The federal government’s latest snapshot of the unemployment rate offered few bright spots on Friday. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April—slightly better than March’s revised number of 138,000 jobs. Unemployment went down one percentage point to 7.5 percent, and health care, retail trade, and the food services industry added positions.
The glaring caveat to this jobs report is the huge number of Americans who remain out of the workforce. Called the labor force participation rate in wonk speak, that number held steady in April at 63.3 percent: the lowest level since 1979.
Nonfarm payroll employment edged up in March (+88,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade.
The civilian labor force declined by 496,000 over the month, and the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.3 percent.
…That’s not good. And, in case you were wondering: (more…)
No, despite ‘break even’ as the new definition of ‘good,’ and the overall stagnation of the economy, this is a good report…
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, construction, and health care.
…if you’re a white guy.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites (6.8 percent) declined in February while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), teenagers (25.1 percent), blacks (13.8 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
If you’re not, well. I’d offer my sympathies, but I’m a white guy: you’d probably throw something at me, just in case I was being smug. Or ‘privileged,’ which is a term of art that can apparently change its definition without warning, and at random.
PS: Labor participation rate at 63.5% percent; in layman’s terms, that translates as “the labor participation rate SUCKS.”
Iowahawk noticed the exact same thing that I did.
The lowest monthly UE rate under this president > than the highest monthly UE rate under his predecessor. This has never happened before.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) November 2, 2012
George W. Bush’s highest unemployment rate was 7.8%. Barack Obama’s lowest rate, to date, is 7.9%. Unlike many people out there, I think that Barack Obama tried very hard to get that rate down and did the best job that he was capable of, but it was apparently just too hard for him to personally manage. I think that it’s time that somebody else got a shot at it.
PS: Getting 171K jobs was a good thing, of course. We should always thank people for their efforts.
Sort of a starting pistol this year for the 2012 Presidential campaign; it’ll certainly be anticipated all across the land, as many media reports about last night are going to need to know whether it’s going to be… well. It’ll either be slightly more cruddy than normal, slightly less cruddy than normal, or about as cruddy as normal – but that will have an effect on various front pages this morning.
I think that it was the Zero Hedge blog that noted that the President certainly knew last night what the BLS report was going to be this morning; it’ll be interesting to see whether he ended up telegraphing that and we didn’t see it at the time.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 115,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care, but declined in transportation and warehousing.
Well, that’s… not great, but not too bad…
The civilian labor force participation rate declined in April to 63.6 percent, while the employment-population ratio, at 58.4 percent, changed little.
OK, that’s bad. That number represents half a million people leaving the working force (H/T: @cayankee). And here’s the thing: those half million aren’t going to go live in a box by themselves for the next six months. They’re going to be continuing on with their lives… and reminding other people that no, we’re not actually in a recovering economy. Quite the contrary.
So I invite the administration to tout that 8.1% unemployment; because this isn’t sympathetic magic. Over a third of the civilian workforce isn’t in fact, well, working: and while many of them can’t work, many of them can. If there were jobs, which there are not.
Down .2 percent, 243K jobs added. Looks like actual job growth, and not people giving up as usual. Good news for the administration, although not that good:
…they’re still woefully underperforming their promises with regard to the economy. Still, baby steps and all that, right?
…is the possibility that this White House will read no further than the reduction of the U-3 rate down to 8.6%, and conclude that they’ve done something right. When what instead happened here, based on general observations of people on my Twitter feed who know more about unemployment statistics than I do*, is that we’re seeing a combination of reduction in workforce, seasonal hiring, and revision of past numbers finally catching up with us. If none of that sounds particularly great, well, it’s not. The AP ‘s college-try spin to the contrary.
But enough negativity: if the White House would like to give the economy a real shot in the arm, there’s actually an easy way to do that. TURN THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE PROJECT BACK ON. And energy production generally.
*There are quite a few people out there who qualify.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it’s down to 9.4% from 9.8%, seasonally adjusted (if you prefer the U-6 numbers, it’s down to 16.7% from 17.0%, seasonally adjusted). So… half a full point, huh? In 2009, the drop between November and December was half that; of course, in 2009 the business community wasn’t breathing a collective sigh of relief because the American people had just given the House of Representatives back to the adults.
Hey, I guess that we’ll just have to see if that was a justified sneer or not, huh? – Personally, I’ve always managed to avoid taking pleasure at the sight of bad economic news when it benefited my side; one wonders if my opposite numbers are going to be able to do the inverse…
You may have heard that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has modified its survey of unemployment. There is probably going to be a good deal of confusion over what’s being changed, so let me summarize the situation.
- Official unemployment numbers are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which surveys American households every month in order to gather various statistical data. The potential confusion lies in that the CPS isn’t uniform in how it defines unemployment; depending on the question, somebody may or may not be actually considered to be in the labor market.
- So the CPS will (over the next four months) start including people who have been out of work for between two and five years in their calculation of median length of unemployment, which the BLS pretty explicitly thinks is being under-reported. Previously, the cutoff date was only two years; anybody out of work for longer than that would be considered effectively not part of the work force for the purposes of determining this specific statistic.
- However, the CPS will not change the BLS definition of ‘unemployed‘ (no job, actively looking for work in the last month, ready to work) for the purpose of their most commonly reported-on statistic (the U-3, which is currently 9.8%). As Ed Brayton – no friend to the Right – notes, this means that the currently reported unemployment rate numbers will not change because of this policy.
- Take up any contradiction in the assumptions behind calculating median unemployment length and calculating the current unemployment rate with the BLS.
…the last one before the election. Nobody’s expecting anything much in the way of short-term news, but apparently they’re going to have revisions to the non-farm employment numbers from April 2009 to March 2010. Translation: the current unemployment rate probably won’t go up or down much, but past ones might*. Remember, might: also remember, we want good news. People are hurting out there, and somebody needs to care about that, even if the current ruling party apparently doesn’t.
*As MarketWatch puts it, “Friday’s new numbers could vastly alter perceptions of labor conditions. They may also change perceptions of how well the stimulus legislation worked as a job-creating program.” It would certainly be nice if the numbers were better than we thought…