Friday, February 03, 2012

The Incredible, Shrinking Workforce

It's a historical fact: since World War II, no American President has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate above eight percent.

So, how does Barack Obama (and his bureaucratic helpers) plan to push that number down to an "electable" range?

Easy, just shrink the work force.

If you don't believe us, look at today's unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gang over at was the first to warn us; earlier this week, they predicted there would be something fishy about today's figures. And sure enough, they were right--sort of. Zerohedge predicted the BLS would sneak in a much higher total for the number of jobs lost last year. Instead, the feds went one better--they "down-sized" the work force by a staggering number:

A month ago, we joked when we said that for Obama to get the unemployment rate to negative by election time, all he has to do is to crush the labor force participation rate to about 55%. Looks like the good folks at the BLS heard us: it appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by anunprecedented record 1.2 million. No, that's not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month! So as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. Which means that the civilian labor force tumbled to a fresh 30 year low of 63.7% as the BLS is seriously planning on eliminating nearly half of the available labor pool from the unemployment calculation. As for the quality of jobs, as withholding taxes roll over Year over year, it can only mean that the US is replacing high paying FIRE jobs with low paying construction and manufacturing. So much for the improvement.

Of course, the stat grabbing most of the headlines is the monthly unemployment rate, which dropped to 8.3%, the lowest level in more than three years. But it wasn't all champagne and roses; there are signs the recovery is slowing in places in Germany and France (where unemployment surged last month); the Euro debt crisis is far from resolved (ditto for the U.S.) and there are concerns about a potential conflict with Iran. And did we mention that $4 a gallon gasoline is just around the corner--even if there isn't a conflict in the Gulf? Any--or all--of those factors could deflate whatever "recovery" is underway in the U.S.

But give the Obama team credit. When you need to lower the unemployment rate, just crush the labor force participation rate, even if the numbers make no sense. After all, this is an election year.


Vigilis said...

Thank you, Smiley, for putting facts to the rumored manipulations. The comparative rate at which recent college graduates are landing jobs compared to last year would be a powerful metric, as well.

planethou said...

Hopefully, if there's a lot of people out of work, they'll vote that way....regardless how the government fudges the numbers.

Rich said...

BLS should continue this approach for several more months. Let this game be extended to the point where it is an obvious distortion. There will be debates, there will be the GOP convention speeches, there will be PAC ads et. al that can can, and will point to these types of statistical tricks to remove what remains of Obama's credibility among Independents. His overreaching in many areas of government will not be without election result consequences.

Mikey said...

The case about the incredibly shrinking workforce is a good one, but I have not heard a good reason yet as to why. Are more people really dropping out of the workforce, or is it some sort of manipulation by the BLS? And if so, what sort?

This can't be a good enough argument to roll out to the press until those questions are answered. Otherwise, it looks like partisan sour grapes.

JK Smith said...

The incredible shrinking force can be attributed to the fact that those numbers of people not able to find jobs after unemployment funds are exhausted are not considered part of the labor force.
While many of us continue to hunt or infact return to school to retrain for further skills we are not considered part of the labor force.