Saturday Morning Notes

Despite Economic Improvements, Africa Still Needs Aid
In the summer of 1985 Bob Geldof rounded up many of the top names in music to host a daylong concert dedicated to raising awareness to the famine ravaging Africa. Almost thirty years later, Geldof is once again calling attention to the need for aid to combat poverty.

Geldof recognizes the advancements made and that today’s Africa can showcase “some of the world’s fastest growing economies” and that nearly two dozen of Africa’s 54 nations “have now reached middle income status, and more undoubtedly will do so by 2025.”

Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff also noted the gains made in combating poverty in recent decades, noting the Millennium Development Goals as a positive influence.

But, he adds, almost 40 percent of Africa’s one billion population still live on $1.25 per day or less; as many as 19,000 children died from diseases that might have been prevented with measures such as routine immunization; and “in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman faces a 1 in 39 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.” These statistics, Geldof says, is a reminder that Africa still needs foreign aid.

When A Decline In The Unemployment Rate Is Bad News
The unemployment rate declined from 7.7% to a four-year low of 7.6%. Certainly good news worthy of cheer. Or not. One of the pitfalls in the current age of instant analysis is the failure to look beyond the headlines at the broader data. Politicians and partisans engaged in their usual post-report blame game, but few provided anything deeper than quote-worthy sound bites.

The more important figures to consider when determining the strength of the US labor market might be the labor participation rate, which the Wall Street Journal notes, fell or stayed flat in the recessions of 1973-75, 1981-82 and 1990-91, but then rebounded and kept climbing in the expansions that followed.

Today, the civilian labor participation rate 63.3% — 2.4 points
lower than June 2009 when the recovery began and the lowest rate since May 1979. As with months past, the strongest job growth occurred in professional services and in health care.










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