Ed Dolan's Econ Blog

US Job Market Turns in Best Six-Month Run Since Recovery Began

Today’s report from the BLS showed that the US economy added 209,000 payroll jobs in July. With upward revisions for May and June, total job growth for the past six months comes to 1,400,000, making it the best six-month stretch since the recovery began. Private sector employers added jobs in both goods and services. The government sector reported 11,000 new jobs, all at the local level. Federal employment was unchanged while state governments shed 1,000 jobs.

The household survey also showed solid gains. The civilian labor force grew by 239,000, well above the average monthly gain of recent years. Total employment increased by 131,000. (Because of sampling error and methodological differences, the number of new payroll jobs in the survey of employers often differs from the change in employment according to the household survey.) With so many workers entering the job market, the number of unemployed increased by 197,000, sending the unemployment rate up slightly to 6.2 percent. The broad unemployment rate, U-6, which takes discouraged workers and involuntary part-time workers into account, also rose by a tenth of a percentage point.

There were few dramatic changes elsewhere in today’s report. The percentage of workers unemployed for more than 26 weeks edged up by a tenth of a percentage point, but the mean duration of unemployment decreased slightly. The number of people working part-time for economic reasons increased a bit as a share of the labor force, but total part-time workers decreased.

On the whole , today’s data, which represent the first major release for the third quarter of 2014, suggest that the strong GDP growth reported for the second quarter should continue during the late summer and fall.




6 Responses to “US Job Market Turns in Best Six-Month Run Since Recovery Began”

windrivenAugust 2nd, 2014 at 6:31 pm

"The number of people working part-time for economic reasons increased a bit as a share of the labor force, but total part-time workers decreased."

Yeah, huh? That seems like a kind of math I haven't studied. It would seem to require (n-x)/t > n/t or a decrease in total labor force (t). Or am I missing something?

Ed Dolan EdDolanAugust 2nd, 2014 at 7:05 pm

The situation in your quote is mathematically possible. PT workers are part-time for economic reasons (can only find part-time work and part-time because their hours have been cut due to slack business conditions) plus part-time for non-economic reasons (such as child care, school, etc.). PTNER are about 2/3 of the total. The labor force grew, so if PTER grew faster than the labor force and PTNER decreased, you would get the result shown.

However, checking the data again to make sure, I see that I made a mistake. The only group that increased was part-time because of slack business conditons (who comprise about 60% of total PTER). Total PTER decreased, rather than increasing, as I mistakenly said.

It is a little confusing, so a while ago, I wrote a long post explaining these categories in detail. You can check it here:

Thanks for bringing this up so I could note the mistake.

margsviewAugust 5th, 2014 at 5:52 am

I hope maybe you can clear up some confusion centering around an article that posited as to how artificial job number increases could be done by fictitious means. In this article it claimed that saying any company such as Apple which deals in the US could be used as a conduit where their offshore jobs could be counted as jobs created in the US. The misuse of imports as exports numbers would allow for these new job numbers. I got the impression that it didn't matter as to the veracity of business information o how it could be manipulated. Please comment, anyone?

Ed Dolan EdDolanAugust 5th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Well, it is really impossible to comment without a link to the article you are talking about. However, in general, I do not see how a company like Apple or anyone else could fool the BLS into thinking that its foreign workers are really working in the US.

One test for this would be whether the numbers for the BLS employer survey series tracked closely with the numbers for the household series. If employers were falsely reporting offshore jobs as US jobs, the employer survey would diverge over time from the household survey, which obviously does not catch offshore jobs since it doesn't phone or visit households in China or Bangladesh. In practice, the two surveys tend to track fairly closely over time, although, because of sampling error and methodological differences, they can diverge substantially on a month to month basis.

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