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No Change in Unemployment, but We’ve Traded Full-Timers for Part-Timers March 5, 2010

Posted by geoff in News.
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Time once again to check in on the unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released the unemployment numbers for February, after a week of preemptive mumbling by the administration about the dire effects of the Snowmageddon on the stats.

Economists were predicting 9.8% (sans snow, I believe), and we got . . . 9.7%. Completely unchanged from last month!

Here’s how that falls on the unemployment chart:

There’s been a growing realization that the unemployment rate doesn’t mean much. Even the U-6 unemployment rate has lost some meaning, because the unprecedented number of workers leaving the workforce has artificially lowered both the U-3 and U-6 rates. In fact, the ratio of employed/population dropped by almost 3% in 2009. Over the past 2 months, however, the workforce has grown by 500,000, so perhaps the exodus from the job market has ebbed.

In any case, that’s why I plot total jobs to get a better feel for how we’re doing. Here’s how that looks:

Last month the number of jobs actually increased by about 550,000 from the month before, but almost the entire increase was in the “Women, 20+” category. This month men caught up a bit, gaining about 200K jobs while women lost 200K. I’m trying to reconcile that zero-sum situation with the 300K jobs supposedly added this month

The two big gainers this month were self-employed agricultural workers (+130,000), and government workers (+65,000). Part-time workers increased by 270,000, and the number of people driven to part-time work due to economic conditions increased by 400,000. That’s not a good sign.

[Don’t forget, you can now get the unemployment chart on t-shirts, mugs, and postcards!]

Previous posts in this series:

Comments»

1. WAMK - March 5, 2010

How many of those 65,000 Government “jobs” are the Census workers ($20 per hour to put those notes on your door, by the way) I see strolling around my neighborhood? Of course, it will be “unexpected” when their jobs end, right?

2. Anonymous - March 5, 2010

Last month the number of jobs actually increased by about 550,000 from the month before, but almost the entire increase was in the “Women, 20+” category.

The other day, there was a thread, over at Ritholtz.com, about how this recession has decimated the ranks of working males:

Employment for Adult Males is at Record Lows
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/employment-for-adult-males-is-at-record-lows/

From one of the Ritholtz commenters, named Marcus Aurelius: “Unemployed men. Unemployed young men. When economic pressures unbalance our social order, things are gonna’ get nasty. To paraphrase George Thorogood: They all worried ’bout the black swan moment, when they should be worried ’bout the Genghis Khan moment.”

.

3. d3ft punk - March 5, 2010

I fear.

Male. Underemployed. Readying shotgun shells and canned goods.

4. it's me - March 6, 2010

I enjoy the main stream media going gaga over any given employment data that is better than the previously reported data. Unfortunately, as any statistician knows, there is yet to be a trend upward. Stated differently, so far, and perterbations in the data over time is merely noise. The best thing that can be said at this time is that “the rate of job losses is decreasing.”

The only good news in all of this is that the main stream media is losing jobs. Now that is statistically significant!

5. Tushar - March 6, 2010

I don’t know if the unemployment number makes much sense anymore, but the Total Jobs chart does seem to be moving in positive territory. That is a good sign. It seems that the American economy recovers at it;s own pace, stimulus or not. The recession-recovery timelines are not looking that much different from the 2001-02 slump (the only other American recession I have a first hand experience of).

6. NanG - March 6, 2010

Where on the web can I find weekly initial filings for unemployment?
Seems the Obama-led media is conflating the numbers of people filing for unemployment with the numbers of jobs shed.
And people are buying the conflation.

7. Cathy - March 6, 2010

Not buyin’ their bullcrap.

Thanks, Geoff… another good job.

8. BrewFan - March 6, 2010
9. NanG - March 6, 2010

Thanks BrewFan.

Who here knows what the initials ”S.F.” stand for on that page?

I get the other two:

N.S.A. (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

S.A. (Seasonally Adjusted)

10. geoff - March 6, 2010

Where on the web can I find weekly initial filings for unemployment?

Oh for cry-yi-yi. How about right here. Yes, folks, we’ve been reporting on initial unemployment claims right here at IB for the past 6 months.

11. BrewFan - March 7, 2010

geoff, take a Midol.

12. BrewFan - March 7, 2010

BTW, NanG, I believe S.F. is the seasonal adjustment factor but I could be wrong. Maybe if geoff can quit badgering us long enough he could verify this.

13. Pupster - March 7, 2010

Yeah…we don’t need no stinkin’ Badgers!

14. BrewFan - March 7, 2010

Yeah…we don’t need no stinkin’ Badgers!

How about a spell-checker? Do you need one of those?

http://tinyurl.com/ykpylm9

15. Pupster - March 7, 2010
16. NanG - March 7, 2010

Thanks again, all.

I am seeing a constant conflating of the ”jobs lost” with the ”initial unemployment filers.”

The media has been no help, almost enabling that confusion…..as it makes Obama look better.

Too often people miss the word “and” between the per cent unemployment and the numbers of jobs shed by employers.

17. geoff - March 7, 2010

Maybe if geoff can quit badgering us long enough he could verify this.

So sorry. I’ve got badgering penciled in for the foreseeable future. No planned breaks in the badgering – especially any breaks that might lead me to admit that Brewfan is correct.

18. harrison - March 7, 2010

The badgering will continue until morale improves.

19. daveintexas - March 7, 2010

Badgers are mean little fucks.

20. Pupster - March 7, 2010
21. daveintexas - March 7, 2010

told ya. see? they’re looking at your jugular, and thinking.

22. geoff - March 7, 2010
23. BrewFan - March 7, 2010
24. d3ft punk - March 7, 2010

Oh, for the love of…if you’re going to do it, do it right.

http://badgerbadgerbadger.com/

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29. Hector Avellaneda - September 24, 2010

Geoff – thanks for sharing your insights. I recently read an article that suggested that there was a growing trend among employers to hire contingent(contract)workers due to the fact that contingent workers do not have to be paid time-off or vacation, no 401K needs to be provided, nor a health plan and finally, no incentives have to be given to workers to be employed. All of this in efforts to save money and make the shareholders more profitable. This not only put more stress on the American work force as a whole but for those that are still unemployed, it makes it even harder for them to create a decent standard of living once hired. Here’s an article I wrote on this topic titled Entrepreneurship or Contract Work, You Decide!.

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[…] I had occasion to revisit this graph: […]


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