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Mark Twain once said, "Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable." It is in our human nature to remain optimistic even when fate deals us a cruel hand. A person who loses a diamond ring in the manure pile must remain optimistic about their prospects. Even without success they will point positively to the progress they have made in their search.
So I don't fault the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they just make the pretzel dough and leave the twisting up to the politicians. This is a government however which will kill the messenger, so they must highlight good news. So it may be reported that even though the city of Chicago was reduced to ashes Mrs. O'Leary's cow escaped without injury and is resting comfortably.
Bureau of Labor Statistics- Payroll employment up in October 2010
This would seem to be a good employment number provided that's all you look at is this month's number. If you look back at the previous four months you'll see that the economy lost nearly twice that 151,000 number and you'll further note that it is only the seventh month of job gains in the previous twenty six months.
"Within professional and business services, employment in temporary help services continued to increase in October, with a gain of 35,000. Temporary help services has added 451,000 jobs since a recent low in September 2009."
"Within leisure and hospitality, a job loss in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-26,000) in October offset a gain in food services and drinking place employment (+24,000). The food services industry has added 143,000 jobs since a recent low in December 2009."
I can hear it now as the unemployed actors practice, "would you like, er, um, line please! Oh yes, would you like fries with that?"
"Government employment overall was little change in October. Employment in local government, excluding education, decreased by 14,000 over the month and has fallen by 123,000 over the past 12 months."
Little change? 14,000 is a gain of more than ten percent of the total in thirty days. It represents a forty percent increase in average month over month job loss numbers and it excludes education. The cow said, "Moo."
The strange case of the disappearing work force;
The mystery deepens as the number of employed workers was reported as 139,391,000 in September yet in October that number had fallen to 139,061,000. Three hundred and thirty thousand less workers were employed yet the unemployment rate has stayed the same at 9.6 percent? How is that possible?
The mystery is solved by a catch all category "Not in the labor force." That number jumped by 462,000 in just thirty days or more than three times as much as that promising new jobs number. How do you go from employed to "Not in the labor force" in thirty days? No one knows, it's like Oz, you just find yourself there one day asking directions from talking scarecrows.