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The Jobs Report—II

Something seemed awfully funny about the jobs numbers this morning and it seems I’m not the only one by a long shot who thought so. Ace of Spades for one. RDQ Economics for another. Suitably Flip for a third. The Weekly Standard for a fourth, which reported that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, on CNBC this morning, was asked flat out if the numbers had been cooked. (Needless to say, she vigorously denied it.)

The problem is that the monthly jobs report is two separate, unintegrated reports: the payroll survey and the household survey. The latter is traditionally more volatile. The payroll survey reported the 114,000 more jobs, the household survey said total employment increased by 873,000. Both can’t be right; 873,000 would be the biggest monthly job growth in decades. Indeed, it was last reached in 1983 as the economy was rebounding sharply from the recession of 1981-82 and growing at an awesome 9.3 percent on an annual basis. The economy is growing at 1.3 percent this year.

It was the household survey that yields the unemployment number that dropped .3 percent to 7.8 percent, the lowest of the Obama presidency. Gallup did its own survey and found no change in unemployment, which remained at 8.1 in that survey.

What is unquestionable is that that headline number, 7.8 percent unemployment, is as politically convenient for the administration as it is unlikely to be accurate.


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