Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why You Can't Trust Those Jobs Figures

There was an interesting piece in Forbes (which I normally don't read) yesterday regarding the jobs numbers. It seems pretty clear cut to say that nobody should really trust these unemployment numbers. As they don't tell the whole truth of the unemployed.

"He says the U.S. is in a depression, and though the economy may have hit a “plateau,” it’s not about to rebound, as many stock investors apparently assume."

"Williams also doesn’t buy the official unemployment rates, which are based on a separate survey from the one used for the payroll numbers. He notes that in calculating its broadest jobless rate, the so-called "U-6," the Labor Department in 1994 stopped including unemployed workers who had stopped looking for a job for more than year. As this recession drags on, and despair over finding jobs mounts, that’s likely to distort the true labor picture.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the jobless rate in July was 9.4%, one-tenth of percentage point lower than in June. The U-6 rate, which includes frustrated part-timers as well as those who have stopped looking, also fell slightly, to 16.3%. Williams figures that broader rate hit 20.6%, 25% higher than the government figure."

That's a very depressing sign if rates are actually as high as Williams suggests. Shadowstats has the same depressing outlook for the jobs market. I would even suggest that this temporary blip in hiring will face downwards pressure as once the stimulus runs its course. There is still plenty of risk that we might have to hit a double bottom in our economy to continue to weed out the excess capacity.


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