Council of Economic Advisers Blog

  • Promoting an Open Investment Policy to Create Jobs and Grow the Economy

    Today, President Obama released a statement on the United States Commitment to Open Investment Policy. The CEA also released a report on the benefits of foreign-based companies investing in the United States (known more formally as “Inbound Foreign Direct Investment”).

    Our report highlights how the Administration’s open investment policy allows foreign-based companies to grow and expand their businesses across the country. These companies are building new facilities, investing in research and development, and growing warehouses, sales offices and service centers—creating millions of high-quality, well-paying jobs for American workers. These firms paid out wages and other forms of compensation that averaged more than $71,000 per U.S. employee in 2008, as compared to average earnings of $54,000 for full-time annual workers in the economy as a whole.

    The U.S. continues to receive the most foreign direct investment of any country in the world. In 2010, U.S. inbound foreign direct investment rebounded sharply and increased by 49 percent from the economic crisis level it reached in 2009. This investment is particularly important to the U.S. manufacturing sector.  In 2008, the U.S. affiliates of foreign corporations employed 13 percent of the entire manufacturing workforce in the United States. And over 42 percent of the US affiliates’ total value-added production in 2008 was concentrated in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

  • The Employment Situation in May

    Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 83,000 in May and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent. There are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years. 

    While the private sector has added more than 2.1 million jobs over the past 15 months, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. The initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – have contributed to solid employment growth overall this year, but this report is a reminder of the challenges that remain.  We are focused on promoting exports, reducing regulatory burdens and making the investments in education, research and development, and infrastructure that will grow our economy and create jobs.  We will continue to work with Congress to responsibly reduce the deficit and live within our means.

    Overall payroll employment rose by 54,000 in May. Solid employment increases occurred in professional and business services (+44,000) and education and health services (+34,000). Sectors with employment declines included local government (-28,000), retail trade (-8,500), and manufacturing (-5,000). Despite the decline this month, manufacturing has added 238,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, the best period of manufacturing job growth in over a decade.

    The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.

    Private Payroll Employment Chart, June, 2011

    Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

  • The Employment Situation in April

    Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 268,000 in April, the strongest monthly growth in five years. The economy has added 2.1 million private sector jobs over 14 consecutive months, including more than 800,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. The unemployment rate rose to 9.0 percent, but remains 0.8 percentage point below its November level.

    Despite headwinds from high energy prices and disruptions from the disaster in Japan, the last three months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.While the solid pace of employment growth in recent months is encouraging, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for companies to add new jobs and foster the industries of the future. We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means without neglecting the investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy that will strengthen our economy.

    In addition to the increases last month, payroll survey estimates of private sector job growth for February (now +261,000) and March (now +231,000) were revised up. Overall payroll employment rose by 244,000 in April, well above market expectations. Payroll employment grew in almost every sector. Solid employment increases occurred in retail trade (+57,100), professional and business services (+51,000), education and health services (+49,000), leisure and hospitality (+46,000), and manufacturing (+29,000). Manufacturing has added 244,000 jobs in the last 14 months, the best period of manufacturing job growth in 13 years. State and local government experienced a decline of 22,000; this sector has shed 289,000 jobs in the past 14 months, mostly in local government.

    The unemployment reading in April showed a partial reversal of the 1.0 percentage point decline over the previous four months. Employment measured in the household survey dipped in April and the labor force participation rate was unchanged. The unemployment rate data derive from a separate household survey.  The payroll and household surveys can differ on a monthly basis; the household survey is more volatile, but the two surveys typically show similar long-run trends in employment.

    The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead.  The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.

    Private Payroll Employment in April, 2011

    Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

  • Advance Estimate of GDP for the First Quarter of 2011

    Today’s report shows that the economy posted the seventh straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP, the total amount of goods and services produced in the country, grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year.  While the continued expansion is encouraging, clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn.

    Some key components of GDP continued to expand in the first quarter. Consumer spending rose 2.7 percent at an annual rate, boosted by a 2.9 percent increase in real disposable income that was due in part to the cut in payroll taxes. Equipment and software investment increased 11.6 percent. Spending components that subtracted from GDP included construction of nonresidential structures (-21.7 percent), federal spending (-7.9 percent), and state and local government spending (-3.3 percent). On the production side, goods production rose at a 9.3 percent, roughly consistent with the previously-reported 9.1 percent increase in manufacturing industrial production.  

    These data indicate that the measures put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are helping to foster growth.   We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means and focus on the investments that are most likely to help grow our economy and create jobs – investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy.

    Advance Estimate of GDP for the First Quarter of 2011

    Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

  • The Employment Situation in March

    Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 230,000 in March, marking 13 consecutive months of private employment growth. Private sector employers added 1.8 million jobs over that period, including more than half a million jobs in the last three months. The unemployment rate fell for the fourth straight month to 8.8 percent. The full percentage point drop in the unemployment rate over the past four months is the largest such decline since 1984, and, importantly, it has been driven primarily by increased employment, rather than people leaving the labor force.

    As long as millions of people are looking for jobs, there is still considerable work to do to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Nonetheless, the steep decline in the jobless rate and the solid employment growth in recent months are encouraging. The last two months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years. We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation.   We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means and focus on the investments that are most likely to help grow our economy and create jobs - investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy.

  • The Employment Situation in February

    Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 222,000 in February, marking 12 consecutive months of growth that has added 1.5 million jobs at private firms. The unemployment rate fell for the third straight month to 8.9 percent. The 0.9 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate over the past three months is the largest such decline since 1983, and it has been driven primarily by increased employment, rather than falling labor force participation.

    Though unemployment remains elevated, we are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business tax incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation. The steep decline in the unemployment rate and the overall trend of economic data in recent months has been encouraging, but there is still considerable work to do to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, but not at the expense of derailing progress in the job market, making the investments we need to educate our workers, investing in science, and building the infrastructure our companies need to succeed. 

    In addition to the increases last month, the estimates of private sector job growth for December (now +167,000) and January (now +68,000) were revised up. Overall payroll employment rose by 192,000 last month. The sectors with the largest payroll employment growth were professional and business services (+47,000), education and health services (+40,000), manufacturing (+33,000), and construction (+33,000). State and local government experienced a large decline (-30,000), and has shed jobs in 14 of the past 16 months.

    The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead.  The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report. 

    Private Payroll Employment Chart for February, 2011

    Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers