Tag Archives: employment situation report

April Employment Report: Jobs Situation Still Sucks

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their Employment Situation Report for April and there was no good news in it – at all.

The report pushed to the headline the usual artfully constructed numbers – last months job creation and the unemployment rate.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in April, and the 
unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today.

That’s great news right? I mean, in March we only created 126,000 jobs and 223 is bigger than 126! Not so fast.

Digging deeper, it’s clear that Americans are not finding jobs and that we’re getting smoke blown up our butts.

The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks increased by 241,000 
to 2.7 million in April. The number of long-term unemployed (those 
jobless for 27 weeks or more) changed little at 2.5 million, accounting 
for 29.0 percent of the unemployed.

The number of people unable to find a job in the short term increased by a quarter-of-a-million and the number of longer-term jobless stayed the same. Not sure where the good news is in those two numbers.

Some other quotes from the report indicate that things really aren’t getting better, which means they are still awful unless you’re a politician or already wealthy (isn’t that the same thing?) Ok, I digress here are the low points:

  • In April, the civilian labor force participation rate (62.8 percent) 
    changed little. Since April 2014, the participation rate has remained 
    within a narrow range of 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent.
  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes 
    referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.6 
    million in April
  • In April, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor 
    force, little changed over the year
  • Among the marginally attached, there were 756,000 discouraged workers 
    in April, little different from a year earlier.

How does an employment situation – that has changed little in the last year – get reported as good? The job market sucked a year ago. Now the report says it hasn’t changed – ergo – the job market still sucks!

The downward revisions of the previous month’s report is where the real bad news shows up.

the change for March was revised from +126,000 to +85,000 ... Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 191,000 per month.

March had already come in with some of the weakest numbers in awhile, now they’ve been revised down heavily. A 32% downward revision is nothing to sneeze at and may indicate that we are in for an equally-terrible adjustment for the numbers we got today.

If the same revision is applied to April’s figures, the new job creation number for last month would be 151,000 jobs created – and that would be waaayy under the 191,000 the BLS portrays as the average from the preceding 3 month period. Then again, they could always just seasonally adjust in some magical, otherwise non-existent, new jobs in the next report – because they’re from the government and they’re here to help.

Questionable jobs report: Unemployment hits 7.8% in September “Unexpectedly”

Despite slowing job growth, strangely, the key unemployment rate fell .3% to 7.8% due to an unexpected upward 86,000 job revision by the Department of Labor.

Secretary Solis spent the morning defending the rosy unemployment rate that is based on questionable revisions. Upwardly revising public sector employment  by tens of thousands of jobs in the report out just after her boss’s dismal performance in the first presidential debate.

Solis even tried to suggest that the upward revisions were in private sector jobs, which would indicate a strengthening jobs picture, but was rebutted by her own department’s statistics.

This is not the first report full of questionable statistics. As John Nolte at Big Government reported:

Finally, this is the second hinky looking report/revision from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in as many months. Just days ago, 400,000 jobs were “discovered“–almost the exact number Obama needed to have a record of creating more jobs on his watch than were lost.Payroll Survey shows slowing jobs growth

The question remains how many more hidden jobs will be found in the final report before the election due out on November 2nd.

Jobs Report Overview

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report released today showed that only 114,000 new jobs were created – a slowing from the 2012 average of 147,000 jobs per month and 153,000 jobs per month in 2011. The report offers little explanation for the statistical drop considering the lack of new jobs in September.

Underemployment, or those taking part-time or underpaying jobs due to economic conditions, rose from 8.0 million to 8.6 million.

The number of workers looking for work in the last 12 months, but unable to find it was unchanged from a year ago at 2.5 million.

The long-term unemployed numbers were unchanged with 4.8 million job-seekers unable to find work for 27 or more weeks. This distressing number makes up 40.1% of all unemployed persons.

Health care lead the way with 44,000 new jobs in September. Transportation and warehousing followed with 17,000 new jobs while the financial sector added 13,000.

Manufacturing led the way in job losses with 16,000 jobs being erased which leaves the sector with flat hiring since April.

Oddity in the Household Survey shows drastic jump in employment

The household survey respondents indicate that 873,000 new jobs were found in September. Since the civilian labor force grew only 418,000, that means 52% of all job gains were in the public sector. The economy needs strong private sector growth to heal.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics own site:

The payroll survey provides a highly reliable gauge of monthly change in nonfarm payroll employment. The household survey provides a broader picture of employment including agriculture and the self-employed

The level of disparity between the household and payroll surveys is irregular, but not inexplicable. The loose definition of employment in the household survey is likely the reason. While the payroll survey only counts those with paying jobs, the household survey counts “self employed, unpaid family workers, agriculture and related workers, private household workers, and workers absent without pay.”[1]

Another reason for the oddity could be the dramatic difference in sampling errors. While the payroll survey covers businesses that account for about one-third of all employment, the household survey only covers 60,000 households which is an infinitesimally-small sample of all households in the nation.

While the employment survey needs a change of approximately 90,000 jobs to show statistical improvement, the household survey requires a month-over-month change of 436,000 jobs. Equivalence would therefore be expected if the payroll survey had increased by 180,000 jobs for parity.

An assumption would be that the large increase in the housing survey was due to low-quality jobs in agriculture and the non-paying family member sectors – hardly a reason to celebrate.

Sources:
[1] Employment from the BLS household and payroll surveys – http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/ces_cps_trends.pdf

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.”