Wages And The Supposed STEM Shortage

If you’re the kind of person who believes markets provide reasonably good signals, then it’s safe to say there really isn’t a shortage of STEM workers. And the market for STEM workers is good–if you’re hiring (boldface mine):

Like other supposed labor shortages, if there were a real shortage, wages would be expected to grow. This is because employers would compete over a small number of workers, and they would need to raise wages to attract those workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics program tracks the average wage of STEM occupations dividing them into four subdomains. These consist of a Health subdomain, a Social Science subdomain, an Architecture subdomain, and a Life and Physical Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Information Technology subdomain (this last subdomain is where most technology workers would fall)…

Wage growth for all of these subdomains fell after the Great Recession and none have recovered. All are under 2.0 percent, with wage growth in the Social Science Subdomain close to zero. It’s important to note that this is nominal wage growth, so we would expect real wage growth to be even lower.

There is also data for major STEM occupational groups….

The general trend is that nominal wage growth is lower now than it was in 2009, with the exception of Computer Programmers, who saw low wage growth in 2009. Wage growth is low-to-moderate, under 3.0 percent for all groups.

This wage data suggest that there is not a shortage of STEM workers broadly, or for commonly discussed computer occupations. (Data on all detailed STEM occupations is available here.) One reason employers might think they can’t find workers is that they may have inflexible requirements for vacant positions. For example, a company might require that workers work for low wages and long hours, or that they have particular certifications or unreasonably specific skills, or vague cultural attributes that favor certain types of people. There might also be an unwillingness to train new workers on-the-job, which was very common in the past.

So when employers complain about not being able to find workers, what they really mean is that they can’t find workers who meet their requirements at the wage they are willing to offer. With the cost of living rapidly rising in areas like San Francisco, where there are many STEM employers, it makes sense that workers would not apply for positions that offer wages they find to be too low.

The story is then not that there are too few STEM workers, but that employers will say they can’t find workers in order to increase the bargaining power that they have and hopefully lower their labor costs.

Same as it ever was. Same old shit.

If there were only a market-based solution to this….

Posted in Jobs | Leave a comment

Links 10/5/15

Links for you. Science:

­Protecting Apes Could Backfire
‘Good bacteria’ key to stopping asthma (as always, much more work to be done)
Plastic-eating worms may offer solution to mounting waste, researchers discover
Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s (I’m going with sleep deprivation, which no one talks about)
The Changing Face of Cystic Fibrosis


The Reformy Arguments Are Getting Worser
Peeple Bleater
Samsung TVs Are Using Less Power in Efficiency Tests and More in the Real World
Paris’ Day Sans Cars Shows Us What Our Cities Can Be
Red Line driver injects humor into his work
Anti-#Renoir direct action (I think this is real?)
Afghanistan: MSF staff killed and hospital partially destroyed in Kunduz
Republicans Have No Answer for Roseburg: Obama says that our gun supply leads to more deaths. The GOP has no plausible alternative theory (because they don’t care)
3 White Elephants That Help Explain America’s Infrastructure Crisis
MSF hospital: US condemned over ‘horrific bombing’ in Afghanistan
The model minority is losing patience
The mysterious nature of the “juvenile sex offender”: New research casts doubt on practical meaningfulness of emergent category
Washington Post Runs Anti-Sanders Editorial In News Section
Reporting Is Ugly

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

Why We Should Name Shooters

The sheriff of the Oregon County where the recent gun-dependent mass murder at Umpqua Community College in Oregon recently called for not naming the murderer. From a guy who was a Sandy Hook truther–someone who has doubts about the murder of small school children in Newtown, CT–and who also opposes any gun control, this is especially stupid.

Why? Because if we don’t know the details of why a mass murder committed murder by gun, the only thing we can conclude is that the gun was the key element*. You can’t blame it on something else, such as mental illness, if all we know is that someone with a gun killed a lot of people.

Then again, internal consistency isn’t these fucking morons strong suit.

*Which it is.

Posted in Ammosexuals, Fucking Morons | Leave a comment

Overnight Deliveries Are A Stupid Way to Reduce Traffic Congestion

So, of course, the District Department of Transportation (‘DDOT’) supports it (boldface mine):

Now federal transportation officials are looking for a solution to get the delivery trucks blamed for clogging the roads off the streets during the busiest hours of the day.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a pilot program to encourage overnight deliveries in an effort to relieve congestion on city streets. The District started experimenting with this idea last spring, also hoping to reduce congestion downtown and in other busy corridors.

“The problem of daytime truck traffic is well-known to any major city in the United States, and it’s time for new solutions,” said Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau in a statement. “While aggravating local traffic, trucks too have been forced to crawl through city streets – causing businesses losses in time, money and productivity.”

Transportation officials say switching the hours of truck deliveries to off-peak times when traffic is lighter and curb space more available could be a win-win situation in cities like Washington suffering from chronic traffic congestion. Truck drivers would spare themselves from the bumper-to-bumper traffic that delays them, while other road users wouldn’t have to deal with trucks blocking travel lanes and parking access.

Truck drivers. Other road users. You know who isn’t mentioned once in the entire fucking article? Residents. If you’ve ever lived near a business receiving middle-of-the-night deliveries, you know the joy of being woken up by a truck’s reverse gear alarm, followed by twenty minutes of engine idling. I can’t help but think that many of the DDOT personnel who think this is so goddamn wonderful either don’t live in D.C. at all, or else live in the very suburban parts of the city.

What’s infuriating about this is that the problem of too many cars–we need trucks for deliveries–is elevated above residents. Rather than figuring out how to get more D.C. workers either to live in D.C. or to use mass transit to get to work, DDOT’s solution is to jolt residents out of bed in the wee hours of the morning.

That should be the “new solution.”

Fucking morons.

Posted in Fucking Morons, Transportation | 1 Comment

Links 10/4/15

Links for you. Science:

I retire today
Introducing the Sequel System: The Scalable Platform for SMRT Sequencing
Where in the Solar System Are We Most Likely to Find Life?
Driving–even living near traffic–makes us dumb, sick and lonely
The Antifungal Literature Has Problems


Slavery Myths Debunked–The Irish were slaves too; slaves had it better than Northern factory workers; black people fought for the Confederacy; and other lies, half-truths, and irrelevancies.
The Metro map could have looked like this
More than Mail: Why the United States Post Office Deserves a Square Deal
Where Did All The Teachers Go
Fight Over Postal Service Board Heats Up as Labor/Consumer Advocates/Minority Coalition Opposes Payday Lender Lobbyist, Privatization Backers
The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland
As fatalities rise, says Philip Kingston, Dallas must stop ‘building streets that hurt pedestrians’
Person First Project – Ken
The Best Ways to Get to Work, According to Science
Comm. Ave. revamp could mean a pedestrian-friendly intersection with Harvard Ave.
Pope Francis’ Meeting Wasn’t an Endorsement of Kim Davis’s Views, Vatican Says
Will Any Presidential Candidate Support Banning Handguns?
Wonks for Hire
Eiron, the Goddess of Irony…

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

Gun Use As a Public Health Problem

Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog makes an excellent point (boldface mine):

I’m not part of the gun culture — I don’t own guns and haven’t known many people who do. But I don’t condemn the culture outright. It seems to me that most gun owners are right when they say that their use of guns is careful and responsible.

But the problem is that the gun culture doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the possibility that some people really shouldn’t go anywhere near a gun….

How do we think about alcohol in this culture?

I drink — not much, but I like drinking. Most people I know like drinking. But I don’t have trouble keeping multiple thoughts about drinking in my head simultaneously: Drinking can be very pleasant — but I shouldn’t drink to excess, and everyone should avoid drinking and driving, and drinking can be a problem if it’s your way of dealing with emotional distress, and some people simply can’t handle drinking at all. I think most of us can hold all those thoughts in our heads at once. We’ll proudly raise a toast at our daughter’s wedding, but we also know that alcoholics need to steer clear of the bottle.

Is the gun culture able to think like that? It seems to me that the gun culture thinks gun use is healthy recreation for everyone except criminals and terrorists. Guns are always good for what ails you! Certainly it’s never worrisome if someone in emotional pain is surrounded by guns. I grew up hunting. Guns have always been a part of my life. That’s true for everyone around here. And on and on….

Members of the gun culture, I’m not recommending that you forswear guns — I’m saying that you should recognize that gun use isn’t healthy for everyone. Maybe you need to take a closer look at some of your fellow gun users. Maybe some of them need an intervention — which doesn’t mean that your gun use is a problem. They just need to be separated from guns.

It’s worth noting that Mercer washed out of basic training–the Army didn’t think he should carry a gun.

Posted in Ammosexuals, BANG! BANG! | 1 Comment

Why I Am Hesitant About Hillary Clinton

Let me state right out that Clinton would be a better president than any of the Republicans on offer (though that could be construed as damning with faint praise). But what has frustrated me about being a Democrat since Bill Clinton’s presidency is that rank-and-file Democrats have had to fight like hell against the putative leaders of our party just to prevent things from getting worse.

Even though Bernie Sanders isn’t great on gun control (and I pointed this out long before it was cool), he does have one advantage:

Sanders is one way–not the only way–to put pressure on Clinton to adopt policies liked by the rank-and-file (could we for once, not have to fight our own party’s attempt to further shred what remains of the social safety net?).

Gaius Publius spells this out clearly (boldface mine):

Let’s look at what Sanders could accomplish without Congress. I want to divide these accomplishments into two groups — “What I will never do” and “What I will absolutely do, starting day one.” This piece is about the first list, some of the “actions” you will never see from a successful Bernie Sanders….

Consider how much time and energy was drained from the progressive community in fighting against Barack Obama’s wrong-headed neo-liberal initiatives. Think of the enormous effort to stop Fast Track (which failed). The long effort to stop the Keystone Pipeline (which may succeed, but with a huge expenditure of energy). The effort to constantly, year after year after year, block cuts to Social Security and Medicare (which have so far succeeded, but the fight is far from over).

And on and on, going all the way back to the beginning, 2009, when the progressive community (and progressives in Congress) got stiffed by the Affordable Care Act and its lack of a public option, which our community fought and fought to retain (a fight that failed).

In fact, the progressive community has been in constant battle with “our” Executive Branch on what I’ve called Obama’s four big “legacy” items, his want-list:

  1. Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
  2. A “grand bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
  3. Plentiful oil and gas (burnable carbon), and passage of the Keystone Pipeline
  4. Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement

Obama has been very good on many things, including peace with Iran, but not on these. Thousands of capable progressives have used hundreds of thousands of uphill hours resisting Obama’s constant attempts to roll neo-liberal boulders down the hill at them.

What could be done if we could have those hours back, hours we could use in a different way, use on proactive goals, instead of constantly playing defense against “our” president? This is not a trivial problem. Under a real progressive president — a President Sanders who kept his word, for example — you would never have to fight those things. Would that please you? Would it feel like a gift to be handed that freed-up time? Would if feel like a Sanders accomplishment if he gave it to you?

Here’s the first part of my imagined, Sanders-like “what I will accomplish” speech. It’s entitled “What I Will Never Do.” Keep in mind, this is me and my imagined progressive talking. But also keep in mind how relieved you would feel to hear these words from someone who meant them.

If you elect me president, here’s what I will never do

    ▪ You can count on me never to push a plan to cut Social Security and Medicare. Not one person outside of government will have to spend one minute trying to prevent me from privatizing — or cutting in any way — these vital programs. Not one minute. And if Congress proposes these cuts and it reaches my desk, you won’t have to spend one minute asking me to veto that proposal. It’s vetoed the minute it arrives.

    ▪ I will never negotiate a so-called “trade” deal that sends American jobs across our borders. No one will have to spend one minute asking me to stop a deal that hurts American workers. I will support only trade deals that increase American jobs, that create new workers in this country, that increase our balance of payments, and nothing less.

    ▪ No one will have to spend one minute stopping me from granting coal, oil and gas leases on lands or in waters controlled by the Department of the Interior. Not one minute. Drilling in the Arctic? You won’t even have to ask. The answer is already No. New coal leases? Not one. Dangerous and deadly-to-the-climate offshore drilling leases? Those days are over.

    Soon I will tell you what I will do to aggressively bring down carbon emissions. But if I don’t start here, with what I won’t do, how will you know I’m serious?

    ▪ You will never see me even contemplate extending tax breaks for the very rich, as we saw all too often in our recent past — for example, during the negotiations to extend the Bush tax cuts, or negotiations at the end of the last fiscal year. Any such deal that reaches my desk will go straight back to Congress for renegotiation.

    If Congress wants a bill, they can give me one I can sign. If they want to shut down the government over tax breaks for the very very wealthy, they will shut it down, and I will explain it that way to the American people. If they want me to sign a bill, any bill, they need to understand — tax breaks for the rich can never be a part of it.

In other words, you’ll never have to lobby me to not do what I said I would never do. You can spend your precious time, your precious energy, in other ways. There are many things I will do as well. Some I will do alone, using the power of the Executive Branch. And some I will ask your help to do because we need help from others. But the things I listed above, and many more besides, will never be contemplated.

I hope you agree that sparing you the constant effort to stop these wrong acts is indeed an accomplishment, and one you’ll be glad, even eager, to have. It’s one I’ll certainly be glad and eager to give you.

I doubt Sanders will be the nominee, but a strong Sanders candidacy forces Clinton to lay down some real markers–and given her long history with ‘New Democrats’, I don’t trust her to not sell out the rank-and-file Democrats (just this week, we learned about Clinton’s successful effort to change forms at the State Department from “parent 1 and 2” to “mother” and father” because she was afraid of receiving criticism from Sarah Palin).

If Sanders were the nominee, given Clinton’s lack of persona on the stump, it’s not clear he would be any worse as a campaigner. And if he did win, we wouldn’t have to defend the core programs of the Democratic Party from its supposed leadership.

Posted in Democrats | 6 Comments