Evan Soltas asks, "Is the labor market getting tight?"
He claims that the rising rate of workers quitting their jobs could show that the labor market is getting tighter. Workers quitting their jobs at a higher rate is taken as an expression of confidence. As Joe Weisenthal argues, "When the economy is bad, workers don't quit their jobs." The quit rate shows that the relationship between unemployment rate and quit-rates has remained steady, suggesting that it's the headline unemployment rate — which has now fallen to 6.6 percent — that best captures the state of the workforce.
Of course, what the rate of quits tells us is the rate of quits. People quit their jobs for all sorts of reasons, and even though the rate of quits is tightly correlated against unemployment, reading the rate of quits as a proxy for the tightness of the labor market is a risky extrapolation, and overlooks the bigger picture.
To assess the tightness of the labor market, we need a concept of the natural rate of unemployment. There is lots of argument over what we should mean by the "natural rate of unemployment," but the most popular definition is from Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps, who defined it as the rate of unemployment consistent with output being at the "long-run" level. And what's very clear is that output is still in a big slump after 2008, way below its long-run trend:
[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]
So even if we assume that the headline unemployment rate is the best measurement of tightness in the labor market, 6.6 percent (which translates to millions of people who want a job but can't find one) is still very slack because the economy is way below potential. John Aziz
President Trump gave himself a pat on the back during an interview Tuesday, taking credit for the Islamic State "giving up." U.S.-backed forces liberated Raqqa, Syria, on Tuesday, seizing ISIS's de facto capital, and Trump declared his strong leadership was the reason.
During the interview on The Chris Plante Show, a talk show hosted by Plante and broadcast in Washington, D.C., Trump claimed that the U.S. was losing the war on terror before his administration took charge. CNN notes that Trump has applauded himself before for efforts against ISIS, glossing over the fact that operations in Iraq and Syria began under former President Barack Obama.
"I totally changed rules of engagement. I totally changed our military, I totally changed the attitudes of the military and they have done a fantastic job," Trump said. "ISIS is now giving up, they are giving up, they are raising their hands, they are walking off. Nobody has ever seen that before."
Plante asked why that hadn't happened before, and Trump didn't hesitate with his self-congratulatory answer.
"Because you didn't have Trump as your president," he said. "It was a big difference, there was a big, big difference if you look at the military now." Summer Meza
Google Maps received swift social media backlash for a test feature that showed you how many calories you'd burn if you walked to your destination. The feature was pulled Monday night, and Google confirmed to BuzzFeed News that it was removed in direct response to the negative feedback.
The feature, which was developed for iOS only, showed not only the number of calories a user could burn by walking, but also put the walk in terms of mini cupcakes. This was particularly troubling for some users, who felt it played into unhealthy attitudes about food and exercise. One of the main complaints was that the feature could be harmful for users dealing with eating disorders, as calorie-counting is a controversial practice in the nutrition world, and some have argued that a fixation on numbers can lead to an unhealthy obsession.
ty for shaming me for my mini cupcake consumption google maps!!!! pic.twitter.com/nYwNHMJFqa
— Khushb Shah (@KhushAndOJ) October 16, 2017
"For some people, that's not an issue at all," said Claire Mysko, the chief executive of the National Eating Disorders Association in an interview with The New York Times. "But for people who are hyper-focused on numbers, that can feel very oppressive to see calorie counts everywhere when you're trying to shift your relationship with food."
While some viewed Google Maps' cupcake feature as an attempt to promote healthy habits, the short-lived experiment will not be returning for iPhone users. Summer Meza
President Trump tumbled 92 places on Forbes' 2017 list of the richest Americans, released Tuesday, due to a $600 million loss since the last ranking, Deutsche Welle reports. Forbes, which credited Trump with $3.1 billion (a far cry from Trump's $10 billion boast in 2015), said that the drop was due to the "tough New York real estate market, particularly for retail locations; a costly lawsuit; and an expensive presidential campaign."
Trump charted as the 248th-richest person in America in 2017, down from 156th. "The magazine said the downgrading was also a result of 'new information' it had collected after Donald Trump had claimed during his campaign in 2015 that he owned $9.2 billion in assets and $8.7 billion in net worth," Deutsche Welle reports.
The list is topped by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Ellison. In sum, the 400 richest Americans are worth a combined $2.7 trillion, Politico reports. See the full list here. Jeva Lange
A federal judge blocked most of the newest iteration of President Trump's travel ban Tuesday, declaring that the administration cannot restrict the travel of people from six of the eight blacklisted countries, Politico reports. The order was set to kick in at midnight Wednesday.
The third version of Trump's ban, announced in late September, placed indefinite restrictions on visitors from Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and Somalia. Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii temporarily stopped the ban for all of the countries except North Korea and Venezuela. Trump's last two versions of the restrictions were also blocked from being imposed.
Groups including the State of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project asked judges to block the latest ban, arguing that "Trump had exceeded his legal authority to set immigration policy, and the latest measure — like the last two — fulfilled his unconstitutional campaign promise to implement a Muslim ban," The Washington Post reports.
Starting in early 2018, Manhattan's usual gridlock traffic will have something new to contend with: self-driving cars. A fleet of Chevy Bolts will be led by Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, within a 5-mile area in New York City — a major change from the Empire State's previously strict regulations on autonomous vehicles.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the testing will happen in a geofenced area, and that each car will drive with engineers in both the driver's and passenger's seats. The Verge reports that there are still plenty of rules in place for the tests; GM is required to pay for a police escort for each self-driving car the company sends onto the roads. The timeframe is short, too, as the one-year pilot program that Cuomo announced in May expires April 1, 2018.
"Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale," said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation. Vogt explained the choice in a statement from Cuomo's office, describing Manhattan as a place that "provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate."
New York's street congestion, which includes everything from aggressive pedestrians to speeding cabs, is sure to be a challenge for GM, but current testing in San Francisco means that the vehicles have had some practice in cramped, urban environments. Summer Meza
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reports. Alexander said Tuesday that the deal would "extend federal subsidies for two years and provide states with flexibility," Reuters writes.
The subsidies lower costs for low-income customers; President Trump decided last week to end the payments, although he signaled approval of the Alexander-Murray deal Tuesday. "This is a short-term solution," Trump said. "It will get us over this intermediate hump."
Conservatives are wary of "bailing out" insurers, though, and while Alexander has the support of some Senate Republicans, it is not clear if the plan would pass the House. Jeva Lange
The San Antonio Stars are headed to Las Vegas, thanks to MGM Resorts. The hospitality company purchased the WNBA team, which will play home games at the Mandalay Bay Events Center beginning in May 2018, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
"Mandalay Bay is a smaller, more intimate arena with about 12,000 seats," said the chief experience and marketing officer for MGM Resorts, Lilian Tomovich. "We feel it's the absolute right size arena for the fans to have that intimate experience to come watch basketball."
While the Stars have had the league's worst record the last three seasons, Tomovich added that MGM is "very optimistic about the success of this franchise."
"Bringing a WNBA team here to Las Vegas just seemed like a natural evolution for us," she said.
Las Vegas acquired its first pro team this year with the addition of the NHL's Golden Knights. The Oakland Raiders NFL team will be relocated to the city in 2020. There are no major league women's teams in the city. Jeva Lange