Unemployment: the numbers game
Just as we’ve seen “good news” about the economy claimed in quarters when government spending (“cash for clunkers”) and inventory restocking drove the positive numbers, now we’re being told that a raft of temporary jobs might be a positive sign for the unemployment numbers:
The U.S. Census Bureau expects to add up to 750,000 workers to its payroll by May, a hiring binge that could knock the unemployment rate down by as much as a half-point.
The once-a-decade census is coming at the best possible time for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, who have taken political lumps for more than a year over a jobless rate that stands at 9.7 percent.
Some think the administration will get good news as soon as the next monthly labor report, which will be released the first Friday in April.
Yeah – counting people for the government is not exactly that of which economic powerhouses are made. While it’s temporary good news for those with the short-term jobs, it is not a solution to the overall rate of unemployment, regardless of what it might do to the U-3 percentage of 9.7%.
“This is the best-timed census you could ever dream of,” said Heidi Shierholz, who tracks the labor market at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. She believes the March unemployment report will show the economy added jobs instead of subtracting them.
If it happens, it will be only the second positive-numbers jobs report in more than a year. But in this case, it could lead to further positive job numbers in the months ahead.
Really? How’s that? These are temporary jobs (6 weeks) and part-time to boot (19 hours a week). In other words, in about a month an a half, these jobs go away and the 750,000 that were added to the workforce and will take the unemployment numbers down, will have to be subtracted. But it is clear by Ms. Shierholz’s words that the spin about the dropping unemployment rate driven by these temporary jobs will be fierce and you can expect broad claims to be made concerning future employment that will most likely have no basis in fact.
Right now it is all about the numbers. But their substance will be masked as the “experts” laud these 6 week part-time government jobs which produce better unemployment numbers as indicators that the employment picture is “improving”. Don’t be fooled. Do a little subtraction in your head each time the claim is made and you’ll probably be much closer to the real percentage than will the delusional “experts” (they’ll begin terminating the jobs near the end of June). And remember – until the business climate improves, hiring is not likely to happen. 750,000 temporary government jobs does nothing to improve that climate.