Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unemployment, Another Perspective

The unemployment rate depends a lot on who's doing the counting, and what their agenda might be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a fairly good reputation for accuracy, although lately some of their numbers have begun to look suspect. If the economy is really recovering, for example, why is no one being hired?

The BLS gets their numbers by taking telephone surveys, among other methods, and then deciding whom to count and whom to ignore. They currently have a U-6 rate of the unemployed, the underemployed, and "discouraged" workers, running about 17%. Other sources call the number as high as 22%. Gallup has been doing its own unemployment survey, with their own methodology that doesn't allow them to ignore as big a portion of the numbers as the BLS.
This number is, to me anyway, more credible than the BLS.
A rise in the percentage of part-timers wanting to work full time (from 9.2% to 9.9%) is responsible for the March increase in underemployment. Unemployment saw a slight, but insignificant, decline in March.
So it looks like while people are finding a bit of work, it seems a good part of it is part-time rather than full-time. Gallup also shows that in the last 4 months, actual employment has dropped a tiny amount, calculated as a 30-day rolling average, which smooths out the week-to-week fluctuations. Less than 1% from the look of the graph, but this is not the rising line we hope for when we're told the recession is over.

The President, meanwhile, tells us to tone down the complaining. He finds the noise annoying.

No comments: