Union Membership Down 10% — Except Gov’t

The Wall Street Journal notes that union membership was down 10% in the private sector last year, which is the same pace as job losses so this is to be expected. However, this is bad news for unions because they probably won’t get these members back when the jobs return:

Labor experts said theunion-membership losses would have a long-term impact on unions and their finances, because unions wouldn’t automatically regain members once the job market rebounded. In many cases, new jobs will be created at nonunion employers or plants. . . .

The manufacturing sector and construction industries—both of which tend to be heavily unionized—were hit particularly hard in the recession by the credit crisis and global downturn, which damped demand for industrial goods. Private sector construction lost 237,000 union members, while manufacturing lost 253,000 union members, representing more than half of the loss of private-sector union jobs.

But what job market actually expanded during the worst economic downturn in 70 years? Federal and state government (local governments didn’t fare quite so well). Part of that ballooning deficit went to paying for new government workers and more of them are union that ever before. Which is why, for the first time, a majority of union members are government workers rather than private-sector employees.

By examining data provided by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, we see that in the last year local governments lost 342,000 jobs. But state governments added 118,000 and the federal government added 52,000 jobs. In spite of the huge loss for local governments (the public sector lost 172,000 jobs as a whole), union membership among government workers rose by 64,000 workers. As of the end of 2009, 37.4 percent of all government workers now belong to a union.

Let’s repeat for emphasis: 37.4 percent of all government workers now belong to a union. In addition, 41.1 percent of all government workers are represented by unions.

The unionization of our government is a worrisome trend, whether at the federal, state, or local level. Last year unions gained in all three sectors. As a result, jobs are protected in a down economy, and the taxpayer must continue to pay excessive salaries that stem from collective bargaining (not to mention the padded pension plans).

Civil service bureaucracy is bad enough. Through a union into the mix and the taxpayer is worse off than ever.

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Posted January 26th, 2010 Filed in Government, Unions and Labor

A Worrisome Trend

Jobs in manufacturing and other goods-producing industries quit growing in this country about 1980 or so, but what is more worrisome is the continued growth of big government. Seeking Alpha put this little chart together:

Seeking Alpha explains:

The Goods Producing category currently includes less than a million workers in mining and logging, about 6 million in construction, and 11.7 million in manufacturing.

The Government category includes 2.8 million federal employees and almost 20 million state and local workers, just over half of whom work in education.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

Commenter John Galt notes:

The scary thing isn’t just that 45 degree upward ascent of that red line, it’s the corresponding pension liability that goes along with that red line.

But I can’t think of a better commentary on the subject than that of CautiousInvestor:

The growth in government employment is impervious to economic cycles and all other events.

When you think about what government typically does (regulation) and how it is typically funded (taxes), it is rather unremarkable that as government grows it snuffs out growth elsewhere.

There is a role for government in defense and other vital activities but we have allowed the institution to metastasize to unmanageable limits, threatening the functioning of our economic system and stretching the fabric of our existence.

And Federal employees got a pay raise this year.


HT to The Business Insider, via non-blogging Advised by Wolves.

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Posted January 6th, 2010 Filed in Government

Obama Popularity Plunges; GOP in Disarray

So Obama’s health care agenda continues to erode his popularity, evidenced by Rasmussen Reports latest findings:

This is a 3 point decrease in just the last week! Rasmussen says:

Overall, 46% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That’s the lowest level of total approval yet measured for Obama. Fifty-three percent (53%) now disapprove. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Democrats approve while 83% of Republicans disapprove. As for those not affiliated with either major party, 66% disapprove.

Obama is losing more and more of the independents and moderates that got him elected. Already CBS News is wondering if Obama will be a one-term president, comparing him to LBJ. And that’s because of the war in Afghanistan (which a stunning 57% of Americans now oppose), barely making a mention of the health care issue — which only exacerbates his unpopularity.

The quickness of the drop should be of concern to liberals everywhere. Gallup notes that most post-World War II president has dipped below 50% in approval ratings at some point in their presidency, but:

If his rating falls below 50% before November, it would represent the third-fastest drop to below majority approval since World War II, behind the declines for Gerald Ford (in his third month as president) and Bill Clinton (in his fourth month).

Gallup polls all adults, not potential voters like Rasmussen, which is why they don’t have him below 50% — yet. Even with the liberal-but-uninvolved in the mix, Obama is headed for the basement:

Early in his administration, only Republicans and conservatives registered less than 50% approval for the job he was doing. Since July, the category also includes non-Hispanic whites, seniors, upper- and upper-middle-income Americans, political independents, married adults, weekly churchgoers, and those living in the South. The groups doing the most to keep Obama’s job rating above 50% — with 60% or higher approval levels — include 18- to 29-year-olds, blacks, Hispanics, postgraduates, adults earning less than $12,000 per year, Democrats, liberals, moderates, infrequent and non-churchgoers, and adults who are not married.

Todd Zywicki notes that the very image that Obama projects has changed. Once he “seemed to be even-tempered, honest and somewhat earnest. He came across as reflective and open to debate, listening and persuasion.” But things have changed:

This Obama has disappeared in the past few weeks while the health care debate has unfolded. Rather than open, he comes across as a sarcastic and lecturing professor. Rather than honest, he has seemed duplicitous and slick. Rather than careful and measured, his plan appeared rushed and extreme.

Perhaps the facade has cracked and the real Obama is peeking out? Only time will tell.

As expected, Obama’s dismal performance is dragging his party down while propping Republicans up (ht to Hot Air):

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 36% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

That represents the lowest level of support for Democrats in recent years, while Republicans have tied their highest level of support for the third straight week. The previous low for Democrats over the past year was 37%.

But speaking of the other side of the aisle, writing for Forbes, Bruce Bartlett calls the GOP “The Party of Medicare,”
and rightly so, given the reversal of Republicans concerning this particular entitlement program. Were I writing the article, however, I would have titled it “The Party of Mediocre”. The GOP has failed to provide any real opposition to ObamaCare; instead they have pulled a page from the Democrat play book and scared old people by telling them that Obama was going to reduce their benefits and begin euthanizing the elderly. How terribly unimaginative, unimpressive, and absolutely ineffective in the long run.

Once again, all facets of the national political parties fail to impress.

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Posted September 2nd, 2009 Filed in Government, Healthcare, Obama, Barack Hussein

Quote of the Day: The Children of Congress

Richard Epstein wades into the debate over just how big of failure the “Cash for Clunkers” has been, and comes up with this gem:

We don’t make people buy off their assailants, because we don’t want to invite future aggressors to come out of the woodwork to collect their bounty. Only negative incentives of defensive force keep mischief makers in line.

Every child grasps this principle, with the notable exception of the children in Congress.

Now that’s funny, I don’t care who y’are.

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Posted August 4th, 2009 Filed in Government

US Gov. Spends a Dime to Make a Nickel

Democratic Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois explains why it costs the government 1.7 cents to stamp out a penny and 10 cents to make a nickel.

Posted August 7th, 2007 Filed in Government

Bringing Accountability to the Federal Government

Claire McCaskill is a Democrat from Missouri about to take her place in the federal Senate for the first time. As far as I am concerned she is more qualified to sit in Washington than most; instead of being a lawyer she is an auditor, having served as Missouri’s state auditor.

I know a lot about federal programs. I know how badly they behave. It’s not very sexy, but . . . the [Government Accountability Office] is going to love me as a senator. My office is actually going to read their audits.

Astounding. I hope she can get others on board, but she’ll be fighting a lot of pet projects up there in Washington.

As senator, agency efficiency is “the most important priority I have: making government work for less money,” McCaskill says. The first way she’ll do that, she says, is to read the GAO reports gathering dust around Capitol Hill.

Agencies, beware. Overlooked GAO reports such as “BLM’s Program for Issuing Individual Indian Allotments on Public Lands Is No Longer Viable” and “Incidents at DoD Mail Facilities Exposed Problems That Require Further Actions” could make a comeback.

Good luck, Claire McCaskill.


Posted February 4th, 2007 Filed in Economics and the Economy, Government

Tax Dollars for Erectile Dysfunction

I was going to write a post about the two billion dollars that Medicare is going to spend on Viagra, Cialis, etc. over the next decade, but Cranial Cavity has it covered.

Posted May 18th, 2005 Filed in Government

Unsecured Access to Government Files

Imagine sitting on a park bench in Washington and having access to dozens of government computer networks. Never mind — the GAO tells us that you can actually do it:

But nine of the 24 major agencies haven’t issued wireless-security plans, while many others provided little guidance for acceptable use, the GAO found.

Thirteen agencies don’t require their Wi-Fi networks to be set up in a secure manner, and most don’t monitor their wireless activity, the report said.

GAO investigators were able to pick up Wi-Fi signals from outside all of the six agencies they tested, and they were able to find examples of unauthorized activity at all six as well.

At one agency, 90 laptop computers were configured to search for a wireless connection while they were plugged in to a wireless network — an easy way in for snoops and hackers.

Now imagine what kind of information is stored on those networks: Social Security numbers, medical information, security files, not to mention minutes from high-level meetings and itineraries of officials.

Just think, Holiday Inn runs a more secure computer network than most of our government. Now, what is anybody going to do about it?

Posted May 17th, 2005 Filed in Government