Diary

The Road to 4 million (January jobs report)

Jobs gained / (lost) in January 2010 per the US Dept of Labor  (prelim):       (20,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in December 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (prelim):  (150,000)   

Jobs gained / (lost) in November 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final):       64,000   

Jobs gained / (lost) in October 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final):         (224,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in September 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :   (225,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in August 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :        (211,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in July 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :             (344,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in June 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :            (504,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in May 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final) :             (347,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in April 2009 per the US Dept of Labor  (final):              (582,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in March 2009 per the US Dept of Labor (final):            (753,000)

Jobs gained / (lost) in February 2009 per the US Dept of Labor (final) :       (726,000)

 

Total jobs gained / (lost) since Obama took office :                             (4,022,000)   

 

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

Number of jobs remaining to hit goal :                                                      8,022,000

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

Job losses came in at (20,000) in January, a figure slightly worse than most estimates for a slight gain to flat results for the month.  Above data includes revisions for all of 2009 which show job losses to be much steeper than originally estimated.  With the revisions, the economy has now lost 8.4 million jobs since the current recession began in December 2007, sharply up from a previous figure of 7.2 million.

Looking deeper inside the numbers there is certainly some cause for cautious optimism as retail sector added 42,100 jobs, the most since November 2007.  Temporary help services gained 52,000 jobs.  That could be an encouraging sign as employers often hire temporary workers before full time employees.  The manufacturing sector even added 11,000 jobs, its first gain since April 2006.  Still, on a broader basis, employers appear to be reluctant to hire, raising concern that employment will drift while companies wait to see more assurances that the recovery has taken hold, particularly once some of the government incentives offered in 2009 begin to fade.

Unemployment rate as of : January 2010, 9.7%

December 2009,  10.0%

November 2009, 10.0%

October 2009, 10.1%

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 : 8.6%

February 2009 : 8.2%

 

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

 

Unemployment rate dropped to 9.7% in January.  The “underemployment” rate (a measure including those that have quit looking for work, as well as those settling for part-time work when they can’t find a full-time job) also improved to 16.5% from 17.3% in December.

 

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.  January 2010 is a prime example of such a case as the economy shed 20,000 jobs, but yet the unemployment rate improved by 0.3%.

 

Obama lost no time in pouncing on the improvement in the unemployment rate, saying “we are climbing out of the huge hole that we found ourselves in.”  Clever bit of wordsmithing there as he both complimented himself and indulged his favorite pastime of blaming the Bush administration.  Despite the optimism, Obama’s own budget as just submitted does not offer a rosy employment picture as it predicts a 9.8 unemployment rate by the end of the year. 

 

Notes:

  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