Go figure

Get a load of this: U.S. employment growth stalled in May

Job growth faltered in May, with employers boosting payrolls by just 75,000. Yet the nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.6 percent, the lowest since the summer of 2001…

The payrolls figure and the unemployment rate come from two different statistical surveys, which can sometimes provide — as in Friday’s case — a somewhat conflicting picture of what is happening in the labor market.

Murdoc wonders if there really is a conflicting picture here. Isn’t it maybe possible that the slower job growth has something to do with the fact that fewer people are looking for work? If unemployment by the survey (which counts people out of work who are looking for work) is down, that means that there are probably fewer people available to hire. It would be interesting to know if employers consider themselves fully-staffed or if they’re complaining of a shortage of good candidates to fill open positions.

This sort of reminds me of all those conflicting “There are more people in prison than ever before! (As a side note, the crime rate is down.)” pictures.

UPDATE: Then there’s this.

Comments

  1. Yes, unemployment is combination of how many jobs are available AND how many people are looking for jobs. This is economics 101. There’s also the fact of what type of jobs they are and the skill sets of the unemployed. I’m surprised an NBC reporter reporting on economics doesn’t understand basic economics. No, wait, I’m not, actually…

  2. Unemployment rate is 4.6%. This conflicts with every journalist’s belief that Bush is evil and destroying the economy. That’s the real conflict 🙂

  3. nemployment rate is 4.6%. This conflicts with every journalist’s belief that Bush is evil and destroying the economy. That’s the real conflict 🙂 I guess 65% of the American people must be evil, since they dissaprove of bushs handling of the economy. Where in the story does it criticize Bush, which would disprove your contention that EVERY journalist thinks that Bush is evil

  4. I’m surprised an NBC reporter reporting on economics doesn’t understand basic economics. No, wait, I’m not, actually… The story gives a good picture and basic understanding of ecomnics. You are really desperate to bash the media, even when it presents a simple news story on the ecomony

  5. Torcik: I explained why I thought the article’s understanding of employment was wrong. Care to explain why my explanation was wrong, or at least to explain why the article was right?

  6. The first paragraph Murdoc quoted doesn’t bother me, it’s the second paragraph where it sounds like they are trying to explain the discrepancy as being due to them coming from different surveys, which makes me question the expertise of the journalist. Yes, that could explain the situation, but so could the fact that it’s not merely the number of jobs available which determines unemployment. If, for some reason, a bunch of people decide to stop looking for work then unemployment will drop, even if there are no new jobs available. Similarly, if people are trying harder to get a job, or applying for jobs they would normally not apply for (such as menial jobs) out of desperation, then unemployment will drop too. If I were writing that article, I would explain that not only do the statistics come from different surveys, but that they aren’t necessarily conflicting, and that there are perfectly sensible explainations for them. I really don’t see you you can defend this, I literally learned this in the first year I studied Economics, and a reporter should not be putting the idea in peoples’ minds that unemployment figures are directly linked to employment figures, because they aren’t.

  7. The problem with the reporting here, as I see it, is that job growth is headlined as ‘stalled’ and reported to have ‘faltered’. Those are quotes, BTW. ‘Stalled’ and ‘faltered’ are not words used to impart a positive feeling or to communicate that things are pretty good. They definitely imply negative-ness, which is backed up by the rest of the article. An F-15 nearing Mach 2.5 (its top speed) is not ‘stalled’. Justin Gatlin didn’t ‘falter’ his way to a tie for the world record in the 100m dash. A very plausible explanation for the ‘stalled’ hiring is that there are fewer good candidates available and employers are having trouble meeting their numbers. One bit of supporting evidence for this theory might be if the unemployment survey showed a dip in the unemployment rate. Whoa! What do you know? The unemployment rate dipped a bit! The articles conclusion? It’s ‘a somewhat conflicting picture of what is happening in the labor market’. NNN.