[FoRK] (no subject)

J.Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Mon Mar 15 20:13:14 PST 2004

On Mar 15, 2004, at 6:58 PM, jbone at place.org wrote:
> I doubt, James, on the basis of repeated history, that you have even 
> looked in depth at the data you referred us to.

You haven't read it, and your defense is that you doubt I have read it? 
  Yeah, that's a real winner.

If I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have mentioned it.  And I don't know 
what this "history" is of not looking at data in depth, but whatever.  
For someone who is so wrong so often, you are awfully cocky.

To sum up, on the Department of Labor stuff:

The reason you have no clue what is going on is that the employment 
analysis you apparently subscribe to makes certain assumptions that 
have generally been true, but which are not true right now per the same 
sets of statistics, something they conveniently forget to mention.  As 
was pointed out and is documented in BLS reports, there has been a 
demographic shift underneath the employment and labor markets that has 
been significant enough that it is substantially modulating employment 
statistics to values that would seem unusual on casual inspection i.e. 
without looking at the detailed statistical work.  Most of the media 
"analysis" of why there are these anomalous statistics (e.g. little job 
growth but falling unemployment) has been to propose explanations that 
are false by definition if they knew anything about the statistics they 
were discussing.

All the following points are from household survey data to keep it 
simple, unless I state otherwise:

- just under half-million unemployed who aren't looking for work.

- about 1.7 million are marginally employed (e.g. temps) or 

- people who are looking for work, are finding good jobs.  if the 
people in the above group actually started looking for work now, they 
would probably find it.  This group accounts for about three-quarters 
of the 5.6% unemployment rate.

- the total number of jobs is growing modestly, but the employee pool 
is *shrinking*, and at a good clip.

- The business survey numbers don't match the household survey numbers 
for employment trends.

To point out the obvious, there is a contraction in the pool of 
qualified employees, which is sopping up many of the unemployed people 
that are looking for work.  There are a lot of interesting demographic 
reasons for this, but I'm not going to do all the work for you.  On the 
upside, this should continue for some time.  There are additional 
shifts in business assumptions which are causing the apparent 
divergence between business surveys and household surveys.  The overall 
pattern is pretty complicated, as there is a lot of movement in a 
number dimensions that should make for some interesting analysis if 
anyone cared to try and make projections from it.

If you look at all the numbers in aggregate, there are obvious patterns 
and reasons why the numbers are currently what they are.  Which was 
pointed out in the report, but you can go ahead and continue to get 
your economic and employment projections from SoundBite.org.

I still can't figure out where the "job debacle" is in all this; the 
situation is better than I expected.  The unemployment rate is low, 
people can find jobs, and it doesn't require magic math to get this 

j. andrew rogers

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