AUG#: +130,000 jobs.

Unemployment up at 3.7%...AUG jobs under Trump HERE

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekly Unemployment Claims Take a Tumble - But?

Weekly unemployment initial claims decreased significantly, by a whopping 31,000 claims since last week.  But two states, including California, "underreported" so is this decrease meaningful?

(See explanation below.)

Weekly unemployment initial claims decreased by 
31,000 this week to 292,000 after decreasing 1,000 last week.  Weekly claims have been decreasing very, very slowly, but they had not been able to break below a mid 300,000 range of claims, as you can see from the chart above.  This is the lowest number of initial claims since 2006-2007, but two states (including California) were upgrading their computer systems and apparently did not submit complete data. We'll have to wait until next week to see if this decline is at all meaningful.

(California claims that problems in its system upgrades impacted only about 5% of claims, but if these were mostly initial claims vs. continuing claims, the 5% could represent about half of this week's decrease.)

Even though the weekly initial claims numbers are seasonally adjusted, these numbers are always a bit volatile and should only be analyzed in terms of a trend over a period of weeks.  See the graph above.


First time seasonally adjusted unemployment jobless claims declined to 292,000  for the week ending September 7th, a decrease of 31,000 claims.  New weekly claims had stayed in the 325,000 to 365,000 range for twenty-one out of twenty-two weeks from March through July, but they have now dropped below 325,000 for three out of the last five weeks.


The four-week moving average # of claims, which smooths some of the week-to-week volatility, decreased by 7,500 last week after decreasing by 3,000 the week before.  It is now 321,250.  Initial claims are now at about the same level they were six years ago, in 2007. 

Initial Claims Graph:

The chart at the top of the page is one of the BEST charts for understanding and observing changes in the weekly initial claims numbers over time.  This year (red:  2013) and the past three years (blue:  2010green:  2011 and black:  2012) are marked in different colors.  You can see that, as a trend, first time claims for unemployment have declined from one year to the next, even though there are variations within the year.  Though the number of initial unemployment claims has been variable over the past three months, it has continued a downward trajectory.  

Be aware that:
  1. The graph above shows first time claims, so people who have continued to receive benefits or who have lost unemployment benefits are not counted in these numbers.  
  2. They are seasonally adjusted, so most variations caused by weather or holidays are already included in these numbers.  
  3. As these are weekly numbers, they are more volatile than the monthly numbers.
Continuing Claims?

For the week ending August 24th, 
4,272,741 people were receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state, federal extended unemployment compensation, or a few other smaller programs).  This was a decrease of about 123,000 overall claims since the previous week. The decrease was due mostly to a drop of about 85,000 claims in the number of people receiving benefits in the Regular State program (the first 19 to 26 weeks of benefits).  The number of people receiving benefits under the Federal Extended Benefits program (the "Tiers") dropped about 40,000.  Again, these numbers may be skewed due to computer problems in California and one other state. 

The number of regular state claims has been around 
3,000,000 in seasonally adjusted numbers since March.  (At the peak of the Crash, in early 2009, about 6,500,000 regular state claims were filed a week.)

Benefits Now vs. a Year Ago? 

About 1,200,000 FEWER 
people are receiving unemployment benefits now vs. one year ago.  We do not know what has happened to the people who are no longer receiving benefits; we do not know how many of those 1,200,000 people found employment, how many retired, and how many are still looking for work.  We do know that:

  • There are 2,006,000 MORE people reporting themselves as employed than a year ago.
  • There are  2,206,000 MORE non-farm jobs.  
  • We also know that a grand total of 51,864,000 hires have been made by employers between May 2012 and May 2013.  (This number has not yet been updated with numbers for June and July.)  Some people may have been hired more than once during the year, so the number of "hires" is generally higher than the number of people who have been hired.   
  • However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey) for July 2013, we still have about 3.06 active jobseekers for every job opening out there. 
  • The percent of unemployed people receiving benefits has now dropped to 37.28% for the week ending August 24th.

Current Spring Initial Claims Continue to be the Lowest Since  2007.

the current report:
In the week ending September 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 292,000, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week's unrevised figure of 323,000. The 4-week moving average was 321,250, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week's revised average of 328,750.
As usual, to put all of this into perspective, check out the red line on the chart at the top of the page to see where jobless claims are now, in 2013, compared to the past three years.

First time unemployment claims decreased by 31,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's initial claims numbers were not revised.  There are usually slight upwards revisions  (1,000 to 3,000) in the numbers of initial claims in most weeks.  (The chart above shows REVISED claims numbers.)

As a whole, the current numbers of initial claims continue to be the lowest Winter-Spring initial claims numbers since late 2007/early 2008.

Continuing claims also decreasing.

Continuing regular state claims in seasonally adjusted numbers, from people who are continuing to claim unemployment through the initial 19 to 26 week regular unemployment program, decreased by 73,000 for the week ending August 31st after decreasing by 50,000  the week before.  2,871,000 people filed continuing regular state claims in the week ending August 31st.  As a whole, continuing regular claims continue to decline slowly despite some individual weekly increases.  (There were 3,293,000 continuing claims a year ago.)

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance is a very low 37.28% of the officially unemployed for the week ending August 24th.  
The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending August 24th, 4,272,741 people were receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state, extended benefits, federal extended unemployment compensation, or a few other smaller programs).  This compares with 11,462,000 people who are unemployed in unadjusted numbers according to the monthly August unemployment situation report which was released Friday, September 6th.  Those numbers, showing that only 37.3% of the officially unemployed are receiving benefits, should make it clear that people do NOT need to be receiving unemployment insurance to be counted among the unemployed.  (This ratio and these two numbers are NOT seasonally adjusted.)

Extended Benefits (EB) Still Not Available in any State

As of the week ending August 24th, only 271 people were still receiving Extended Benefits, as mentioned above.  A year ago, 2,597 people were receiving Extended Benefits.  As recently as April 2012, 412,411 people were receiving Extended Benefits.

Therefore, over the 16 months, 99.99% of the people who were receiving Extended Benefits are no longer receiving such benefits.  We do not know how many of these 412,000 people receiving Extended Benefits in April 2012 have found jobs, how many have another source of income in the family, and how many have nothing. 

To reiterate, while a decrease in the number of people FILING for initial claims is a good thing and indicates that fewer people are being laid off, a decrease in the TOTAL number of people getting unemployment insurance may only show that fewer people are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Any questions or confusion, please leave a comment or email me!

Friday, September 6, 2013

How Many Jobs Has Obama Created or Lost?

This report has been updated for October 2015  HERE:  How Many Jobs Have Been Created or Lost Under Obama?

How Many Jobs (Net) Created in 2015 to date? HERE

The following numbers reflect job growth as of AUGUST 2013.  For current numbers, please click on any of the links above.

How many NET jobs created or lost under Obama as of August 2013?

How many private sector jobs have been lost or added during Obama's presidency?

How many new jobs in the last 4 years since Obama was inaugurated?

How many Americans were working or employed when Obama took office... compared to now?

Numbers for August with all revisions:

Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 6.8 million MORE jobs in total
  • 7.5 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 6.1 million MORE people working 

Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 2.5 million MORE jobs in total
  • 3.3 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 2.0 million MORE people working

Have any private jobs been lost (net) over the past 42 months?
  • 42 months of consecutive private-sector job growth.

Have any jobs been lost (net) over the past 35 months?

  • 35 months of consecutive overall job growth.
Are more people unemployed now than when Obama took office in January 2009?  
  • Despite 1,254,000 MORE people in the labor force (either working or actively looking for work) now vs. January 2009, there are 763,000 FEWER people unemployed now than in January 2009. 

What's the difference between "net" and "gross" jobs gained and lost?

Let's get something straight:  Jobs are lost every week and every month.  People are fired, people are laid off, businesses or locations are closed and everybody is let go. 

Also people quit every week.  You yourself, dear reader,  may have quit a job at some point in time. 

But people are also HIRED every week and every month.  New businesses open, businesses expand, businesses replace people who have left or been fired.  Every week.  You yourself, dear reader, may have been hired for a job at some point in time.This happens in good times and bad. 

Yes, even in bad times, people are getting hired.  Even in good times, people are let go.  

Now:  The monthly jobs reportupon which this article is based, presents estimates based on surveys as to how many jobs are gained or lost in a given month.  Those numbers are based on the number of new jobs (people getting hired, businesses opening) MINUS the number of jobs that have been cut (people getting fired, people quitting, businesses closing or cutting back).

The monthly jobs report therefore reports NET job growth or loss.  

For 35 months in this country, we have had MORE jobs being added than we have had jobs being cut.  For 42 months in the private sector (not counting federal workers, state or local workers such as teachers, firemen, cops, or people who staff the DMV, only counting people who work for private businesses), we have had MORE jobs added than we have had jobs being cut.

To reiterate:  How many jobs have been created in the last 4 years versus how many jobs have been lost?
All numbers provided on monthly jobs reports, which is what the series on jobs created/lost under Obama is based, are NET jobs numbers.  In other words, they reflect gains after all job losses are subtracted, or they reflect job losses after all gains are added. 
For the past 42 months (as of August 2013), we have had NET gains in private jobs numbers every month.  In other words, in every month since February 2010, more private jobs have been created than have been lost.  In every month since September 2010, more jobs in total have been created than have been lost.

Fact check and important information on these jobs numbers...

The above jobs numbers are from the BLS jobs report of August 2013, which was released in September 2013.  The surveys used to gather these numbers are taken as of the week which includes the 12th day of the month, in this case, August 12, 2013. 

How Many Jobs Were Created or Lost in August 2013?

This report is under construction and will be available Saturday.  Please check back!  Last month's report available HERE. 

All published reports for August 2013 are indexed HERE!

How Many Jobs Have Been Lost or Gained in the Past Year? (August 2012 through August 2013)

This report is under construction and will be available Saturday.  Please check back! 

All published reports for August 2013 are indexed HERE!

What Was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office Compared to Now? (August 2013 update)

Click HERE for all published jobs reports and updates for 2011, 2012, and 2013 to date.

The following numbers are for August 2013.  For current numbers, please click one of the links above.

What was the unemployment rate when Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated? 7.8%

What was the unemployment rate after Obama's first full month in office (February 2009)?  8.3%

What was the unemployment rate at peak?  10.0%
What is today's (August 2013's) unemployment rate?   7.3%
How many people were looking for work when Obama was inaugurated; how many were working?  And how many people are looking for work and how many are employed now?
  • Read below the graph.
  • The following chart shows the unemployment rate in three month intervals plus month-by-month for the latest months:  

Why are there two lines, one for "Seas Adjusted" and one for "Unadjusted"?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses seasonal adjustments to adjust for the volatility in the labor market from one month to the next.  The relatively even red line above shows the unemployment rate based on seasonally adjusted numbers.  The jagged green line shows the unemployment rate based on "real", "raw" numbers; the unadjusted rate.  Notice that the green line goes up in January (after holiday layoffs) and July (school-related layoffs), and it goes down in October and April, which are strong months for workers.  (Employees are all back to school in October, and employers are staffing up for the holidays.  Schools are also full in April and employers are starting to staff up for summer, construction, vacation venues, etc.)  The red line helps us to compare the unemployment rate over a period of months; the green line, however, reflects "reality":  Your friends, neighbors, and family members actually working or not working.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

August 2013 Unemployment Rate Jobs Numbers

August 2013 Jobs Numbers and Unemployment Rate were released Friday, September 6, 2013. Highlights:  

  • At first weaker numbers than expected-- but August is generally not a good month for jobs, even with seasonal adjustments.  More about this in the coming days.  The unemployment rate fell due to fewer people in the labor force and fewer people unemployed.  The percent of people working full-time increased. Altogether, even though August is a stagnant month for jobs, a mediocre report, but not as bad as first glance would indicate.
  • Alternate (U-6) unemployment rate decreased .3% to 13.7%.
  • The percent of people working full-time went up slightly, from 80.46% up to 80.60%.  The percent of people working full-time over the past year increased slightly from 80.54% to 80.60%.  The unemployment rate of people looking for full-time work stayed the same at 7.6%.
  • 169,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs (net).
  • 152,000 new private sector nonfarm jobs.
  • Prior months revisions:  Down 70,000, which is a big decrease.
  • Unemployment rate down .1% to 7.3%.
  • Number of people unemployed down 198,000.
  • Government gained a surprising 17,000 jobs.
  • Civilian labor force declined by 312,000.  In unadjusted numbers, the civilian labor force always decreases in August.  Summer workers start to leave but teachers are not yet back in school.
  • People employed (includes farm workers and the self-employed) decreased by 115,000.  This indicates that the unemployment rate decreased mostly because people left the labor force in August.  Further investigation will be needed to determine if people who were looking for work "gave up" or if people who were working stopped working for various reasons, such as retirement, young people returning to school, etc.  The number of discouraged workers declined in August. 
  • The number of long term unemployed (over 27 weeks) increased by 44,000 and the average duration of unemployment crept up to 37.0 weeks.  Median duration ticked down to 16.4 weeks.  This indicates that, while newly unemployed people are finding work more quickly, the long-term unemployed people continue to struggle. 

Watch this post.  As details and reports are published Friday, the following links will be added or updated and you will see notations for August replace those for July.

Other Recent Posts About Employment and the Labor Market:

Preview and prognostications:

Listed below are the estimates of various pundits and economists about today's jobs numbers.  BLS jobs numbers came in slightly lower than most expected, particularly due to revisions to the two prior months.

(Written early Friday, September 6):  Economists all jump on the bandwagon to predict what the BLS jobs report will show.  Here are some of their predictions.  We will know who got it wrong and who was on the money in a few hours.  Most August economic reports so far have come in above the estimates of the pundits.  We'll have to see if BLS payrolls follow the pattern:

  • The private payroller, ADP, which always announces its jobs report a day or two ahead of the BLS jobs report, believes that 176,000 private sector jobs were added in August 2013.  According to  This is "a little weaker than the 180,000 expected but in line with the average over the last two years. The Labor Department's data have put private sector gains at about 193,000 a month for the last two years."
  • Also from 

    "The consensus estimate is for the unemployment rate to remain at 7.4%, unchanged from July. Non-farm payrolls are expected to rise by 180,000. 

    The report will be viewed by investors around the world in the context of the Federal Reserve, whose Federal Open Market Committee meets Sept. 17-18. The big issue then will be whether the Fed will taper its bond buying program, which has kept interest rates low. 

    Here's how the report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, could affect markets. ...

    A big report -- the unemployment rates falls and payrolls jump more than 250,000 -- could give markets a lift because the economy is growing more strongly than thought. But it would guarantee the Fed would trim back its bond-buying program, and that might curb the enthusiasm.

    A modestly positive report -- the unemployment rate falls to 7.3% and payrolls meet estimates -- might excite traders. The Fed wouldn't feel compelled to taper, and stocks would rise in response.

    A modestly weak report -- the unemployment rate holds at 7.4% or rises and payrolls come in at, say, 160,000 -- could get the market thinking the Fed will delay tapering. That might depress interest rates but lift stocks. Stock prices move up when rates fall.

    And a bad jobs report -- the jobless rates moves higher and payrolls are significantly weaker than expected -- could generate a sell-off, reflecting worries about the economy."
  • From Marketwatch:

    "...a trend in private employment shows steady expansion over the past few months. The three-month moving average for private-sector job gains rose to 188,000 in August from 140,000 in May.

    “We had hoped for a slightly stronger reading but this is good enough, if replicated in the official employment numbers tomorrow, to keep the Fed on course to announce tapering later this month,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a research note....
    August’s private-sector payrolls gain (as reported by ADP)  is “enough to reinforce expectations that the Fed will begin to taper its asset purchases, albeit cautiously, later this month,” wrote Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, in a research note.
    Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which prepares the report with ADP data, said there’s “little evidence” that fiscal austerity and health-care reform are having a significant impact on jobs. “It is steady as she goes in the job market,” Zandi said.
    Analysts polled by Marketwatch had expected an August gain of 185,000 jobs, compared with an originally estimated increase of 200,000 in July. ... Economists expect the government to report Friday that nonfarm payrolls rose 170,000 in August, slightly higher than July’s gain of 162,000."
  • From Business Investor's Daily:

    Employment Situation (Friday): Economists estimate that U.S. companies added 175,000 nonfarm payrolls in August. They also expect the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 7.4%. "We expect nonfarm payrolls to show modest gains in August," said Wells Fargo's John Silvia who expects a 185,000 print. "The reference week of initial jobless claims rose slightly over last month and the employment components of regional purchasing manager surveys were positive."