Preposterous pollyannaism or Obama Democrat boosterism

  • Robust my ass

Today’s Wall Street Journal as indicated by this screen grab of the top left side of the E-edition shows the prominent characterization of the latest jobs report as  “Robust”.  The lede is slightly more objective, but only slightly, as the first sentence refers to “steady pace.”   The chart which they do show belies the headline and lede.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 12.18.04 PM

Just a glance at the chart shows that a three month average is in the 190,000 range and the the six-month average less than that at~188000.  Some have pointed out that the May report, as dismal as it is, was an anomaly due to timing of reports and data collection.   OK fine, it is why economists do averages. All the anomaly means is that hiring data in the month before or after would be expected to be dramatically beyond averages, and they were not, or that hiring has been pent-up.  But as regards “pent-up” — how so when other economic indicators are not particularly good? The chart does not look particularly good so as to rate the headline.

Patriot Post presents an article from Business Review Board that explains better the meaning of the figures:  Putting July’s Jobs Report in Perspective

July’s jobs numbers are in, and they show a modest reprieve from a lackluster recovery. The Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning reported the creation of 255,000 jobs last month and an unemployed rate of 4.9%. Encouragingly, the labor participation rate rose ever so slightly to 62.8% — which translates to a 407,000 increase in workforce participants — as did hourly wages and average work week, according to CNBC. Meanwhile, the Bureau made upward revisions to prior months as well. June saw 292,000 new positions (up from 287,000), while May came in at 24,000 — a still curiously low number but better nonetheless.

The lowdown of all this? It’s mixed, as always, but predominately good. American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin contends, “July is the first month in recent memory that doesn’t have some significant downside.” That sentiment was echoed by American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis, who tweeted, “Job market showing great strength and stamina.” However, there are some things to keep in mind.

As CNBC notes, “The headline unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, though a more encompassing measure that includes those not actively looking for work and those working part-time for economic reasons moved up a notch to 9.7 percent.” Moreover, while most sectors saw solid improvement, the mining and logging industry continued to contract. According to the report, the industry shed 7,000 positions — more evidence that Obama’s war on coal is hurting a critical energy provider. Nevertheless, it’s good to see things — mostly — moving in the right direction.

Even the elements the Business Review Board finds encouraging are not particularly so as they could mask trends not to hire because of regulations and taxes –  the actively looking for work figure is dismal. They call it the “headline unemployment rate” because that is all it is about, something to tout without real meaning to it.

R Mall

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