Perspective on November Jobs Numbers

The economy is creating jobs – approximately 120,000 this month – and that is welcomed.  But as with most things, perspective is always useful.

The unemployment rate dropped from 9.0% in October to 8.6%  in November. At first glance, that sounds like good news, right? Let’s take a closer look.

Anyone that’s been following the unemployment numbers will notice that each month this year, roughly 136,000 jobs have been added. Now if we look at the current report, just 120,000 jobs were added in November. How does unemployment remain unchanged every month at roughly 136,000  jobs added and then suddenly drop .4 percentage points in one month?

On its face, it’s clearly not what it seems.

That is because, while non-farm payrolls increased by 120,000 jobs; approximately 315,000 people gave up looking for work, which means they are no longer counted. Let us repeat: 315,000 were so disheartened by the current economy that have given up hope on finding a job. This is not something to be celebrated. (And of that 120,000 new jobs, about half of them were seasonal hires for retail and restaurants.)

Look at how this works. Many in the media are touting the fact that the unemployment rate is now at its lowest since March of 2009. That sounds like progress, until you realize that there are 330,000 less people employed in the country than there were in March of 2009.  Since the beginning of President Obama’s administration, there are more than 1.8 million less jobs.

But I guess when President Obama has no accomplishments to tout, the unemployment rate sounds like good news.

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