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April 02, 2004



"GROWTH IN THE SPRING" (LOL) I remember noticing the resemblance between Dubya and Chauncey Gardner years ago; I wouldn't be surprised if he carries a remote control in his pocket and the first time he was in an elevator he thought it was a very small room. The problem is that Chauncey Bush IS president and isn't as nice as Chauncey Gardner.

The problem with the Jan/Feb figures is that most of those new jobs don't really exist.

I'll let the Labor Department explain itself in this passage from page 3 from its Friday release: "Retail trade employment increased by 76,000 over the month, after seasonal adjustments. The industry had lost a total of 67,000 jobs in November and December.

"Weak holiday hiring in general merchandise, sporting goods and miscellaneous stores meant that there were fewer workers to lay off in January, resulting in seasonally adjusted employment gains for the month."

By now my readers should have a PHD (pretty high disdain) for Capitol Hill math. This one, though, is a cake taker.

I'll translate: Included in the orginal report of 112,000 new jobs in January were 76,000 jobs that supposedly exist because people who weren't hired in December couldn't be fired in January.
Got that? They didn't get hired in December, or fired in January, so they showed up as new employees in January as a statistical fluke. So, really there were only an abysmally small 36,000 new jobs in January.

Considering that the margin of error for the survey of companies from which this number is derived is about 156,000 up or down, those 36,000 new jobs aren't even worth mentioning.

And considering this kind of math is how the labor dept. figures jobs, I suspect the latest figures as polictical BULL.

And of course, just to keep up with population growth entries into the labor market, 300,00 NEW jobs every month for the last 3 years is what was needed. The OLD jobs lost which need to be recreated make the number needed monthly NOW even greater!

Patrick R. Sullivan

I told you so, Brad DeLong (who has been scooped on this story):

"The survey recorded a slight decline of 3,000 jobs driven by a decline of 304,000 in the self-employed, who are not captured in the payroll statistics. This indicates a shift out of involuntary self-employment as the labor market expanded."

Paul Zrimsek

By the time this election finally rolls around there won't be a single statistic remaining that's good enough to meet the exacting standards of the left. First the household survey, after years of faithful service, was found wanting at last; now it's joined by the seasonally adjusted establishment survey.

Or has it? The figure of 76,000 retail jobs lost in the holiday season is just as much a product of seasonal adjustment as the January-February gain, but is apparently no less acceptable for that. What we're being presented with here is a whole new statistic-- call it the "seasonally molested establishment survey"-- which (starting from October) adds the November-December delta from the seasonally adjusted series, followed by the January-February delta from the non-seasonally-adjusted series, and concludes that Bush sucks. And I point this out only because it's inconceivable that anyoen posting under the name "bushgirlsgonewild" could be frivolous or partisan enough to be this misleading on purpose.


"By the time this election finally rolls around there won't be a single statistic remaining that's good enough to meet the exacting standards of the left..."

...Right, because there's no way Bush can repair all the damage he's done to our economy by Novemeber, so the stats can't possible look good by then -- I'm assuming that we are voting on his entire record, not what they MIGHT manage to pump out for a few weeks. As any statistician will tell you, one quarter or one month to month variation does not a trend make. Look for a return to modest but disappointing and inadequate job creation for April.

And I use the name 'bushgirlsgonewild' because I just happened to be named that at birth.


BY THE WAY, The Labor Department in January reported that the "unemployment rate fell because hundreds of thousands of people gave up looking for work," The Washington Post noted. "The unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in December, a 14 month low, from 5.9 percent in November. But that reflected the decisions of 309,000 people to either stop working or stop looking for jobs, which means they are no longer counted as part of the labor force."

Sung Won Sohn, chief economic officer for Wells Fargo, noted that temporary employment had risen by 30,000 jobs in December, and by 166,000 jobs in 2003: "Businesses appear to be hiring temporary workers increasingly as a substitute for permanent employees."

So we have lower unemployement because: 1.) People are giving up because there ain't no jobs being created, and 2.) People are desperate enough to take low-paying, part-time jobs.

For the REAL unempoyment rate, look at thestreet.com website figures. Factoring out all the bull, the rate is really about 9.0%.


Look for a return to modest but disappointing and inadequate job creation for April.

Keep hope alive!

But I am looking for potent, robust, (even manly!) growth for April, May, June, and so on until November. And maybe beyond. That prediction and a buck gets you a latte.

I agree with Paul re the Seasonally Molested employment series.

Paul Zrimsek

If people go whistling past the graveyard, do ghouls go whistling past the maternity ward?

The BLS' most inclusive alternative measure of unemployment is 9.9% as of March. As a source of comfort for Bush-bashers, it's a bit tainted by the fact that it was also at 9.9% in April 1996-- unless they can somehow bamboozle the public into comparing the alternative rate now with the standard rate then. (http://bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab12.htm -- select series U-6).

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