500,000 disappear from US workforce – Unemployment drops to 9.0%

OK, I don’t have the time to look into this, but two other conservative bloggers are asking the right questions. The unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 to 9.0 percent. The number of jobs added was about 36,000. How the heck does the math work on that one?

Steve Gilbert at Sweetness & Light.

We are supposed to believe that a measly increase of only 36,000 jobs made the unemployment rate go down .4%?

The number of unemployed persons decreased by 600,000 “while the labor force was unchanged”? How is that even mathematically possible? (Maybe the explanation can be found in the BLS’s accompanying announcement, below.)

It sure sounds to us like the .4% decline in unemployment is solely due to this new population estimate. But given all this bureaucratic gobbledygook we could be wildly mistaken, of course.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

Frankly, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. If only 36,000 jobs were added and 600,000 people stopped being unemployed, then the labor force should show a significant contraction. The lower overall rate makes sense if 600,000 people left the workforce, but not if the workforce remained the same. Otherwise, we’d have to conclude that 36,000 jobs represents 0.4% of all employment in the US.

10 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Where "voodoo economics" and Øbamanomics meet!


    I have stopped worrying if Øbama took economics in college: now I worry that he had any math at all!


    Maybe he majored in prestidigitation and legerdemain!

  2. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    Hope and change at work.  When the data and equation doesn't yield the conclusion you hope, change the equation.

    "The basis of effective government is public confidence."- John F. Kennedy


  3. steve418r
    steve418r says:

    It seems like they think we are so stupid we will believe anything they tell us. They are saying the economy is recovering, yet on my home from school at night, I see more and more business closing on RT 44. These are solid establishments too. 99 restaurant, Boston Chicken, Shaws Supermarket, to name a few. How can this be seen as a sign of better times?

    I guess it must be in the eye of the beholder. A drop in unemployment should mean less people are out of work. I'm not seeing it.

  4. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Just because the CT economy is in the tank, it does not mean that other states are not doing better. In case it was missed it, the unemployment and job numbers are national values. And closer to home see how well Mass is doing: Pfizer is moving jobs there from CT! CT could have helped Pfizer in building a research facility near UConn, remember? But, noooooooooo…. it might cost money. So they are moving jobs into a friendlier state.

  5. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Sammy22, No argument from me. Connecticut has a Democrat Governor now, and a huge Democrat majority in both houses of the General Assembly and you wonder why we are broke? What's to wonder? However the subject is the governments faulty math.

  6. NH-Jim
    NH-Jim says:

    When I do the fuzzy math as Ed Morrissey describes above, I come up with 9 million total jobs in the USA.  Uhh, as Spock would say, "that does not compute."


    [Note to Sammy et al: 1. CT's unemployment <a title="Bureau of Labor Statistics" href="http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm&quot; rel="nofollow">rate is about in the middle at #28 at 9% which would make it a good average indicator of the economy as a whole.

    2.EB is purchasing the Pfizer complex in New London with a 3- yr commitment of $15 M from the state.  <a title="EB Buying Pfizer HQ – Courant" href="http://www.courant.com/business/hc-electric-boat-pfizer-0622-20100621,0,1355463.story&quot; rel="nofollow">EB will maintain 2300 jobs & add 700 more.  It will invest $100M into the complex.

    3. Pfizer after merging with Wyeth is consolidating and eliminating 19,000 jobs worldwide.

    4. <a title="Pfizer Abandons NL" href="http://allforthetaking.org/pfizer-abandons-new-london-headquarters-4-years-after-landmark-eminent-domain-case&quot; rel="nofollow">Pfizer received a 10-year tax abatement giving the city of NL only 1/5th of the tax revenue for the property.  (2012 is the last year, how convenient)

    5. In all, <a title="The Day-Bringing Pfizer to NL…" href="http://www.theday.com/article/20091121/NWS12/311219912&quot; rel="nofollow">enticing Pfizer to HQ in New London cost city and state taxpayers $160M.]


    How much more money must the state taxpayer shell out???

  7. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Lynn, the Labor Dept. takes the numbers from the same sources every month and puts them through the same formula month after month after month…. This month the numbers gave the results that have been reported. No conspiracy in my opinion.

  8. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Sammy22, I will be the first to admit, I am not a math whiz. I did great in Algebra, but who uses it? That's why I didn't comment on any answers to the math. However, even without great math, I was an auditor for a small bank. Only job I really loved. I got it more because I had been an investigator of insurance fraud than my math skills. One thing I learned, statistics can be manipulated and are dependent on numbers put in. I do know that the Labor Dept. changes the interpretation of what defines their terms from time to time. this method begets strange math. No conspiracy just statistics can prove whatever you want them to prove.

  9. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Lynn, I agree that statistics can be "manipulated" by anybody. But that works for both sides of the debate. If we're reduced to thinking that we're being scammed by everybody, then this country is really in the tank.

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