Random Numbers Posts: Beveridge Curve, Student Loans versus Car Loans, Ratio of Working-Class to Prisoners

Three random numbers related items I want to get on the blog before I forget.

Beveridge Curve

I am sadly becoming old and less cool, because I totally missed the rollout of the JOLTS – Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey – numbers this month. Job openings dropped to 2.3% from 2.4% while unemployment stayed the same.  This means even less evidence for those who think our problems is, like Napoleon Dynamite put it in a different context, that the unemployed don’t have any good skills:

Student Loans versus Car Loans

From the New York Fed’s Quarterly Report on Credit, there are almost as many student loans as there are car loans in the country:

79.74 million auto loans, 78.59 million student loans.  These are accounts, not number of people.  People can have multiple student loans or multiple auto loans.

As Felix Salmon dug out, the New York Fed is actually missing a ton of student debt in this report, so it is certainly higher and we will report it when the New York Fed updates.  There’s something clever to be said about what kinds of debt are necessary to be mobile – physically and economically – in the way we’ve set up our society that I’ll hopefully get back to.

Ratio of Working-Class to Prisoners

Doug Henwood doesn’t like Angela Davis’ advice for Occupy Wall Street to identify with the defeated:  “There are about 70 times as many employed members of the working class as there are prisoners in the U.S….Why such an emphasis on people with no social power?”

Now I’m more of a “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free” guy myself, but everyone has different opinions on Occupy Wall Street. But what about that “70 times” number?  Does that sound right?

Let’s get some numbers on the table. First, numbers on those under various forms of state control:

I’m going to count parole/probation as under state control.  Our system of parole/probation function to help create the conditions of permanent imprisonment: “The American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section recently embarked on a project to catalogue all state and federal statutes and regulations that impose legal consequences on the fact of a felony conviction. As of May 2011, the project had catalogued over 38,000 such provisions, and project advisors estimate that the final number could reach or exceed 50,000.”  25,000 state regulations working their magic on the bodies of the recently imprisoned I can ignore. 50,000 is harder. Talk about a need to deregulate!

How to define working class?  I’m going to define working class as non-supervisory workers.  Using CES, non-farm, let’s start with private, non-supervisory employees, which is around 90.1 million, out of a total private labor force of 109.3 million.   There are approximately 22 million government workers, with the majority at the local level.  Assuming non-supervisory government workers are the same ratio as in the private sector, that’s about 18.1 million non-supervisory government workers.  So about 108.2 working class workers.

So 7.4 million people under carceral control and 108.2 working class workers gives us a ratio of 15:1.  For every 15 working-class workers, there’s a person under carceral control.  Crazy.

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8 Responses to Random Numbers Posts: Beveridge Curve, Student Loans versus Car Loans, Ratio of Working-Class to Prisoners

  1. Aditya says:

    I find the last stat horrendous. It ill befits a first world nation.

  2. Adam says:

    I understand the concept you provide as carceral control, but I feel that of the approximate 5 million you listed under probation/parole the assumption that not one of them contributes as a working class citizen makes the statistic grossly inaccurate. I do however agree that 70 to 1 is also an inappropriate portrayal.

  3. Pingback: Debt, Rights and Social Goods « thecurrentmoment

  4. nah says:

    15:1 is not grossly inaccurate… even if you assume all 5M are working class, that just makes the ratio of non-criminal working class to criminals slightly worse, at 14:1 instead. (13.9 vs 14.6). Within the implied margin of error

  5. Dana says:

    I thought the mortgage loan curve was the most interesting–maybe old news to you guys? The Q1’06-Q1’11 looks like a bump not a bubble. Obviously there were a lot of new entrants to the mortgage market, but it hardly looks to me like a wanton subprime bacchanalia. I suppose the size of the debt involved is an important consideration.

  6. ZeroInMyOnes says:

    In 2008 mortgages and car loans begin to decline, while student loans continue rising and even accelerate. No doubt our preciously overbuilt colleges need to hammer the desperate message that ‘education is important’ in order to keep the customers coming. Our young people are being told that paying a college tuition is an ‘investment in yourself’, but maybe it is more an investment in a college’s whopping mortgage on a posh student union building….

  7. Pingback: A Failed Social Model: Providing Basic Goods Through Crushing Consumer Debt » New Deal 2.0

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