The November Employment Situation

Some good news, but it all has to be put in perspective. As Mark Thoma points out, 120,000 jobs is about what is needed to keep unemployment from rising. In addition, the drop in the unemployment rate was driven largely by the drop in the participation rate, not the rise in employed. That’s going to be greater relevance if the extension of unemployment benefits is further blocked (in other words, there are offsetting employment effects from UI, as discussed in this rejoinder to Mulligan). More discussion at Izzo/WSJ RTE. I’m going to focus on data from the establishment survey.

The main points:

  • Nonfarm payroll, and the civilian employment series adjusted to conform to the NFP series both continue to rise, with the latter rising more rapidly.
  • Aggregate weekly hours in the private sector continues to rise more rapidly than employment, but has not caught up.
  • Total government employment continues to decline.
  • Most of the decline in government employment is at the state and local levels.

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Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment (blue), and civilian employment adjusted to conform to NFP concept (dark red), 000’s, seasonally adjusted. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, BLS, and NBER.The difference between the experimental adjusted household-survey based series and the establishment series is now over 2 million (!), or 1.5% (log terms). Strangely, despite the fact that conservatives demanded the creation of this series, I have seen no commentary from those quarters remarking on this fact.

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Figure 2: Log private employment (dark blue), and log aggregate weekly hours index in private sector, series AWHI (red), seasonally adjusted, rescaled to 2007M12=0. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER and author’s calculations.Aggregate weekly hours in the private sector continues to rise more rapidly than employment (haltingly), but has not caught up. The gap is 0.6%.

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Figure 3: Government employment (red), and government employment ex.-temporary Census workers (blue), 000’s, seasonally adjusted. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER and author’s calculations.

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Figure 4: Government employment and state and local levels (blue), 000’s, seasonally adjusted. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER and author’s calculations.As shown, total government employment continues to decline, driven mostly by the decline in government employment is at the state and local levels. Since our children currently know everything they need to in order to find jobs and compete in the global economy, cutting teachers seems like a great idea. November employment in local government education is down 94,000 relative to a year earlier. As noted here, Wisconsin is working hard to be at the forefront of this trend!

This post originally appeared at Econbrowser and is posted with permission.

One Response to "The November Employment Situation"

  1. deenaholmes   December 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Although past recessions have been easier on college grads than high school grads, the needs of a "21st century economy" have magnified the stark difference between education level and joblessness that is why we need degree from High Speed Universities