April's Awful Jobs Report
Unfortunately, those who believe that the BLS is no longer walled off from political influence gained three forms of support for their argument this month.
First, the bureau's "Birth/Death" adjustment, which incorporated 206,000 jobs into April's raw number, seems abnormally high and without strong basis. The adjustment in April 2011 was 172,000. We're really supposed to believe that thousands more Americans are starting up enterprises than were doing so a year ago, and that they generated 20% more jobs than such people did a year ago (net of bankruptcies and other business terminations)? Subtracting Birth/Death from April in both years means that the raw number of job additions the bureau found through its normal survey methods dropped by over 30%.
Second, the employment report's verbiage read like an attempt to water down the bad news in a vain attempt to minimize the damage. Unlike the vast majority of previous months when the news was better, the authors failed to mention the particularly weak number of seasonally adjusted 130,000 private-sector jobs added (130,000). It made sure to remind us that there were "gains averaging 252,000 per month for December to February" (like we care now?). It also decided to trumpet the seasonally adjusted 62,000 jobs added in "professional and business services," even though the raw gains in that broad category were less than in each of the previous two Aprils, and despite the fact that this April's number included 21,000 positions added at temporary help services. (Temps, a segment which is barely 2% of the private workforce, have made up over 740,000, or almost 28%, of the 2.66 million jobs added to private-sector payrolls since the recession officially ended in June 2009.)
Finally, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's related press release was an arrogant exercise in see-no-evil partisanship, as seen in these excerpts (my comments are in italics):
I would characterize our growth as durable and steady. For 26 straight months, we have added private sector jobs. The national unemployment rate has fallen a full point in the last eight months. Layoffs are continuing to come down and are now back to 2006 levels. (Mass layoffs may be down, but unemployment claims, the better indicator of overall layoffs, were lower during every week in 2006 than during any week so far this year.)
In April, our largest gains -- 62,000 new jobs -- were in good-paying business and professional services careers, meaning more architects, engineers, computer programmers and consultants are finding jobs. (Uh, over one-third of them were temps, and most temps aren't particularly well-paid.)
We're on the right path, and we know our recovery would be even stronger if Congress hadn't blocked almost every single proposed investment in the American Jobs Act. (Because AJA will work just as well as the stimulus did -- oh, wait a minute ...)
Going forward, we have a choice to make. We can either make investments in things like education, transportation and new sources of energy ... Or we give more tax breaks to wealthy Americans who don't need them and didn't ask for them. (Team Obama's current solution is hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases scheduled to kick in on January 1, 2013.)
This is delusional. All the lipstick in the world can't disguise how ugly this pig is -- and in case you're wondering, I really am referring to the jobs report.
The only reasonable response to April's employment report and the Labor Secretary's reaction is "OMG." As in, "Obama Must Go."