January 4, 2013

Concluding a Strange Season for Employment Data

Justin Katz

An unanticipated (unprecedented) leap in employment just prior to this year's presidential election brought the Current Population Survey (CPS) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) an unusually high degree of technical scrutiny. As I've been noting, the seasonally adjusted and unadjusted results have been a bit peculiar. With data from December now available, the BLS concluded the year by changing five years' worth of seasonal adjustments and announcing changes that will make subsequent years "not directly comparable" to anything that came before.

For the final month of the year, the "headline" unemployment number, which is the percentage of people in the labor force who say they are actively seeking work, held at 7.8%. Two frequently highlighted considerations are that, one, certain demographic groups are way above that percentage and, two, the rate would be significantly higher if the American labor force hadn't slowed its pace. If the labor force of the last five years had continued to grow at the rate of the prior five years, the unemployment rate would be 8.6%.

But it's the difference of seasonal adjustment that illustrates the peculiarity of this year.

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US. private-sector employers added 215,000 jobs last month, well above expectations,. And planned layoffs dropped for the first time in four months. November's private payrolls were revised UPWARD to show a gain of 148,000 from the previously reported 118,000.

let's not forget that the USA was hemorrhaging 700,000+ jobs a month during the final days of the disastrous Bush Cheney administration

Posted by: Sammy in Arizona at January 4, 2013 5:50 PM

Good to know that some appear to get some joy from the weakest "recovery" in history. A recovery about to stall when the new taxes kick in....

Posted by: Mike at January 4, 2013 7:25 PM

I had wondered about why the media made such mention of the BLS being "untouchable" and not subject to political influence. It told me something was coming.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at January 4, 2013 10:18 PM

An honest truth seeking person would see that this is a phony economic "recovery" about to get whipsawed by numerous taxes and hundreds of regulations. You can only postpone reality and the daze of reckoning so long. Obama has bullied the wimp Boehner onto a mountain pass where there is only a cliff for escape. Debt, taxes,regulations and more debt with no meaningful growth. Americans have accepted the new "norms".$3.00 + gal. for gas,8% unemployment (really 16% with U-6) and out of control elite govt. This will not end well. Emperor Obama is running roughshod over the upper middle class which he seeks to destroy with food stamps and long term unemployment benefits. He's not leveling the playing field. He's tearing down the stadium.

Posted by: ANTHONY at January 4, 2013 10:54 PM

Anthony FYI Gasoline is at $2.75 in Arizona www.arizonagasprices.com unemployment is under 8% under 5% for college graduates and under 4% for college graduates who are fluent in both English and Spanish

Sammy in sunny and warm Arizona

Posted by: Sammy in Arizona at January 5, 2013 1:37 PM

Sammy: "under 4% for college graduates who are fluent in both English and Spanish"

Sammy, that's me! "La quenta, por favor". "Cambio, por favor". What else do you need to know to be "fluent".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at January 5, 2013 2:57 PM
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