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Jobs Contract 22nd Straight Month; Unemployment Rate Hits 10.2%

Jobs Contract 22nd Straight Month; Unemployment Rate Hits 10.2%

Courtesy of Mish

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the October Employment Report.

The unemployment rate rose from 9.8 to 10.2 percent in October, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline (-190,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses over the month were in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade..


Establishment Data

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Highlights

  • 190,000 jobs were lost in total vs. 263,000 jobs last month.
  • 62,000 construction jobs were lost vs. 64,000 last month.
  • 61,000 manufacturing jobs were lost vs. 51,000 last month.
  • 61,000 service providing jobs were lost vs. 147,000 last month.
  • 40,000 retail trade jobs were lost vs. 39,000 last month.
  • 18,000 professional and business services jobs were added vs. 8,000 lost last month.
  • 45,000 education and health services jobs were added vs. 3,000 added last month.
  • 37,000 leisure and hospitality jobs were lost vs. 9,000 last month.
  • 00,000 government jobs were lost vs. 53,000 last month.

A total of 129,000 goods producing jobs were lost (higher paying jobs). Retail and professional services contributed to to the plus side.

Last month I noted "The one cheery bit of news in the above numbers is the loss of 53,000 government jobs. Unfortunately, this trend is likely to reverse in a major way with as of yet unannounced son-of-stimulus and grandson-of-stimulus jobs packages."

On a month to month basis Government jobs were up by 53,000 even though they did not add any overall jobs. Government jobs, education, and to a lesser extent professional jobs accounted for all (and then some) of the improvement vs. last month.

Note: some of the above categories overlap as shown in the preceding chart, so do not attempt to total them up.

Index of Aggregate Weekly Hours

Work hours were flat at 33.0. Short work weeks contribute to household problems. Moreover, before hiring begins at many places, work weeks will increase.

Birth Death Model Revisions 2008

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Birth Death Model Revisions 2009

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Birth/Death Model Revisions

After the typical in January in which the Birth/Death Model revisions bore some semblance of reality, the Birth/Death numbers remain in deep outer space.

At this point in the cycle birth death numbers should have been massively contracting for months. The BLS is going to keep adding jobs through the entire recession in a complete display of incompetence.

However, what does stand out last month at -33,000 jobs and again this month at -36,000 Leisure and Hospitality Jobs.

Leisure and Hospitality Categories

  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation
  • Food services and drinking places
  • Hotels and other accommodations

Think consumers are not cutting back on discretionary spending?

Please note that one cannot subtract or add birth death revisions to the reported totals and get a meaningful answer. One set of numbers is seasonally adjusted the other is not. In the black box the BLS combines the two coming out with a total. The Birth Death numbers influence the overall totals but the math is not as simple as it appears and the effect is nowhere near as big as it might logically appear at first glance.

BLS Black Box

For those unfamiliar with the birth/death model, monthly jobs adjustments are made by the BLS based on economic assumptions about the birth and death of businesses (not individuals). Those assumptions are made according to estimates of where the BLS thinks we are in the economic cycle.

The BLS has admitted however, that their model will be wrong at economic turning points. And there is no doubt we are long past an economic turning point.

Here is the pertinent snip from the BLS on Birth/Death Methodology.

  • The net birth/death model component figures are unique to each month and exhibit a seasonal pattern that can result in negative adjustments in some months. These models do not attempt to correct for any other potential error sources in the CES estimates such as sampling error or design limitations.
  • Note that the net birth/death figures are not seasonally adjusted, and are applied to not seasonally adjusted monthly employment links to determine the final estimate.
  • The most significant potential drawback to this or any model-based approach is that time series modeling assumes a predictable continuation of historical patterns and relationships and therefore is likely to have some difficulty producing reliable estimates at economic turning points or during periods when there are sudden changes in trend.

Household Data

In October, the number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.7 percent) and whites (9.5 percent) rose in October. The jobless rates for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (27.6 percent), blacks (15.7 percent), and Hispanics (13.1 percent) were little changed over the month.

The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed over the month at 65.1 percent. The employment-population ratio continued to decline in October, falling to 58.5 percent.

The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in October at 9.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Persons Not in the Labor Force

About 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in October, reflecting an increase of 736,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 808,000 discouraged workers in October, up from 484,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Some "Recovery"

In a typical recovery, the participation rate should go up not down. The reason is people hear there is a recovery, hear things are getting better, hear the talk about "green shoots" and think there might be a job if they go looking.

Last month the participation rate dropped by .3% and the civilian labor force drop by 571,00 workers. This month the participation rated ticked down again by .1% while the civilian labor force dropped by 31,000. In normal condition, the civilian labor force ought to be growing by 120,000 a month due to increasing population and immigration.

Is this a "recovery"?

Table A-5 Part Time Status

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The chart shows there are 9.28 million people are working part time but want a full time job. A year ago the number was 6.8 million.

Note the trend in part-time work. It is inching up. In a recovery it should be headed down quickly. The reason is employers increase the hours of part-time workers before they start hiring full-time workers.

The key take-away from this series are the millions of workers whose hours will rise before companies start hiring more workers.

Table A-12

Table A-12 is where one can find a better approximation of what the unemployment rate really is. Let’s take a look

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Grim Statistics

The official unemployment rate is 10.2% and rising. However, if you start counting all the people that want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

It reflects how unemployment feels to the average Joe on the street. U-6 is 17.5%. Both U-6 and U-3 (the so called "official" unemployment number) are poised to rise further although most likely at a slower pace than earlier this year.

Looking ahead, there is no driver for jobs and states in forced cutback mode are making matters far worse.

Unemployment is likely to continue rising until sometime in 2011.

Depression Level Statistics

I consider these job losses to be depression level totals. Admittedly conditions are not as bad as the great depression, but this is certainly no ordinary recession by any economic measure including lending, housing, bank failures, jobs, the stock market, commodity prices, treasury yields etc. For more on this idea please see Humpty Dumpty On Inflation.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
 

 


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