[Guest post by DRJ]
The February 2010 employment report showed 36,000 people lost their jobs and unemployment remained at 9.7%:
“Nonfarm payroll employment was little changed (-36,000) in February, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction and information, while temporary help services added jobs. Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours; however, it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures. For more information on the effects of the severe weather on employment estimates, see the box note at the end of the release.”
However, there was an increase in discouraged workers:
“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February, up by 473,000 from a year earlier.”
Remember Larry Summers’ claim that the snow might affect the February unemployment report? Here’s what the BLS note said about that:
“Effect of Severe Winter Storms on Employment Estimates
Major winter storms affected parts of the country during the February reference periods for the establishment and household surveys.
In the establishment survey, the reference period was the pay period including February 12th. In order for severe weather conditions to reduce the estimate of payroll employment, employees have to be off work for an entire pay period and not be paid for the time missed. About half of all workers in the payroll survey have a 2-week, semi-monthly, or monthly pay period. Workers who received pay for any part of the reference pay period, even one hour, are counted in the February payroll employment figures. While some persons may have been off payrolls during the survey reference period, some industries, such as those dealing with cleanup and repair activities, may have added workers.
In the household survey, the reference period was the calendar week of February 7-13. People who miss work for weather-related events are counted as employed whether or not they are paid for the time off.”
So people who missed work because of weather were counted as employed anyway, and people who got cleanup and repair jobs were also counted as employed. I’m not an economist but it sounds like the recent snows may have artificially inflated — not depressed — employment.