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Friday, October 7, 2011


Today the market is braced for the release of the monthly employment data.  It is released on the first Friday of each month at 8:30 am.  To find out when data is released, you need a calendar of economic events, like the following, available at ECONOMIC CALENDAR.

By clicking the indicated link, you'll find that economists expect the unemployment rate to tick up to 9.2% and the number of jobs gained to be reported at 65,000.

For a discussion before the number and an interpretation after the release, tune in to CNBC around 8:20 am. Typically there are a few economists and other pundits discussing the number. As you know, the employment situation is a key to whether Obama is re-elected or not.  If 14 million Americans are still out of work next year this time, the President will have tough going.

Rather than rely so much on others' interpretation, I prefer to go directly to the actual data which can be found at EMPLOYMENT REPORT.

CLICK TABLE TO ENLARGE As you can see, there is a lot of data not typically reported in the press--including the report for various sub populations as well as the rate of unemployment by education level.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics does an excellent job at presenting all kinds of data and answering questions on the reports they issue.

Finally, to get an historical perspective, it is worthwhile looking at a graph going back to 1970:

This UNEMPLOYMENT RATE GRAPH is easy to make.  If you want details, just send me an email.  The graph shows that the U.S. economy has experienced 7 recessions since 1970, with the most recent one being the longest and most painful - taking the rate of employment from below 5% to up over 9% where it is stubbornly stuck.  An important point to note is that the rate is not falling as it typically does after the end of a recession.  This, in a nutshell, is one of the major economic issues facing the country.

As an historical note, you can see that the rate dropped below 4% in 2000.  Before that, economists predicted a pick up in inflation at such a low rate.  It didn't occur!


  1. The drop in unemployment is certainly much slower than in the past. I would be curious to see the decline following the Great Depression as a comparison since this recession was especially severe. There were a few jobs created this past month. Let's see what happens with this next month.

  2. What are the other three columns in the unemployment table?

  3. The other columns show the prior 2 months as well as the year ago number.

  4. Unemployement is not the only important factor - it is what kind of jobs are getting lost /back.

    Since the 2008 recession most of the jobs are low-class, not mid. And the later keeps the economy going.

  5. IT and computer tech has been deflating like crazy, and yet it's one of the most productive and value-adding sectors of the economy.

    Perhaps the deflation on the heels of a credit-led boom is more harmful, but maybe the true harm came from the credit boom in the first place.

  6. Any speculation as to why we seen to be having a jobless recovery this time?

  7. The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment the commonly quoted U-3 rate (9.2% for September) but also counts marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons. Some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. The "marginally attached workers" include those who have stopped looking, but still want to work. The rate using U-6 is 16.5% for September up from 16.1% for August. This rate is a more accurate measure but seldom mentioned by the media.

  8. Unemployment is big, even bigger than the ~9% would suggest if you count the people who simply stopped looking and the underemployed. At least, there isn't a net loss of jobs, despite the number of new jobs created being insufficient to address unemployment.

  9. re: Grouch My take on why the unemployment rate stays stubbornly high this go around is as follows. The Fed caused the crisis ny pushing the fed funds rate to 1% in 2003 - in a strong housing market. They saw their version of the WMDs - deflation lurking in the bushes. This poured gasoline on the fire. Workers piled into construction and mortgage banking along with related industries. Then they pulled the rug out by pushing short rates up sharply. Today then we need to transfer people who can caulk and drive a nail into other jobs that are out there but lack qualified workers.
    Furthermore, lack of mobility from underwater mortgages, extending unemployment benefits, and government regulations causing uncertainty among the business sector aren't helping.
    re: King Kong There are a number of measures and each has its flaws and needs some interpretation. The 9.2% is consistent with the methodology used over the period in the graph. Discouraged workers and underemployment etc. definietly rise during recessions.