April 1, 2023

Economix Blog: Getting the Number Wrong

Mitt Romney said on Friday that there were 23 million Americans struggling to find work. It looks as if he got that wrong, by engaging in a little double counting. The real number is around 21 million.



Notions on high and low finance.

The just-released Labor Department report for September says there are 12,088,000 people classified as unemployed, meaning they looked for a job during the previous month and did not find one. That is the seasonally adjusted figure. The actual number the department estimated was 11,742,000.

There are no seasonally adjusted numbers for the other groups that could conceivably fit into the category — people not in the labor force who say they would like work if they could find it and people classified as “marginally attached” to the labor force.

There are 6,427,000 people counted as out of the labor force but wanting to work, and 2,517,000 classified as marginally attached.

Add them together, and use the higher (seasonally adjusted) figure for unemployment, and you get 21,032,000. If you were trying to be fair and compare apples to apples, you’d used all numbers before seasonal adjustment, and get 20,686,000.

Either way, that is a long way from 23 million.

So where did the rest come from? My guess is that Mr. Romney’s aides looked at Table A-16 of the release. That shows the 2,517,000 “marginally attached,” and breaks them into two groups. The first is 802,000 discouraged workers, and the rest — 1,715,000 — are classified as people who are deemed to be marginally attached but are not discouraged workers. That includes people who were ill or had school or family responsibilities that kept them from looking for work. If you add those two groups to the whole, then the number gets to be over 23 million. But that would represent a misreading of the figures.

Even if Mr. Romney had done his arithmetic correctly, it would be a stretch to say there were 21 million people “struggling to find work.” Of the 6.4 million who said they were not in the labor force but would work if they could, 3.3 million said they had not actually tried to find a job in the last year.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/getting-the-number-wrong/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Remembering Tony Blankley

This is a personal note about a longtime friend to whom I owe so much.



Notions on high and low finance.

Tony Blankley was remembered in his obituary for having been Newt Gingrich’s press secretary and for his later writing at The Washington Times. I will remember him as one of the smartest, funniest and most intellectually honest people I have ever known.

He was my best friend in elementary school, and we stayed in touch ever since. Over the years we had countless discussions and arguments on politics and national affairs. I think I won a few of them and sometimes persuaded him to modify his views. Far more often, I lost. Win, lose or draw, I usually ended up feeling as if I had learned something.

There are too many people, on left and right, who seem to think that ideology trumps facts. Tony certainly believed in an ideology, but his was frequently enlightened and enhanced by new evidence.

American public life will be a little poorer with him gone.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=10f102097f86322b6d57c339fac6918d

Economix Blog: City Hall Woes on the Jobs Front

Time was that government jobs were supposed to be safe.

Never mind.


Notions on high and low finance.

Today’s jobs report shows that the number of jobs in state and local government is down 3.3 percent from the peak reached in August 2008, the month before Lehman Brothers failed. (These numbers are after seasonal adjustment.)

That is the largest decline in such jobs registered since the Korean War, exceeding the fall during the early 1980s. The following chart shows the two downturns.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics

What is remarkable about the current decline has been its relentlessness. There is an occasional one-month bounce — there was one in August — but that is probably more a reflection of poor seasonal adjustments than of actual hiring.

The early 1980s fall was more rapid, but the number of state and local government jobs hit bottom in July 1982, four months before the official end of the recession, and began to recover. The 2007-9 recession ended two years ago, but you can’t see any evidence of that in this chart.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=74f807090a7ca2de45770704c30f595a

DealBook: DealBook Off the Record: I.P.O. Blues

The world of finance is a sophisticated and serious place, full of powerful, serious people and important … uh … serious … ideas. You get the picture.

But why take it seriously, all the time?

Omid Malekan imagines a comical, off-the-record encounter between two highly influential characters in the news.

Animation Software by Xtranormal

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d72b18c8684b59cd36aff8fea73e4270

Business Briefing | FINANCE: Fannie Mae Seeks More Help as Its Loss Grows

Opinion »

Bloggingheads: Obama’s Undoing?

Glenn Loury of Brown University and Megan McArdle of The Atlantic debate the relationship between Obama and Congress.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d34c5c37c52169188dca8dea33fea695

Economix: By One Survey, Fewer Jobs Than 2 Years Ago

The job numbers every month come from two different surveys, which sometimes point in different directions. The establishment survey questions employers, and produces one headline number. This month it concluded that, seasonally adjusted, the economy added 117,000 jobs in July. The household survey asks people if they are working, and is used to calculate the unemployment rate.



Notions on high and low finance.

The two surveys do not cover the same thing: Self-employed people are not counted in the establishment survey. But someone with two jobs may be counted twice. Add in issues of sampling error, and they can diverge for long periods of time.

But it is interesting to observe that the total number of people with jobs in the household survey in July was 139,296,000. That figure is half a percent less than the figure in June 2009, when the recession officially ended. The unemployment rate is lower only because there are fewer people in the work force.

The establishment survey looks a little better. It shows employment up half a percent since the end of the recession.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics

Both surveys indicate employment hit bottom in the winter of 2009-10, and is now higher. But while the establishment survey indicates the rise has been slow but steady since then, the household survey showed a sharp rise in early 2010 but has done little since then.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b867c7b36894bea7bfb073c48f0ce34e