Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Recovery Bummer

At first blush, today's jobs report once again seems to contain good news, but beware what we call the "headline" numbers.

Sep. 6, 2013

At first blush, today’s jobs report once again seems to contain good news: 169,000 jobs added and unemployment dropping a tenth of a point to 7.3%, the lowest since December 2008. But beware what we call the “headline” numbers. The Leftmedia employes them to bolster the sorry record of their man in the White House.

Digging deeper, we find trouble quickly. July numbers were revised down from 162,000 to just 104,000, and June was revised down for the second time. The unemployment rate fell once again only because so many people are giving up looking for work – 312,000, or nearly twice the number who found work – and they aren’t counted in the report. The labor participation rate fell to 63.2%, the lowest since Jimmy Carter’s malaise days of August 1978. If labor participation remained at the same level it was in January 2009, the headline unemployment rate would be 10.8%. It would be 7.7% if participation was the same as just one year ago.

As for the U-6 fuller measure, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes that it “dropped from 14.0% to 13.7%, its lowest level in five years.” But, he warns, “[T]hat has to do with the shrinking workforce, too. In order to be counted in U-6, workers have to be at least marginally attached to the labor force. That’s defined as ‘those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months.’”

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his crack shot economic team promised that if we just passed the “stimulus” unemployment would be 5% by now.

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