Severe Weather Alerts

PRICE OF POLITICS, ETC: Fun with Numbers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A new round of national unemployment numbers came out today. I doubt you can find anyone who will tell you they are good. The workforce gained 115,000 jobs last month. That is lower than the “experts” predicted. The president’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, pounced on the numbers. He said (according to this story in The Hill) “Normally, that would be cause for celebration, but anything near 8 percent or over 4 percent is not cause for celebration,” Romney said. “The reason the rate came down was because around 340,000 dropped out of the workforce … this is a sad time in America, where people who want work can’t find jobs.”

I wondered if anything above 4% is no cause for celebration, then how much celebrating did Romney do in his state when he was governor of Massachusetts? According to this chart, very little. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate never dropped to 4% during his time in office. Although, the rate did fall from 5.6% to 4.6% over his 4 years. The national rate dropped from 5.8% to 4.4% over that same period.

By the way, here’s what the Obama administration had to say about today’s jobs’ numbers:

Statement on the Employment Situation in April

WASHINGTON, DC – Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in April. You can view the statement HERE.

The Employment Situation in April
Posted by Alan B. Krueger on May 4, 2012 at 9:30AM

Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but much more remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the deep recession. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007. President Obama has said that prosperity in America has always come from a strong and growing middle class. He has made clear that getting back to where we were is not enough. We need to do more, which is why the President has laid out his blueprint for an American economy that is built to last and will continue to urge Congress to act to do more to grow the economy and create jobs.

Private employer payrolls increased by 130,000 jobs in April, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 115,000. The unemployment rate dipped from 8.2% in March to 8.1% in April, according to the household survey. Though labor force participation fell over the month according to the household survey, since August the unemployment rate has fallen by 1.0 percentage point, from 9.1% to 8.1%, and nearly three-quarters of that drop is attributable to increased employment.

Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth the economy has added private sector jobs for 26 straight months, for a total of 4.25 million payroll jobs over that period. With upward revisions of 65,000 jobs to the past two months’ employment reports, in the first quarter of 2012 private employment expanded by 697,000 jobs, the largest quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2006. So far this year, 827,000 private sector jobs have been added, on net.

Manufacturing continues to be a bright spot and added 16,000 jobs in April. After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 489,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010. To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing.

Other sectors with net job increases included wholesale and retail trade (+36,700), professional and business services (+62,000), and education and health services (+23,000). Transportation and warehousing lost 16,600 jobs, and construction lost 2,000 jobs. Local governments shed 12,000 jobs, mostly in education.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.