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Blog Category: Mark Doms

ESA: Tough Economic Times Continue for State and Local Governments

State and Local Government Expenditures and Employment

Cross post by Commerce Chief Economist Mark Doms

Last week’s gross domestic product (GDP) report confirmed that our economy continues to grow (2.5 percent in the third quarter), although not as quickly as we would like. The fears of a “double dip” recession didn’t come to pass (if anyone in the DC area is interested in a triple dip, head to Ben and Jerry’s from 4 to 7 for their 3-dips-for-3-bucks special.).  One reason why the economy isn’t growing faster is that budget constraints are forcing continued and historically deep contractions in state and local government spending.  Measures within the American Jobs Act can help bridge the gap.

These cuts in state and local government spending are evident in the GDP data and also in the employment data (the October payroll data will be released this Friday).  State and local spending and investment decreased 5.3 percent in real terms since spending peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, by far the deepest 15-quarter decline in spending in the post-WWII era.  Job losses that have followed from these budget cuts total 646,000, or 3.3 percent, since state and local employment peaked in August 2008. 

So far this year state and local governments have been cutting jobs at the same pace that private sector firms are adding them.  Over the first 9 months of the year, private payroll employment has grown 1.2 percent (1.3 million jobs) while employment in state and local governments declined by 1.2 percent (234,000 jobs). 

Women in STEM: An Opportunity and An Imperative

Gender Shares of Total and STEM Jobs, 2009

Today Commerce's Economic and Statistics Administration released the second in a series of reports on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This report, entitled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation (PDF), looked at women and STEM. The results offer an opportunity and an imperative for women and America. The results showed that women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.

Other key findings are:

  • Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.
  • Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs–considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.
  • Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.
  • Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare

For more information on this topic, read Chief Economist Mark Doms's blog post about the report and ESA's first report on STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future.

Commerce's Chief Economist: ESA Releases Report on 'U.S. Trade in Private Services'

Report on “U.S. Trade in Private Services.”

Guest blog post by the Department of Commerce's Chief Economist Mark Doms.

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a brief report on “U.S. Trade in Private Services.” The report (PDF) shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

Most of the time when you hear about trade, it is about trade in goods, in part because it is easier to wrap our minds around the idea of goods (pictures of large container ships help, and we often notice the markings on products that note where they were made).  However, the United States exports a sizable amount of services (non-tangible items of value, such as school tuition or an airplane ticket), and they are leading the way toward doubling U.S. exports in support of several million new jobs under President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

A few reasons why greater emphasis should be placed on our trade in services: 

  1. Services make up a big part of the economy: 80 percent or so depending on how you define it.
  2. In 2010, we exported over a half trillion dollars (wow) of services, an all-time high.
  3. The trade surplus in services in 2010 topped $526.6 billion. 
  4. Services jobs represent high-skill, high-wage jobs.
  5. From 2002-2008, our private services exports grew at an annual average rate of 11.1 percent.
  6. Many services are “tradable”, especially in today’s increasingly globalized world: legal services can be traded, computer services can be traded, engineering services, medical services, etc.
  7. Exports of services are likely to show continued growth, taking advantage of the skill of the U.S. workforce and supporting living-wage U.S. jobs. 

Cross-posted at ESA's blog.