Gallup: Unemployment, workforce participation worsen in May

Two more data points are out this morning on job creation before tomorrow’s official BLS report for May.  Weekly jobless claims fell slightly to 346,000 last week, a decrease of 11,000 from an adjustment to last week’s figures after the holiday.  That falls within the range we’ve seen in this series for the last several months of stagnant job creation:

In the week ending June 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 346,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 357,000. The 4-week moving average was 352,500, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 348,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending May 25, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 25 was 2,952,000, a decrease of 52,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,004,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,975,750, a decrease of 15,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,991,000.

That hits the expectations of the market, according to Reuters, but otherwise doesn’t mean much change:

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to moderate job growth despite slowing economic activity.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 345,000 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said no states had been estimated and there was nothing unusual in the state-level data. Last week’s data included the Memorial Day holiday and claims typically fall around this time of the year.

Yesterday, Gallup had some promising hints of job growth.  Today’s analysis looks a lot more pessimistic.  According to their surveys that approximate the methodology of the BLS, both unemployment and workforce metrics worsened in May, both significantly:

The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, worsened in May, dropping to 43.9%, from 44.5% in April. P2P is also down from May 2012, when it was 44.4%.

Year-over-year comparisons are helpful in determining the degree to which monthly changes are the result of growth in permanent full-time positions rather than temporary seasonal hiring. The decline in P2P versus 2012 indicates that fewer people worked full-time for an employer this May compared with a year ago. The 43.9% found this May is similar to the 43.7% recorded in 2011 and 44.0% in 2010. …

Gallup’s unadjusted unemployment rate for the U.S. workforce was 7.9% for the month of May, a half-point increase over April, and statistically unchanged from May 2012 (8.0%).

Gallup’s seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for May was 8.2%, up from 7.8% in April. Gallup calculates its seasonally adjusted employment rate by applying the adjustment factor the U.S. government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted May’s rate up by 0.3 percentage points.

Gallup’s sometimes a little ahead of the curve. They survey across the entire month, whereas BLS surveys at mid-month, which means that any late-month trends in Gallup won’t appear in the BLS report.  Still, that would have had to be a big late-month trend, and there doesn’t seem to be any event that would have driven it.

After yesterday’s ADP data and the rest of the mostly-glum indicators this week, I’ll guess that we’ll see 80K jobs added and no change to the jobless rate, but we may see a new low in the workforce participation rate.  How many jobs will the BLS report say we added in May?  Take the poll: