November unemployment rate down to 8.6%, 120K jobs added; More Updates

Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics site is down, I’ll be adding updates when that comes back up and I can confirm a couple more items for myself. However, I will go with what I managed to find before everything crashed.

There’s two things I can deal with right now; the U-3 unemployment rate, and the non-farm jobs added. While the official unemployment rate dropped down to 8.6%, that is much more a function of people departing the workforce than people finding a job. The Atlantic managed to screen-cap the major parts of the household data, the basis of the unemployment figures (H/T – Jason Whitman.) The civilian labor force dropped by 315,000, which caused the participation rate to drop to 64.0%, down from 64.2% in October. James Pethokoukis ran the numbers, and declared that if the participation rate were the same as last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.9%. Worse, if it were the same as when President Obama took office, it would be 11%.

Things are a bit better on the jobs added front. Tom Blumer noted that the seasonally-adjusted jobs created numbers were revised upwards for both September (for the last time) and October (for the first time). September’s job growth jumped from 158,000 to 210,000, while October’s jumped from 80,000 to 100,000.

Do expect updates as the Hot Air team can dig deeper into the BLS data.

Update (Allahpundit): Derek Hunter captures the insanity of the unemployment rate dropping as more people drop out of the labor force in despair: “If we’d just kill all the sick people we’d be the healthiest country in the world!”

I wonder how many would have to quit looking for work to get unemployment back down to five percent. Start calculating, White House spin team.

Update (Allahpundit): Smirnoff-ian perfection from Anthony Fisher: “In United States, unemployment drops you!”

Update (Steve): The BLS site is back up, and the press release, along with the various charts, is here.

The 315,000 seasonal drop in the civilian labor force is almost unprecedented for a November. Since 1982, there have been only 7 times the labor force has dropped between an October and a November, and only 3 times has the drop been even close to this steep. In 2002, 273,000 departed the labor force, in 2008, 332,000 departed the labor force, and in 2009, 227,000 departed the labor force.

Related to that, the number of people not in the labor force, but who want a job now, rose to a seasonally-adjusted 6,595,000, the highest since the first month that statistic was tracked, January 1994. As a percentage of the civilian population, the 2.74% rate is the highest since June 1996.

The final bit of bad news was dug up by Zero Hedge – the average duration of unemployment rose to a new record of 40.9 weeks from the prior 39.4 weeks.

On the other hand, the number of employed persons did go up by 278,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 140,580,000. That drove up the employment-population ratio to 58.5%, the best it has been since May 2010.

Update (Steve): Stvnscott noted down in the comments I forgot to mention the U-6 number. It is 15.6%, down significantly from the 16.2% it was in October.

However, that requires a longer explanation. There are three elements that U-6 tracks that the official U-3 does not – “discouraged” workers (which is not nearly the same as the “want a job but haven’t looked lately” number mentioned above), those who hadn’t searched for work in the last 4 weeks because of reasons other than the job market (both not seasonally adjusted, and together being the number of those marginally attached to the workforce), and those employed part-time because of economic reasons.

The number of “discouraged” workers rose from October’s 967,000 to 1,096,000 in November, though the BLS does note that November 2011’s number is less than November 2010’s 1,282,000. Hence, the U-4 unemployment measure, which adds in said discouraged workers, only dropped by 0.3 percentage points to 9.3%.

The total number of workers marginally attached to the workforce increased by 36,000 to 2,591,000 in November. That brought the U-5 unemployment measure down by 0.3 percentage points to 10.2%.

The number of people working part-time due to economic reasons, especially because of slack work, dropped significantly on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Those working part-time because of slack work dropped from 5,901,000 in October to 5,605,000 in November, the lowest level since November 2008. Those working part-time because that’s the only work they could find dropped from 2,631,000 in October to 2,526,000 in November, which though significant is higher than it was in June 2011.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI, and my Congressman) discussed the unemployment numbers on WIND-AM’s Big John and Amy Show this morning.

EDIT: (Jazz) “both not adjusted for inflation” changed to “both not seasonally adjusted”

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