The Numbers Behind March Jobs Numbers: Take a Closer Look

Most media outlets today posted “good news” based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) March jobs numbers report. I took a look at the survey that BLS uses to calculate the unemployment rate and found a few interesting facts. The bad news: We’re still down where we were in 2008 and the unemployment rate is still flatlining.

Part time vs. Full time:

1. The total number of people employed increased by 476,000 2. The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (slack work conditions or could only find a part-time job )increased by 225,000 3. The number of people employed part time for noneconomic reasons increased 189,000 4. So, the economy created 476,000 total jobs 87% or 414,000 of which were part-time and 13% or 62,000 of which were full-time.

Labor force participation:

1. Unemployment peaked in October of 2009 at 10%. At that time, the labor participation rate was 65%. 2. If the labor participation rate were 65% today, the unemployment rate would be 9.3% 3. All but 0.7% of the improvement in the labor market has come from a decline in the number of people participating in the labor force

Number of people employed vs. the population:

1. Since March of 2008, the population has increased by 14,263,000 2. Since March of 2008, the number of people employed has decreased by 344,000 3. Since March of 2008, the number of people unemployed has increased by 2,664,000

The U-6 Unemployment Rate:

1. The U-6 rate does not include as employed the 225,000 people working part time for economic reasons but does include people who have looked for a job in the past 12 months as opposed to the past 30 days. 2. The U-6 rate, the broadest measure of labor market health, increased from 12.6% to 12.7%.

The number of people not in the labor force who want a job now increased by 86,000 to 6,146,000.

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