The Economy, Jobs, and Trump’s Choice for Secretary of Labour

The final jobs report for 2016 was released last week by the Department of Labour.  The result was favourable for the month of December and the year.  The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in December, and just over 2 million jobs in 2016. Some economists had predicted a rise of 183,000 jobs for the month, so the numbers were slightly lower than that, but still positive.  The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.7% from 4.6% at the end of November.  Still, it is lower than the ‘pre-recession’ rate of 4.8%, and a significant improvement over the 9.3% when President Obama took office in 2009.

“For most of the year, the unemployment rate has been hovering just under 5 percent, the lowest levels since 2007. Although the pace of employment growth in 2016 slowed compared to 2014 and 2015—the height of the economic recovery—last year’s numbers put outgoing President Barack Obama ahead of George W. Bush (but behind Bill Clinton) when it comes to job creation.

In 2009, when Obama took office, the U.S. labor market was facing record-high unemployment—the highest since the early 1980s recession—and job losses due to the financial crisis. In January of 2009—the month Obama was inaugurated—the American economy lost 791,000 jobs. Now—eight years later—the U.S. has experienced 75 consecutive months of job growth (emphasis added).”Bourree Lam, The Atlantic, 06 January 2017

Nonetheless, Trump has consistently stated that, “Our jobs are fleeing the country,” and “Our country’s in deep trouble.” While I am past critiquing his rhetoric, and that is all this is, I see danger in the fact that he is primed to destroy the strongest economy we have had since the financial crisis began in 2008, under President George W. Bush.  He will inherit a strong economy, but how long can he keep it strong?  Especially considering that the holiday shopping season was underwhelming for major retailers, including Macy’s, Sears and Kohls, all of whom have already announced plans for store closures and job cuts in the near future.

puzder

Andres Puzder, another rich, white male

Last month, Trump chose Andrew F. Puzder as Secretary of Labour under his regime.  Like Trump’s other nominees, Puzder is a Trump-a-like, a wealthy businessman and political donor and has a long record of promoting a conservative agenda that takes aim at President Obama’s legacy. Some specifics that concern me about Puzder:

 

  • He has argued that the Obama administration’s recent rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay diminishes opportunities for workers.
  • He is against raising minimum wage, arguing that significant minimum wage increases would hurt small businesses and lead to job losses.
  • He has criticized paid sick leave policies.
  • He strongly supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he says has created a “government-mandated restaurant recession” because rising premiums have left people with less money to spend dining out. (Excuse me, but if people are dead because they could not get medical care, they cannot dine out anyway)
  • He said that increased automation could be a welcome development because machines were “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

A lesser issue, but nonetheless telling of the man’s values are the advertisements by his company, CKE Restaurants, which typically feature nearly naked women making suggestive gestures.  “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”  Again, Trump-a-like.

Richard L. Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said Mr. Puzder was “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people.”

The duties of the Secretary of Labour are to oversee the department responsible for investigation reports of violations of minimum wage, overtime and worker safety laws and regulations. Puzder’s company owns fast food restaurants, including Hardees and Carl’s Jr. stores, both of which have been investigated by the Department of Labour and in some cases fined or ordered to pay back wages.  Such are not uncommon in the industry, but I still find it indicative of a less than stellar reputation in the area of worker’s rights.

I am no economist, but this much I know: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  The number of jobs in the nation has been increasing and improving for the past seven years, and Trump’s economic policies seem to me destined to slow, stop, or even reverse that trend.  However, as he wears blinders and is focused intently on reversing anything and everything that President Obama has done, I shudder to think what he and Puzder might do to our economy.  The repeal of ACA (Obamacare) alone is estimated to cost the U.S. some 3 million jobs.

Admittedly, this is a rather simplistic view, as jobs are only one part of the economic equation, and I have not mentioned average household income, or the trade deficit, which jumped in December. Both of those topics, however, are for another post. However, jobs are the part of the economy that the average working person cares most about, can relate to very personally, and can understand. Trade deficits are rather a vague concept to most, and they will not much care one way or another as long as they have a decent-paying job.  Cynical?  Yes, but also realistic.

Once again, as with so many others, I am convinced that Trump has picked the wrong man for the job.  But what do I know?

13 thoughts on “The Economy, Jobs, and Trump’s Choice for Secretary of Labour

  1. Pingback: Finally … A Good Pick? Maybe … | Filosofa's Word

  2. Just another example of the wrong choice for the job. We are going to see things regress. While Trump is straining his arm patting himself on the back for the jobs he’s already stopped from going to other countries, there must always be balance. If Carrier, Ford or Fiat are keeping plants in the U.S., the balance of things dictates that either prices will go up, wages will not go up or jobs will be cut in some other area to make up for it. Talk about a restaurant recession.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Trump simply reconstructs reality to be what he wants it to be and presents it to his minions as the real thing. And they believe him. It is astonishing. He sees a problem where there is none and then “corrects” it and his minions think him a miracle worker. He will continue to take credit for Obama’s achievements, count on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The one constant thing you can say about Trump’s appointments is :~ They’re never going to do the job dfferently to the way they ran their businesses outside. If the oppressed their own work force then they’ll try to do it to all work forces. Years of careful negotiation and legislation will probably end overnight as unscrupulous bosses revert to putting profits first. That’s the attitude that will probably be adopted by all the new department heads in one way or another.
    What realistically are the chances of any of these jobs not being confirmed by the Senate?
    xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, as the saying goes, a leopard does not change his spots, and these men will not change their modus operandi simply because they hold a position of power in government. If anything, I expect their greed will increase. Realistically? Slim to none. There are four who have not yet completed the independent Office of Government Ethics review, or else have not filed their financial disclosure papers, but I suspect that is only a matter of time. With a Republican majority in the Senate, I suspect there will be few bumps on the road to confirmation. Unless, that is, some of those Republican senators suddenly find a conscience somewhere within themselves, but don’t hold your breath. 🙂 Cwtch Mawr!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, good post. One correction. The net job numbers under Obama dwarf that of George W. Bush at over 11 million versus just under 1.3 million for Bush. And, that includes the recession losses that were underway when Obama took office. Right now, we are on our 4th longest economic growth period ever. Should it be more – yes. Did Congress help much, not really. We should have invested more infrastructure earlier on. The Stimulus bill worked, but was not enough per six econometric firms and criticism of shovel ready project produced some wasted investment. And, bailing out the auto industry was a huge plus saving over 1 million jobs.

    I have studied this issue on jobs under Presidents. While they get too much credit and blame for the economy, they do provide headwinds or tailwinds. Since 1921, there have been twelve four year term Democrat White Houses and twelve Republican one. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bill Clinton is the #1 creator at 22.9 million, followed by FDR and then Ronald Reagan at 16.1 million. Next are the joint efforts of LBJ/ JFK at 15.8 million. Obama is next at just over 11 million, with Richard Nixon next at 10.8 million and Jimmy Carter at 10.3 million. The irony about Carter is his numbers are over one term, so on a four year term basis, he soars into second place behind Clinton. People complain about Carter’s presidency, but the average job growth on his watch looks very good.

    What also interests me is under the same number of White Houses, the number of jobs created under Democrats is about 85 million while it is only 36 million under Republicans, a differential ratio of 2.4 to 1. So, with respect to job creation, with respect to the White House, the story that Republicans are the job creators is not even close to being true. This is one reason I say Democrats are lousy marketers, as the public believes Republicans lead these numbers as Presidential job producers.

    Several economists have predicted that we will have a recession or malaiase under Trump. The deficit and debt will increase and trade may be compromised. And, if the ACA is repealed and not replaced in the right way, we could suffer a recession just because of that (my opinion, not theirs). Right now, the stock market is pricing the euphoria of his election thinking it will promote business. Yet, one economist notes the trials and tribulations of some of the actions have not been baked in, so the proof will be in the pudding.

    Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the additional info, Keith! Yes, you are quite right that Democrats are lousy marketers. As was Hillary Clinton, else we would be looking forward to the inauguration next week instead of drinking wine and crying ourselves to sleep! I think it’s that ‘silent majority’ mentality … those who think, intellectuals, don’t feel the need, and in fact see it as downright vulgar, to toot our horns. We expect people to see and understand what is reasonable. Obviously we are mistaken, but will the DNC take a lesson from this? I’m not sure, but I hope so. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, what frustrates me is Clinton actually had plans thought out and a good story to tell. Investing in renewable energy and infrastructure are definite commitments to build on success and create jobs. Trump went to see the masses armed with simple bumper sticker problems and solutions, without much substance behind them. Them buoyed by fake news and Clinton’s email issues and poor responses, his message sank in. With all of this said, if Comey had not done what he did when he did, Clinton would be President, in spite of what Trump may say to the contrary.

        By the way, the Secretary of Labor may have just been provided an anchor that will drag him down. I was stunned to learn from a report in “The Guardian,” that the fast-food industry has 40% of its female workers experience some form of sexual harassment. I was stunned even further that CKE Restaurants, the nominee’s company, has 66% rate of sexual harassment. Someone noted the use of the sexy models gorging on burgers they cannot fit in their mouth has created an even greater environment of sexual harassment.

        With Trump’s legacy of sexual harassment, he will not be too thrilled with this kind of questioning. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed … I think Comey was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Interesting data on the sexual harassment issue! I doubt it will make a difference in his confirmation, though, since those things don’t seem to matter in this post-truth world. I wonder what the country will look like 20 years from now?

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