U.S. jobs report

The "Part Time-ification" of America: How We've Been Conned Again

By now, you've had a few days to digest the "wonderful" jobs numbers reported from Washington last Friday.

Well, don't get too excited about the economy. We've been conned again.

First off, 59% of all jobs created this year are in 3 sectors: Leisure/Hospitality, Retail Trade and Administrative/Waste Services. Wages in those sectors have fallen by 0.7%. These jobs pay an average of $15.80 per hour versus the $23.98 average hourly wage. Which means "jobs creation" just equals cheaper labor.

The American jobs participation rate is at 34-year lows and falling, as people give up and leave the workforce.

Underemployment is between 14% and 15% and rising.

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U.S. Jobs Report: How Unemployment is Really 14%

Jobs unemployed peeps three

Employers added just 88,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. jobs report released Friday, hiring at the slowest pace since June 2012.

The number was a huge miss. Analysts expected a gain of 200,000.

"We all over shot it," Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in U.S. President Barack Obama's first administration, said on CNBC. "This is a punch to the gut. I mean, this is not a good number."

Since the government's way of calculating unemployment is frighteningly inaccurate, even with such a small amount of jobs added the unemployment rate fell from 7.7% to 7.6%.

That's because the labor force participation rate slipped from 63.5% to 63.3% -- the lowest level since 1979.

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Unemployment Down, But February Jobs Report Not All Rosy

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Friday's jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed bag.

The report had some positive news, as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest rate since December 2008.

While the preliminary numbers for February show that 236,000 new jobs were created, exceeding analyst estimates by a wide margin, the figure for January was revised down from 157,000 to 119,000. However, the December number was revised up from 196,000 to 219,000. So for the three months of December 2012-February 2013, the economy has added a total of 574,000 jobs, well above expectations.

But despite the increase in the number of jobs, the main reason for the decline in the unemployment rate is that fewer people are participating in the labor market.

The participation rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 63.5% in February as 130,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The employment-population ratio remained flat at 58.6%.

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February Jobs Report: Here's What to Expect

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Expect a disappointing jobs report for February thanks to higher taxes and sequestration fears that put companies' hiring plans on hold last month.

Economists expect nonfarm payrolls to show a gain of 160,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.9%, when the Labor Department releases the February jobs report tomorrow (Friday) at 8:30 a.m.

Employment growth has averaged 177,000 per month over the last six months, and February is expected to fall short.  

One reason is the 2% payroll tax cut that ended with 2012, leaving workers with less disposable income. Also, top income earners were slapped with a higher tax rate.

The full tax impact wasn't felt in January, but retailers and restaurants are beginning to feel the pain.

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What the December U.S. Jobs Report Tells Us About 2013

The December U.S. jobs report released Friday showed the country's unemployment rate failed to improve in the last month of 2012, with the economy adding only 155,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate, originally reported as 7.7% for November, was revised upward for that month to 7.8%, and stayed the same for December.

The figure was roughly in line with expectations. Estimates for the number of jobs created in December ranged between 140,000 and 160,000.

Non-farm payroll hiring in December was most robust in health care, which created 45,000 jobs. Manufacturing, construction and hospitality also logged strong gains.

Oddly, employment dipped in retail during the holiday-sales month, which is usually the most active time for the sector.

The government also shed jobs, dropping 13,000.

After eliminating some 653,000 jobs from 2008 to 2011, state and local governments kept headcount mostly even in 2012. The decline in December could be attributed to the economic uncertainty hanging over Capitol Hill.

The Pentagon has warned that workers may have to be furloughed if the debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling, set to be taken up in a few weeks, is dragged out past next month.

Also weighing on government hiring is the pack of problems that will challenge growth, like rising worker pension costs, steep spending cuts and reduced federal funding that will likely kick in during 2013.

As Moody's chief economists told USA Today, "The fiscal headwinds will be blowing hard in 2013."

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U.S. Jobs Report: What to Expect from December

The ADP employment report out today (Thursday) offered a glimpse of what to expect Friday in the December U.S. jobs report from the Labor Department.

The private sector created 215,000 new jobs in December, much more than the 133,000 jobs economists had expected, and a sharp increase from the previous month, according to the report.

The biggest gains were in the category of trade/transportation/utilities, which grew by 53,000.

Gains in construction hiring were also robust, with 39,000 positions added in December, the U.S. jobs report said.

The healthy showing in this struggling sector was attributed mostly to relief work after Hurricane Sandy. But the slow, yet steady recovery in the housing market also deserves some of the credit.

Medium-sized businesses led job creation, adding 102,000 new jobs. Large businesses followed with 87,000 new jobs.

Bucking the trend was manufacturing; the sector shed 11,000 positions while service providers increased headcount by 187,000, according to data from Moody's Analytics.

The strong showing was a surprise, given months of cautionary words from a bevy of analysts and the Congressional Budget Office.

The analysts and the CBO had warned the fiscal cliff saga would lead to massive job losses and cutbacks in business expansion, hiring and investment.

"The most surprising thing is that despite all the brinkmanship over the fiscal cliff drama and the debate about that, businesses didn't change their hiring plans. They seemed to slow up their investment spending but not on their hiring, so that's very, very encouraging," Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics chief economist, told CNBC.

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Take a Closer Look Before Cheering the November U.S. Jobs Report

The Department of Labor today (Friday) released the November U.S. jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs last month, handily beating most economists' expectations.

The addition pushed the unemployment rate down from an unhealthy 7.9% to a still elevated 7.7%. That is the lowest level in four years, since December 2008.

Projections for the unemployment level ranged for it hold steady at 7.9% or rise to up to 8.1%.

But the reasons for the drop aren't as encouraging as the lowered rate itself.

The Real Story of the November U.S. Jobs Report

The reason behind the surprising drop was because more dejected workers simply left the labor force. Some 350,000 people, unable to find work and no longer looking for a job, have dropped off the radar and were not counted among the slew of individuals still out of work.

The labor participation rate fell 20 basis points to 63.6%. Without this drop in the labor force, the unemployment rate would have remained at 7.9%.

Three years after the end of the 2007-2009 recession, the labor force participation rate remains extremely weak. If the rate reflected normal levels, the unemployment rate would be considerably higher.

Also contributing to the unexpected uptick was early seasonal retail hiring, instead of long-term sustainable positions. Retail was a key jobs producer in November, adding 53,000 to payrolls.

That's partly due to Thanksgiving being earlier this year than usual. Plus, more stores kicked-off the holiday shopping spree much before the usual Black Friday start.

These factors "suggest an asterisk will have to be put alongside the monthly non-farm report," Bloomberg senior economist Joseph Brusuelas wrote in today's Bloomberg Economics Brief.

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November U.S. Jobs Report: What to Expect

When the Department of Labor releases the November U.S. jobs report tomorrow (Friday), brace yourself for dismal news.

U.S. jobs growth most likely experienced a sharp slowdown last month as the late-October Superstorm Sandy interrupted economic activity.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls are forecast to show a gain of just 93,000 in November, down considerably from 171,000 in October.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are more pessimistic, calling for nonfarm payroll gains of 77,000 in November.

Barclays' outlook is even bleaker. The bank sees a gain of 50,000, which would push the jobless rate to 8.0% from 7.9%.



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October Jobs Report: Reality vs. Politics

Today's October jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - the last before next Tuesday's presidential election - has something for each of the major party candidates.

The BLS report showed a net increase of 171,000 jobs, beating the average analyst estimate of 125,000 and exceeding the net increase of 148,000 jobs seen in September.

The unemployment rate increased to 7.9% from 7.8% in September as more people returned to the labor market.

Given the tight race for the presidency, there is likely to be a lot of partisan chatter on the results of the October jobs report. The data may even sway some undecided voters to lean one way or the other.

The unexpectedly large number of net new jobs created will certainly be cited by U.S. President Barack Obama as proof that his policies are working and that he should be re-elected.

The uptick in the unemployment rate to 7.9%, just above the 7.8% level where it was when President Obama took office in January 2009, will surely be cited by Republican candidate Mitt Romney as evidence of President Obama's failure to revive the economy.

But before you let these numbers influence your political decisions, here are some often overlooked truths behind the jobs report.

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A Positive October Jobs Report Will Seal an Obama Victory

With less than five days to go until America casts its vote for U.S. president, Friday's October jobs report could have a major impact on an election hinged upon the economy and, more importantly, employment.

After last month's highly-questioned jobs report, where only 114,000 jobs were added but the unemployment rate ticked down 3 percentage points to 7.8%, many have cried foul.

From Donald Trump to Jack Welch the shouts of conspiracy and manipulation were voiced. To many the only explanation was that the report was indeed "cooked."

"I agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is at work here," Rep. Allen West, R-FL, posted on his Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) page after last month's strong report. "Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8% unemployment, a month from the Presidential election."

Whether or not those numbers were manipulated, the fact remains that unemployment dropped below 8% for the first time in over three years.

That was a significant milestone for President Obama and revived his campaign following Mitt Romney's surge in polls since the first debate.

Another move downward in the unemployment rate, or simply staying below 8%, could be enough to clinch an election that has become almost a dead heat.

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Conspiracy Theories About the Jobs Report Don't Ring True

So listen, can we talk?...

Can we talk about unemployment in the U.S.? And can we talk about conspiracy theories?

I thought you'd say "yes." I can almost hear you saying, "Hell yeah, bring it on!"

So, let's have at it.

Let me say my piece, and then you can chime in.

I'll start by saying I don't think there's any conspiracy to manipulate the unemployment numbers.

You know, the numbers that came out on Friday and freaked everybody out.

Somehow, right before the election and right after President Obama fell flat on his face, after Mitt Romney knocked the champ (don't get mad, he's not my champ, he's the champ because he's the incumbent) down almost for a ten-count, the bloodied champ bounds off the canvas and stands on the ropes proclaiming victory over economic malaise because the unemployment rate fell below 8%.

Well, what's freaky about the unemployment number, the U3 number, the most widely watched and reported measure of unemployment in the country, maybe even the world, is that it fell from 8.1% in August to 7.8% the September.

What's got folks in an uproar (folks that aren't so folksy when it comes to the champ) is that it looks pretty conspiratorial that unemployment hasn't been below 8% in 43 months, not since Obama got into office. And all of a sudden it drops in August to 8.1% from July's 8.3%, and far more freakily, drops to 7.8% (that's below 8% for you non-math types) in September from 8.1% in August.

But before I give you my thoughts on why I don't think there's a conspiracy...

Okay, let's stop right there. The truth is I DO believe in conspiracies.

I believe that John Kennedy was assassinated in a coup'd'état in Dallas. Who did it and why? Figure it out, the facts are all there.

I believe that the Federal Reserve System is a front for the power, and of course, moneyed elites who run America for the benefit of its Club Fed members. The facts are all there.

Do I believe in other conspiracy theories? You bet I do. I just don't believe in all of them, especially the ones that can't be proved. Theories are fine, but give me some facts.

But I digress.

Does it smell like a conspiracy, some manipulation of the unemployment numbers that look so much better and may now aide Obama's reelection campaign?

You bet it does.

But wait...

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Read This Before You Cheer the September U.S. Jobs Report

U.S. President Barack Obama is undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief after the September U.S. jobs report showed the unemployment rate in the U.S. surprisingly trickled down to 7.8% from 8.1%.

That's the lowest level in 44 months - since January 2009, the same month President Obama took office.

But, the number of jobs added was shy of estimates, and the unemployment rate remains at an unhealthy and elevated level.

And as usual, there are scary statistics lurk behind that headline number.

"I take these numbers with an enormous grain of salt," economist Joshua Shapiro of consultancy MFR Inc. told The Wall Street Journal. "I think the underlying trend is pretty clear in terms of the labor market-that it's still struggling quite mightily."

The September U.S. Jobs Report: A Closer Look

U.S. Labor Department data released Friday revealed total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 114,000 workers last month, slightly missing economists' estimate of 115,000.

Total employment as measured by the government's household survey rose 873,000 in September.

But the bulk of the jobs added in September were for part-time workers, positions taken because of waning business conditions or because they were the only jobs those seeking work could find. The number of people who are working part time but want to be working full time rose by 582,000.

In addition, a great number of discouraged Americans have simply stopped looking for work or have exhausted unemployment benefits and fallen off the unemployment radar.

Also missing from the count is the out-of-work self-employed group. And a plethora of students are choosing additional education instead of work as a means to avoid a difficult job market.

Even if the "cooked" figure of 114,000 was accurate, it's still well below the minimum 125,000 jobs that need to be added every month just to keep up with population growth.

"When you look at the payroll numbers, they are bumping along where we have been around this 100,000 level, which is not enough to consistently reduce the unemployment rate. The overall message is one of plodding along. It's OK, it's not disastrous, but it's nowhere near where the Fed wants to be," Lee Ferridge, head of macro strategy for North America at State Street Global Markets stressed to CNBC.

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Why the U.S. Jobs Report Could Be Much Worse than Expected

The September U.S. jobs report, the second to last before Election 2012, is expected to show 110,000 jobs added for the month - but there's a chance it could be much uglier.

First, the weekly initial jobless claims out today (Thursday) increased 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended Sept. 29. Never a good lead in to a jobs report.

Second, the ADP jobs report released Wednesday showed the private sector added 162,000 jobs in September, less than the 189,000 added in August. ADP's report is often skewed to the upside compared to the government's employment numbers.

Data shows that between April and August, ADP estimated nearly 50,000 more private sector jobs were added per month than the government report (widely viewed as more accurate).

But in August, ADP's number overshot the government's by a hefty 98,000.

Equally disturbing is that the number of jobs being added (according to government figures) is nowhere near what is considered healthy. Just to keep up with population growth, our economy needs to add at least 125,000 jobs every month.

At that pace, it would take at least four more years for the U.S. job market to fully recover from the Great Recession.

"We're not going anywhere quickly in the jobs market," Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody's Analytics, Inc., told Bloomberg News. "The job market is just more of the same. Layoffs aren't the big problem, it's the lack of hiring."

The number of jobs employers added in August was an uninspiring 96,000, a steep decline from July's 141,000.

And while the unemployment rate eked down to 8.1% from 8.3% the previous month, it was for all the wrong reasons.

Many discouraged Americans have given up looking for a job. Plus, more young adults are prolonging their education in attempts to avert entering a very difficult job market.

And with the following factors, 2013 looks to get even worse.

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Ugly August U.S. Jobs Report Made Romney's Day

From numerous angles, the August U.S. jobs report was disappointing - except for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who used the numbers to blast U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Labor Department reported today (Friday) that U.S. employers added a paltry 96,000 jobs last month.

Unemployment and the economy are two of the most prominent issues of this year's campaign, and Romney seized the opportunity to stake a political advantage following the dreary news.

"If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover. For every net new job created, nearly four Americans have given up looking for work entirely," Romney said in a statement.

He continued stating that President Obama has not made good on his promises, and reiterated the message that the United States is no better off than it was four years ago when the president took office.

Romney pledged to create some 12 million new jobs by the end of his first term.

In a rally cry Romney said, "America deserves new leadership that will get our economy moving again."

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