Digging Into the Unemployment Rate

I don’t follow the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report as faithfully as I used to. My loss of interest started when I understood how unempirical the numbers they are reporting are. However, this month’s caught my interest when I read that the number of full-time jobs decreased by 1.6 million while the number of part-time jobs increased by 1.8 million so decided to dig into it a bit. The first thing I wanted to show you was this, the age-adjusted figures for full-time and part-time employment over time:

The numbers are noisy to be sure but the trend certainly looks more characteristic of the leading edge of a recession than of boom time. You might also be interested in the video version of Ms. Nash’s presentation:

This graphic also strikes me as interesting:
Statistic: Unemployment rate in the United States in May 2024, by industry and class of worker | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
I’m not exactly sure what to conclude from that bar chart but I’m more confident in something you cannot conclude from it. We don’t need more workers in Agriculture or Leisure and hospitality but we may in the highly subsidized Education and health services.

4 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    There’s a jobs entry on the unemployment report for “unpaid family workers”?

  • walt moffett Link

    Always has been, it covers housewives, farm kids and others who work at home but get no wages. It is used as a way agencies to pad the numbers and show successful job placements.

    devils advocate: Should we be importing more medical personnel to drive down medical wages and so, costs? Along with more semiskilled to skilled factory workers?

  • steve Link

    Looks like the Fed’s efforts to cool off the economy might be working? Time for rate cuts? (I wish they would carry this charts further back so we have some idea where these numbers normally hang out.)


  • Drew Link

    ZeroHedge does a good job analyzing the numbers when they come out. A few salient points:

    1. They go through the reasons the two biggest indices diverge. One is politically friendly, the other, not so much.

    2. Revisions are the game. Report a positive headline number, and it makes the media rounds. Then, when the spotlight is gone, revise them down (negatively). Rinse, lather, repeat.

    3. The horrible composition of jobs is rarely cited, just the gross number. Part time, low skill, government vs private etc dominates.

    This is not a healthy economy.

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