Image via WikipediaWhat’s In A Number?
Every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its jobs report. It is read to the members of the Joint Economy Committee on Capitol Hill. When Keith Hall, Commissioner of BLS, read the latest report to Congress this morning, he made an interesting remark, as reported by ABC News:
In an exchange with Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, Hall said , “If I were to characterize this jobs report I would say it’s very dismal… it’s maybe one of the worst that the BLS has ever produced.”
“Ever?” asked Cummings.
“Ever,” replied Hall.
Cummings asked how long the BLS has been around and the answer was 124 years.
Below are some excerpts from the latest report from the Bureau Of Labor and Statistics, released on December 5th 2008. Since most folks don’t know where to go to read it themselves, and even if they do, don’t have the time to read and decipher the report, I wanted to put at least these small parts in front of your eyes for a minute or so.
Please take the time to scan through this… you won’t hear or see this on CNN or Fox or MSNBC.
Among the unemployed, the number of persons who lost their job and did not expect to be recalled to work increased by 298,000 to 4.7 million in November. Over the past 12 months, the size of this group has increased by 2.0 million.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.2 million in November, but was up by 822,000 over the past 12 months.
Over the month, the number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) continued to increase, reaching 7.3 million. The number of such workers rose by 2.8 million over the past 12 months. This category includes persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.
About 1.9 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in November, 584,000 more than 12 months earlier. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 608,000 discouraged workers in November, up by 259,000 from a year earlier.
Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work specifically because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 533,000 in November, bringing losses to 1.9 million since the start of the recession in December 2007. Two-thirds of these losses occurred in the last 3 months. In November, employment declined in nearly all major industries, although health care continued to add jobs.
Scrolling down about two-thirds of the way through the report we find the complex set of data neatly dispayed as percentages. Note the measure of Total Unemployment, labeled U-6, and remember, these are the government’s numbers:
Table A-12. Alternative measures of labor underutilization (Percent)
U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force …. 2.6
U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force … 3.9
U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate) …6.7
U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers …7.0
U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other marginally attached workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers … 7.8
U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers … 12.5
NOTE: Marginally attached workers are persons 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 recent past. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not looking currently for a job. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. For more information, see “BLS introduces new range of alternative unemployment measures,” in the October 1995 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
Total unemployed – 12.5%
That’s 1 out of every 8 folks in America. They want to work – there’s just nothing there to work with.
For comparison, the unemployment rate about a year into the Great Depression, in mid-1930, was about 12.5%, eventually climbing to around 25%.
I am Jon. Thanks for stopping by.