Friday, June 3, 2016

Employment, Unemployment, and Job Numbers Tied to Political Nonsense

Job Search

Who else except Donald Trump could introduce this topic? He said the surprisingly weak jobs data for May (just released today) was “terrible and a bombshell.” And, of course he tweeted that in a short missive: 

“Terrible jobs report just reported. Only 38,000 jobs added. Bombshell!” (Twitter) and shortly after the government numbers were released. The economy created the fewest number of jobs in more than five years in May, hurt by a strike by Verizon workers and a fall in goods producing employment.

I would interject this about those two points:

(1) Verizon strike hurt the economy: This gives the GOP more ammo for more anti-Union Ads and attacks and watch their base join in.

(2)  Fall in goods produced: How about the good produced off-shore and shipped back as cheaper goods and higher profits for keeping those good jobs off-shore?

All of this, experts say, points to a labor market weakness that could make it difficult for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates (who is hoping for higher rates I ponder).

This post:

Employed, Unemployed, Not Looking for a Job. What are the Facts about Job Numbers? Far too easy to bash and blast government about “no jobs.”

The following is compiled from here.

Back to Trump, who falsely claimed that the unemployment rate could be as high as 42% during his victory speech in NH – remember? That talking point number still floats about in GOP and Right Wing circles when citing official numbers as “phony.”

Some media figures (namely right wing talk radio and FOX) have allowed Trump and other to push that faulty claim, despite the proven and hard facts that most reliable fact-checkers have called “ridiculous” with maximum “Pants on Fire and Pinocchio” ratings. More examples here which I am sure we have all heard:

1. Rush Limbaugh said: The “Actual Unemployment Rate” is "42.9 Percent” (running with the Trump number. Limbaugh ranted against the official unemployment rate provided by the BOL Statistics while citing a blog former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman, who claimed that “the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5% - it’s 42.9 percent.”
[Rush Limbaugh Radio Show, 6/30/15].

2. Fox’s Maria Bartiromo (The Fox Business Report) pushed that same debunked statistic, saying “almost 40 percent of Americans” are out of work and not looking, while asking candidate JEB Bush about job creation. [GOP Presidential Debate, 11/10/15].

3. Fox’s Bill O'Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) also let Trump claim that the official unemployment rate as a “phony number” and that the actual rate is “25% or probably higher.” [The O'Reilly Factor, 2/5/16].

That is how the right runs with BS numbers and sound bites all across media la-la land. Sadly, their base eats it up and in turn cite the same people and same BS numbers as facts. So, what are the facts?

Official numbers come from the BOL Statistics and several independent think tanks (left and right leaning) and academic economic experts. The problem is: Who and what to trust and believe? I like to read them all and measure for myself – the problem is average Americans can’t, won’t, or don’t have the time to deal in such detailed research, and that is understandable in their daily lives. So many trust who they like (i.e., Fox and Limbaugh, EPI, and a Paul Krugman type).

I like EPI numbers and from experts who work the numbers daily, and even though some are “left-leaning (or even right leaning)” hopefully their numbers are hard data from the BOL Statistics even with their spin, which is okay if the facts are basic and accurate and not quick dry cycle (a weak analogy but all I have on short notice).

This EPI rundown with official numbers and explanations is one of the best I have seen in recent years. Check it out to see for yourself [click here].

Introduction from that article - Updated June 3, 2016. The Basics:

In a complex economy, conventional measures sometimes fall short.

In today’s labor market, the unemployment rate drastically understates the weakness of job opportunities. This is due to the existence of a large pool of “missing workers” – potential workers who, because of weak job opportunities (or other factors I would interject), are (1) neither employed nor (2) actively seeking a job. In other words, these are people who would be either working or looking for work if job opportunities were significantly stronger. Because jobless workers are only counted as unemployed if they are actively seeking work, these “missing workers” are not reflected in the unemployment rate (and that is what the spin doctors focus on and run with: The bad news with their political angle or shall I say “their political point making agenda”).

As part of its ongoing effort to create the metrics needed to assess how well the economy is working for America’s broad middle class, EPI tracks “missing worker” estimates, updated on this page on the first Friday of every month immediately after the BOL Statistics releases its jobs numbers. The “missing worker” estimates provide policymakers with a key gauge of the health of the labor market.

This leads to the main article. Current “missing worker” estimates at a glance (Updated June 3, 2016) most current data available: 

Missing workers May 2016: 3,020,000

Unemployment rate if missing workers were looking for work: 6.5%

Official unemployment rate: 4.7%

 Thanks for stopping ... hope this article helps explain a complex problem.

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