Friday, April 6, 2012

A Weak Jobs Report

While the payroll (i.e. business) survey showed a net gain of 120,000 jobs in March (which in itself was weak), the household survey (the survey used to calculate the unemployment rate) actually showed a decline. Note that while this may just be noise after a warm winter that may have pulled hiring forward, the net result is most likely a (much) weaker employment situation than previously thought.


The Washington Post details how the unemployment rate can fall in the face of lost jobs:
In March, the household survey showed that the number of people who say they have a job fell by 31,000 and the number of people looking for a job fell by 79,000. That lowered the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent.
As the chart below shows, both the headline unemployment rate and broader measure of unemployment dropped as people left the workforce.



Breaking this down further, we see a continued split in terms of the male and female population. Men continue to find work (though the number of men dropping out rose in March), while women continue to run into difficult times, losing jobs and dropping out of the workforce in sizable numbers (more than 300,000 left in March alone).


Which all adds up to a stalling (perhaps temporarily) in the number of hours worked per person (on average), while remaining at a level WAY below historically norms.



Source: BLS