Unemployment rate trend reports hide truth

When you see the headlines trumpeting decreasing jobless rates, remember deeper looks at the numbers, such as Mish’s interesting post from Tim Wallace, one of his readers. For IFO, the money quote is this:

…the economy did legitimately add 1,474,871 jobs in the past year, the first upward trend since 2008. Unfortunately, we cannot determine the quality of said jobs. Moreover, the economy will need to add 17 million more jobs just to get back to employment levels of 2001 on an equal percentage basis to the workforce.

Zeroing in for a closer look at Oregon, we get an idea of the “quality of said jobs.”

The trade, transportation and utilities sectors added 1,400 jobs in March. Oregon officials consider a gain of 400 to be the norm. The leisure and hospitality industries picked up 4,500 jobs between January and March.

So, there you have it. Not enough jobs being added to the rolls, and the ones being added are weak. But you don’t see much public comment on this.

How well we remember about 10 years ago at a local civic club meeting, mostly Bush haters in audience as well as the speaker, who pointed with alarm at the rising unemployment which had skyrocketed to 5 percent! There was never another meeting on subsequently falling rates, due, we think, to the tax cuts the Congress adopted.

See Mish’s chart which we have copied below:

Mish also notes that if it weren’t for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%, and continues,

Over the past several years people have dropped out of the labor force at an astounding, almost unbelievable rate, holding the unemployment rate artificially low. Some of this was due to major revisions last month on account of the 2010 census finally factored in. However, most of it is simply economic weakness. [emphasis added]

As you can see, it pays to look more deeply into the reports you see to increase your understanding of economic trends.


About InvestingforOne

I've been investing in various assets by myself using a discount broker for many years. Over that time, I've developed some theories that others might find useful. Plus, there is more to investing than money. Time, talent, work, friends, family all go into developing a good and satisfactory strategy.
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One Response to Unemployment rate trend reports hide truth

  1. savernation says:

    The adoption of the UN’s ILO unemployment calculations protects failures by the host governments to maintain business environments that lead to fuller employment. If we are focused on helping people rather than politicians, then we need to focus on why the labor force keeps shrinking rather than a rigged Unemployment number that goes down when people quit looking for work.

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