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October 08, 2010

Unemployment Rate, September 2010

UPDATE: The most important stat in the BLS report is the huge increase in workers forced into part-time work due to economic circumstances. This category has increased by 940,000 people over the past two months.

The BLS just released the unemployment rate for last month, and at first blush it's not the most interesting of results. The U-3 unemployment rate last month was 9.6% and this month it's.......9.6%. Here's how that looks on The Chart:


We lost 95K non-farm jobs, but they claim that we added 64K private sector jobs. That doesn't agree well with ADP's announcement that we lost 39,000 jobs last month.

I had many requests for particular graphs yesterday: I'm going to start adding them below the fold as I get to them.

I'll kick off the supplemental charts with a comparison of total private employment estimates from BLS and ADP. The BLS surveys employment in two ways: they poll households ("Household" data) and they survey businesses ("Establishment" data). ADP uses their payroll records to extrapolate to the nation as a whole. Several people also asked about seasonal adjustments, so I included seasonally-adjusted ("SA") and non-seasonally adjusted ("NSA") variants for both BLS surveys.


You can see that while they're at different levels, they pretty much follow the same trends, except for the little rise recently in the BLS household data. There's a similar, but smaller rise in the establishment data, and no rise at all in the ADP stats. This is borne out by this chart that I lifted from ADP's September report:


The BLS and ADP month-to-month changes agree pretty well until this past year, when the BLS started showing larger improvements than ADP. Interesting.

But one overall point to note is that non-farm private employment has not continued to fall - it's been at least stable and maybe even slightly positive since the beginning of the year.

The next chart is one I like to call "Atlas Groans." It's the ratio of private, non-farm employees to the civilian non-institutional population. It's basically a measure of how heavy the burden of supporting government employees and non-workers is on private employers and employees. As you can see, the burden has increased significantly since 2006, but has been stable lately.


There were a lot of questions yesterday about how many people were being dropped after exceeding their 99 weeks of insurance coverage. The average duration of unemployment has actually dropped a bit, though it's still outrageously high:


A lot of people have argued that we should be looking at the U-6 number instead of the U-3 number (You can find definitions for the different measures of unemployment here). Here's a comparison between the two measures:


They agree pretty well in terms of trends, except for the little uptick in the last month. This is due to an increase the number of workers forced to take part-time work. Here's a plot of their plight:


The number of people forced into part-time work has increased by 943,000 over the past two months. I noted this last month, but this month was even worse.

And I think that concludes this month's flurry of charts.

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posted by Geoff at 09:14 AM

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