Friday, October 31st, 2014

More Phony Employment Numbers

Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy
December 10th, 2012
Reader Views: 957

Statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) calls the government’s latest jobs and unemployment reports “nonsense numbers.”

There are a number of ongoing problems with the released numbers. For example, the concurrent-seasonal factor adjustments are unstable. The birth-death model adds non-existent jobs each month that are then taken out in the annual downward benchmark revisions. Williams calculates that the job overstatement through November averages 45,000 monthly. In other words, employment gains during 2012 have been overstated by about 500,000 jobs. Another problem is that each month’s jobs number is boosted by downside revision of the previous month’s jobs number. Williams reports that the 146,000 new jobs reported for November “was after a significant downside revision to October’s reporting. Net of prior-period revisions, November’s seasonally-adjusted monthly gain was 97,000.”

Even if we believe the government that 146,000 new jobs materialized during November, that is the amount necessary to stay even with population growth and therefore could not be responsible for reducing the unemployment rate from 7.9% to 7.7%. The reduction is due to how the unemployed are counted.

The 7.7% rate is known as the “headline rate.” It is the rate you hear in the news. Its official designation is U.3.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has another official unemployment rate known as U.6.
The difference is that U.3 does not include discouraged workers who are not currently actively seeking a job. (A discouraged worker is a person who has given up looking for a job because there are no jobs to be found.) The U.6 measure includes workers who have been discouraged for less than one year. The U.6 rate of unemployment is 14.4%, about double the headline rate.

The U.6 rate does not include long-term discouraged workers, those who have been discouraged for more than one year. John Williams estimates this rate and reports the actual rate of unemployment (known as SGS) in November to be 22.9%.

In other words, the headline rate of unemployment is one-third the actual rate.

The drop in the November headline rate of unemployment from 7.9 to 7.7 is due to a 20.4% increase in the number of short-term discouraged workers in November. In other words, unemployed people rolled out of the U.3 measure into the U.6 measure.
Similarly, a number of short-term discouraged workers roll out of the U.6 measure into John Williams’ measure that includes all of the unemployed. Williams reports that “with the continual rollover, the flow of headline workers continues into the short-term discouraged workers (U.6), and from U.6 into long term discouraged worker status (a ShadowStats.com measure), at what has been an accelerating pace. The aggregate November data show an increasing rate of individuals dropping out of the headline (U.3) labor force.” In other words, the headline rate of unemployment can drop even though the unemployed are having a harder time finding jobs.

The U.S. government simply lowers the unemployment rate by not counting all of the unemployed. We owe this innovation to the Clinton administration. In 1994 the Clinton administration redefined “discouraged workers” and limited this group to those who are discouraged for less than one year. Those discouraged for more than one year are no longer considered to be in the labor force and ceased to be counted as unemployed.

If the U.S. government will mislead the public about unemployment, it will also
mislead about Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Russia, China, and 9/11. The government fits its story to its agenda.

A government that wants to cut the social safety net doesn’t want you to know that the unemployment rate is 22.9%. A government that wants to cut the social safety net when between one-fifth and one-fourth of the work force is out of work looks hard-hearted, mean-spirited, and foolish. But if the government reports only one-third of the unemployed and presents that rate as falling, then the government can present its cuts as prudent to avoid falling over a “fiscal cliff.”

If the “free and democratic” Americans cannot even find out what the unemployment rate is, how do they expect to find out about anything?

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple


Contributed by Paul Craig Roberts of Institute for Political Economy.

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Visit his web site at the Institute for Political Economy.

This article has been posted with permission from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

Copyright Paul Craig Roberts 2012.

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  • http://T Evie

    None I talk to are so dumb they believe the numberd.

  • Alex

    Screw work! Lets Party!

  • 41MagMan

    Yes, the BLS and Fed numbers are pure rubbish. These numbers are made up to be politically palatable and somewhat believable. The thinking is that Americans being lousy at math will not figure out that 140-150k jobs are needed EVERY month to keep even with population growth, that the numbers of jobs added are not keeping up with population growth, and that the claimed number of new jobs cannot possibly be correct in light of the percentage decrease in the unemployment numbers. Then, of course, these estimated numbers are “revised” a couple of months later after no one cares what the number was a couple of months before.

    Believe it or not Gov and Fed, we are not all idiots out here. We KNOW the truth and every time you lie to our faces, you lose whatever credibility you thought that you had. By now, we do not believe you, even if you slip up from time to time and actually tell the truth.

  • Lutz

    Hey you in the MSM! Are these new jobs temporary, part-time, minimum wage, or what? You clowns can’t be trusted with the truth and should be tried for faulty journalism.

    You, in the MSM are a bunch of Godless cowards. Why don’t you give us the details about these new jobs so that we can better gauge whether or not our country is headed for third world status.

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