- We need more free-market capitalism in America, which is the best way to let people prosper.
- Big government policies in D.C. have resulted in a dire economic situation for Americans.
- Find out how and what to do about it in this economic brief.
Figure 1: Year-Over-Year Real Average Weekly Earnings Declined for 26 Months Before Increasing in the Last Three but Fell Again and Remain Down Nearly 5% Since January 2021
- Government failures drove the “shutdown recession” and the stagflationary period over the last few years that has plagued Americans, with more inflationary and recessionary problems coming.
- To overcome these government failures, there should be pro-growth policies of less spending by Congress, less regulation by the Biden administration, and less money printing by the Fed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its U.S. jobs report for April 2023, which was another mixed report with some strengths but many weaknesses.
- The establishment survey is the most reported. It shows there were +336,000 net nonfarm jobs added in August to 156.9 million employees, which has increased by +3.2 million over the last year and +4.5 million since February 2020. However, there continue to be large revisions for previous months as the data used for seasonal adjustments are from the last few years when there was substantial volatility in the labor market. Over the last month, there were +263,000 jobs added in the private sector and +70,000 jobs added in the government sector. Most of the private sector jobs were added in the sectors of leisure and hospitality (+96,000) and private education and health services (+70,000), which are low-paid jobs and dominated by government-related jobs. But both information and transportation and warehousing have lost jobs over the last year. There is also a concern with more part-time jobs and not as much of an increase in full-time jobs.
- The household survey increased by just +86,000 jobs in August to 161.6 million employed. There have been declines in net employment in three of the last 12 months for a total increase of +2.7 million since October 2022 and +2.8 million since February 2020, which is well below the jobs added in the establishment survey for many reasons. The official U3 unemployment rate remained at 3.8%, and the broader U6 underutilization rate declined to 7.0%. Since February 2020, the prime-age (25-54 years old) employment-population ratio is up by 0.3-percentage point to 80.8%, the prime-age labor force participation rate was 0.5-percentage at 83.5%, and the total labor-force participation rate was 0.5-percentage-point lower at 62.8% with millions of people out of the labor force holding the U3 rate artificially low.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released the third estimate for economic output for Q2:2023.
- Table 1 provides data over time for real total gross domestic product (GDP), measured in chained 2012 dollars, and real private GDP, which excludes government consumption expenditures and gross investment.
Table 1: Economic Output, Growth, and Inflation
|Q4/Q4 2021||Q4/Q4 2022||Q1:2022||Q2:2022||Q3:2022||Q4:2022||Q1:2023||Q2:2023|
|Real total GDP (end of period)||$21.8T||$22.0T||$27.7T||$21.7T||$21.9T||$22.0T||$22.1T||$22.2T|
|Annualized growth (avg for period)||+5.4%||+0.7%||-2.0%||-0.6%||+2.7%||+2.6%||+2.2%||+2.1%|
|Real private GDP (end of period)||$18.2T||$18.3T||$18.1T||$18.1T||$18.2T||$18.3T||$18.4T||$18.4T|
|Annualized growth (avg for period)||+6.6%||+0.6%||-1.8%||-0.3%||+2.6%||+2.0%||+1.7%||+1.8%|
|GDP implicit inflation (avg for period)||+6.2%||+6.4%||+8.4%||+9.1%||+4.4%||+3.9%||+3.9%||+1.7%|
The latest indicator of this concern is U.S. real GDP was revised lower to just a 2.1% increase last quarter. Moreover, previous quarters were revised lower and there continue to be indications of a recession in early 2022 from two consecutive quarters of declining economic activity and relatively weak thereafter. Another measure of economic activity is the real average of GDP and GDI which accounts for domestic production and income. It increased by just 1.4% to $22.1 trillion. This important measure has declined in half of the last six quarters, increasing this value by only 1.2% since the first quarter of 2022, which is likely when the recession started.
Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit is growing faster because of overspending and declining tax collections from a weak economy (See Figure 2). The national debt has ballooned to $33.5 trillion, and net interest payments on the debt will soon be a top federal expenditure of at least $1 trillion. Adding to these fiscal challenges are other large, unnecessary expenditures of taxpayer money.
Figure 2: Fiscal Crisis Is Led by Spending Problem
The Fed has monetized, or printed, much of the new debt to keep interest rates artificially lower than where the market would have them. This created higher inflation as there was too much money chasing too few goods and services. And this has been exacerbated as production has been overregulated and overtaxed and workers have been given too many handouts. The Fed will need to cut its balance sheet (total assets over time) more aggressively if it is to stop manipulating markets (see this for types of assets on its balance sheet) and persistently tame inflation.
The current annual inflation rate of the consumer price index (CPI) has been cooling since a peak of +9.1% in June 2022 but remains elevated at 3.7% in September 2023, which remains too high as are other key measures of inflation. Just as inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, deficits and taxes are always and everywhere a spending problem. David Boaz at Cato Institute has noted how this problem is from both Republicans and Democrats (See Figure 3).
Figure 3: Rising Deficit-Spending Results from Democrats and Republicans
In order to get control of this fiscal crisis which is contributing to a monetary crisis, the U.S. needs a fiscal rule like the Responsible American Budget (RAB) with a maximum spending limit based on the rate of population growth plus inflation. This was recently released as part of Americans for Tax Reform’s Sustainable Budget Project. If Congress had followed this approach from 2003 to 2022, Figure 4 shows tax receipts, spending, and spending adjusted for only population growth plus chained-CPI inflation. Instead of an (updated) $19.0 trillion national debt increase, there could have been only a $500 billion debt increase for a $18.5 trillion swing in a positive direction that would have substantially reduced the cost of this debt to Americans. The Republican Study Committee recently noted the strength of this type of fiscal rule in its FY 2023 “Blueprint to Save America.” And to top this off, the Federal Reserve should follow a monetary rule so that the costly discretion stops creating booms and busts.
Figure 4: Federal Budget Gap Shrinks If Spending Limited to Population Growth Plus Inflation
The stagflationary destruction will continue given the “zombie economy” and the unraveling of the banking sector which will hit main street hard. Instead of passing massive spending bills, the path forward should include pro-growth policies that shrink government rather than big-government, progressive policies. It’s time for a limited government with sound fiscal and monetary policy that provides more opportunities for people to work and have more paths out of poverty.
- Set a pro-growth policy path with less spending, regulating, and taxing at all levels of government, which includes return-to-work policies.
- Reject new spending packages that America cannot afford nor needs; pass the RAB instead.
- Impose a strict monetary rule with the Fed having a much smaller balance sheet and a much higher federal funds rate target until we End the Fed.
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