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SnowJob: Revising the Jobs Report

SnowJob: Revising the Jobs Report

jesse's cafe posterCourtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

It appears as though the concerns expressed by the Adminstration about the snow storms and their impact on lost employment was overdone, if not misplaced. The market is pleasantly surprised with this -36,000 jobs number, since the expectations had been calibrated lower so effectively.

In fairness to the Obama Administration, they are only doing what Bush II, Clinton, and Bush I had been doing right along with almost every statistic that they have issued. It’s called ‘perception management.’ Greece used one method of accounting management in shaping the numbers, and the US uses its own approach to what is essentially a similar problem.

“Propaganda proceeds by psychological manipulations, character modifications, and the creation of stereotypes useful when the time comes.
The two great routes that propaganda takes are the conditioned reflex and the myth.” Jacques Ellul

In addition to the ‘better-than-expected’ jobs loss announced today for February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also went back and adjusted the employment numbers from April-July 2009.

"With the release of February data on March 5, 2010, BLS has corrected April-July 2009 establishment survey estimates for all employees and women employees for the federal government series. The changes result from corrections to initial counts for Census temporary and intermit- tent workers for Census 2010."

This adjustment itself was not so great, certainly not as significant as the benchmark revision done in January for the 12+ months preceding.

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare the views of the US employment Seasonally Adjusted "headline numbers" presented by the BLS in December 2009, and the current view that they are showing as the true number today after the two recent sets of revisions. 

The net result of the revisions is that jobs were added to the beginning and the end of what will be defined as ‘the recession.’

This serves to now make the slump look steeper and more severe, and the recovery to be a little sharper, with plenty of jobs leftover to create a ‘flat impression’ in 2010 at worst.

In short, jobs were removed from almost every month in the revision during the slump, and shoved into the beginning and into the end.

That looks like a nice picture of a recovery, doesn’t it? See, the Feburary 2009 stimulus program and the strategy of massive bank bailouts have worked.

I have seen corporate managers who have come into a new position and inherited a mess jigger the numbers in a similar way. You make the slump look as bad as possible, and shove the excess profits or revenue into the beginning and the end of the problem, to make your efforts look as heroically effective as is possible. 

Perhaps this is all just the way things turned out, in revising the numbers so as to make them the most accurate. 

Photo: Colorful poster decorating Jesse’s Cafe. 


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