Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nice video showing advancement in Robotics. How many jobs is this GOING to eliminate OR (gasp!) create?

Below is an awesome video (HT: Carpe Diem) illustrating an advancement in robotics and its potential application to everyday life---industrial and personal. What will be the effect on employment when this technology becomes routine in daily life? I see the potential for creating instances of "structural unemployment" in the marketplace---people losing jobs to machines that can perform the same tasks as a worker. It is easy to see the jobs that might be lost and other costs this technology might impose on society. However, what about the "unseen" benefits of this technology on society and even on employment? Extra credit for good answers.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A quick reference visual of Federal Govt spending. Another reminder of the failure of the political class and the public that enables them...

Easy reference visual that shows current Federal governement spending in the broad budget categories.  Healthcare (includes Medicare, Medicaid), Social Security, and Interest on the National Debt are areas of mandatory spending---must be carried out regardless, whether the govt has the money or not. Some would say that Defense should be in that category as well.  The "Safety Net" contains unemployment compensation, food assistance and other income support programs.  This is considered (for the most part) a Mandatory part of the budge too.

The Mandatory items mentioned above are the "biggies" in terms of serious budget issues, but are "smalls" in terms of political emphasis.  The powers that be are feasting on the "everything else" in the budget in which each item represents a tiny part of the whole. 
Source: Christian Science Monitor

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Update to my graph on Federal Employment...See what those people were hired to do during the recession. Surprising results...

I did not want to appear flippant in my last post on Federal Employment suggesting that additional Federal employees added to the Federal payroll were "Zero Marginal Product" employees. 

Using Census data I found the general categories of  employment for Federal employees and the change in employment from December 2007 (start of recession) to March 2010 (the latest data available).  These numbers are for FULL-TIME employees. There are substantial numbers of part-time workers but I choose to leave those out for now.

In the far right column I calculated the change in employment for each category.  I put an asterisk next to the numbers that stuck out from the rest.

Observation: "Health and Hospitals" added a combined 43,000+ jobs and "National Defense/International Relations" added 72,000+.  Together these two categories account for 115,000 full-time positions, or 62% (est.) of the total jobs "created" in the Federal Govt during this time span. Were these areas in such deficit that they needed this type of "pumping up"?  I honestly don't know.

The relatively large number of new Federal "Police" is curious to me. I am no conspiracy theorist, so don't go there, please. 

How about your observations.  What do you see?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fact: Federal Govt employment has increased 125,000 since Inaguration Day. Allegation: Federal spending has remained almost flat since Inaguration Day. Question: What are those 125,000 people doing? See graph here...

Below is a graph that measures the change in Federal employees (NOT counting Postal employees) since 2007 (Pre-Recession).  The gray area represents the the time span of the recession.  The vertical Red Line shows when Pres Obama took office (Jan 2009).

At Point "A"  when the Pres took office the number of Federal employees was 2.075 million.

The big spike in 2010 represents massive, temporary hiring to do the Constitutionally mandated Census that occurs every 10 years. Ignore this spike.

Point "B" represents the number of Federal employees, 2.2 million, in May 2012 (latest measure).

The difference between "A" and "B" is the increase in the number of Federal employees since the Pres took office. This number is approx. 125,000.

If you want to extend the timeline back a bit to the beginning of the recession (left edge of the gray area) you will see that Federal govt employment increased 100,000 from that point to Inauguration Day 2009.  The total change in Federal employees since the beginning of the recession is 225,000

Just ball-parking AVERAGE Federal employee TOTAL compensation (wages + benefits) of $80,000 that is an INCREASE in the Federal Payroll of at least $18 billion dollars each fiscal year

If government spending is relatively flat and there are 225,000 additional employees added to the payroll since 2008, my question is "What are these people doing?"--- More payroll  means less spending on programs those employees are hired to administer...I THINK that is a fair question, isn't it?

Tell me where I am going wrong. Thanks!

Nice graphics showing the change in prices in the last 30 years of foods we commonly purchase. Do you think it is more or less today?

Here are some quick to read graphics (ALL from NPR) that will give you "food for thought" when, well, you have thoughts for food. 

The first one compares the percentage of money the average household spent on the various major food categories in 1982 and 2012. Amazingly consistent EXCEPT for we spend 31% LESS on meats (driven by subsidies?) and slightly MORE  than 100% on processed foods/sweets (driven by technology?).

In regards to the category "Meats" this does not mean that we eat less meat. The next chart shows we can consume more of it because a broad range of meats are significantly  CHEAPER today relative to 1982 (Prices are adjusted for inflation).  The same can be said for many other food items as well.

Here is the same data in bar graph format.

Lots of foods considered healthy have become less expensive over time. However, they have to compete with the category "processed foods/sweets"---tastes good, more filling... 

I can tell you from personal experience, the latter category wins every time over the former.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Will Tacos be delivered by flying Drones in the near future? If so, I know who is ready to be the first delivery driver. He is a purrrfect fit for the job

Here is an idea that will probably never take-off, figuratively and literally---Tacos delivered by a flying drone (like the military uses to kill terrorists or patrol the border or....).  If is does work, I know who can be the first delivery driver---he even has his own built-in transportation (see video below)...

Tacocopter Aims To Deliver Tacos Using Unmanned Drone Helicopters
""It's an unmanned drone helicopter shooting a taco from space down at you and your colleagues during lunchtime!
The Internet is going wild for Tacocopter, perhaps the next great startup out of Silicon Valley, which boasts a business plan that combines four of the most prominent touchstones of modern America: tacos, helicopters, robots and laziness.
Indeed, the concept behind Tacocopter is very simple, and very American: You order tacos on your smartphone and also beam in your GPS location information. Your order -- and your location -- are transmitted to an unmanned drone helicopter (grounded, near the kitchen where the tacos are made), and the tacocopter is then sent out with your food to find you and deliver your tacos to wherever you're standing.
You pay online, so the tacos are simply dropped off at your feet by the drone helicopter, which then flies back to the restaurant to pick up its next order....""

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nice graphic showing the powerhouse that is Why is the 'Gumment' not all up in their grill? (which you can buy at, by the way)...

How does Amazon reach this level of market penetration without raising the hackles of federal regulators?  Seems like their time will come in the House and/or Senate hotseat to answer for their success ( I know, that sentence seems a little strange to me too)...

Source: The Big Picture

Obama claims 4.3 million jobs created. Romney claims no new jobs created. Who is right? Well, both are correct. See graph here as to why.

The first graph shows what has happened to PRIVATE sector employment (number of people WITH jobs) since Pres. Obama took office (Jan 2009). 

The gray area represents the period of official recession. I included a second graph that extends the time period back to 2001 so you can get some perspective.

Here is where the politics of this first graph comes in.

When the President states, as he did this week, that we have "created" 4.3 million jobs in the last 27 months he is starting at the lowest  point of the graph, conveniently ignoring the time in office before the low point.

Candidate Romney looks at this graph and sees no new "net" job creation since the Pres. took office---the line ends where it started at about 111,000 jobs.  We lost 4.3 million jobs then gained them back, conveniently ignoring the accelerating rate of job loss that started before Obama officially took office.

This begs the question: What does it mean to "create a job"?  The answer is not as easy as it sounds.

Seems like BOTH are correct in their assertions.  It is just how you look at the data and how it fits into your own political narrative.   Don't you love economics---"On the one hand..."

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