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Thread: Joblessness

  1. #1

    Default Joblessness

    Interesting employment report for January 2010; the unemployment rate fell to 9.7% while 20,000 more jobs were eliminated. Anybody want to take a stab at clarifying this?

    The big jobs hole

    Labor Market Shows Signs of Reawakening in New Data

    Falling flat Ah, finally a hint,

    The unemployment rate, based on household rather than establishment data, showed a slight improvement, dropping from 10% to 9.7%, but nearly 15m Americans remain unemployed. As Larry Summers put it in Davos last week, the American economy is experiencing “a statistical recovery and a human recession”.
    And why do they call it rate? It clearly doesn't mean that people are being unemployed at a rate of 9.7%.
    Last edited by Being; 02-05-2010 at 04:52 PM.
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  2. #2
    I believe unemployment only measures people actively looking for jobs. If you've given up looking, you're still unemployed, but you don't get counted. Its possible for the unemployment rate to increase while the net job count goes up because people sensing a recovery get excited and start looking for jobs.
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  3. #3
    U-6 "rate" is still around 17%, isn't it?

    15 million out of work. How many open positions are there?

  4. #4
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    Eyekhan is right, once you stop looking for a job you are no longer part of the statistics.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  5. #5
    You used my new name. Thank you.
    The Rules
    Copper- behave toward others to elicit treatment you would like (the manipulative rule)
    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
    Platinum - treat others the way they would like to be treated (the PC rule)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    Eyekhan is right, once you stop looking for a job you are no longer part of the statistics.
    But what constitutes 'looking' for a job? The household survey is vague on this point. Some people might answer the survey that they are no longer 'looking' for a job even though their resume is still posted on all the major job seeking sights and would accept a job if it were offered.
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  7. #7
    You also don't count if you don't receive unemployment benefits in most of these calculations.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    But what constitutes 'looking' for a job? The household survey is vague on this point. Some people might answer the survey that they are no longer 'looking' for a job even though their resume is still posted on all the major job seeking sights and would accept a job if it were offered.
    I'm not entirely sure (I'm sure the answer's out there somewhere) but I think it relates to being on unemployment. You have to at least be looking for a job to get unemployment benefits.
    The Rules
    Copper- behave toward others to elicit treatment you would like (the manipulative rule)
    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
    Platinum - treat others the way they would like to be treated (the PC rule)

  9. #9
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    Who is counted as unemployed?

    Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work. Actively looking for work may consist of any of the following activities:

    Contacting:
    An employer directly or having a job interview
    A public or private employment agency
    Friends or relatives
    A school or university employment center
    Sending out resumes or filling out applications
    Placing or answering advertisements
    Checking union or professional registers
    Some other means of active job search
    Passive methods of job search do not have the potential to result in a job offer and therefore do not qualify as active job search methods. Examples of passive methods include attending a job training program or course, or merely reading about job openings that are posted in newspapers or on the Internet.

    source
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  10. #10
    How do they count them then? If I've done several of those things on your list would I be counted multiple times?
    The Rules
    Copper- behave toward others to elicit treatment you would like (the manipulative rule)
    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
    Platinum - treat others the way they would like to be treated (the PC rule)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    How do they count them then? If I've done several of those things on your list would I be counted multiple times?
    You only get counted if you are chosen to participate in the survey.
    .

  12. #12
    Are you sure its done by survey?

    EDIT:

    http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm

    Because unemployment insurance records relate only to persons who have applied for such benefits, and since it is impractical to actually count every unemployed person each month, the Government conducts a monthly sample survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS) to measure the extent of unemployment in the country. The CPS has been conducted in the United States every month since 1940, when it began as a Work Projects Administration project. It has been expanded and modified several times since then. For instance, beginning in 1994, the CPS estimates reflect the results of a major redesign of the survey. (For more information on the CPS redesign, see Chapter 1, "Labor Force Data Derived from the Current Population Survey," in the BLS Handbook of Methods.)

    There are about 60,000 households in the sample for this survey. This translates into approximately 110,000 individuals, a large sample compared to public opinion surveys which usually cover fewer than 2,000 people. The CPS sample is selected so as to be representative of the entire population of the United States. In order to select the sample, all of the counties and county-equivalent cities in the country first are grouped into 2,025 geographic areas (sampling units). The Census Bureau then designs and selects a sample consisting of 824 of these geographic areas to represent each State and the District of Columbia. The sample is a State-based design and reflects urban and rural areas, different types of industrial and farming areas, and the major geographic divisions of each State. (For a detailed explanation of CPS sampling methodology, see Chapter 1, of the BLS Handbook of Methods.)
    The Rules
    Copper- behave toward others to elicit treatment you would like (the manipulative rule)
    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
    Platinum - treat others the way they would like to be treated (the PC rule)

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    Are you sure its done by survey?

    EDIT:

    http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm
    Yeah, it used to be called the Houshold Survey until a couple years ago. Loki and I have argued about it for years. I still believe the Payroll Survey (now called the Current Employment Statistics or CES) provides a more accurate picture of unemployment.

    http://www.bls.gov/ces/
    .

  14. #14
    Why the obsession with the unemployment rate? It's essentially a symbolic figure. There are far better measures that determine the portion of people who work, such as the labor participation ratio.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Why the obsession with the unemployment rate? It's essentially a symbolic figure.
    It's also the "authoritative" figure spewed by all media outlets with no qualification about how irrelevant it is to the actual employment picture. Though I admit the last year has seen more media questioning its meaning.


    edit: and why do they call it rate?
    Last edited by Being; 02-06-2010 at 04:16 AM.
    .

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I believe unemployment only measures people actively looking for jobs. If you've given up looking, you're still unemployed, but you don't get counted. Its possible for the unemployment rate to increase while the net job count goes up because people sensing a recovery get excited and start looking for jobs.
    Quote Originally Posted by agamemnus View Post
    You also don't count if you don't receive unemployment benefits in most of these calculations.
    At least according to Wyoming stats, if you aren't on, or are waiting on, unemployment benefits, you are not unemployed! Of course, this does not count those who have used up all their benefits, or for some reason didn't qualify for benefits!
    Last edited by oldmunchkin; 02-06-2010 at 04:35 AM. Reason: Fine...I can't spell!
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    Atari bullshit refugee!!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    It's also the "authoritative" figure spewed by all media outlets with no qualification about how irrelevant it is to the actual employment picture. Though I admit the last year has seen more media questioning its meaning.


    edit: and why do they call it rate?
    Its meaning has always been questionable; for some strange reason it only gets questioned occasionally by the wider media. The main reason why it has any meaning at all is that the data has been collected for a longer period and thus do tell us something about trends.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    Its meaning has always been questionable; for some strange reason it only gets questioned occasionally by the wider media. The main reason why it has any meaning at all is that the data has been collected for a longer period and thus do tell us something about trends.
    There's labor force participation data since at least WWII.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    There's labor force participation data since at least WWII.
    I'd consider those less useful as a short term indicator for the economy.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    I'd consider those less useful as a short term indicator for the economy.
    Why? It captures "discouraged workers" and people straight out of high school or college who can't get a job (neither of whom are considered to be "unemployed").
    Hope is the denial of reality

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Why? It captures "discouraged workers" and people straight out of high school or college who can't get a job (neither of whom are considered to be "unemployed").
    It also contains the changed attitudes of women on the job market. Enormously distorting factor.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    It also contains the changed attitudes of women on the job market. Enormously distorting factor.
    Except this change is long-term, so it wouldn't really affect yearly data.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  23. #23
    Bumping to ask some questions related to "seasons".

    Winter weather has helped the snow plowers, some contractors, the ski resorts...but it's hurt a fair amount of the travel industry since airports were closed during an important US holiday.

    Canada may have a lower unemployment rate because of the Olympics, but it may be within a certain radius of the Games, and not be a long term bonus.

    How do the "experts" massage this data?

  24. #24
    Why should they? The data is only adjusted for seasonal trends. They're not going to adjust for one-off behavior.
    Last edited by Loki; 02-15-2010 at 02:54 PM.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  25. #25
    If you were going to adjust for one-offs like the Olympics, why not adjust for the recession? Lets not count anyone who's lost their job because of the recession, then there won't be any more unemployment. Regular seasonal changes are adjusted for, irregular ones are not.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Why should they? The data is only adjusted for seasonal trends. They're not going to adjust for one-off behavior.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandBlade View Post
    If you were going to adjust for one-offs like the Olympics, why not adjust for the recession? Lets not count anyone who's lost their job because of the recession, then there won't be any more unemployment. Regular seasonal changes are adjusted for, irregular ones are not.
    What the hell are you two on about? The monthly survey asks the same questions every month. If a person reports they are employed the survey doesn't care if that is because of some one-off occurance or not. That person is counted as employed.
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  27. #27
    The results of unemployment surveys are adjusted for seasonal trends (i.e. otherwise there would always be a decrease in unemployment right before Christmas).
    Hope is the denial of reality

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    The results of unemployment surveys are adjusted for seasonal trends (i.e. otherwise there would always be a decrease in unemployment right before Christmas).
    How are seasonal fluctuations taken into account?

    Total employment and unemployment are higher in some parts of the year than in others. For example, unemployment is higher in January and February, when it is cold in many parts of the country and work in agriculture, construction, and other seasonal industries is curtailed. Also, both employment and unemployment rise every June, when students enter the labor force in search of summer jobs.
    The seasonal fluctuations in the number of employed and unemployed persons reflect not only the normal seasonal weather patterns that tend to be repeated year after year, but also the hiring (and layoff) patterns that accompany regular events such as the winter holiday season and the summer vacation season. These variations make it difficult to tell whether month-to-month changes in employment and unemployment are due to normal seasonal patterns or to changing economic conditions. To deal with such problems, a statistical technique called seasonal adjustment is used. This technique uses the past history of the series to identify the seasonal movements and to calculate the size and direction of these movements. A seasonal adjustment factor is then developed and applied to the estimates to eliminate the effects of regular seasonal fluctuations on the data. When a statistical series has been seasonally adjusted, the normal seasonal fluctuations are smoothed out and data for any month can be more meaningfully compared with data from any other month or with an annual average. Many time series that are based on monthly data are seasonally adjusted.
    Another reason not to rely on the unemployment rate as an indication of the actual number of people unemployed at any given time. And still, nobody has explained why they call it rate.
    .

  29. #29
    Another reason why you shouldn't be taken seriously...The whole point of the unemployment rate is to determine trends over time. If there was no seasonal adjustment, then you wouldn't be able to compare the unemployment rates in November and December.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Another reason why you shouldn't be taken seriously...The whole point of the unemployment rate is to determine trends over time. If there was no seasonal adjustment, then you wouldn't be able to compare the unemployment rates in November and December.
    Trends are helpful for planning but what use are they to a reactionary government such as ours? We don't plan, we react. We need actual numbers to force a reaction.
    .

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