May 5, 2012

"If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent."

"If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.1 percent."
In April, the U.S. economy added a mere 115,000 jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday. In a normal month, that would not even be enough to keep up with new entrants into the labor market. But in this economy, it was enough to drive unemployment from 8.2 percent down to 8.1 percent, the lowest point since January 2009.
Can they keep playing this game all the way to the election? Seems like it's getting too obvious too early. At some point, people are going to notice this lying with statistics and get angry.

48 comments:

chickenlittle said...

The proverbial demographic snake is beginning to turtle.

Petunia said...

Unfortunately a lot of the same people who voted for Obama the first time based on hope, change, naivete, stupidity, and/or gullibility will vote for him the second time based on stupidity, despite his abysmal job record, his sycophantic excuse for foreign policy, and his admission that he thinks capitalism doesn't work.

rhhardin said...

It's not lying, just a bad statistic to measure the economy with under a job-destroying government.

In normal times it works okay.

Dante said...

It's all about perception. How many people are grateful for SDI (the roles are spiking), the extension of unemployment benefits, etc.

For those really badly off, they may grasp at the Obama promise of being taken care of. Others may feel the medicine needs to be taken now, but it requires courage, and frankly faith. Outside of oil, I don't see anything major on the horizon for the US to promote growth.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

So when the last guy who is willing to wander the streets actually finds work and gets hired, the unemployment rate will be ZERO! God bless the glorious Obama!

leslyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

There are many problems with the unemployment statistic, but workforce participation has a lot of problems too. For example, the babyboomers are in the process of retiring en masse. At least this is the same statistic people have been using for years, not something new.

Hagar said...

And that working wives are being laid off and can't find another job?

Richard Dolan said...

"at some point people will notice this lying with statistics ..."

Yes, of course, it's the use of a not-very-informative statistic to sell a completely false claim ("recovery summer", "we're on the right track") that will be at the center of this year's election. Where Ann goes wrong is in her choice of tense -- it's not an issue of "going to notice" in the future. People have long since "noticed" the disconnect between happy-talk and reality on the economy. All of the polling, for at least two years, has shown heavy majorities saying (a) the US is on the "wrong track", (b) Obama is not trusted to turn the economy around, and (c) things are not getting better.

People are not nearly that dumb, even (especially) in fly over country. Team Obama may be able to sell statistical happy talk in deep blue NYC and SF, but probably not in Toledo and Dubuque and Orlando. That will be the story of the '12 election, IMO.

Roger J. said...

The various BLS stats not withstanding, they reflect aggregate numbers--when voters go to the polls in November they will, I assume, vote their specific case. That may not auger well for Mr Obama.

Phil 3:14 said...

And the WaPo manages to turn this into a negative for Romney

FWBuff said...

I believe that the voters are already aware of this disconnect. From their own observations and the experience of friends and family around them, they know how bad unemployment really is. Even here in North Texas where the economy is a little stronger, we all know many people who've dropped out of the job market after years of looking or young people who've gone back for their second masters degree (and more debt) because there are no jobs. These rosy stories of a lowering unemployment percentage aren't fooling anyone.

KLDAVIS said...

The lie is scary enough, but it's the truth beneath the lie that is truly shocking...the Democrats have succeeded in convincing another 5% (13.1 - 8.1) of the country that they are entirely dependent on the beneficence of the state to provide for them. Hayek couldn't have written it clearer himself.

Freder Frederson said...

I guess Romney lying with statistics (92% of the job losses were women) is a-okay. But God forgive if Obama uses statistics to his advantage.

U.S. unemployment numbers do not include people who, for whatever reason, are not actively seeking work. You may not like it, but that is the way it is.

campy said...

So when the last guy who is willing to wander the streets actually finds work and gets hired, the unemployment rate will be ZERO!

Or when he gives up the job search entirely.

pm317 said...

Many homeless people I see around DC are increasingly young men and women (can I say White) and some even with one or two children. Hard to not notice these unusual trends.

Tim said...

"Can they keep playing this game all the way to the election? Seems like it's getting too obvious too early. At some point, people are going to notice this lying with statistics and get angry."

By "people," you mean the same people who somehow convinced themselves despite all evidence the least qualified and least experienced person ever nominated for president by a major political party somehow deserved their vote for president?

Those people?

No.

Too dumb. Lincoln was right: you can fool some of the people all of the time.

The pisser is, now those idiots comprise 53% of the electorate.

Our only hope is those who feel their gullibility was taken advantage of, and react by voting against our affirmative-action-hire in-Chief.

But I'm not banking on those people.

TML said...

The unemployment rate number is wholly derived, right? So it's subject to more manipulation and dodginess. Well, not subject to, but ripe for. It's idiotic and dishonest to say that just because people stopped filling out a government card and applying for benefits, they just don't exist. How many work-able humans does a whole % point represent in the labor force participation rate?

Lyssa said...

I'm definitey in agreement that there are lies and half-truths in the stats here, and that the Obama presidency has been detrimental to the economy and job market.

That said, though, I think that the "percentage of adults" standard has some drawbacks too - our population is a lot older now than it was in 2000 and 2008.

dbp said...

"Can they keep playing this game all the way to the election? "

Not sure. They will certainly try.

rehajm said...

At some point, people are going to notice this lying with statistics and get angry

Once you parse the labor participation rate, jobs added, and know how much demographic subtraction there is from the unemployment rate, you can follow the trend and get a reasonable indication of the employment environment. I don't get too bent out of shape about the demographic 'adjustment' since I know to look for it, but I can certainly appreciate the shock one has once they discover what's going on. That unemployment rate looks all sweet and innocent on it's own, doesn't it?

If you want to read the best book ever on statistical manipulation, perhaps Althouse Amazon link and look for Darrel Huff's How to Lie With Statistics

TML said...

Zero Hedge always has the most delightfully brutal and cold analyses of these things. The chart is sobering. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/people-not-labor-force-soar-522000-labor-force-participation-rate-lowest-1981

edutcher said...

People have been wise for some time. When the first "drop" was trumpeted, Dictator Zero's numbers went up for a couple of days until the stories about the real U3 came out and people noticed there were still a lot of people not getting hired, and Zero's numbers dropped again.

This is similar. A phrase you hear more and more is workforce participation rate and that's the ticking time bomb. WPR is greater than it's been in 30 years.

Zero may not want to count them now, but he won't be able to not count them in November.

Dante said...

It's all about perception. How many people are grateful for SDI (the roles are spiking), the extension of unemployment benefits, etc.

A lot of people are seeing their unemployment cut at 79 or 73 weeks, so even that's a rip off.

Freder Frederson said...

I guess Romney lying with statistics (92% of the job losses were women) is a-okay. But God forgive if Obama uses statistics to his advantage.

"Uses to his advantage"?

It's called LYING and he's been doing it for a couple of years, and, if Zero was any good as POTUS, he wouldn't have to lie because his policies were working.

PS According to Gallup (one of the few things where they break from the Messiah), U3 is 8.6 and U6 is 18.2.

edutcher said...

"count them" meaning what the statisticians call the "discouraged workers", those whose unemployment has run out.

Big Mike said...

At some point, people are going to notice this lying with statistics and get angry.

Nah. To do that they would have had to have been taught arithmetic when they were in elementary school. Have you taken a good, hard, look at the sheer innumeracy of elementary school teachers?

wyo sis said...

If/when voters get interested they won't be persuaded by statistics, but by what they see happening in their own lives.

leslyn said...

What's not to know? I've been seeing this statistical deconstruction in every story about the jobs report.

fleetusa said...

I've read that once you have been unemployed for greater than one year you're dropped off the roles....hence the unemployment rate keeps dropping.

edutcher said...

wyo sis said...

If/when voters get interested they won't be persuaded by statistics, but by what they see happening in their own lives.

And the lives around them. As people notice inflation creeping up, as well as nobody getting hired, they'll be persuaded.

EDH said...

Seems like an easy fix to adjust the participation rate data for an aging population.

edutcher said...

I believe it's taken into account.

Big Mike said...

@EDH, it is.

One of the things that is happening as a consequence of our "jobless recovery" (so-called recovery, anyway) is that people are applying for social security disability in record numbers. The Democrats' dirty little secret is that just about anything qualifies as a disability -- the assertion that you can't speak English, for instance. So don't assume that people getting social security disability are really, y' know, disabled.

Jay said...

Freder Frederson said...
I guess Romney lying with statistics (92% of the job losses were women) is a-okay


Clown:
Romney did not lie.

Facts you do not like are not "lies"

Richard said...

"Can they keep playing this game all the way to the election?"

Yes. Wait until just after Labor Day, you're going to see one hell of a push by the MSM to convince voters that we're on the right track and things are improving significantly.

Calypso Facto said...

Taken to it's extreme, if no one worked, but no one looked for work, we'd have 0% unemployment! Wouldn't that be great? Seems to be the direction we're headed.

CWJ said...

Richard@11:43

You beat me to it. The answer is yes. The details and failings of our government statistics are knowable, but the attention span of the American electorate as a whole is simply too short for the them to sink in. All that will remain is the MSM soundbite.

Clyde said...

"At some point, people are going to notice this lying with statistics and get angry."

If the clueless have already re-elected him at that point, Obama won't really care, will he?

And unfortunately, there are a LOT of clueless people out there.

Bruce Hayden said...

I've read that once you have been unemployed for greater than one year you're dropped off the roles....hence the unemployment rate keeps dropping.

I do know several who have dropped off because their unemployment benefits, including federal extensions, have ended.

Yes, the baby boomers are nearing retirement, but only the very first have qualified for early, partial, SS retirement benefits. Those born in 1950 are now just becoming eligible. And, they (we) were on the leading edge of the baby boom, and if you start SS at 62, then you are stuck with significantly reduced benefits for the rest of your life. I think that the big place to look in SS though is in disability claims, which have increased significantly over the last couple of years. Don't know the age breakdown there though.

ricpic said...

We're in a DEPRESSION. That's all Romney has to say. Over and over again. Will he? Even once? Don't count on it.

jimspice said...

Hey, it's working for Walker. And unemployment is the ONLY stat he can hang his hat on.

crosspatch said...

"But in this economy, it was enough to drive unemployment from 8.2 percent down to 8.1 percent, the lowest point since January 2009."

Yes, because benefits expired for more people than started benefits. BLS "unemployment" basically tracks only those on unemployment benefits. Once your benefits expire, like magic, you are no longer unemployed!

Expect things to get even "better" in May because California recently missed the "trigger" for the final 20 weeks of federal benefits. In the middle of this month, benefits will expire for all Californians on the final 20 weeks of "Fed-Ed". So Obama's numbers will look even "better" with even more people out of work.

One side effect of all of this is that as people's benefits are running out, they are finding doctors who will sign off on a "disability" claim. So they go from unemployment benefits to disability benefits.

This President is a walking disaster (he's the demolition man).

CWJ said...

Regarding that MSM soundbite I mentioned earlier - there is one that I think is gaining traction but not in the way intended.

Its just my impression, but people have caught on to the use of "unexpectedly" in nearly every story that involves bad news.

That itself is a soundbite - one word - that through repetition has sunk into the collective American electorate. But as a joke, not as a qualifier.

edutcher said...

ricpic said...

We're in a DEPRESSION. That's all Romney has to say. Over and over again. Will he? Even once? Don't count on it.

Even better, just quote Paul Krugman.

MadisonMan said...

If....

But they're not.

Mark said...

If Ezra Klein's blog is willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room, then the rest of the MSM must be eyeing the exits too.

Paul said...

It's a fact. We did get 115000 new 'jobs' and we did have more than that enter the job market.

It's also a fact far more have simply dropped out of the labor market early. Some claim 'disability', some ran out of unemployment benefits and ended up flipping burgers, and others simply became homeless.

And no amount of Obama jive will change that. The only question is, will those who voted for Obama cause they hated Bush see the light and decide to give Obama and Biden their own pink slip.

Original Mike said...

@MM: Willfully obtuse.

george said...

If the economy keeps "improving" in the same fashion as it is now the unemployment rate will be zero but no one will have a job.

They are pulling the same crap with the inflation rate. Things like food and energy are not being included. I don't know what the hell they are measuring. Obama is not responsible for how these things are measured but he has been a huge beneficiary of it.

If unemployment and inflation were measured the same way now as they were under Carter I bet the misery index would be similar or worse.