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Job Numbers and Census Jobs

Given all the nonsense thats gone into the job numbers of late (see here and here), one has to wonder whether any of the economic data we use is actually valid. Well now, surprisingly, we have some more B.S. to deal with.

The new job data is out and it was so bad it caused a 300+ point drop in the Dow Jones. The market is now down over 10% since late April. Robert Reich is saying what I thought would happen: we are headed into a double dip recession. Basically, only 431,000 jobs were created, but that itself is very deceiving. As the Buearu of Labor Statistics points out:

“Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431,000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000). Manufacturing, temporary help services, and mining added jobs, while construction employment declined.”

So about 90% of the new jobs were temporary jobs working for the Census. But hey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted it, so it’s not that bad. Well yeah it is, even their number of “temporary” jobs is overstated, as a recent report in The New York Post showed:

“Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired… Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month… So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor.”

One Census worker described his experience as follows:

“I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census. I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.”

So that 411,000 temporary jobs number is pretty much meaningless. Regardless, the real change was an almost stagnant increase of 41,000 jobs. And not only do layoffs typically lag behind stock market declines (meaning increases in unemployment could be on the horizon), but if we look at underemployment (including people who’ve given up looking for a job and those working part time who’d like to work full time), it actually ticked up from 18.9% to 19.1% in May. I’m sorry folks, but there simply is no recovery.


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2 thoughts on “Job Numbers and Census Jobs

  1. Dan Pangburn says:

    The only relevant meaning that can be realized from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s assessment of new job numbers is what it portends for the prosperity of the country. About a fourth of what a private sector employee earns goes for taxes while all of a public sector employee’s wages and benefits come from taxes. Thus, from a deficit standpoint, an added private sector employee adds a job to the new jobs number but an added public sector employee costs government about four times as much as a private sector employee adds.

    Thus the correct measure for determining new job numbers as it relates to prosperity of the country should be the number of new jobs added to the private sector minus four times the number of new public sector jobs. Based on this, the government report of 431,000 new jobs of which 41,000 were private sector is equivalent to over 1.5 million private sector jobs lost since that is the effect on the prosperity of the country.


  2. Andrew says:

    Good point. Perhaps it is a good thing that those newly created government jobs were all temporary… very temporary


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