NDN Blog

Despite Global Shockwaves, U.S. Economy Continues Strong ’14 Recovery

Two years ago, the idea of having an unemployment rate of 5.9% seemed impossible. But as the U.S. enters the final quarter of the calendar year, the economy continues to show impressive job growth and underlying strength. NDN’s Dr. Shapiro covered last month’s job report in-depth, but there has been additional good news in the last few weeks.

Firstly, jobless claims have fallen to the lowest level since 2000 as only a seasonal adjusted 264,000 people applied for initial unemployment benefits. The amount of job openings in the U.S. economy is also at a 14 year high—with 4.84 million availabilities according to the Department of Labor. And in the past year, the U.S. has added over 2.64 million jobs over the past 12 months—and we’ve seen many months in 2014 with over 200,000 jobs added. Not all aspects of the economy are growing so quickly; in particular wage growth has been slow throughout most of the economic recovery. ADP and the Bureau of Labor Statistics disagree on exactly how much wages have grown (4.5% versus a more sluggish 2%). The difference is important: it makes the difference between a more sluggish or robust recovery for the average American.

With the Holiday Season just around the corner, experts will keep an eye on these economic indicators and others. If growth continues at a similar rate, the United States would finish 2014 having had its best economic growth of the new millennium. Not bad for a country that just six years ago was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month.  

Oct 21: Simon to Speak at MPI's 11th Immigration and Law Policy Conference

On Tuesday, October 21st, Simon will join a panel at the 11th annual Immigration and Law Policy Conference at Georgetown University Law Center. The panel Simon is joining includes: political commentator Ana Navarro, American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Norman Orstein, and Marc Rosenblum, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Programs at the Migration Policy Institute. The group will discuss the rationale behind President Obama’s decision to delay action on immigration, the potential beneficiaries of future action by the Obama Administration, and the impact of policy choices by both Democrats and Republicans on the midterm and 2016 elections.

The event is co-hosted by Georgetown University Law Center, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the Migration Policy Institute, and the New York Center for Migration Studies. Their discussion begins promptly at 11:30 am and will run until about 1 pm.

In order to attend the panel, you must register for the conference as a whole by October 17th. It is a full day of exciting panels and guest speakers. The Migration Policy Institute has more information on this year’s conference and full rundown of events up on their website. Georgetown University Law Center is located at 600 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. Panels will be held in the Hart Auditorium in the Bernard P. McDonough Hall. 


NDN/NPI President Simon Rosenberg Selected To Join State Department Advisory Committee (ACICIP)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

NDN/NPI is pleased to share that its President, Simon Rosenberg, has been selected to join the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP). Simon joins over 40 other leading industry thought leaders that assist the State Department on policy issues, including technology research and development, regulatory policy, the activities of international organizations, and other policy priorities.

Hosted by Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, the U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, the Committee meets at least twice a year. In addition, members offer advice to the State Department, take on special projects, and consult with stakeholders such as the U.S. Government, federal agencies or private groups. For additional information on ACICIP, please visit the State Department’s site here.

Simon’s appointment was confirmed at the Committee’s most recent meeting on September 26th, 2014. He looks forward to further involvement with ACICIP and in this policy space in the weeks and months ahead.  

Transcript: Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas at NDN Event

On September 16th, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas joined NDN at the National Press Club to discuss the agency's work on addressing the Central American Migrant Crisis. We have posted the full transcript of his remarks below . The Administration has an excellent summary of its efforts in this post on the White House Blog. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Commisioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs through the most recent data and illustrates the steps taken to stem the crisis.


Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas’ Remarks at NDN

September 16, 2014

Unofficial Transcript

Thank you very much Simon, and thanks to all of you for dedicating a few minutes of your time this morning. I should say that is not the way the interview with Secretary Johnson went. Be that as it may. I’m going to be very brief. I want to share with you just a few thoughts about our response to the surge in the migration of unaccompanied children to the southwest border and of course specifically to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of that border. And then leave it to you to leave as much time for question and answer. I see representatives from the embassies. I see journalists I know. And of course I see wonderful advocates very dedicated to the issues. And I want to give everyone as much time to ask whatever questions are on your mind. I know that some will be difficult and some less so. Simon aptly described this as a difficult situation.

Our response to it is characteristic of how we would respond to situations as a Department and that is in a very comprehensive way across the department. It was but five months ago when we first began to experience a really dramatic surge in the number of children arriving at and apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector of the border. More than 300 in a day. And very quickly Secretary Johnson raised the level to the highest level of contingency planning in the department which meant that not only the traditional agencies in the department would respond to this situation, but rather the department as a whole would. And shortly thereafter, the President directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the capable leadership of Craig Fugate would lead an all of government response. It is now five months later and the number of children arriving at and apprehended at our border is dramatically lower than it was five months ago. And that I think that is a result of a number of factors, many within our control and some perhaps outside of the control of the Department and the government generally.

Historically, for example, the month of August has seen a precipitous drop in the number of migrants reaching the southwest border by virtue of the season, the time of year, the heat and the like. So that very well may play a factor in what we observed in the dramatic decline. But clearly the response of the United States Government and the Department of Homeland Security on point, as well as the responses of our partner countries, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have all played a part. And let me if I can, just briefly describe our response and what we have done in the surge of resources and bringing together all of the assets of the Department of Homeland Security and the government of the United States to be where we are today.

And I should at the outset say two things. One, it would be premature at best to declare victory. To say the problem is behind us because we don’t know. And so what we have achieved is tremendous progress. And the second point is that if indeed we begin to observe an uptick in the number of unaccompanied children migrating to the southwest border, specifically the Rio Grande Valley, we are prepared to address that uptick very swiftly.

One of the first things that we did, both to prevent the migration of those youth to the southwest border and to accomplish a very important humanitarian protection mission is surge law enforcement resources to combat the traffickers and smugglers that were bringing the children to the Rio Grande Valley sector. And we did that with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Homeland Security Investigations officers, with our partners in Mexico, with other law enforcement agencies in our administration, and we surged resources, more than 50 investigators and tremendous resources not only to address the trafficking networks and the people that are conducting them but also to address the flow of funds from the illegal enterprise. We had a number of operations working in parallel that have yielded tremendous results to date.

We engaged in a public messaging campaign that had two main components to it. One was to dissuade individuals from taking the perilous journey from their countries of origin across Mexico and to the southern border. And I think we are all acutely aware of the perils of that type of journey, even for an adult, let alone for a child who is unaccompanied. And that was a very significant area of focus for us. The second was to counter what we learned to be a very significant misinformation campaign on the part of smugglers and others. And that was that if you can get to the southwest border, if you can get to the United States and be apprehended you had a permiso, you had the ability to enter the United States and remain in the United States lawfully. You could avail yourself of comprehensive immigration reform when that would pass or alternatively you could avail yourself of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, as it is commonly known by its acronym. Both very significant pieces of misinformation, and we engaged with our partners to the south in a very vigorous public messaging campaign to dissuade people from taking the perilous journey and from setting the record straight with respect to the fact that relief would not be provided to them under either of those programs.

We accelerated the cases, the processing of the recent arrivals. I should say at the outset of this tremendous spike our facilities on the border there are not designed for the long term detention of children or families. We have under the law an obligation to turn over a child in our custody to Health and Human Services within 72 hours. When three, four hundred children a day were arriving we were not meeting that 72 hour threshold and now we’re well under it and we’re managing the process very ablely. And we accelerated our processing of children, of family cases while adhering to our legal requirements and values as a nation. We built facilities. We developed facilities for the detention of families and adults traveling with children. And I know very well, and I’m sure I’ll be asked about this, I know that the conditions in those facilities have been a concern to advocates in the community and we have responded to those concerns very vigorously.

When the concerns were first surfacing, Secretary Johnson had planned to send two experts in immigration, David Shahoulian and Serena Hoy, relatively new arrivals in our Department of Homeland Security. Many of the advocates in the audience know them both well for the quality of their work and their expertise and lifelong dedication to these issues. He was planning to send them to observe the facilities, but accelerated their visit to the Artesia facility in response to the concerns articulated by the community, the concerns about the ability to conduct screening of a parent outside the presence of a child; issues of concerns of access to counsel; the scheduling of interviews; the privacy of spaces and the like. And we have responded to those concerns as quickly as possible. And our response is ongoing. We understand those concerns and we want the conditions of our facilities to be at the highest levels that everyone here would embrace.

We are working as I alluded to earlier. We have worked and continue to work with the governments of Mexico, with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to build the repatriation capacity, to work on the public messaging, to interdict individuals seeking to cross borders illegally, to address and attack the smuggling and trafficking organizations. It’s been a very holistic approach in that regard while ensuring that the humanitarian protections of individuals seeking refuge under the law, seeking refugee protection here in the United States for example are honored, that our credible fear screening is comprehensive and is as fulsome and sensitive to the needs of the children as all would expect.

And lastly, not most importantly, but at least equally as important perhaps most importantly to the future, is investing in the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and providing them with the resources to address the situation of violence in the towns and cities, to address the causes of despair that would lead a parent to send a child unaccompanied from one of those countries on a long and dangerous traverse to the United States. And I do think that the investment of resources is perhaps the most important of all with respect to the future and the future children in those communities. And with that I conclude and I thank you for being here and I really welcome your questions and comments. 

DHS Deputy Mayorkas Speaks at NDN

On September 16th, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas joined NDN at the National Press Club to discuss the Obama Administration's border security strategy and comprehensive response to the influx of unaccompanied minors in the Southwest border. He recapped the Administration's engaged in an aggressive response to stem the flow of Central American migrants. In July and August, this effort resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of migrants attempting to cross the southwest border.

We have posted the full transcript of his remarks here or in pdf form below. The Administration has an excellent summary of its efforts in this post on the White House Blog. R. Gil Kerlikowske, the Commisioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs through the most recent data and illustrates the steps taken to stem the crisis.

The event was covered in major publications, including:

"The child migrant crisis seems to be over. What happened?", Dara Lind, Vox.com, 9/19/14 

"DHS 'Will Respond Aggressively' To Reported Mistreatment of Immigrant Detainees," Elise Foley,Huffington Post, 9/16/14

"Homeland Security: No Evidence ISIS Plotting to Cross Southern Border," Jordan Fabian, Fusion, 9/16/14

"DHS Official: Feds, heat beating back surge of illegal border crossings," Benjamin Goad, The Hill, 9/16/14

"White House: Unaccompanied Minor Crisis All But Over," Jim Avila and Serena Marshall, ABC News, 9/16/14

"Deputy Homeland Security Secretary: Border More Secure Than Ever," Maya Rhodan, Time Magazine, 9/16/14


Exports in Metropolitan Areas Across America Continue To Grow

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) recently released two reports showcasing how exports are helping businesses and communities grow across the country. ITA found that exports in the surveyed Metropolitan Areas had increased by 50% since 2009. The second report shared that 7.1 million US jobs were supported by the export of goods last year. The Obama Administration has made increasing exports a key Commerce priority under the National Export Initiative (NEI).

Metropolitan Area Exports Report

 Department of Commerce

ITA calculated that a record number of goods and services—valued at 2.3 trillion dollars--were exported in 2013. 387 Metro Areas were surveyed overall, with 208 seeing positive growth in 2013. Of those that grew, 156 of the Metro areas surveyed exported over $1 billion of goods. 134 areas recorded export numbers that were an all-time high. Five Midwestern metro areas, located in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Wyoming, Kentucky, Michigan, and Utah, exported over $1 billion in goods for the first time ever. Overall, there was a growth in exports in Metropolitan Areas of $42.8 billion or 3.1% from 2012 – 2013. This is excellent news as we are seeing areas across the country continue to grow and expand trade internationally.

Jobs in States Supported By Exports Report

This is the first time that Commerce Department has produced this report, which focused on the relationship between states that export and job growth. The Census Bureau contributed to the report via offering “origin of movement” data—which showcases where an export begins its journey (i.e. within a particular state). In 2013, 7.1 million jobs across the country were shown to be directly supported by the export of goods, and a total of 11.3 million jobs supported by exports, when including service exports (these are not tracked by the Census Bureau). The Department of Commerce noted separately that exports of manufactured products supported 6.2 million jobs.  

Early Reports: ACA having a Positive Impact on U.S. Healthcare System

In recent weeks there has been a slew of good news about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These early reports indicate that the ACA is achieving some of its main objectives of reducing the number of uninsured Americans and bending the cost curve. Consider these facts:

The number of uninsured Americans has dropped dramatically.

  • The rate dropped dramatically in states like Arkansas and Kentucky, where the uninsured population fell by 10.1 and 8.5 percentage points respectively.
  • Studies show that the ACA’s first year has led to about 9.5 million less uninsured Americans.


Premiums rate increases are below historical averages

Map, credit to Vox.com

  • According to Vox, the average premium increase would be 8.2%, less than the healthcare market typically grew in the years prior to the passage of healthcare reform. 


The ACA is contributing to a lower federal budget deficit and helping to reign in healthcare costs

Chart, credit to HuffingtonPost 


  • Healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP has decreased for two consecutive years. This is the first time that this has happened in 15 years.
  • The New York Times highlighted a report that the expected cost of Medicare continues to drop drastically from previous projects. Between a report released in 2006 and the most recent estimate, there is a $95 billion difference in how much Medicare is expected to cost the government. The Times notes that the ACA has played a role by helping to bend the cost curve.
  •  National Health Expenditures is projected to increase over the next decade according to a report by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  NHE will only grow by an average rate of 5.8% from 2012 - 2022, which is lower than the historical average.

Recent Data Points to Improved U.S. Economic Conditions

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that once again first time unemployment benefits claims had fallen by 14,000 and the one-month average hovers at about 300,000 claims. At the start of the recession, each week brought about 650,000 additional unemployment benefit claims. As more Americans have found work and the economy has improved under the Obama Administration, this number has plummeted. This positive economic news follows the Commerce Department’s GDP report in July that the U.S. economy grew by 4.0%. In addition, the U.S. economy created over 200,000 jobs for six straight months for the first time since 1997.  

Credit to Steve Benen, TheMaddowBlog

This flurry of positive economic news reinforces a trend that has accelerated over the past two years of the second Obama term:  the economy is getting better. The unemployment rate continues to fall and by early next year could drop below the 6% mark.  The President has successfully cut the deficit by 2/3rds since its high-point when he entered office, when the country stood on the precipice of an economic depression. The rate of uninsured has also continued to drop—even dramatically in states like Kentucky and Arkansas (by 8.5 and 10.1 percentage points respectively according to Gallup).

The way that Americans view the economy is also beginning to change, according to recently released Pew Data. Over the past six months, Americans who feel like they hear mostly bad news on the economy has dropped from 33% to 24%; many people now feel as that they are receiving mixed signals (64%). Feelings on the job market is more positive with about 20% of the population now feeling as if they are hearing only good news, 44% mixed, and 34% only bad news. Though the negative numbers remain high, Pew calls the overall picture a “modest improvement in views of economic news”.     

This summer has brought new challenges for the United States, such as tension in the Middle East, in Ukraine, or resolving the Central American Migrant Crisis (see here for more of NDN’s work on the issue). These positive economic developments have flown under the radar during this hectic summer. They are important to acknowledge: the President has made prudent choices that have put the U.S. economy on a more stable path moving forward.      

NDN in the News: Central American Migrant Crisis Press Mentions

NDN/NPI has recently weighed in on recent policy and political decisions around how to stem the Central American Migrant Crisis. Here are the recent articles that we have been mentioned in:

Amid Roiled Landscape of Border Politics, Obama’s Plans May Change, NPR, 7/17/14

Democrats Split Over Migrant Crisis, Jordan Fabian, Fusion, 7/16/14

Morning Plum: Once again House GOP tells Tea Party To Get Lost, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 7/16/14

On Immigration, the GOP has only one answer: Deport The Kids, Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 7/15/14

Activist: Despite recent problems, immigration policies on U.S.-Mexican Border largely a success, Chris McAdams, McClatchy Washington Bureau, 7/15/14

Bizarre Case of Jose Antonio Vargas Shows That The Border Is More Secure Than Ever, Igor Bobic, Huffington Post, 7/12/14

Border Crisis Scrambling the Politics of Immigration, Karen Tumulty and David Nakamura, Washington Post, 7/12/14

Amid Border Crisis, Advocates Talk Next Steps on Immigration, Suzanne Gamboa, NBCNews.com, 7/7/14

Obama has only bad options on Immigration, Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg News, 6/30/14

Immigration Reformers Favorite Spin on Migrant Crisis Is Dead Wrong, Dara Lind, Vox.com, 6/27/14

Care about Minors Crossing the Border?  Then Pass Immigration Reform Now!, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, 6/23/14



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