I believe) to the IRS and the IRS has issued an Employer ID number for every entity that remits these taxes. In addition, each entity must enter there industry classification code as part of there federal income tax form filing along with there Employer ID No. (Sched C 1040, 1120 corp, 1065 partnership).

    I would think as critical a component as purchasing power of of the populace is to future growth, it would be a simple matter to extract this information such as Social Security Tax remittances (15.3% of wages I think) from a database, sorted by industry so we could see where jobs and wage growth(shrinkage) has occurred in the last 10 years.

    If the growth is chiefly from federal, military, state, and local jobs then we have problems. But if the growth is in high paying jobs such as professional services, engineering, and IT then we are on a sustainable path to economic recovery and growth. An industry by industry breakdown should at least lend some light on the subject. After all, we do live in the information age.

    The fact that such simple analysis is unavailable to the general public (from the comments on economic and financial blogs I am not certain even the “experts” have a handle on the employment picture but it doesn’t stop them from making claims about the economy’s health), it makes me suspicious about government statistics. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will, but for the financial/economic professional community to be so certain of something as basic as this just makes no sense.

  52. garrisongold says:

    John’ World

    Oh, one last thing (I promise). While researching this topic I discovered the U.S. accounts for over 48% of the world’s military budget. On the positive side, I guess you could say each U.S. citizen has a greater ownership interest in cruise missiles, battleships, fighter jets, etc, than our foreign counterparts.

    But for someone such as myself, who is not interested in U.S. maintaining the world’s police force, I am not interested in owning nuclear bombs, missiles and submarines. I want to spend my money differently. I simply want to protect our own borders and mind our own business. I would rather see the money spent on these wars directed to, say Mexico, building bridges, roads, hospitals and schools and lifting them out of poverty to become stronger trading partners.

    Don’t get me wrong, if attacked our enemies should know we will show no mercy and we will take out your country’s infrastructure and leave you mired in poverty. If the wimpy, whiny Europeans don’t like it, let them rebuild these terrorist countries themselves.

    Yes I am just an inarticulate average John Doe, but this is how I feel and I don’t give a hoot about the opinions of any of these Wall Street wizards and Washing power brokers. To me they lack common sense.