Sunday, December 10, 2017

Yet Another Sign of a Stronger Labor Market: Increases in Job Leavers and Reentrants

The headline unemployment level remained unchanged at 4.1 percent in November, but a closer look at the underlying data shows signs of increasing strength of the labor market. One such indication is the continued rise in the number of job leavers and reentrants. For slightly different reasons, workers in both categories can be considered voluntarily unemployed, in contrast to job losers, whose unemployment is unambiguously involuntary.

For full details and chart, see my exclusive post on SeekingAlpha.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In Search of the Elusive Effects of the Regulatory State

The Trump administration is at war with the regulatory state. The fight is most intense at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where Administrator Scott Pruitt is reportedly accompanied by armed guards even within the EPA building, but the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Interior and others are doing their bit. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the latest agency to come under attack. Should we cheer all this on?
Certainly, the quality of the country’s regulatory regime does matter. As the Niskanen Center’s Will Wilkinson, puts it,
Whether a country’s market economy is free—open, competitive, and relatively unmolested by government — is more a question of regulation than a question of taxation and redistribution. . .

If we want to encourage freedom and prosperity, we should pay more attention to easing the grip of the regulatory state.
Still, before we take an axe, Pruitt-style, to anything that looks like it might be a regulation, it would be nice to have some actual evidence to show the degree to which regulation undermines our freedom and prosperity, and some data to help us prioritize the worst regulations for early excision. The popular indexes of economic freedom from the Heritage Foundation and the Fraser Institute, both of which have components that purport to quantify the regulatory burden, would seem like a good place to look. What follows is a summary of what we can learn from those indicators, and some thoughts about how they might be improved.