Friday, September 7, 2012


So, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has the August Unemployment numbers.  They're miserable for the President, if you bother to look at them with any analysis at all.

The headline numbers:
  • UE is 8.1%
  • ~96,000 jobs added

But what about the rest of the story?

Well according to the Department of Labor, it takes about 250,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth.  It would take about a year (last I'd heard) at 350,000 new jobs a month to get back to pre-Obama employment levels.  So doing some math, 250,000 - 96,000 = 154,000 jobs we needed to add but didn't?

So why the drop in the Unemployment Rate?  Well, the "official" unemployment rate is just the U3 measure.  This is basically everyone who is actively looking for work as defined by a combination of a household survey and people receiving unemployment benefits (since, to receive unemployment, you have to be seeking new employment).  Eventually people drop out of that number, because they're discouraged, because they've been unemployed too long to count towards the number, or because they've settled (usually after their unemployment ran out) for some fast food or retail job on the theory that some income is better than no income.  All of those people are, instead, found in the U6 measure.

So what is U6?  According to the BLS, U6 is "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force."

And what is the number16.1% 14.7%

One in seven people in the united states is unemployed, "marginally attached to the labor force," or "employed part time for economic reasons."

Over 380,000 people simply dropped out of the labor force.

What's worse?  The new jobs number is probably about 20,000 too high.  Both June (down to 45K from 65K) and July (down to 141K from 163K) dropped by right around 20,000 new jobs.

But remember, Barack Obama's plan worked.

Update: I was looking at the wrong column on that BLS chart.  I have updated the number to show the correct U6%

Update II: Added the bit about revised numbers.

Update III: Also, it turns out that we have a record 88,921,000 Americans who are simply not in the labor force.  That's eighty-eight million, nine hundred twenty-one thousand Americans simply not even trying to work.

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