[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.