In what can best be described as a catch-up month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that unemployment fell to 7.0% in November from 7.3% a month earlier. The government shutdown in October was widely cited throughout the report to explain the big swings in the numbers. (See the above link for the report.)
Both the 203,000 jobs added and the drop in the unemployment rate exceeded analysts’ expectations. But what people should take away from this report is that, in the wake of the past two months, little has changed. The household employment level is virtually unchanged in the past four months – 144.4 million vs. 144.3 million in July, an anemic growth rate of about 25,000 per month, far below the rate needed to employ the growing population.
The number of unemployed Americans is unchanged in the past year. Here’s the chart: Unemployed Americans.
The real unemployment rate – one that doesn’t rely on workers mysteriously vanishing from the work force to skew the number downward – is also unchanged in the past year at 10.4%.
Per capita employment, though it rose incrementally in November, remains at exactly the same level as it was in July, 2009 – 45.5%. Absolutely no progress has been made in the past 3-1/2 years in boosting the employment rate. Here’s the chart: Per Capita Employment.
And, what I call the “detachment from reality index” – the degree to which the government relies on smoke and mirrors (like the “mysteriously vanishing labor force” in the midst of a rapidly-growing population) – remained just under the record level set in October. Here’s the chart: Detachment from Reality Index.
No doubt, the administration will hail this report as proof that its economic policies are working. Nothing could be further from the truth.