» Does little improvement = decline? That’s Ezra Klein’s argument on the report. “In this economy, little or no change isn’t good enough,” he says. “We added 80,000 jobs in June. That’s not enough to keep up with population growth. So, in the context of our growing workforce, the labor market lost ground last month.”
» Editor’s note: And because this comes up EVERY SINGLE MONTH, the unemployment rate above is the U3 unemployment rate, the standard that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses. If you use the U6 unemployment rate (which includes people unemployed but not currently looking for work, or working part-time for economic reasons), it jumps to 14.9 percent, which is up from last month.
» 13,000 have already been accepted: A new joint program between the U.S. Labor Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs could give out-of-work veterans a chance get back in the game for free. The Veteran Retraining Assistance Program offers an opportunity for vets between the age of 35 and 60 to get a free year of education on the government’s dime. The deal does have some conditions — the veterans can’t be receiving unemployment benefits already, and can’t already be receiving similar types of education. This is good; we need to do more to help vets.
» A somewhat odd note from the article: ”In the two months since the survey was conducted, a large share of participants have had their phone numbers disconnected and could not be reached.” Now it’s possible they all got new cell phone numbers, or that they’re simply hard to track. But still, that’s not a common thing to happen in a survey.
stealth-tomato asks: Your post of the unemployment/underemployment graph is missing important context from the article: The 2006 numbers are from a significant economic bubble, and thus are lower than long-term levels are likely to ever be.
» SFB says: While it’s true it was a period of great growth, the “important context” from the article is mentioned in passing at best: “… it’s still much closer to where it was at the depth of the recession than to where it was at the peak of the boom/bubble of the mid aughts.”
But and with that in mind, we’d like to point out the U-16 unemployment number, which includes long-term and short-term, remained fairly low over a long period of time, staying below 11 percent for more than a decade prior to the current economic crisis — reaching below 8 percent for a sustained period during the latter half of the Clinton years. 2006 wasn’t even the lowest point in the past 18 years. Here’s an Excel chart we gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally adjusted.
Underemployment is not tracked in that table, so to go with that, here’s a 2008 BLS graphic showing unemployment versus part-time underemployment. Click to see the full document:
As you’ll see, the unemployment and underemployment charts follow roughly the same curves over the 1994-2008 period. But all of this is to say that the bubble wasn’t particularly out of whack over the period that came before it in the chart we reblogged. The current level we’re at is basically insane, even after the recent decline, and the 14 years that came before prove it. — Ernie @ SFB
If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent. If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.2 percent.Ezra Klein • Remarking on declining labor force participation in the US. It’s often noted that official unemployment numbers understate the real percentage of people out of work, as they only tally people actively searching for a job. One consequence of this is that when labor force participation decreases—that is, when unemployed folks just give up and stop looking for work—employment actually “increases.” That’s why only 115,000 jobs were added last month, yet unemployment decreased from 8.2% to 8.1%. Since Barack Obama took office, labor force participation has declined 2%. It’s now at 63.6% which, Klein notes, is “a level not seen since the early days of the Reagan administration.” Here’s a chart. source (via • follow)
» Last week’s number was the highest since late January, and comes on the heels of electronics-giant Sony announcing 10,000 new layoffs as part of their “One Sony” initiative to turn around the company. (Yahoo also announced mass layoffs recently.) The new numbers follow a so-so monthly jobs report, released last Friday, which showed the economy had only added 120,000 jobs during March. That number was down from approximately 200,000 new jobs a month from December to February. It’s important to note that, prior to last week, this number — which changes weekly — was consistently hitting lows that hadn’t been touched since before the financial crisis in late 2008.
» Signs of overall improvement: Economists say that the modest growth the economy is showing is decent for now but could show much stronger results later in the year — a theory supported by the rise in consumer spending in February. Most notably, some states which were hard hit by the housing collapse are showing signs of life, including Florida (with an unemployment rate that’s fallen below 10 percent in the past year), Michigan (below 9 percent in part because of the auto industry’s rebound) and California (whose 10.9 percent unemployment is nonetheless much better than it was a year ago). Think the trend will keep ticking upward?
We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race. I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.Rick Santorum • Misjudging what the central theme of the race is.
Based on one report, it’s as if the president’s full economic agenda is either brilliant or moronic. Get good numbers and you’re Keynes reincarnate. Get bad numbers and you can’t add.Vice President Biden’s former chief economist Jared Bernstein • Discussing the process that goes into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment reports, reports which have taken on new importance as the 2012 election hits. (The numbers showed slight improvement Friday, with the unemployment rate staying steady but jobs levels increasing.) Highly recommend you read the Washington Post’s piece on the matter, which goes in depth explaining exactly what happens to bring those numbers — numbers which can define the entire debate over the next month — to reality. It’s fascinating.
» Beating expectations handily: Many experts were expecting an increase in jobs, but not one this high. This is not to say we don’t have a long way to go, just that this is a very good number, especially for the time of year, when the assumption is that seasonal jobs are ending. Even better: The economy added 200,000 more jobs last year than first thought. Sounds to us like things are starting to look up. Read the full report here.