unemployment rate

Unemployment 8.3%, 227,000 Jobs for February 2012

The February 2012 monthly unemployment figures show the official unemployment rate remained the same, 8.3%, and the total jobs gained were 227,000. While this report is good news, we've got a long, long way to go before returning to a healthy labor market. Total private jobs came in at 233,000. Government jobs dropped, -6,000. Most of the jobs were in the service sector, 209,000.

The January Employment Report Shows Things Aren't as Rosy as Some Want to Believe

While the pundits and press gush over this month's employment report, things are still not rosy. The new official unemployed tally is 12,758,000. The average length of unemployment is still very high, 40.1 weeks.

 

average duration unemployment

 

People unemployed for 27 weeks or more is now 42.2% of the total unemployed, or 5,518,000 million. This number has barely budged as a percentage of total unemployed in comparison to pre-recession and historical levels.

Unemployment 8.3% for January 2012 - 243,000 Jobs, Really?

The January 2012 monthly unemployment figures show the official unemployment rate dropped -0.2 percentage points to 8.3% and the total jobs gained were 243,000. Total private jobs came in at 257,000. Government jobs dropped -14,000. Information jobs dropped by -13,000 and financial services payrolls dropped by -5,000. All other major job categories had payroll gains.Temporary jobs increased 20,100.

Unemployment 8.5% for December 2011 - 200,000 Jobs

The December 2011 monthly unemployment figures show the official unemployment rate dropped -0.2 percentage points to 8.5% and the total jobs gained were 200,000. Total private jobs came in at 212,000. Government jobs dropped -12,000. Temporary jobs also dropped -7,500. All other major job categories had payroll gains. Manufacturing gained a much needed 23,000 jobs.

 

Unemployment 9.1% for September 2011 - 103,000 Jobs

The September 2011 monthly unemployment figures show the official unemployment rate remained at 9.1% and the total jobs gained were 103,000. 45,000 of those jobs are not new jobs, but Verizon workers who returned back to work after being on strike. Total private jobs came in at 137,000. If one subtracts off the returning strikers, September showed 82,000 new private sector jobs. Government jobs dropped -34,000.

Under the Hood of the Employment Report Household Survey

You might be wondering how the unemployment rate could stay the same, 9.1% while zero actual payrolls jobs were added. When the unemployment report is released, it's actually a 2fer. There are two separate surveys or reports: the current establishment survey, which reports on nonfarm payrolls only, and the the household survey, which uses the Census population estimates as a base. The establishment survey has an error margin of 100,000 per month, while the household survey has an error margin of 400,000 per month. Additionally the establishment survey is jobs, as reported by employers. It is W-2 types of jobs and doesn't count agriculture workers to boot, whereas the household survey estimates the self-employed, farm workers, the glorified servants of the uber-rich and my favorite, unpaid family workers.

Additionally the survey timing is different. The establishment survey picks up the pay period which includes the 12th of that month. So, whether one is paid hourly, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, they just look at the pay period which includes the 12th. No pay on the 12th and you're paid daily, then that job doesn't count, including unpaid sick days. Working one hour a month and it magically falls on the 12th? By this survey, that's actually a job.

The Household survey, also called the current population survey also takes results for the week which includes the 12th day of each month. People are counted as employed in this survey, even when they are absent from their jobs for that entire week, paid or not paid.

For more details on the surveys, see this FAQ.

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