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Obama can celebrate the jobs report, the American people cannot

Obama can celebrate the jobs report, the American people cannot

Revenge of how the “unemployment rate” is calculated

Who could have predicted this, a made for headlines declining nominal “unemployment rate” which would be used by the Obama campaign to its advantage while the reality underneath the numbers showed a disaster.

I predicted it, as did many others.

The September jobs report has the headline the Obama campaign wanted:  September Jobs Report: Unemployment Falls to 7.8 Pct:

I don’t think arguing that the BLS “manipulated” the numbers is productive, it gives the MSM the perfect excuse not to look at what the numbers really show.

The reality is that the top line number of 7.8% was a huge drop with only 114,000 net new jobs created. How is that possible?  114,000 net new jobs is a horrible number yet the unemployment rate dropped by 0.3%?

James Pethokoukis explains:

Is this the Obama October Surprise?

Only in an era of depressingly diminished expectations could the September jobs report be called a good one. It really isn’t. Not at all.

1. Yes, the U-3 unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, the first time it has been below 8% since January 2009. But that’s only due to a flood of 582,000 part-time jobs. As the Labor Department noted:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

2. And take-home pay? Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by just 1.8 percent. When you take inflation into account, wages are flat to down.

3. The broader U-6 rate — which takes into account part-time workers who want full-time work and lots of discouraged workers who’ve given up looking — stayed unchanged at 14.7%. That’s a better gauge of the true unemployment rate and state of the American labor market.

4. The shrunken workforce remains shrunken. If the labor force participation rate was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7%. If the participation rate had just stayed steady since the start of the year, the unemployment rate would be 8.4% vs. 8.3%. Where’s the progress?

Pethokoukis has more.

Don’t expect the MSM to go beyond the headline.  They just found their answer to Romney’s debate perfomance.

It is up to Paul Ryan, at the debate next Thursday, to explain this to tens of millions of voters.

Update: I originally indicated that this was the last jobs report before the election. That was wrong, the October report will come out the Friday before the election. But by that time a large percentage of the vote will already have been cast in early voting and absentee ballots.


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working_stiff | October 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

Funny how removing the welfare work requirement lowers the number of unemployed.

Numbers represent people. Let’s hope that the people who continue to be devastated by this economy take it out on the One who has done nothing to alleviate the problem. Despite what the MSM wants to portray, millions of desperate people will head to the polls in a few weeks.

Come December 26th, all those part time jobs will disappear.

So, were the Obama campaign volunteers reclassified as “part-time workers” last month?

casualobserver | October 5, 2012 at 10:44 am

For many of us, the scam will be made plain by how the media leverages this number without any other detail or analysis. No doubt they have been looking for a good lever for the final month of campaigning…I mean ‘reporting’, and this may be it.

Surely beyond Ryan we should expect key PACs to make hay of this too, yes? Crossroads, for example, could easily choose OH and FL to make the case (disprove the narrative) about the REAL numbers.

Mitt today…

“This is not what a recovery looks like.”

Dead right.

    counsel4pay in reply to Ragspierre. | October 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Classic Rags summary of a classic Romney quote:


    [You are teaching me that BREVITY really is the “soul of wit”. Thanks.]

Midwest Rhino | October 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

The rest of the report can be used to show the sudden big drop does not make sense. This administration lies to Congress, Obama tells defense contractors to break the law, Obama suggests that campaign ad lies are acceptable, lies boldly about a terrorist attack, lies about cutting the deficit in half.

Perhaps a commercial quickly mentions those … then says … but you can decide if this volatile estimate from 60,000 households is true. We do know that U6 remained steady at 14.6%, and only a very weak 114,000 jobs were created. We need 300,000 to just stay even.

The headline number looks better … but nothing behind the number looks better, it is actually worse. This is an empty suit number … nothing to it but a big toothy grin. Coming from an administration that lies,that desperately needed this number … what should we believe?

“It is up to Paul Ryan, at the debate next Thursday, to explain this to tens of millions of voters.”

Yes, it’s crucial.

As John Hinderaker at Powerline said some time ago, most people now get their news from Yahoo! News and its ilk. Your average person doesn’t visit the NY times online, but when they go to their yahoo email account, like I just did, they see very misleading, pro-Obama headlines geared towards the low-information voter.

Go to Yahoo! and you’ll see headlines and stories that just cite the misleading gloss on the jobs report.

If you read through the comments, you’ll see Republicans are incensed at the misleading stories. But your average, low-information voter will think the economy is like a rocket ready to take off.

Ryan has to explain this to the average, low-information voter. Doing so will not only help people see the truth, it will also show them how the media is subverting our electoral system.

    counsel4pay in reply to LukeHandCool. | October 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Paul Ryan is an absolute GENIUS. We shall pray for his continued eloquence in debate, but he is always well prepared and his speech hits the gut hard. I have been astonished at how well Romney “played” the PRESSTITUTES through the whole “VP Vetting Game”. The amount of effort they spent on “long lists” and “short lists” and so forth was comical. And, at the end of it all–Mitt choses an unexpected yet brilliant and competent COLLABORATOR. These guys will make history.


Henry Hawkins | October 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

If low info citizens don’t/won’t internalize bad stats, neither will they internalize putative ‘good’ stats. High info citizens already understand how the unemployment rate measures a percentage of an ever-declining job participation number, that is, they understand the problem of counter-intuitive unemployment rates. Therefore, I’m not sure this helps Obama, polls be damned.

Ryan has the debate stage Thursday, October 11th, and he can easily explain the math. Several R/R surrogates and PAC ads will have already done so, as will have the few responsible MSM newspeople.

The difference between 8.1% unemployment and 7.8% unemployment can be explained as analogous to the difference between being shot in the head seven times instead of eight. Better, but it still sort of sucks.

    counsel4pay in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm


      Henry Hawkins in reply to counsel4pay. | October 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      That’s my whole point. If a schmuck like me from the backwoods of North Cackalacky can sum it up in one sentence, I’m pretty sure Romney/Ryan can as well.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 6, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Very good!

    Being Shot in the Head 8.1 times versus being Shot in the Head 7.8 times means the VICTIM IS STILL VERY DEAD!!!!!!!

    Look Ma, they Shot My Economy!!!!!!!!!!

Democrats regard people as child-like and dependent. They promote the infantilization of Americans and exploit a degraded humanity.

Republicans need to speak plainly, comprehensively, and on principles. They need to respect Americans and treat them as adults. Democrats will not do this and therefore are not a viable alternative. The Republicans must do this or they will discourage their base, who are pioneers and entrepreneurs, who are self-reliant, who respect individual dignity, who are American conservatives.

Surely people can hand the truth.

The closing paragraph in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report linked by Pethokoukis:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised from +141,000 to +181,000, and the change for August was revised from +96,000 to +142,000.

I’m not saying the jobs report is healthy, but I wonder if it’s as sickly as the Romney people are saying.

    jeannebodine in reply to gs. | October 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    All the upward revisions from July & August were from added government jobs – federal, state & local (

    Does this make any sense at all? Isn’t this suspicious too? It’s been a constant criticism that each month, the previous month’s jobs report is revised downward. So all of a sudden, this month they get revised upward – but solely by government jobs?

    OK, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get radio messages from the silver fillings in my teeth but come on, so much of this report seems hard to believe.

      Good catch, thanks.

      (I’m taking HuffPo’s word about the revisions because they look time-consuming to validate from the BLS data.)

[…] Insurrection: Obama can celebrate the jobs report, the American people cannot: Who could have predicted this, a made for headlines declining nominal “unemployment rate” […]

[…] team over at Legal Insurrection is also covering the ginned-up employment numbers, which are explained by an increase in a number of part-time workers.  Progressive are trying to tout that numbers based on people dropping away from the search for […]