Posts Tagged ‘bureau of labor statistics’

Inflation Risks Rise Sharply In Latest CPI Data

May 12th, 2021 Comments off

The U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics has released its April figures, and they have surprised analysts. They show a CPI rise of 0.8 %, , far higher than expected. In the past twelve months, inflation in the United Sates stood at 4.2%, and is clearly accelerating. As many observers note, even this worrying data understates many price increases more reflective of what is impacting the typical American consumer.

This blog has warned previously of the growing threat of inflation and eventually stagflation-high inflation in conjunction with a severe  recession . At present, inflationary pressure not only in the U.S. but globally are rising. In the case of America, there are a number of volatile factors accelerating inflationary pressure in the U.S. economy. The trillions of dollars in new public debt accumulated in only one year since the outbreak of Covid has overloaded the economy with monetary stimulus, creating a highly inflationary dynamic. The pandemic and public policy responses have

Sheldon Filger-blogger for

also added to the inflationary matrix. Then there are the unexpected but increasingly more common cyber attacks, a growing geopolitical reality.

The recent cyber attack on a critical oil pipeline in the U.S. has generated economic shockwaves, leading to gas shortages, long lines at gasoline stations and double-digit price rises. The response of the Biden administration: It is strictly a private sector decision on whether or not the company pays ransom to the hackers, and the government has no official position on the matter.

The example above does not leave grounds for optimism. The impotence of Washington D.D, is itself a contributing factor to inflation. Investors are already beginning to anticipate an eventual end to the near zero-interest policies of the Federal Reserve.

U.S. Economy Continues to Suffer High Unemployment

January 14th, 2014 Comments off

The December 2013 jobs reported recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  shows, on paper, a steep decline in the unemployment rate, to 6.7 percent, versus 7 percent for November. Yet, not even the usual happy chorus was cheering what, on the surface, was positive economic news. The BLS also showed that a mere 74,000 jobs were created in December by the U.S. economy.

Depending on various statistical measurements, the American economy must produce at least 150,000 jobs per month, and more realistically 200-250,000 just to keep even with the normal flow of new entrants into the U.S. labor market, based on natural population growth. In other words, based on the statistic of 74,000 jobs created in December, the actual unemployment rate in the United States should have increased rather than decrease. The reason why the official U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent is that a large number of long-term unemployed Americans have left the job market, either voluntarily, or arbitrarily based on the BLS statisticians deciding not to count them among the officially unemployed.

The official numbers can be ignored; in truth the United States continues to suffer the ravages of high unemployment-and underemployment-nearly six years after the onset of the global economic crisis.


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Controversy Over U.S. Unemployment Rate Masks The Real Issue Underlying America’s Economic Crisis

October 7th, 2012 Comments off

The Bureau of Labor Statistics latest jobs report suggested  114,000 non-farm jobs were added in September, while the national unemployment rate dropped from  8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. With the U.S. presidential election only one month away, the Republicans naturally claimed that something was fishy about the jobs report. Just as naturally, the Obama administrations maintained that the BLS statistics are compiled by non-partisan professional bureaucrats. So, what’s the answer?

They are both right. The BLS numbers may be honestly compiled, but they are based on abstractions and sampling assumptions, and are frequently corrected long after their original release. Furthermore, the numbers being argued about are the U3 data, which is an incomplete measure of unemployment in the U.S. economy. The more reliable U6 data, which includes part-time workers unable to find fulltime employment, is still well into double digit figures.

The more interesting aspect of the latest LBS data is this; even if the 114,000 new jobs figure is correct, it is below the level required to match new entries into the labor force. In other words, the U3 (and U6) rate should have risen instead of declined. Why didn’t it? Simple explanation: the long-term unemployed are being “removed” from the statistical  measurement of the labor force. If the BLS considers you a “discouraged” worker, you are no longer compiled under the data for unemployed workers. This may look more positive for the upcoming presidential election if you are President Barack Obama, but it does nothing to facilitate economic growth.

There is another dimension to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data which demonstrates its utter irrelevancy to the overall health of the economy. The numbers in the BLS report, or the claims by the Obama campaign regarding total jobs creation since the president took office, not to mention GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s boast that as president, he would somehow “create” 12 million new jobs, miss what is most relevant to a comprehensive economic recovery in the United States.  The real issue is the decline in purchasing power by the U.S. labor force, concomitant with a parallel increase in economic power of a very small financial oligarchy. As is well know by labor statisticians, frequently the new jobs created (or promised) are actually lower paying fulltime jobs, or part-time positions with significantly reduced levels of compensation. The cumulative impact  of this phenomenon has been the erosion in the  size and collective purchasing power of America’s middle-income  labor force, leading to weaker consumer demand and a collapse in housing values.  Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has on offer a realistic and cogent plan to address the real core issue underlying the factors that have left the U.S. labor force diminished not only in its employee count, but more importantly, in its financial capacity. Until the latter issue is addressed, all the promises made by American politicians for a future economic recovery are political rhetoric and nothing more.







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U.S. Jobs Report For June Shows Continued Economic Stagnation; This Is Not The “New Deal”

July 6th, 2012 Comments off

The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic indicates that only 80,000 jobs were created in the United States in June. One must take into account that the BLS figures are abstractions and not exact, and usually reveal only the most optimistic spin of the employment data. The BLS also reports that the American unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.2 percent.

Since the U.S., with a population in excess of 300 million, must create between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs a month just to keep even with population growth, the only reason a tepid jobs creation number of 80,000 would also reveal no increase in the unemployment rate is that many Americans formerly classified as unemployed were reported by the BLS as having “left” the workforce in June, so they are no longer counted as unemployed. Such mathematical gymnastics may produce a slightly better spin on the unemployment picture in the United States, but they obviously do not resolve America’s profound economic problems.

It must be pointed out that even the exceedingly poor job creation figures of the past several months have been purchased at a very high opportunity cost. Since the global economic and financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. has been running annual structural mega-deficits of more than a trillion dollars annually. In fiscal year 2012, the U.S. federal budget projects expenditures of $3.8 trillion dollars and revenue of only $2.5 trillion. That means one third of U.S. federal government expenditures are derived from borrowed money. If such a massive fling of red ink can produce, at best, economic stall speed, one shudders to think what will befall the world’s largest economy once the spigot of cheap borrowed money is shut off by creditors who have lost their patience with America’s hopelessly gridlocked political system.

What went wrong with the Obama administration’s stimulus program? In the decades to come, scholars will wax eloquent in their analyses and academic explanations. However, one need only look to the last great American recession, the Great Depression of the 1930s, to note a major difference. The priority of the Obama administration was saving Wall Street, meaning the banks, including investment banks, at all costs, viewing the financial sector as the center of gravity of the American economy. In the case of the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, its policies, known as the New Deal, focused on the industrial sector and job creation as the nation’s economic center, and viewed the financial sector in a punitive manner, requiring investigation and strict regulation and reform. Arguments over the effectiveness of the New Deal continue to this day, however one fact cannot be denied. On the day that Franklin Roosevelt died in office, America was unquestionably the leading industrial and manufacturing nation on earth, and the role of financialization was below 2 percent of GDP. How different things are today.



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U.S. Unemployment Rate Continues To Fall-As Discouraged Workers “Disappear”

May 5th, 2012 Comments off

he latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the United States supposedly “created” 115,00 jobs in April. Not even President Obama’s supporters are cheering loudly over this figure, as it indicates a slowing down of job creation-and that is if the number is accurate. As many know, BLS jobs numbers are usually a mathematical abstraction based  on assumptions and inferences, not hard numbers. In any event, if there were 115,000 jobs created in April, that is below the approximately 200,000 new jobs that must be created in the U.S each month in order to keep up with population growth. In other words, 115,000 new jobs in April would mean that the American unemployment rate would increase.

But in April, again according to the BLS, the U.S. unemployment rate did not increase; in fact it “declined” to 8.1 percent. If job creation is lagging behind the expected entry of new workers into the U.S. labor market, how did the magicians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics construct a reduction in unemployment?  Very simple. There are so many discouraged unemployed workers in the United States, they are simply giving up and “leaving” the labor force. In many cases, actually, the BLS is exercising initiative and assuming that a certain proportion of the unemployed simply drop out of the workforce each month.

The real meaning of the April jobs number is that the participation of age-eligible Americans in the labor force -both working and unemployed-is at a 30 year low. How is that synonymous with an economic recovery?

In point of fact, a staggeringly high rate of unemployment, made artificially lower by not counting those long-term unemployed workers as being part of the active labor force, is by no means characteristic of a post-recessionary economic recovery. What has recovered since the onset of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 are equity prices, which have regained almost all of their losses. However, that recovery is not due to increased consumer demand stemming from the reentry into the workforce of formerly unemployed workers. Rather, stock prices regained most of their losses and have enjoyed a recovery due almost entirely to the loose monetary policies of the Federal Reserve under the tutelage of its chairman, Ben Bernanke.

In contrast with the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt during America’s Great Depression of the 1930s, which focused on facilitating job creation, the policymakers in the U.S. have focused their efforts on reinflating equity prices through quantitative easing (money printing) and offering banks (including investment banks) historically low interest rates, in effect free money. Perhaps sooner than we can imagine, history will render its verdict on this policy of neglecting a recovery in the labor market in favor of reinflating the stock market.



Nouriel Roubini and Bizarre U.S. Jobs Report

November 6th, 2010 Comments off

Three days after the Democratic Party lost control over the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election, the Obama administration heralded a supposedly impressive jobs report. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy created a net total of 150,00 jobs during October. Sounds good. However, the unemployment rate stood at 9.6 percent, suggesting that previously discouraged workers reentered the job market.

Now here is where things get really strange. According to Nouriel Roubini, there is something contradictory about the claim of strong job creation in October. Here is what he tweeted: “Household survey: employment fell 330K last month & labor force participation rate at 25yr low. How does that square with 150K jobs gain?”

If Professor Nouriel Roubini is skeptical about the laudatory jobs report just released, we all should be.

Only In America: U.S. Unemployment Rate “Drops” While Economy Still Sheds Jobs

February 7th, 2010 Comments off

In the bizarre world of quantum mechanics, there is a specific sub-atomic particle that can mathematically be in two places simultaneously. In the even more bizarre world inhabited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is possible for the American economy to still lose jobs while at the same time the unemployment rate declines. American ingenuity strikes again!

The BLS’s recent report on U.S. unemployment statistics revealed that officially, the American economy lost 20,000 jobs in January. Considering that most economists predicted a small gain in jobs, this is obviously a worse than expected result. Yet, despite the jobs losses, the BLS is also reporting that the official U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 10%  to “only” 9.7%. How did the creative minds at BLS shrink the unemployment rate even though fewer Americans were working in January in comparison with December? Through cunning statistical manipulation. Apparently, someone decided on high that it was not politically expedient to maintain an official U.S. jobless rate in double digits, so despite the continuing job losses, a way was found to report a reduction in the unemployment rate.

What is even more remarkable about this BLS imbroglio is the reaction of mainstream American media. Virtually every significant news source in the United States is heralding the BLS manufactured “drop” in the rate of unemployment as a signpost on the road to economic recovery, and a first rate achievement, demonstrating true progress towards resolving America’s unemployment catastrophe. It seems that there is a collective will in America to drink the Kool-Aid of wishful thinking. One gets the impression that the Democratic Party has borrowed the old faith-based ideology from the Republicans, maintaining that belief that things are indeed getting better will somehow transform celestial thinking into terrestrial reality.

Hidden amidst the opacity of BLS statistics was the admission that the U.S. government had vastly undercounted the number of job losses in 2009, supposedly by more than 600,000. This stunning admission reveals the unreliability of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to accurately gauge jobs destruction in the United States brought on  by the global financial and economic crisis. What we have in lieu of statistical objectivity is PR spin and metaphysical interpretations.

With contradictory statistics pouring out of the BLS, undermining the efficacy of any official analysis of America’s dim employment reality, I offer a more useful gauge of what is actually transpiring. With 70% of America’s economic output derived from consumption, what is actually happening to the financial capacity of American consumers to actively participate in the American economy?  Taking into account  not only high unemployment, but replacement jobs that are part-time or compensated at lower salaries, it is clear that the collective income of American consumers continues to deteriorate. Anecdotal evidence based on plummeting federal and state tax revenues are a clear marker of this calamitous decline in the purchasing power of American consumers.  Unfortunately, not even the creative statisticians and alchemists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics can spin this dim reality into positive signs that America’s economic renaissance is just around the corner.

New York Times Headline: U.S. Unemployment Rate Reaches 17.5 Percent

November 7th, 2009 Comments off

The U.S. Labor Department came out with the latest official jobless figures, showing that unemployment has now reached double digit territory: 10.2%. However, shortly after  this grim milestone was revealed, The New York Times had a front page headline that proclaimed the actual unemployment rate was 17.5%, meaning one in six American workers was either unemployed or forced to take a lower-paying part-time job due to the unavailability of a suitable fulltime position.

Since 1961, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has excluded discouraged workers from the official unemployment count, disseminated as U3. The more inclusive U6 unemployment figure, published in The New York Times, stands at 17.5%. However, there are other estimates that indicate true unemployment in the United States stands in excess of 20%.

More important than the competing unemployment figures in the change in  total labor income, equivalent to the gross number of hours worked multiplied by the mean average hourly wage. Over the past year, hours worked in the United States has declined by 7%, simultaneously with wages being frozen or reduced. In an economy dependent on the American consumer for more than 70% of GDP, these statistics do not augur well for a sustained economic recovery in the U.S., despite the official boasting of “green shoots” on the horizon.


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