The Road to 4 million (November jobs report)

Jobs gained / (lost) in November 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (prelim):    (11,000)   

Jobs gained / (lost) in October 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (prelim):       (111,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in September 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :   (139,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in August 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :        (154,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in July 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :             (304,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in June 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :            (463,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in May 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :             (303,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in April 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final):              (519,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in March 2009 per the US Dept of Labor (final):            (652,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in February 2009 per the US Dept of Labor (final) :       (681,000)


Total jobs gained / (lost) since Obama took office :                             (3,337,000)   


Number of jobs promised by the Obama administration :                           4,000,000

Number of jobs remaining to hit goal :                                                      7,337,000

Link to Bureau of Labor Statistics data (raw figures of jobs gained / (lost)).

Losses sharply declined to just (11,000) in November, the smallest number since January 2008 (the month that started the current 23 month streak of jobs lost).  In other positive news October losses were revised lower with (111,000) vs initially reported losses of (190,000), and final September figures were also revised downward with (139,000) losses vs previously reported number of (219,000).

Unemployment rate as of : November 2009, 10.0%

October 2009, 10.2%

September 2009, 9.8%

August 2009 : 9.7%

July 2009: 9.4%

June 2009: 9.5%

May 2009: 9.4%

April 2009  8.9%

March 2009 : 8.5%

February 2009 : 8.1%


Link to Bureau of Labor Statistics data (unemployment rate trends)


Unemployment eased down to 10.0% from 10.2% in October.  This is the first decline in the unemployment rate since July when it declined briefly before trending upward to its current level.  


It’s important to note that the jobs losses and the unemployment rate are determined through separate surveys.  Job losses come from Establishment Survey Data, and the unemployment rate comes from Household Survey Data.  While the two measures should be directionally consistent, differences in the methodology can occasionally lead to what might appear to be disparate results.  This can explain a month like this one when you had slight job losses of (11,000), but yet the unemployment rate itself improved by 0.2%.


Despite the encouraging signs, the New Year’s eve champagne should not be uncorked for a premature celebration.  Some amount of the hiring that helped keep the job losses down in November is coming from temporary holiday jobs.  That may hold through December but expect many of those jobs to disappear come January.  Many economists estimate that the rate could climb again and hover around 10% throughout 2010 as frugal consumer spending and tight credit markets are not going to provide a robust hiring environment.  Here’s a good summary of various reactions by leading economists in The Wall Street Journal.


Obama lost no time in seizing on the latest report, while noting “…we’ve got a lot more work to do before we can celebrate.” 


Meanwhile, on the “saved” jobs front, there were numerous reports over the last month stating that the number of jobs the administration is claiming as “saved” are inflated.  Reviews have shown double-counts, overcounts, and jobs having been “saved” in congressional districts that don’t even exist.  This has lead to reactions like this.  Now Joe Biden has said the errors will be fixed, but like most things in the government, the change is slow in coming as the number of “saved” / created jobs posted on recovery.gov hasn’t budged (still sitting at the 640,329 posted on 10/30/09).



  1. Number of jobs promised by the Obama administration has varied between 3.5 – 4 million.  He promised 4 million early, and then started easing off on that.  I’m sticking with his original promise. (also “The road to 4 million” sounds a little better than “The road to 3.5 million). 
  2. The above is tracking only new jobs created / lost as tracked by the Department of Labor through its Bureau of Labor statistics.  Obama team has repeatedly said the 4 million represents jobs created or saved.  Since a “saved” job is highly subjective and can’t be calculated by any consistent standard, they are not accounted for above.
  3. Obama administration would likely dispute that the current job losses should be held against them, but that is life in the big city when you’re President.  The last economic recession started in March 2001 when George W Bush had been in office for 1.5 months.  Democrats were only too eager to hang that around his neck (ignoring the fact that it is economically impossible to drive the economy into recession in that short a time period).  Also, it is only fair to assume that Obama’s pledge involves a net gain of 4 million jobs as of the point when his administration took charge.  If we lose 4 million jobs at the beginning of his tenure only to gain 4 million jobs later to end up where we started, I hardly think that fulfills his promise.
  4. Updates to continue monthly
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