The Employment Situation for November – Still Positive, Still Weak

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation report for November noting that Hurricane Sandy did not affect the national employment and unemployment figures in today’s release. The establishment survey indicated payroll employment increased by 146,000 with private sector payrolls increasing by 147,000 and a loss of 1,000 in the government sector. Estimates for both September and October were revised downward by a total of 49,000. The household survey indicated the unemployment rate moved down to 7.7% from 7.9% in October.

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The payroll numbers are indicative of a labor market treading water. They’ve been weaker in plenty of months over the last two years, but they are well below levels necessary to bring the unemployment rate down.

In a reversal of last month’s report, the decline in the unemployment rate is not as good as it looks. Last month the unemployment rate moved up based on an increase in the labor force that outpaced the increase in the number of employed persons. Adding jobs and an expanding labor force were positive gains, the increase in the unemployment rate was less important.

This month the decline in the unemployment rate is based on a decline in the labor force. The labor force shrank by the combined effect of 122,000 fewer persons employed and a decline of 229,000 in the number of persons previously classified as unemployed. Persons who want work, have looked for work in the prior 12 months, but not in the 4 weeks preceding the household survey are classified as marginally attached to the labor force and not included in counts of the unemployed or labor force. The decline in the unemployment rate wasn’t based on any real improvement in conditions.

Overall, the economy continues to add to payrolls but at a slower than robust pace. The unemployment rate is trending down since peaking in 2009, but the labor force has only recently regained the losses since the recession. We’re seeing signs of improvement but there is still plenty of ground to make up.


5 Responses to The Employment Situation for November – Still Positive, Still Weak

  1. John Hansen says:

    I urge you to look deeply into the jobs that are lost and the unemployment figures for the residential construction trades. In a recent post on the Sober Looks blog, 12.2% of residential construction tradesmen are unemployed. With a reported 5.5 million current employees this implies about 1.5 million out-of-work tradesmen. Even the NAHB has in the past reported 1 million lost jobs.

    If you cared about unemployment you should start by addressing the issue that those in our own industry are currently 50% more likely to be unemployed that the rest of the population. They deserve 50% more of your attention, but you seem to be market focused rather than employment focused.

    Please find a balance that serves all of your constituents.

    • John White says:

      I agree with you comment 100%. NAHB is not alone. The National Association of Realtors and Mortgage Bankers Assn. have also done little or nothing to bring the current market disaster to an end. Putting smiley faces on meaningless economic statistics have never added one job to the industry. The only answer is to create a vast number of new potential homebuyers and nothing is being done by any of the trade associations to address this. Its time that all the national associations join together to fix the problem which government has only exacerbated since 2008 by making it much harder to buy a first home. As JFK said, “We should not do it because it is easy, rather we should do it because it is hard.”

      • John Hansen says:

        John White,

        I do think that the NAHB is trying to lobby leaders on capitol hill to keep the interest tax deduction for home buyers. There are other lobbying efforts aimed at improving the number of buyers in the market for new homes. They have a program focused on “Home Ownership” that is centered on the positive effects of keeping the interest tax deduction. But creating more homebuyers is definitely a challenge.

        I am simply unconvinced that the lobbyists from the NAHB are saying the right things to the right people. To me, the lack of jobs is a more compelling issue than lack of sales or lack of customers.

        And the DOL and the president need to talk about the 1.417 million lost jobs in residential construction. They can find their way to assist several hundred factory workers after a plant closing in one town anywhere in the country. But they are blind to the 1.417 million residential construction jobs that have been lost and who they are and where they went.

  2. John P. White, Jr. says:

    The downward revision (49,000) for the pre-election months of September and October should trouble anyone relying on this data. Perhaps Jack Welch had it right when he said there was no way the rate slipped below 8% for the month pf Septembet, less than 60 days before the election.

  3. […] And Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for November offered continued weakly positive news. The establishment survey indicated payroll employment increased by 146,000, with private sector payr…. The household survey indicated the unemployment rate moved down to 7.7% from 7.9% in October. […]

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