Friday, June 4, 2010

US Unemployment Drops to 9.7% Thanks to Temporary Census Employees

The unemployment rate did go down, but it was hardly the result of an improving economy. Of the 431,000 jobs 411,000 are temporary Census workers. Job growth of long term employment was less then what would be needed to keep up with population growth.

"The White House leaked to several media sources that the number of new jobs would exceed a half-million positions, mainly through temporary Census Bureau expansion, and that the private sector would gain around 150,000 — somewhat less than April but still ahead of population growth.  Instead, the actual BLS numbers missed both marks:

Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431,000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000). Manufacturing, temporary help services, and mining added jobs, while construction employment declined. The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent.

In order to keep up with population growth, private-sector employment has to expand by at least 100,000 jobs a month. So far, the Obama administration has only seen that once, in April. Falling back to 41,000 is a drop of 75% of the growth from the previous month and puts the US back in a net job loss situation.

The problem of marginally-attached workers grew, and is reflected in the A-16 table. Comparing May 2009 to May 2010, the number of discouraged workers rose from 792,000 to 1,083,000, while the number of discouraged workers remained steady at 2.2 million. The number of people not in the labor force but who want work — including the “discouraged” workers — rose from 5.865 million to 6.381 million in the past month (not seasonally adjusted — BLS does not provide historical data with seasonal adjustments)."

To put this in the contexts of the last few months; after rising to %9.5, 'fake' falling to %9.4, rising to %9.7, and then rising again to 9.8%, and rising again to 10.2%, dropping to 10%, held steady, dropping to 9.7%, held steady, held steady again, increased to 9.9%, then dropped to 9.7%.

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