Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 02, 2012

Employment Report: "A Boost For ..."

These two tweets from two policial journalists about the just released employment report  came in at the same time. These people look at the same data at the same time and come to opposite conclusions. This, I think, tells a lot about pundit discussions about various "boost" facters in the U.S. election.

They are useless.

Posted by b on November 2, 2012 at 09:24 AM | Permalink


The media like to make it look like a great titanic struggle. There is actually a lot of middle ground but that's not very exciting to write about.

Posted by: dh | Nov 2, 2012 10:27:46 AM | 1

"Job growth" = WalMart is hiring, also "political journalists" are doing well. --news report: "Obama and Romney Teams Top $1 Billion in Ad Spending" Oh well, this race to the bottom will be over this time next week.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2, 2012 10:45:57 AM | 2

Not only are the statistics completely phony, but the interpretation of blips as trends is idiotic.
There comes a point at which, even a people as confused and intimidated as the Americans, stop listening to the nonsense from the media and start to recognise that what is obvious is real: the economy is in a death spiral depression, unemployment is about 20%, inflation is around 10%, things are going to get worse and the question is, what are they going to do about it?

Posted by: bevin | Nov 2, 2012 10:51:32 AM | 3

I should add: ..and killing innocent foreigners will not help.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 2, 2012 10:52:35 AM | 4

You're right b, most commentary, or "spin", is worthless. Meanwhile, the US continues to privatize the voting by the use of electronic voting machines, that have no paper trail, and whose efficacy is doubtful. Whoever has the best hackers can achieve the results they want. These machines are owned by private corporations. Wonderful!

Posted by: ben | Nov 2, 2012 11:04:45 AM | 5

Pretty funny. I watch FOX and MSNBC and each day they produce polls showing their candidate winning.

I live in the States and it's a hellhole. Things that fell apart thirty years ago were never repaired. They all talk about infrastructure but little is done.

Hope Obama loses despite Romney being a boob. Sending in drones, keeping the wars going, starting new wars in Libya and Syria is enough for me.

Posted by: revenire | Nov 2, 2012 1:24:28 PM | 6

Unemployment in the US is between 20 and 25%, that is a conservative estimate.

The BLS publishes many stats, some of which are not too wonky or far off (U1 to U6.)

see for ex. this, from the BLS, today, about the labor force stats (% of ppl who work as opposed to those who do not) :

Such stats are ignored, as the US must maintain it’s image as a powerhouse of productivity, innovation, entrepreneurial creation, a land of riches and opportunity for all.

So the fawning foreign press quotes the unemployment rate at around 7%, while the situation on the ground is close to that of Spain - basically about 50% of lower and disadvantaged young / not connected, foreign, etc. / black (US) / poorly qualified/ women after motherhood / ppl in both countries cannot work (except for free, very part time, etc.) and 10 to more of 30-60’s have either no job, or forced part-time, etc.

Spain, by contrast, has high official unemployment as many are on the dole but working black. They get a tiny Gvmt. stipend which keeps them alive, then they go and work in the informal economy. A *deliberate* policy.

Nobody dares challenge the US on this BS. has some good analysis, etc.

Arguing about around the decimal points after 7% is surreal.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 2, 2012 2:48:44 PM | 7

Apparently some Americans are not thrilled.

Posted by: Maracatu | Nov 2, 2012 2:48:51 PM | 8

@8, lol, BroncoBama.

Posted by: yes_but | Nov 2, 2012 3:05:02 PM | 9

OT on the employment report but this is a fascinating story on the Benghazi attack:

Two reporters from an Arab TV station visited the Benghazi consulate. They found extremely relevant documents buried in the ashes. This strongly implies that the small army of FBI agents sent to Tripoli to investigate the attack had not yet visited the consulate -- these reporters were there 6 weeks after the attack. Absolutely amazing.

It also looks like local police present at the consulate that day were more interested in spying on US forces rather than providing any security for them.

It seems pretty clear that the US withdrew its two plane loads of CIA agents immediately after that attack because they finally realized they didn't know who they could trust and were likely dealing with avowed enemies.

Now who were those three state department officials who insisted that supporting the Libyan militias was such a great idea? It is time for Powers, Rice and Hillary to be sent into retirement.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 2, 2012 5:15:05 PM | 10

The employment and unemployment reports include actual statistics of all the employed and unemployed people over eighteen, right?

No. Each month, 2,200 "highly trained and experienced Census Bureau employees" call 60,000 sample households and conduct interviews. (Gotta have a phone to be interviewed.)

The current 7.9 unemployment rate accounts only for those people who have actively looked for a job in the previous four weeks and haven't found one. It's called the U-3 rate.

Then also there is the U-6 rate, in Table A-15. This rate covers those people who have actively applied for a job in the last six months and also accounts for not just full-time unemployment but for involuntary, part-time employment as well. That number is still at 14.6 percent.

The participation rate, that percentage of the Civilian noninstitutional population that is in the civilian labor force, is 63.8. A year ago it was 64.1, about the same. Less than 2/3 of the adult population is in the labor force.

The unemployment rate obtained by interviews -- that's not what's reported. It has to be adjusted. There is a little-known category of job creation called the birth/death model, a seasonal adjustment in which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) arbitrarily adds jobs for net new companies it thinks are starting up and creating positions.

Then the figures are seasonally adjusted. A seasonal adjustment factor is then developed and applied to the estimates to eliminate the effects of regular seasonal fluctuations on the data.

Then there's the presidential election adjustment -- just kidding. Would the government do that?

Oh -- the participation rate, that percentage of the Civilian noninstitutional population that is in the civilian labor force, is 63.8. A year ago it was 64.1, about the same. Less than 2/3 of the adult population is in the labor force.

Simple, no?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2, 2012 6:29:15 PM | 11

Sounds like you are describing the ILO-Comparable annual employment and unemployment estimates framework

Labour force participation rate is highest in very poor countries - people cannot afford not to work.

Unemployment statistics do not tell anything about the quality of jobs and the choices people have. However, the comparison between months and years taken in the same country do indicate if the economy of that country is contracting or expanding.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2, 2012 6:52:24 PM | 12

add to that the number of people who are at or below minimum wage, without any sort of benefits, the sort of jobs that are all but illegal by EC labor law...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Nov 2, 2012 6:53:01 PM | 13

Then there's the working-under-the-table adjustment, the barter adjustment, the theft-burglary-and-scam adjustment, the if-they-had-a-telephone adjustment, etc.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2, 2012 7:22:05 PM | 14

Yup, one can count on MoA folks to get the numbers game. What is purpose of these numbers? The big omissions are "out of the labor market and not counting due to giving up looking", the "in the labor market but working way below productive capacity- the adjunct professors, and the PT workers .25 hrs/ wk) etc, etc etc. Even during the depression one of the stats conservatives cite for New Deal not working is that "government workers" are not counted as being employed.

Posted by: erichwwk | Nov 2, 2012 7:56:49 PM | 15

As has been pointed out above, it is more interesting to see who's kept off the list
Jobs Report: As Many As Three Million Long-Term Unemployed Not Counted As Jobless Rate Drops

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 2, 2012 8:11:13 PM | 16

I believe this US "election" was decided long ago, by the patrician class, AKA corporate elites. Obama is the perfect representative of the empire. A black man screwing the working classes, while seeing to it that wealth stays mainly in the coffers of the 1%ers. I'd like very much to be wrong about this, but, no matter who wins this "election", I think the workers better lube up, and bend over.

Posted by: ben | Nov 2, 2012 9:56:27 PM | 17

Black Agenda Report had Obama's number over four years ago.

Black Agenda Report, May 7, 2008
Running to the Right: Barack Obama and the DLC Strategy

DLC endorsement is the gold standard of political reliability for Wall Street, Big Energy, Big Pharma, insurance, the airlines and more. Though candidates normally undergo extensive questioning and interviews before DLC endorsement, Obama insisted the blessing of these corporate special interests had been bestowed on him without these formalities and without his advance knowledge, and formally disassociated himself from the DLC. But like Hillary Clinton, and every front running Democrat since Michale Dukakis in 1988, Barack Obama's campaign has adopted the classic right wing DLC strategy.
When he does speak, it won't be good news. Republicans are sure to escalate their demands, insisting that Barack Obama denounce a list of black and progressive organizations, activities, beliefs and individuals to retain his share of their base. And as long as Obama is wedded to the DLC strategy, he will eagerly comply.

If there was an actual mass-based progressive movement in the US, operating on the ground and independent of political parties and campaigns, it might have a prayer of holding Barack Obama accountable. But there isn't.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2, 2012 10:08:29 PM | 18

better make sure I close the blockquote

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 2, 2012 10:10:42 PM | 19

DB @ 18.. YEP!

Posted by: ben | Nov 2, 2012 10:36:32 PM | 20

just testing html tags:

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 2, 2012 11:35:30 PM | 21

hmmm, didn't seem to work, another test.

Link to FP

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 2, 2012 11:39:04 PM | 22

There are a lot of anecdotes about employers only hiring part-time workers to avoid Obamacare mandated health coverage:

Who couldn't see this coming?

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 3, 2012 2:16:19 AM | 23

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