Except for everything after the “8.6%” at the very top, it was a terrific jobs report from November. I can’t drill down into the numbers the way I’d like, because BLS’s servers aren’t delivering any web pages. The government is working about as hard, it seems, as the economy’s job-generating engine.
120,000 new positions were created last month. That’s about half of what is required just to keep up with population growth, and a third of what you’d expect during a lame recovery — and less than one-quarter of what was promised.
If you want the good news, here it is:
The measure some refer to as the “real” unemployment rate, which counts discouraged workers, also took a steep fall to 15.6 percent from 16.2 percent, its lowest level since March 2009.
Sounds good, right? 15.6%, U-6 and 8.6% U-3? Well, no. From Zero Hedge’s Twitter feed: “Not seasonally adjusted people who are ‘Not In The Labor Force’ increased by 576,000 in one month.” The “adjusted” number was well over 300,000. For every person who found a new job last month, almost three became so discouraged that they quit looking and no longer count in BLS’s figures. Or more than five-to-one, if you use honest numbers.
If those “discouraged workers” had a little more of that hope, the unemployment rate this month would be 8.9%. If we had the same size labor pool we had on January 20, 2009 — just to pick a random date off the top of my head — the unemployment rate would by 11%. Instead, the labor participation rate is down yet again, to 64%. You have to go back to the early 80s — when women still had yet to be fully integrated into the workforce — to find a number that low.
And in case you were wondering, yes, the bulk of the new jobs were McJobs:
As expected, the service sector was responsible for the bulk of job creation, adding 126,000 jobs against just 2,000 for manufacturing.
Retail positions rose by 50,000, with 27,00 of that in clothing and clothing accessories stores. Leisure and hospitality added 22,000, with food service and bars up 33,000 to offset a loss of 12,000 in the accommodations industry.
Good news about the bartenders, though — we could all use a drink right now. And I do mean right now.
UPDATE: Say, you didn’t think President Obama wouldn’t try to greenwash the numbers, did you? Of course he did! From Mark Knoller:
Pres Obama comments on the unemployment report this morning when he announces a new jobs program linked to energy upgrades in bldgs.
Or as Don Fagen put it:
Here at home we’ll play in the city
Powered by the sun
Perfect weather for a streamlined world
There’ll be Spandex jackets one for everyone
That was 1981. I’m still waiting for that Spandex jacket.
AND ANOTHER THING: Jim Pethokoukis adds, “Nominal wages also slipped in November for the first time since August — MKM Partners.”
In the fourth year of Ronald Reagan’s first term, after wringing double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates, and double-digit unemployment out of the economy, real wages shot up more than 7%.
I get the feeling we won’t be seeing anything like that anytime soon.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S LESS: At The Right Sphere, RB has put together a little something-something for you:
We paid over $850 billion dollars for the privilege of looking at that chart.