The release of the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has become like a broken record. It always comes with an asterisk. Whenever we discuss it, we have to use a qualifier. Yes, it’s moving in the right direction, but no, it’s not yet good enough. The March report is no different.
The “official” unemployment rate dipped again to 8.8%. There were 216,000 non-farm private sector jobs added. Yet, in month 20 since the recession officially ended, do these numbers qualify as good?
As I reported last month, we need at least 227,000 brand spanking new private-sector non-farm payroll jobs added each and every month merely to keep pace with our country’s rate of population growth expansion. So we were about 11,000 short of that number. And what do you know? There were also another 11,000 that dropped out of the labor force in March.
That’s a key number to keep in mind. At this stage of the reported recovery, we are still seeing more people giving up and just not even looking for a job. At least according to the reporting methods the BLS uses in its household survey. All it would take is one month of really robust numbers such as, say 350,000 new jobs added. This would be the signal that all the millions of long-term unemployed no longer counted in the workforce have been waiting for. They will re-start their job search and if enough re-enter all at once, it will have a significant upward pressure on the unemployment rate.
Then we enter the chicken and egg type of phase of the real recovery. Job numbers of real significance will be occurring, yet the unemployment rate will start to rise again. Job seekers who follow headlines will understandably get confused. This may cause them to again drop out of the search and the rate will decline again and around and around we go.
The bottom line is the monthly report merely becomes a partisan headline. Since the current occupant of the White House is a democrat, the report will be hailed as generally good news. The opposing view ignores the rate drop and highlights the underlying numbers in the report. As per usual, you can take away nearly whatever you wish from these reports depending upon your political slant.
I won’t say the numbers don’t lie as the BLS reporting methods are highly questionable and have been for years. It’s not an Obama thing at all. There are also optional reports circulating about that conflict greatly with these numbers, but they aren’t counted as the “official” numbers. For instance, the Gallup poll has been trending higher each month. John William’s Shadow Statistics is on another playing field. His report comes in much, much higher as he uses much older reporting methods that have been stripped of any accounting gimmicks put into place by the Clinton administration.
However, just using the BLS numbers, the recovery just isn’t real. Moving in the right direction month after month isn’t enough. When we can’t even keep up with the expansion rate of the country, there is no other way to interpret the final tally other than as a failure. A failure of this President’s policies. He’s simply not getting the job done. OJT isn’t supposed to encompass his entire first term as POTUS.
The good news is that Obama doesn’t get distracted by everyday, tedious things like adding more wars to our docket. He leaves the details to others and maintains his ever so important social calendar. This should bode well for allowing him to focus on jobs as he always tells us he is. The bad news is he will likely officially start his re-election campaign very soon and will now be distracted by his own job security risks and he won’t be able to make jobs his main priority. Or is it really bad news? Hmmmm….