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A public policy blog from AEI
I posted a bit of this earlier, but here is the entire, eye-opening note from economists John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics:
This report is a tale of two labor markets. The establishment survey (payrolls) painted a picture of moderately growing employment over the last three months but at a marginally slower pace than over the last year. At this pace of job creation, the unemployment rate should be barely drifting lower given underlying demographic trends. In contrast, the household survey painted a picture of a sharply falling unemployment rate—down 1.2% points over the last 12 months. Such a rapid decline in the unemployment rate would be consistent with 4%–5% real economic growth historically but much of the decline is accounted for by people dropping out of the labor force (over the last year the employment-population ratio has risen to only 58.7% from 58.4%). We believe part of the drop in the unemployment rate over the last two months is a statistical quirk (the household data show an increase in employment of 873,000 in September, which is completely implausible and likely a result of sampling volatility). Moreover, declining labor force participation over the last year (resulting in 1.1 million people disappearing from the labor force) accounts for much of the rest of the decline. With this report, the ISMs, and vehicle sales, the September economy is off to a better-than-expected start but nowhere near as good as suggested by the decline in the unemployment rate.
Of course, the economy is not growing 4-5%, not even half that. This a jobs recovery built on part-time jobs, falling wages, and disappeared discouraged workers. As JPMorgan’s econ team noted: “The one asterisk to the good news from the household survey was the apparent low-quality composition of the jobs created, as there was a surge in people working part-time for economic reasons, a development which left the widely-followed U-6 broad measure of underemployment unchanged at 14.7%.”
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