Do falling jobless numbers mean we're smart and focused, or rich and exclusive?


The unemployment rate continues to drop in San Francisco and all over California, according to new numbers released today by the California Employment Development Department, which were trumpeted by Mayor Ed Lee as vindication for his economic development policies.

“San Francisco’s steady economic recovery is the result of our continued focus on job creation, education and training residents for the demands of the 21st century workforce. San Franciscans are getting back to work across the spectrum of job sectors – from hospitality to construction to technology to service industry jobs and we will continue to help these sectors grow in our City,” Lee said in a press release.

But are Lee’s neoliberal policies of promoting technology and other corporations with tax breaks and city-subsidized training programs and financing mechanisms really creating the rosy economic picture he’s painting? And even if it is helping to promote boom times, at what point have we essentially reached full employment, the point at which we should maybe turn our focus and resources to addressing the rising cost of living here?

After all, San Francisco’s unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is third only to Marin County (4.6 percent) and San Mateo County (5.1 percent). Those three counties also just happen to be the three counties with the highest per capita incomes in the state, a fact that explains our jobless rate more than the mid-Market payroll tax exemption and other taxpayer giveaways.

“Unemployment rates tend to be lowest in areas with high education attainment,” Ruth Kavanagh, EDD’s labor market consultant for this area, told us when we called to discuss the disparties among counties.

What about the rising cost of living in San Francisco? Clearly, this is becoming a much more difficult city for the unemployed and marginally employed to remain living in. How much are gentrification, evictions, and the exodus to the East Bay (Alameda County’s rate is 7 percent, still better than the statewide rate of 8.5 percent) and other locales a factor in our low jobless rate?

Kavanagh said the EDD doesn’t directly track that and so she couldn’t address the question. But she did say that the Bay Area was indeed experiencing the fastest job growth in the state, driven largely by the tech industry. In the last year, this three-county area has added 9,600 jobs in Professional Business Services (which includes tech) and 4,600 each in Leisure & Hospitality and Construction.

Indeed, in his State of the City speech in January, Lee touted the 23 construction cranes on the city skyline as the best gauge of the state of the city. And if counting jobs is one’s only measure of success, San Francisco is doing as well as can be expected. Kavanagh said most economists consider “full employment” within the capitalist system to be somewhere between 4-5 percent.     

Yet Lee says he’s not backing off from his full-throttle focus on economic development. “San Francisco’s unemployment rate today stands at a five-year low and I will continue to pursue policies that get people back to work, support San Francisco families and invest in our City’s future,” he said. “This Summer through San Francisco Summer Jobs +, we are setting an aggressive goal of putting 6,000 youth to work in paid jobs and internships, and I will continue working hard to make sure all San Franciscans have access to good paying jobs.”

Now if only we all had access to reasonably priced housing, health care, food, entertainment, and a transportation system built to handle a growing population.


Now get back to work!


beat the anti-jobs Avalos. So Lee has an absolute imperative to continue to promote jobs, jobs, jobs over all else.

Sure, a better economy does tend to feed inflation and can marginally impact those who are not in a position to contribute to that economy. But then the city needs economic contributors first and foremost, in order to afford welfare for the rest, which hopefully are a minority.

So yes, rents and home prices will go up, and that creates losers as well as winners. But no city in it's right mind would exchange a bouyant economy like SF's with, say, a stagnating mid-western rustbelt city.

From the depths of 2009, the stock market is up a massive 145%, and SF RE is up 30%. Businesses, profits and jobs are booming. These are the "problems" that you want ot have.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

Yes, it's good to have wealth, but if we're too selfish, stupid, and/or short-sighted to use that wealth to address this city's needs (more affordable housing, greater investments in schools and infrastructure, a transition to clean energy sources, fully funding future pension obligations, diversifying our economy, etc.), then the problem we want to have becomes myriad problems that we will wish that we'd addressed while we could.

Posted by steven on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

wealth for good works, from Rockefeller and Carnegie to Gates and Buffett in this day, both of whom have donated the vast majority of their wealth to charity.

So much of the work you wish to see can be done by charities, foudnations, volunteers and non-profits. The government has a poor track record of economic meddling and the best that most of us can do is try and create the best economy that we can.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

Letting rich people accumulate as much wealth as possible, and then depending on them to share that wealth for the public good, is a very inefficient way of distributing the benefits of wealth throughout society. It also leaves the decisions of what to fund in the hands of the wealthy. The people have no say in whether those millions are best used to fund say, some dubious education "reform" scheme, vs. an anti-poverty program for example. Much more efficient, and democratic, would be to tax them at very high rates and then have the public's elected representatives decide on which priorities to fund.

The government actually has a very good track record of economic intervention, but I guess that depends on what kind of goal you have with said intervention.

Posted by Greg on May. 19, 2013 @ 7:32 am

It has taxes only on the income and gains that derive from that wealth.

If wealth itself was taxed, or if tax rates on income and gains became punitive, then that wealth and income and gains would simply migrate elsewhere, even more than it already does.

I continue to believe that welfare is best carried out by motivated charities, foundations, religious groups and non-profits, rather than by highly-demotivated taxpayers who make rational decisions on where their wealth resides based significantly on relative tax rates.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2013 @ 8:03 am

They used to believe that in the 19th century too.

In the 21st, however, taxes are increasingly looked upon as the best way to fund social welfare.

Not that you're an extremist. You were just born in the wrong century.

Posted by Greg on May. 19, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

And your interventionist views are wrong in every century. Americans still love low taxes.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

Americans want to have their cake and eat it too... just like everyone, I guess. Of course you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want a civilized society, you have to pay for it. And the ones who can afford to pay more, should. When given a choice between lowering taxes and cutting essential services, and raising taxes and keeping them, Americans prefer the latter in poll after poll -particularly when it's a question of getting the wealthiest to pay more.

Posted by Greg on May. 19, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

current system. and then they give far more to charity too.

You want Scandinavian levels of tax here and I maintain that there is no popular mandate for that, even among those who would not have to pay more tax.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 6:05 am

The rich need to be taxed back into the upper middle class so that they no longer present a danger to the state. (Paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson)

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2013 @ 7:32 am

cites tax as a possible source of that. I disagree with him but he's looking at the issue in a positive way.

You are just uttering class warfare cliches. You want the rich to be poorer regardless of any other outocome. You'd want the rich to be poorer even it meant that the poor were poorer too, and that could happen if the wealthy just leave with their money.

That is not progressive politics - that is hate speech.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 8:37 am

The rich being far less rich is better for democracy. The rich have *far* too much power and America, for her well-being, needs that power taxed away through high inheritance taxes -- exactly as Thomas Jefferson would prescribe.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

and envy. Taxing the rich is all about class warfare for you.

Funny thing is that almost nobody agrees with you - not even the dirt poor people in the south with much less than you.

Oh, and Obama just signed off on Bush's massive weakening of the Estate Tax and his dividend and cap gains cuts. So you are further away from your class war than ever, all at the hands of a Democrat President.

BTW, Jefferson was a landowner a bunch of slaves and fathered a child with one of them. I'm not sure he's the right role model for a lecture on the sins of wealth.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

the ultra rich have amassed ridiculous fortunes. America has become a nation of aristocracy and serfs. Almost everybody knows it and when the outlines of a way out of this situation becomes clear to the vast majority of the American people, it will be implemented. To counter that threat, lying propagandists such as yourself attempt to sow doubt and division where little exists and none belongs. Fuck you.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

Given that neither the Dem's nor the GOP believe that and "almost everyone" vottes for one or the other of them.

The American people believe that their lives are far richer because of the US's economic and corporate success, and there is virtually no support for any alternative quasi-socialist system.

So you're stuck with our system and might as well get used to it. You could even start trying to succeed in it instead of whining from the peanut gallery.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

"If the over-grown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature.

Thomas Jefferson, 1823, from the Jefferson Cyclopedia article 8279, Taxation, Basis of

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 20, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

If Avalos won, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, and the city was rising like all the other boats on the tide you would be jabbering about what a great job he was doing.

Posted by Matlock on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

troll baiting

Posted by Chris Pratt on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

then everything would be better

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 17, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

Silly article.

What's the point? That Ed Lee hasn't yet spent the money that we are just now starting to see?

In reality he is creating a long term wealth engine that will give future administrations greater flexibility. We need to extend term limits for him the way that NYC did for Bloomberg.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

his tally when he convincingly beat the anti-jobs Avalos shows that the populace are very comfortable with their Mayor and his policies.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

check to mayoral power and the power of big donors who control the futures of termed-out supes.

One thing we *don't* need to do is allow top executives longer stays. That is a precedent which was quite wisely set by George Washington.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 17, 2013 @ 5:43 pm
Posted by Matlock on May. 17, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

Most people thought there were extenuating circumstances, the country being in a battle to the finish against the Axis Powers, but the -- if I recall correctly -- 25th Amendment fixed that so it could never happen again... though it seems to me that G.W. Bush had the chutzpah to suggest it might not apply to him somehow.

In any case, term limits for top executives makes *way* more sense than term limits for local reps, who we don't want to be thinking of their positions as mere stepping stones to other places.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 17, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

joke vice Gov job?

Posted by Matlock on May. 17, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

now that he's termed out. He and Campos can swap, which since they're both huge power bottoms is the only time THAT'S gonna happen.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 17, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

I would normally agree with your concerns on term limits for the Mayor's office but this is a unique case. Other cities have bent the rules when they had an exceptional person in office and we need to do the same.

In this case we have a virtual unknown whom the people seemed to take to right away. Even when he was criticized for giving up the caretaker role the voters still knew that this was the person that they wanted.

He ran on a clear platform of creating jobs, he's been both diligent and innovative in producing on his promises. The job that he did in saving Twitter was awesome!

And as Steven points out in this article, Mayor Lee's efforts are already getting great results for the city. Our biggest problem seems to be how to spend the wealth he is creating.

Plus he's a good guy with a long history of fighting for tenant's rights ad such.

Unique guy...let's keep him.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

I thoroughly enjoy your sarcasm. At first I thought you were serious, but then I thought: other than some right-wing Lee-bot nut who in their right mind would still be campaigning for that man? I mean, his campaign office was closed long ago, I thought. But then I realized your comment was all a joke after it became so "over the top" and gushing in tone. That's what tipped me off. Quite good sarcasm.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

This guy Lee is so full of it and full of himself.

The article:

"Yet Lee says he’s not backing off from his full-throttle focus on economic development. “San Francisco’s unemployment rate today stands at a five-year low and I will continue to pursue policies that get people back to work, support San Francisco families and invest in our City’s future,” he said. “This Summer through San Francisco Summer Jobs +, we are setting an aggressive goal of putting 6,000 youth to work in paid jobs and internships, and I will continue working hard to make sure all San Franciscans have access to good paying jobs.”"

Yeah well meanwhile, there are over 27+ closed store fronts just in the Castro alone and more on the way.

Jobless rate falling? I don't believe that for a moment no matter who says it, based on what I see out and about and read online from credible sources. When one's unemployment benefits end, one is no longer counted in the unemployment statistic, even though one is still unemployed. They are not longer counted.

The great unmentionable: Mass unemployment in America

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

Who does he think he is? He needs to get back to delivering greasy food in paper container while driving a rickshaw and quit being so "full of himself." Like that Obama today - making that white Marine hold his umbrella. Is this what we've come too?!?!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 17, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

Search this article and read this (Forbes):

Unemployment Rate Down As Americans Give Up On Work
The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but that is because many Americans have given up or — better yet — are struggling to find full-time work.

(I suspect the same is true for CA and San Francisco).

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

this story represents another abject failure of Steven's bullshit detector. Sorry Steven, just telling it like it is.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 17, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

I agree. He might also want to search and read this article:

The Financial Press–A Disinformation Machine — Paul Craig Roberts

Down near the bottom of the article is this paragraph with a link to a chart:

"Anyone who thinks an economic recovery has been ongoing since June 2009 can cure themselves of the delusion by looking at this chart:"

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 2:51 am

it's not really anything so mysterious. Here's how it goes:

When I find myself grudgingly giving credit to my opponents, I simply stop myself short, take a step back, and peer closely into every nook and cranny of their arguments. "Whoa!"

I'm not talking about negating reality; it's just that one has to understand the manifold ways in which the right skews the terms of debate in their direction.

They typically build a foundation for their arguments of *complete* bullshit and quickly pile onto it so many cockeyed layers of chipboard and tar paper that they trick you into attacking the structure so formed, rather than the base. Then they have won because their intended goal of causing you to accept the underlying premise has been achieved. "Whoa!"

(Do you get it, Steven?)

Paul Craig Roberts is great. I often run across his essays on Counterpunch.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 18, 2013 @ 6:01 am

My impression of the Guardian staff in general:

Not the biggest proponents of looking things up with a search engine. They could find the same articles I find to counter the right-wing bull shit, if they wanted to. But you're not likely to find them on that Dembot/Obamabot site (DK)...I refuse to type the name of it so as to not give them any publicity, which some of the Guardian staff (being Dembots) just seem to be in love with. I also often get the impression that they are more into being D-partisan (aren't they still in love with Obama whose policies overall are worse than those of Bush?...they were never in love with Bush and I wasn't either...couldn't stand him). And I also get the impression that some of the writers are often stoned because nothing that matters seems to bother them, and/or they are too busy partying, drinking and getting drunk (Marke has made references to that) at one bar or event or another to pay full attention to what's going on. They only half-way pay attention, if that. Also, for some of them a little bit more maturity might help.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

1) The adoringly European idea that the success is bad, failure is good, and therefore we should rob the successful and distribute it to the losers.

2) That life is all, in a very 1960's way, about sex and drugs and rock and roll, and if you devote your live to that (and, for Steven, Burning Man, pot and nightclubs) that is somehow a life well lived rather than a life wasted on self-indulgence.

An unfortunate combo.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of precisely because it's so partisan. Not so much progressive even, as just purely partisan. But I will say this about them, they often have very sharp analysis on there, which you won't find on any of those right wing sites. I read them too, but the sheer level of discourse and analysis doesn't rise close to the level of Daily Kos.

Posted by Greg on May. 19, 2013 @ 7:46 am

enlightened me to the fact that government agencies might be run in failure mode *by* *intent.* Numerous times I've counselled people as to the phenomenal incompetence there; an assessment always greeted with doubt at first, with efusive agreement to come later.

Reminds me of when as a young unemployed San Franciscan (not on unemployment because I did not qualify) I sought EDD help in finding work; the most notable story was when my prospective employer chewed me out for arriving on his doorstep freshly pressed clothes and resume in hand: "I'VE TOLD THEM TO STOP SENDING YOU PEOPLE HERE REPEATEDLY!"...

As near as I can figure it, the EDD has never done anything useful for anybody at any time except as a passthrough for unemployment compensation checks... and they are well known for stupidly standing in the way of that too.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 17, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

Just sayin.

Unemployment falls in 40 US states, rises in 3

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 7:32 am

Texas. Yay.

"Texas has created 41,500 construction jobs in the past year. That's helped the state be the nation's leader in job growth over the past year. "

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 7:35 am

pesky regulation, and so of course it is doing better, and the State has a much smaller deficit and a higher credit rating.

Lessons there.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

Just google Texas deficit vs California, or something like that. You'll see that theirs is just as bad or worse, and their economy is smaller.

Posted by Greg on May. 19, 2013 @ 7:40 am

While many businesses leave CA because of our punitive tax rates.

It is California cities that have declared bankruptcy, like Vallejo. And we'll see more like that.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2013 @ 8:05 am

For your search engine: Sharp increase in US jobless benefit claims
By Andre Damon
17 May 2013

From article:

A string of negative economic figures released this week point to continuing stagnation in the US in the midst of a worsening slump internationally. The US Labor Department reported Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits jumped by the highest amount in six months. The same day, the retail giant Walmart said its sales tumbled unexpectedly in the first quarter of the year.

Signs of growing economic and social distress in the US coincide with an accelerating downturn in Europe and slowing growth in China. On Wednesday, the European Union’s statistics agency said that the economy of the euro area contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter, after having posted record unemployment rates earlier in the month.

The number of people in the US who filed new claims for unemployment benefits grew by 32,000, hitting 360,000 in the week ending May 11—significantly higher than economists had predicted.

US industrial production fell last month, registering its sharpest decline in eight months, according to figures released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. American factories, mines and utilities reduced their output by 0.5 percent in April, compared to a predicted drop of 0.2 percent.

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its economic index for the Mid-Atlantic region fell dramatically in May, to minus 5.2 from plus 1.3 in April, indicating an economic contraction.

Walmart announced that sales at its US stores fell by 1.4 percent in the first quarter, and visits to its stores fell by 1.8 percent. The drop in sales by the retailer, which sells primarily to working class people, reflects the impact of falling wages and continuing mass unemployment.

(article continues)

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

We've learned that over and over again.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

A comment up above reminds me of this:

I have a right-wing relative who sees everything as "wonderful." Not a problem in the world. No matter what it is. "Wonderful" is the word she always uses in a gushing manner. So when I asked her about her business recently, she said, "It's wonderful." When I later asked her children about her business, they say "it's not doing well at all" and gave real reasons why. I asked my right-wing relative about a friend of hers and she said, "she's doing wonderfully." Later, I talked with her children about the same person and they said, "oh she's not doing well at all, didn't you hear?" They elaborated. I said, "well your mother just said..." They interrupted me and said, "well you can't go by what she says because she lives her life in 'it's wonderful' denial. We're expecting her to say 'it's wonderful' the next time we're at a funeral. That's how bad her denial and attempt to make things rosy has gotten."

So yes, in an Orwellian 1984 world:

a free society=protest zones and needing a damn permit for a protest
sterilizing and sanitizing a society=good and making it mature
a good economy=Sharp increase in US jobless benefit claims

(and there are many more examples of absolutely loco thinking that the rabid, lying right-wing shit out on message forums)

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 6:57 pm



Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

and have zero awareness of Orwell.

Posted by Matlock on May. 18, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

Yes, it's called Newspeak: Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a reduced language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit free thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as “thoughtcrime,” “crimethink,” or “doublethink.”----Wikipedia

Newspeak: "propagandistic language marked by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings."---Merriam-Webster

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

and newspeak on the Bay Guardian web page?

Posted by Matlock on May. 18, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

Also from this author