Back to Work For Me (but not for millions of others!) – May Unemployment Report

Ok, although it looks like I’ve been slacking off since I haven’t posted for quite some weeks, I really have been working.  The college has had me slaving away in conference rooms on waaaay too many committees the past few weeks.  But it’s OK now.  A new semester is starting and I’m back to working on economics.  Unfortunately the news today is that there’s still waaaay too many other people in the U.S. that aren’t “getting back to work”.

From Calculated Risk and the Bureau of Labor Stats:

From the BLS:

Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431,000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. … The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent.Census 2010 hiring was 411,000 in May. Non-farm payroll employment increased 20,000 in May ex-Census.

Employment Measures and Recessions Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the unemployment rate and the year over year change in employment vs. recessions.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 431,000 in May. The economy has lost 0.6 million jobs over the last year, and 7.4 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007. Ex-Census hiring, the economy only added 20,000 jobs in May.

The unemployment rate decreased to 9.7 percent.

Percent Job Losses During Recessions The second graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms (as opposed to the number of jobs lost).

The dotted line is ex-Census hiring. The two lines will rejoin later this year when the Census hiring is unwound.

This report is very, very deceptive.  Some in the news will no doubt say it shows strong job growth, but in reality it doesn’t.  See, it takes approx 150,000 new jobs (net increase in employment) each month just to keep the economy clicking along keeping up with population growth.  At first,  this report’s 431,000 increase looks great.  It looks like the kind of growth we had following recessions in the early 1980’s and 1970’s.  But if we look closer, we see that in May the Census Bureau hired 411,000 temporary workers.  Virtually all of these 411,000 jobs will be gone by August-September, judging by the last few census-takings.  So we’re left with 20,000 net new jobs.  Not good.  In fact, since this is actually a slow down from April and March, it looks possible that we may be headed for another decline later this year.