Right out of the blocks the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report summary tries to hit you with what might appear to be a bit of good news:
Non-farm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Since December 2009, non-farm payroll employment has risen by 874,000 & the number of unemployed persons, at 14.8 million, was little changed in October.
If you just want to hear the feel good story, please stop here, because when delving deeper into the latest statistics available, one finds very troubling data in a number of key areas (all seasonally adjusted data):
1) The overall employment level declined by 330,000 jobs from the previous month. Saying that we have picked up 151,000 non-farm payroll jobs while losing a total of 330,000 jobs in total does not sound like progress to me.
2) While the unemployment rate is holding steady at 9.6%, it has been 18 months since the unemployment rate has been below 9%, and 2-1/2 years since it has been as low as 5%.
3) The gross number of jobs peaked in November 2007 at 146,483,000 jobs. By December 2009 the gross number of jobs had dropped to 137,792,000 jobs or a net loss of 8,691,000 jobs. With the gross number of jobs reported for October 2010 at 139,061,000 jobs, the economy has still lost 7,422,000 jobs from November 2007 highs. That is an average of 212,000 job losses a month over the last 35 months.
4) An even scarier number is the median week’s unemployed figure. Using November 2007 as a base at a median of 8.7 weeks, the current median is 21.2 weeks or a 145% increase. The “average” number of weeks unemployed in October stands at 33.9 weeks or almost double the “average” number of weeks unemployed from back in November 2007.
5) Continuing to use November 2007 as a baseline, the number of unemployed for 27 weeks and over stood at 1,374,000. In October 2010 that number has grown to 6,206,000. That’s a shocking increase of 4,832,000 people or a 352%increase in the number of people “enjoying” long term unemployment. More than anytime since records have been kept; those becoming unemployed tend to stay unemployed. There are simply no jobs for them!
6) There is no clear statistic that measures the number of unemployed that have exhausted all unemployment benefits and have just fallen off of the unemployment roles. Reasonable estimates put this number at over 6 million people that have become 99ers and have exhausted all unemployment benefits and are no longer counted as part of the labor pool. Adding these people back into the number of unemployed and the labor pool calculations would put the projected adjusted unemployment rate at a staggering 13%.
In addition to what the report tells us, we must remember that we are not talking about numbers, but about people. Many of these people have family members that are relying upon them for support that is no longer available. Millions of families are going hungry and homeless. People continue to look for the impossible to happen, that they will find that invisible job. This situation will not change anytime soon. We must recognize the situation for what it is; a national disaster that is not going to just go away.
Oscar Wilde once said, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” The data released by the Department of Labor contains the pure and simple truth, but often the parts of the report that we get spoon fed are often not even close to the real story.