Viewpoint - Job Creation vs. Unemployment
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Several times I have shared bumper stickers on the same vehicle that were a glaring contradiction. One evening this week, someone posted a chart on a social web site showing the United States had been “creating” jobs for some time including 163,000 in July. Below that someone had used cut and paste to show a story that the unemployment rate had risen to 8.3 percent. Does anyone else wonder how you can create 163,000 jobs and have an 8.3% unemployment rate?
So I decided to find out. First from CNBC. "I'd call this a soft 163(163,000 jobs created)," said Steve Blitz, chief economist at investment research firm ITG in New York. ”If you want to take from this the notion that the economy is not heading to a recession or something more ominous, that's fine. But if you want to take from this the idea that the economy is about to accelerate, I think that would be a big mistake."
Despite the seemingly good news, the report's household survey showed that the actual amount of Americans working dropped by 195,000, with the net job gain resulting primarily from seasonal adjustments in the survey. The birth-death model, which approximates net job growth from newly added or closed businesses, added 52,000 to the total.
The household survey also showed 150,000 fewer Americans in the workforce.
So am I reading this correctly? The job creation was 163,000 and the actual number of Americans working dropped by 195,000? “With the net job gain resulting primarily from ‘seasonal adjustments’.” By the way I don’t think anyone would call CNBC a bastion of conservative thought. The same story goes on to say that the June job creation number of an “anemic 80,000, had been revised down to 64,000.”
The article then addresses the unemployment rate: “A measure that takes into account those who have stopped looking for jobs as well as those working part-time for economic reasons has hovered well above the headline rate that only counts the unemployed actively looking for jobs. On a national level, that more encompassing rate edged higher to 15.0 percent.”
The economy remains weak more than three years after economists declared the recession had ended in June 2009. Growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the April-June quarter, down from 2 percent in the first quarter and 4.1 percent in the final three months of 2011.”
The Huffington Post, another very liberal publication reports the same statistics for job growth and the unemployment rate and then adds, “Worries have also intensified that the U.S. economy will fall off a "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year. That's when tax increases and deep spending cuts will take effect unless Congress reaches a budget deal. A recession could follow, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned.”
So you be the judge. You can grab onto the idea that the economy created 160,000 jobs although the same article says that if effect 195,000 less Americans were actually working or you can look at the fact that for the longest period in American history we have been over 8% unemployment and that rate may actually be closer to 15.0%. Reminds me of the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.