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If you still needed confirmation this is the slowest economic recovery in history, you need look no further than today's (Tuesday's) September jobs report.
Total non-farm employment in the United States rose 148,000 in September, a soft number well short of the 180,000 expected. The unemployment rate itself fell to 7.2% – the lowest it's been since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.
But 7.2% is just U-3, the official measure of unemployment. If we include discouraged workers – unemployed people who gave a job market-related reason for not looking for work – the rate (U-4) rises to 7.7%. If we include the "marginally attached" and persons employed part-time for economic reasons (U-6), the unemployment rate shoots to a European-like level of 13.6%.
In other words, approximately 21 million otherwise able Americans are underemployed, or unemployed, or have just given up looking for work because the job market looks so bleak.
And there's more bad news…
September Jobs Report: Twisted Numbers
According to Zero Hedge's analysis of the full-time and part-time numbers, "the US work force saw the rotation of some 594K part-time workers into a whopping 691K full-time jobs, in addition to adding over 100K net new jobs in the month."
Here's what they mean: The August household survey reported 116,208,000 persons employed full time and 27,999,000 persons employed part time. The September survey reported 116,899,000 persons employed full time, and 27,405,000 persons employed part time, changes of 691,000 and 594,000 respectively.
That seems impossible – and makes the jobs numbers even more unreliable than they already were.
Also, under Bureau of Labor Statistics definitions, "full time" employment does not necessarily mean a 40-hour-a-week job with benefits. Instead, it simply means that a person usually works more than 35 hours a week, regardless of the number of jobs they work.
Zero Hedge suggests the strange data could be a response to July's outsized growth in part-time jobs as a portion of the total jobs created. As Money Morning and others pointed out with the July numbers, only 35% of the jobs reported as created were full-time.
At the time, massive growth in part-time employment was attributed to employer fears surrounding Obamacare, which requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to purchase insurance for them or face fines.
The jobs report makes it seem as though a large number of erstwhile part-time jobs have somehow become full-time – which is why we took a closer look at where these full-time jobs came from…