Tom Bozzo Defends Bob Herbert

Brad DeLong had a number of critics of a recent op-ed from Bob Herbert. While Tom Bozzo didn’t go after the CPI claim, he did offer a counter to almost everything else Brad complained about.

I’ll let others decide who is more correct on most of these, but Tom offers up several of my posts on the employment-population ratio as evidence that Herbert’s claim is right and Brad’s complaint is misguided. Let’s recall that Herbert said:

The job market has been weak for years.

Now let’s see what Brad said:

The job market has not been as strong as the unemployment rate suggests, but it has not been extraordinarily weak.

Our graph shows the employment-population ratio from January 1997 to September 2007. My view is that the 64 percent plus employment-population ratio that we saw before the 2001 recession was an exceptionally strong labor market. Surely, the labor market was quite weak in 2002 and 2003. We saw some improvement over the next three years with the employment to population ratio reaching 63.4 percent by December 2006. Several of our conservative economist blogger friends were suggesting that we were near full employment at that time. I have also expressed concern that the labor market strength has been slipping since then. On almost every AB post Tom provides, I got the sense that Brad had a very similar view. For Mr. Herbert to say that the job market has been weak for years is not entirely accurate in my view. I think Brad’s statement is.

Update: At Brad DeLong’s suggestion, I have extended the graph so that it starts in January 1990. Thanks Brad for the suggestion.