07.09.2012 0

Labor Stats don’t really lie, but Obama wishes they did

By Rick Manning — Years ago, my Norco High School geometry teacher used to exclaim, Aha!! Contradiction, when a solution did not meet the facts presented.  Those two words sent students scurrying to check our assumptions because one of them had to be false, because there could not be a contradiction.

On July 6, I was asked by an Iowa radio host to explain how the unemployment rate could have remained stable at 8.2 percent when only 80,000 jobs were created and there is general economic agreement that the economy must generate 150,000 jobs a month just to keep the unemployment rate flat.

This Aha!! Contradiction question has bothered me for quite some time, and the answer is not satisfying.

The truth is the unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is determined by a Household Survey of 60,000 households each month, while the number of jobs created is generated from a separate survey called the Establishment Survey, which gets data from 141,000 businesses each month.

The results of these two surveys are released by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on most first Fridays of the month in a report called, The Employment Situation, and because they are measuring different people and things, they come up with different answers.

For instance, the Household Survey doesn’t double count people as employed, but the Establishment Survey might because the same person might have multiple jobs and the employer is only asked about their workforce.

According to the BLS, the Household Survey includes agricultural workers, the self-employed, unpaid family workers and private household workers, whereas, the Establishment Survey does not.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Establishment Survey shows only 133 million employed in contrast to the 142.4 million claimed in the Household Survey.

What is surprising is that the Establishment Survey shows that there are almost 500,000 fewer people employed today than when Obama took office.  The Household Survey paints an only slightly less grim picture as the number of employed has increased by 228,000 since he took office with the overall employment eligible civilian population has risen by 8.4 million in the same time period.

While the two separate surveys don’t line up completely, they do clearly confirm one thing – the economy is stalling and is not producing enough jobs to meet the needs of the incoming workforce.

Of course, no one from Washington, D.C., is needed to tell Americans that truth, we know it from talking to our neighbors in church, the grocery store and while doing yard work.  Obama’s economy is not putting Americans back to work.

With the Household Survey showing a quarter million more Americans unemployed in the past three months, with another 299,000 working part-time due to slack work or business conditions, Obama’s recovery is illusory and anyone who calls it a “step in the right direction” is either delusional or trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.

Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government, and the former public affairs chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Labor. You can follow Rick on Twitter at @RManning957.

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