Gallup Economist: Unemployment Numbers Should Be Discounted
Polling giant Gallup’s chief economist isn’t taking that jobs report, showing a declining unemployment rate, very seriously. “The Household results should be discounted,” writes Dennis Jacobe. “The obvious conclusion is that a new employment measure is needed.”
The problem is that even though the Household survey tends to be very volatile, this decline seems to lack face-validity, particularly after the prior month’s numbers. The consensus estimate was that the government would report that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.1% in September. GDP growth was 1.3% in the second quarter and seems to be no better this quarter. The government’s Establishment survey shows there were 114,000 new jobs created in September — very close to the consensus of 113,000 — and not sufficient to lower the unemployment rate.
A quick comparison of the government’s seasonally adjusted and unadjusted employment data seems hard to reconcile with the weak economy. For example, the government shows the number of employed workers increasing by 775,000 in September from August on an unadjusted basis. This surge in hiring seems surprisingly large given the current economy, not to mention the even larger adjusted increase of 873,000. Similarly, the number of unemployed declined by 954,000 in September on an unadjusted basis. This is reduced to a smaller adjusted decline of 456,000 — but both numbers are also surprisingly large.
As Jim Pethokoukis notes, Jacobe prefers an unemployment measure that measures “the number of Americans employed full-time for an employer as a percentage of the U.S. population.” That’s what Gallup uses, and by that measure America’s economy seems far from recovery: