Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made
— Immanuel Kant
The incompetence of the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not legendary, but it should be. The positive bias these civil servants introduce by means of various adjustments to the jobs data is inexcusable, but is often excused, if not blindly accepted. (This is default case.) One could argue about whether this introduced positive bias is intentional or not, but that doesn't matter much in the end. It is sufficient to demonstrate that the bias exists. This is not easy to do.
Based on the Household Survey Data, the BLS lowered the unemployment rate to 7.7%. This is the much-heralded "headline" number. In so far as "full" employment is often taken to be 5%, you might think we were racing toward the Promised Land. Through the Establishment Survey, the BLS claimed that non-farm payrolls increased 146,000 in November, but they also revised the number of jobs added in the previous two months downward.
But what happens on "jobs headline day" is the only thing that matters, right?
If you want to see just how many more people were not counted in the Labor Force, I suggest you look at TABLE-A16 and do some elementary math (subtraction). But here I will look at TABLE-A15, also known as Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization. I will compare some of those numbers with recent Gallup polling results.
The number at the far left in U3 table row is the "headline" number. As you go down the last row, from the U3 to the U6, the percentage gets larger. The last number, the U6, is often called the "underemployment" rate.
The Gallup polling data shows a sharp uptick in both unemployment (BLS U3) and underemployment (BLS U6) in November, as shown in the next two graphs.
The BLS numbers and the Gallup numbers can not reconciled.
- The adjusted Gallup unemployment rate is 0.6% higher than the official "headline" BLS number. And Gallup used the BLS seasonal adjustment for the same month in the prior year!
- The unadjusted Gallup underemployment rate is 3.3% higher than the unadjusted BLS U6 number.
These numbers are as close to apples-to-apples comparisons as we're ever going to get. These numbers are a direct reflection of the difference between what private private polling reveals and positively biased government bullshit.
It does not matter how that positive bias was achieved through bogus statistical adjustments and BLS subcategories (e.g. by removing people from the Labor Force for one reason or another.) It simply does not matter, especially to the unemployed or to part-time workers who want full-time work.
In last Sunday's post Does It Matter Whether The U.S. Is In Recession?, I pointed out that ECRI's Lakshman Achuthan had noted that of the four coincident indicators which indicate economic contraction, the only "outlier" was employment (i.e. the economy was still adding jobs according to the official numbers.) Otherwise, the data showed that the United States is in recession. And when we looked closely at GDP, which also continues to grow according to the official data, we found that it is "as phony as a 3-dollar bill."
In short, we might reasonably expect that the jobless rate would go up, not down, as the BLS claims.
The government is going to continue to try to force feed you this utter bullshit. They are not going stop, not ever. Don't wait for it, such miracles never occur in a country whose leaders believe that their first priority is making things look better than they are. Those in the government, bureaucrats and politicians alike, have only one vested interest—themselves. They operate by only one rule—baffle The People with bullshit. This situaion is not at all unexpected; it is in the Natural Order of things in human affairs.
The only "good news" is that continually putting lipstick on a pig never works in the long run. Reality always wins out in the end. Thus it is simply a matter of time before all this bullshit simply ceases to have any effect. There will be a time when a sufficiently large segment of The People finally figure out that the government has no credibility and does not represent them.
That time is surely coming, although I can not tell you when it will arrive. Unfortunately, it could be many years before the Awful Truth hits home.