Employment Data Improves

May 3rd, 2013
in econ_news, syndication

Note: For detailed analysis of the new data see GEI Analysis.

Econintersect:  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced an increase in the widely watched non-farms payrolls (NFP) for the country of 165,000, seasonally adjusted.  More importantly the NFP numbers for the two previous months were adjusted upwards significantly.  The unemployment rate improved slightly to 7.5% from 7.6% last month.  The improved unemployment situation resulted from Household survey data that had the Civilian Labor Force increase by 210,000 while the number of people employed increased by 293,000.  The net result is that the number of unemployed among those officially counted in the labor force declined by 83,000 (with a measurement uncertainty of +/-400,000).

Click on table for larger image.


Follow up:

Click on table for larger image.employment-establishment-2013-may

The participation rate  (those counted in the civilian labor force divided by the adult population of working age) was unchanged from April compared to March at 63.3%.  Of the working age population 36.7% are not working or recognized as willing to work.

Perhaps the most positive aspect of the employment data for 2013 is the cumulative increase in NFP for 2013 exceeding 3/4 of a million (770,000 payroll jobs added).  That would be more than 2 million jobs annualized.

Negative factors:

  • The household survey has not indicated as many new jobs in 2013 (274,000, which is less than the measurement error).  This indicates that many of the new payroll jobs may have come from people who were reporting non-payroll employment in the household surveys previously.
  • Part-time employment surged from March to April by 441,000, of which 278,000 were part time for economic reasons (translation: involuntary part time).  However, March decreased from the average for the three preceding months (December through February) by 322,000 for involuntary part time employment.  So April actually returned to the level of the prior months after an excursion in March.  Again we must caution that changes of 300,000 in these data points is close to the measurement error uncertainty.
  • Average weekly hours declined from 36.6 hours in March to 34.4 in April.
  • The broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment (U-6) degraded slightly to 13.9% from 13.8% in March.  However, just as the improvement in U-3 to 7.5% is not statistically significant, the change in U-6 realyy means little.

For a discussion of shortcomings of real time BLS data see GEI Analysis by Lee Adler.


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