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Understanding Today's Employment Numbers

It's always tempting to fall for conspiracy theories, because they explain everything in a nice neat package.  So, naturally enough, a lot of people -- including Jack Welch, who should know better -- are suggesting that today's unemployment numbers have been manipulated down.

In fact, if you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, it's unlikely that anything has been manipulated -- which would be hard to do without being caught anyway -- because you can see exactly how the change happened.  Here's the net-net:

  • net 114,000 new full-time jobs
  • net 456,000 people who left the unemployed list -- discouraged or whatever
  • net 600,000 people added to part-time workers.

What distinguishes part-time workers from full-time? In general, part-time workers don't get benefits -- like health insurance.

What these numbers seem to be telling us is that it's too expensive to pay for benefits.