Patterico's Pontifications


Jobless Rate at 9.7% (Updated)

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 2:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s news shows the unemployment rate declined to 9.7% and the New York Times thinks that’s the sign of a reawakening:

“The American unemployment rate dipped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday, buoying hopes that the worst job market in at least a quarter-century is finally improving.”

Here’s the footnote:

“The Labor Department revised past data to show that the economy comprised 1.36 million fewer jobs in December than previously thought. The revisions showed the economy lost 150,000 jobs in December — far more than the 85,000 initially reported.

The report also featured a new way in which the government estimates the population, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate. That prompted some economists to dismiss the drop in joblessness as a statistical quirk.

“The message is, you can’t believe what they tell you,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR Inc. in New York. “Everyone goes crazy over today’s number, but history has been rewritten. Things are not comparable from month to month.”

Reports also show more discouraged workers have left the job market.


UPDATE: Commenter RoyBeans links to a helpful post at Jesse’s Cafe Americain. The graphs are especially good … actually they’re especially bad, so maybe I should say they’re informative.

33 Responses to “Jobless Rate at 9.7% (Updated)”

  1. I’ll rejoice when the unemployment rate at the New York Times is 100%.

    Old Coot (ddf8be)

  2. Amen, Old Coot, Amen.

    Also, why do I totally not trust those numbers?

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  3. maybe those that left the job market are corpse men? i.e. zombies!

    lonetown (d7ec3b)

  4. Comment by Vivian Louise — 2/5/2010 @ 2:38 pm

    Because they have proven by their revision that they can’t do simple math?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  5. More Happy Talk from Christina Romer.

    AD - RtR/OS! (9f8017)

  6. The numbers are badly skewed. Explanation can be found here:

    Always compare the population versus the number employed and do it with some history. Take the survey’s with a grain of salt.

    RoyBeans (e1f6a8)

  7. Great link, RoyBeans. I’m adding it to the post.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  8. This is really the issue. Obama did not cause the bad recession we are in, ( neither really did Bush but that’s another discussion ).

    However, he’s done everything wrong in trying to get out of it. The faux “stimulus” was bullshit pork that the Democrats passed because they wanted to use the recession as an excuse to pay off their base. They did so, relying on the natural strength of the economy to recover despite the faux stimulus bill.

    Their cynical ploy has backfired on them, and all they have to go back to blaming Bush.

    They’ve more than lived up to the “tax and spend” Democrat label, they’ve punted it over the goalposts with their behavior.

    I’ve rejected the “spending like a drunken sailor” metaphor – drunken sailors only spend their own money.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. Help, guys !

    I’m trying to find a diagram (pie-chart) showing percent of new claims vs percent of people still on unemployment insurance after x weeks vs percent of people still on unemployment after x+y weeks vs percent of people who have given up looking …

    Does anyone recognise that ?

    Alasdair (e7cb73)

  10. the stimulus hasn’t even been half spent yet I don’t think…

    gay dirty socialists with their gay stimuli

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  11. Alasdair,

    I don’t recall that specifically but Calculated Risk is a good place to look.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  12. So is Innocent Bystanders.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  13. And you can choose your own data and compile it using a tool that let’s you choose your time frame, graph/chart, and other options. (You can access the tool after you’ve selected which data you want to include.)

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  14. DRJ – you do realise you are feeding red meat to our Inner Geeks, don’t you ? (grin)

    Alasdair (e7cb73)

  15. The tool at the last link — the BLS website — is a lot of fun.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  16. Come to think of it, that just shows how boring my life must be.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  17. maybe those that left the job market are corpse men? i.e. zombies!

    I always knew this would end in zombies. I KNEW IT! Where’s my dang cricket bat?

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  18. > Jobless Rate at 9.7% (Updated)

    I believe the operative phrase is

    Yeah, right. Now pull the other one.

    OBloodyhell (aacc3d)

  19. I wonder what Jesse’s chart would look like if he compared the current to the depression?

    Jim (582155)

  20. The graphs show things going down under Bush and recovering slowly under Obama. Here’s the version put out by Pelosi’s crew.

    Pretty much the same thing as Jesse’s american brew.
    In January the trend begins to get better. So what happened in Jan.
    Gee…Ahh… Umm… Let me think.
    You’re running democrat PR as an attack on democrats.
    Up is down.

    Nice try on behalf of Okeefe though.
    The last time it was Palin.
    The democrats should be wiping the floor with you people. If they aren’t you can’t take any of the credit. That’s the tragic part. The democrats are like a beaten wife with a gun, and still too scared to pull the trigger.

    Max Schreck (40f738)

  21. “The graphs show things going down under Bush and recovering slowly under Obama.”

    Max Schreck – LOL. You idiot, that’s not slowly recovering under Obama, more jobs are still being lost every month under Obama, just not as many as under Bush. Rising unemployment does not equal a job recovery moron.

    Thanks for playing Maxie.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  22. Max,

    Where on the chart are the discouraged job-seekers who have quit looking for work?

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  23. Come to think of it, that just shows how boring my life must be.

    We could set somethinig on fire, if you’re wanting some excitement…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  24. We could talk about something controversial at The Jury. That’s exciting enough for me.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  25. In January the trend begins to get better.

    The January numbers “get better” because they changed the set by which unemployment is calculated.

    Net job loss is up – way up – and until they stop doing things that make businesses afraid of the future, they won’t improve.

    I would also like to echo DRJ’s question. You do know that people who have used up their unemployment – but as yet don’t have a job – don’t count towards the official unemployment numbers, right? You also know that people who don’t qualify for unemployment (I didn’t, for example, because I had the poor judgment to be a student at the same time) don’t count, right?

    I bet that if we calculated unemployment like they did way back in the day, we’d see that the percentage actually rose.

    Also, please try to not ramble so much… You referenced at least three different posts in your comment. I know that TPM likes it when you maximize your regurgitation of their bullshit, but at least TRY to make it look like you’re paying attention…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  26. DRJ – Why don’t you hang out at some of the FLDS trials? That sounds like a good time.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  27. Comment by DRJ — 2/5/2010 @ 11:21 pm

    Ok, but don’t ever say I didn’t offer to do something nice for you. :)

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  28. daleyrocks,

    It would be interesting but it’s 3 hours away. It isn’t that interesting.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  29. “You idiot, that’s not slowly recovering under Obama, more jobs are still being lost every month under Obama, just not as many as under Bush”

    Hooray for inflexion points!

    imdw (017d51)

  30. Jan. 2007. The date that Pelousy took over the House.

    What was unemployment that day?
    What was the federal deficit that day?
    What was the stock market that day?
    What was median home value that day?
    What was the price of a gallon of gas that day?

    Have any of those gotten better since?
    Or worse?

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  31. It is more than a little ridiculous, Cassani, the quants wizard who broke the financial system at AIG, earmarked the funds to make sure Dodd would
    be Chairman. Dodd, the friend of angelo at Countrywide. Barnie Frank who was doing with a Fannie Mae exec, what that institution would do to us, had a similar longstanding conflict of interest. Obama and Biden, were among the top five recipient of all these institutions. McCain, who had been pulling out the rest of his hair, back in 2003-2005 trying to push for subprime reform, probably gave up, after Lehman went belly up

    ian cormac (7b6e35)

  32. Did you notice that Max Schreck’s graph used obsolete figures for job losses in December?

    SPQR (26be8b)

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