Tag Archives: bureau of labor statistics

Unemployment rate rises to 8.3% – again

The Bureau of Labor Statistics carefully wordsmithed today’s release of the July Employment Situation Report which showed that unemployment has hit 8.3% again despite a shrinking American workforce.

To downplay the alarming jobs news, the BLS used phrases like “essentially unchanged” to describe the increase in the most recognized measure on the health of the workforce. If the number had dropped to 8.1% it would, no doubt, have been a “marked decrease”.

The size of the workforce also decreased by almost 150,000 people. Referred to as essentially unchanged, this number shows that even though a huge number of Americans dropped out of the workforce (gave up on finding jobs), the rate of employment still rose to a level not seen since February.

The report claims that the economy gained 163,000 jobs, but when looking at the seasonally adjusted employment numbers according to the BLS population survey, there are almost 200,000 fewer people working in July than there were in June (142.4 million in June had jobs while only 142.2 million in July had employment).

Where the magical 163,000 jobs increase figure shows up is in the seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls number. These numbers are marked as preliminary and are likely to be adjusted downward to help the August jobs report not look as dismal as it likely will be.

There are 28 million Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a figure that has increase from 26.8 million at the end of the previous administration. The government counts 852,000 people to have given up on finding a job and 5.2 million have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more – an increase of more than 30,000 from June.

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) issued a statement this morning saying that “President Obama has said his economic policies have worked. He claims the private sector is doing just fine. The American people know differently, and that is why House Republicans voted this week to stop the tax hike on all Americans.” Rep. Price also said that he hoped “President Obama and Washington Democrats will acknowledge not only that we can do better but that we will do better when we put in place policies that stop growing the size of Washington and start growing confidence in our economy.”

First Time Unemployment Drops Again… But…

Like many I look forward to seeing the unemployment numbers released by the Department of Labor each Thursday morning. These numbers reflect individual’s initial filing for unemployment benefits. They are not indicative of new jobs. Job growth numbers come out the first Friday of each month (I also watch for this). Dropping first time unemployment numbers coupled with increasing new jobs results in lowered unemployment.

Many experts agree that if the first time unemployed numbers drop to 350,000 it will be a sign of a growing economy. Listening to some of the news reports one might expect that magic number is just around the corner. Here are a few headlines from today’s report:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Fewer Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, but any glimmer of good news was cancelled out as the Labor Department also revised last week’s figure higher.
About 387,000 people filed new jobless claims in the week ended June 16, down from the previous week’s figure, which was revised up to 389,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

USA Today — Weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000, the Labor Department said. That’s down from an upwardly revised 389,000.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dipped last week but not by enough to signal a better month of hiring in June.
Weekly applications for unemployment aid declined by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000, the Labor Department said. That’s down from an upwardly revised 389,000.

MSNBC — Jobless claims edge lower, remain elevated

Did you notice anything unusual?

They all, or at least most, note that this week’s lower number is being compared to a ‘revised’ number from last week. It first, it may seem innocuous, but as reported in May, in 59 out of the past 60 weeks the unemployment number was revised UP.  In other words, each week reporters stated that the new number was lower than the previous week. The initial numbers were always lower than the revisions. Isn’t that a statistical impossibility? How are these government estimators off the same direction each week? How many times can you flip a quarter and have it land on heads?

It is interesting to note that while the initial job numbers are big news each week the revisions rarely make headlines. So, what are we to make of this? Is our government purposely misleading citizens by underestimating numbers each week? Are they being more hopeful than realistic? Is this yet another political move geared toward the under-informed populous—those who catch the evening news and trust all that is reported?

What is for sure is that there are still too many companies laying off workers; too many skilled workers have taken part time or lower pay positions and too many workers who have given up and are no longer looking for jobs. The stimulus that promised to keep our employment under 8% may have staved off some government job cuts for a year or two but didn’t do much for the rest of us. We sure can use a jolt to the economy, something needs to change. And maybe then we’ll have some hope.

81,000 More Americans Out of Work in May – Analysis and Graphs

“The jobs recovery has taken a step backward,” – Patrick O’Keefe,  former deputy assistant secretary for the Labor Department.

While the Obama administration downplays the seriousness of the May jobs report, drilling into the numbers shows a much bleaker jobs situation and trend than the President would like to admit. A situation even darker for the 81,000 additional Americans that were unable to find gainful employment last month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment situation report this morning and revealed that only 69,000 jobs were added to the struggling economy in May. That is far less than the 115,000 initially reported for April and far worse than the almost a quarter-of-a-million jobs created in both January and February.

According to economists, at least 150,000 new jobs must be added to meet the number of new entrants into the workforce to improve the employment situation. For each month where new job creation falls below that mark, the difference represents more Americans unable to find work.

The chart (top left) illustrates the growing chasm between the number of new workers looking for work and the number of jobs being added to the economy.

Obama policies failing to create jobsIn May, just 69,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added, that leaves 81,000 new workers without the possibility of finding a job. In 11 of the past 17 months (going back to January 2011), there have not been enough jobs created to handle the additional workers entering the labor force, much less to allow the 13 million Americans already out-of-work. This results in a heavily-negative employment climate for the majority of the last year-and-a-half.

We used a period starting in 2011 to give Obama’s policies enough time to take hold and show improvement in the economy. Taking 2009 and 2010 out of the analysis should show whether President Obama has been able to at least improve on the economic situation he blames on the Bush administration or if his policies are ineffective. Even taking out those early years of his term, the numbers are staggeringly negative and point to an administration that has failed to put Americans back to work.

Todd Schoenberger, managing principal The BlackBay Group said, “It’s painfully obvious the economic recovery in the U.S. isn’t just slowing down, it’s pulling up the emergency brake.”

For those that are employed, “their spending power is sliding when accounting for inflation.” he added.

As was noted in USAToday, the May report held other bad news:

Also worrisome: the average workweek fell to 34.4 hours from 34.5 hours in April. That doesn’t bode well for additional hiring in the near term. Employers typically increase the hours of existing employees before hiring additional staff.

Considering the recent trends and more recent data, things are not looking up.

If the job gains (losses) are summed over the entire period of the analysis (chart left), the dire state of the American jobs situation is clear. The U.S. economy has shed almost 400,000 jobs in the most recent 17 months of the Obama presidency. It would seem that the further the country progresses through the Obama agenda, the worse the economy gets.


*all charts and statistics were created directly from data provided in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Reports from January 2011 to May 2012.


8.6% Unemployment is NOT Good News

To read the first paragraph of the Bureau of Labor statistics one might think that the jobs situation in the United States has improved significantly.

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care. Government employment continued to trend down.

In the detailed data section of the report, the picture becomes much less rosy.

120,000 new jobs were created according to the report. It has long been stated that growth of more than 240,000 jobs per month would be needed to get the unemployment rate to drop this dramatically. How is just 140,000 enough to lower the unemployment rate from 9.0% to 8.6%?  Far more jobs have been added in previous months and no such reduction in the overall unemployment rate resulted?

In September, the labor department reported 158,000 new jobs (which has since been revised up to 210,000 jobs). Why was there no .4% change in the unemployment rate in that month?

Also to note is that the number of long-term unemployed (jobless for more than 27 weeks) did not change at all – holding strong at 5.7 million which is 43% of all unemployed persons.

The only answer is that workforce participation must have drastically fallen and the report says as much. According to the BLS report, the civilian labor force participation rate declined by .2%. That can be interpreted to mean that half of the reported unemployment rate drop is due to people giving up on the idea of getting a job – at all.

In February, CDN reported the worst labor participation rates in 25 years at 64.2%. That was the only reason the unemployment rate dropped to 9% at that time. The new BLS report for November shows the participation rate at 64% – and another suspect drop in the unemployment rate is correlated.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis purports that lengthening unemployment insurance has been successful and is the only answer:

We know what has worked: extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance, and making smart investments in our economy. The clock is ticking. If Congress doesn’t extend emergency unemployment benefits for our long-term unemployed this month, 5 million Americans will lose their benefits next year. These are the everyday heroes of our recovery who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They spend all day, every day filling out applications, sending out resumes and looking for work. Now is not the time to turn our backs on them. They deserve better. They deserve action.