Friday's Employment Data: The worst private sector June in decades 

Shortly after the release of the government's Employment Situation Report courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, my overall evaluation was that, "While the results aren’t totally depressing, they’re still quite unimpressive."

Let me amend that. Maybe total depression is justified. The tables and historical context coming up shortly, combined with the president's cluelessness, will show readers why.

To fully grasp all of this, first one needs to understand the difference between what has really happened and what people usually hear relating to these monthly jobs reports.

Every month what has really happened out here in the real world with jobs and unemployment, also known as the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) data, is "smoothed out" by means of seasonal adjustment.

There's really nothing wrong with this statistical technique, except for one thing: the BLS doesn't do a particularly good job of flagging its data as "seasonally adjusted" in its main report. Because of that, most of the press and seemingly all politicians seem to believe that the seasonally adjusted numbers represent what really happened.

They don't. What follows are tables from the Household Survey (used to determine unemployment rates) showing changes in the seasonally adjusted (SA) workforce, whether employed or not, followed by the analogous NSA changes:

 

 

The SA number for June is bad enough. In fact, June's seasonally adjusted workforce shrinkage is the largest for any June since 1963.

But the NSA number representing what really happened is even worse. In a normal June, the workforce increases significantly, because lots of people occupied with other things during the rest of the year typically test the waters in the seasonal and summer-job market. But whereas an average of about 1.75 million did so during the past seven Junes, including almost 1.6 million last year during the recession, only 901,000 did so in June of 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1954 to find a lower workforce change during June in the private sector than the June we just experienced. On a population-adjusted basis, the June 2010 figure is the worst June performance in the 63 years BLS has been tracking the data.

Yet today, President Obama claimed that, "We are headed in the right direction." I'm not buying it, nor are hundreds of thousands of people who figuratively sat on the couch in June because they know how bad the prospects for gainful employment in the real world actually are.

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Tom Blumer

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