Nonsequitur: A Confusing Jobs Report Explained

November 8, 2013

The October jobs report is confusing. But it isn’t rocket science.

First the basics: Unemployment inched up to 7.3%. Underemployment also increased slightly. The labor force participation rate continued to fall. So basically, the pattern of chronic high unemployment and underemployment continues as jobs added cannot quite offset jobs sought. A decreasing labor force keeps it all “steady” as more and more workers drop out of the labor force.

What makes this report tricky is the “temporarily unemployed” non-civilian workers, namely the government shutdown furloughs. Because these positions were furloughed, not eliminated, they were not included in the Bureau of Labor Unemployment count, although the furloughs do affect the Household Employment report. This seems appropriate to me, as not only have the federal workers returned to work from their furloughs, they will receive back pay. (Basically, taxpayers funded their unplanned vacations. Too bad the parks were closed.)

The major takeaways are this: 1) The economy is still stagnant with very slow growth and chronic unemployment and underemployment; 2) The government shutdown had NO significant impact on jobs (in the short term).


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