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1. Chart of the Day I (above) shows a historic economic milestone based on today’s Employment Situation report for December. The unemployment rate in December for blacks fell to 6.8%, which is the lowest monthly jobless rate ever for African-Americans since the BLS starting tracking the black unemployment rate back in January 1972. The 3.1% gap between the jobless rate for blacks (6.8%) and whites (3.7%) in December was also the narrowest black-white jobless rate gap going back to January 1972. See Washington Post report here.
2. Chart of the Day II (above) shows another important historic economic milestone based on today’s BEA report on US international trade in November – the total monthly volume of trade in November at $451 billion (not adjusted for inflation) was a new monthly record for US international trade activity. Separately, both exports ($200.2 billion) and imports ($250.7 billion) in November also established new record highs. Why is this important? As Dan Griswold explained back in 2011 (my emphasis):
Politicians and commentators love to focus on the trade deficit, as though it were a scorecard of who is winning in global trade, but the real measure is the total volume of trade. As economies expand, so does trade, both imports and exports. Exports help us reach new markets and expand economies of scale, while imports bless consumers with lower prices and more choices, while stoking competition, innovation, and efficiency gains among producers.
3. Chart of the Day III (above) show an important energy milestone — New Mexico is emerging as one of America’s top state producers of crude oil. While California’s oil production has been in a steady gradual decline, New Mexico’s crude oil output has doubled since 2013, and its daily production surpassed 500,000 barrels for the first time in September (504,000) and October (528,000). Significantly, New Mexico’s monthly output exceeded California’s for the first time in both September and October, and the Land of Enchantment also out-produced Oklahoma by the widest margin ever in those two months (37,000 bpd). New Mexico’s rising oil output last fall elevated the state from the sixth largest oil-producer in recent years to the nation’s No. 3 oil-producing state, behind only Texas and North Dakota. Carpe oleum.
4. Quotation of the Day I is from Thomas Sowell: “If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?”
5. Quotation of the Day II is also from Thomas Sowell: “What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”
6. NYC Taxi Medallion Prices Continue to Crash. From the latest New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission report on taxi medallion sales in December, there are more signs that medallion prices are crashing due to all of the competition from ride-hailing services in NYC including Uber, Lyft, Gett, Juno and Via. In December, one taxi medallion sold for $155,000 and another for $158,000. While there are some higher sale prices (e.g., $750,000 and $800,000), I think the cluster of seven non-foreclosure cash sales between $155,000 and $225,000 probably represent the new range of market prices for NYC taxi medallions. That’s a steep drop from the lofty $1 million prices that prevailed for medallions just four years ago in 2013. I have medallion sales prices back to January 2004 when the average medallion sold for $241,000, so the prices below $200,000 are probably approaching the levels of the late 1990s. Expect more of Hurricane Joseph in NYC as the ride-hailing services continue to revolutionize and disrupt the city’s transportation industry.
7. Uber and Lyft Are Changing NYC’s Real Estate Market. The ride-hailing services aren’t just revolutionizing NYC’s transportation industry, they’re also affecting the city’s real estate market, according to this Business Insider report:
“Buyers have become more and more neighborhood agnostic than at any other time in history,” said NYC real estate broker Leonard Steinberg. “A buyer will look at an apartment in SoHo, Hudson Yards, Upper East Side, and Tribeca.” The reason? Steinberg credits ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Juno for this shift in mindset.
8. Who’d a-Thunk It? Employers Adjust to Higher Minimum Wages and Workers Are Sometimes Worse Off? Canada’s CBC News is reporting that:
Employees at nearly a dozen Tim Hortons outlets across Ontario tell CBC News they are facing the loss of paid breaks, benefits, and perks by franchise owners citing Ontario’s minimum wage increase. The cuts go beyond the iconic coffee chain, with minimum wage workers at other businesses being told they’re also going to take a hit as a result of the hike.
One family that owns six franchises near Toronto is cutting paid breaks at its locations because of what it calls a “massive” increase in labor costs. Ontario’s minimum wage rose by 21% to $14 an hour from $11.60 on Jan. 1, and it will go to $15 next year.
The details were outlined in the letter above that was handed out to employees and obtained by CBC News.
From a previous CBC report on Tim Hortons:
Another employee said that with unpaid breaks and having to pay 50% of the cost of benefits, their biweekly paycheck will actually be $51 dollars lower than it was before the minimum wage hike. “I’ve worked for the company for a very long time, and I was very upset. I wasn’t marching down the street asking for this pay raise. Now I’m worse off,” they said.
But hey, at least the politicians’ intentions were really virtuous when they legislated a 29% increase in labor costs for businesses in Ontario.
Bonus Graphic (below) illustrating Jeff Sessions’ totally archaic, crue l, senseless approach to weeds. I think he’s watched “Reefer Madness” too many times, and I predict his attempts to stop the spread of legal and medicinal weeds will fail. Related: See “Jeff Sessions Can’t Stop Pot Legalization” at the Reason blog.
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