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Economy facts with links to official sources, rev 1/8/16.

This EF-0 page was updated January 8, 2016. All the other pages were updated January 9, 2016.

NEXT UPDATE OF *ALL* PAGES IS FRIDAY April 1. (Page EF-0 was updated January 8 and is always updated monthly, so the next update of EF-0 will be February 5). Page EF-0 includes a summary of the jobs report that came out on January 8. The summary follows the table of contents below.)

Almost all sections have where to find the official numbers, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Treasury.gov, or widely trusted non-partisan sources.

{#} EF-1. Job Loss and Creation - Payroll Employment. At the bottom all post-WWII presidents with completed terms are compared

{#} EF-2. Unemployment Rate, Labor Force Participation Rate, Unemployment Insurance Claims

{#} EF-3. Recessions and Expansions - Official (NBER.org). Also GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

{#} EF-4. U.S. Stock Market as measured by the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Avg

{#} EF-5. National Debt. Budget Deficits and Surpluses

{#} EF-6. U.S. Dollar Index (DXY). Oil Prices

{#} EF-7. In Progress (mostly Dem presidencies v. Repub presidencies. Also Inequality)

{#} EF-8. In Progress - Some canned excerpts to use in the message board wars

{#} EF-9. Incomes and Inequality and Consumer Prices and Poverty (in progress)

{#) EF-10. Definitions, Links (In Progress)

I use facts from these in mixed message boards and in comments on news articles such as at news.yahoo.com. Be aware that I have included a few statistics that are not so pleasant as far as Obama's record, ones that anyone debating with others should be aware of because occasionally you will see these points or they will come back at you with these statistics (forewarned is forearmed).

Here's another major major economy resource: CabCurious' "Factual talking points on the economy" - lots of very interesting graphs - take a "scroll" through them. http://www.democraticunderground.com/125170175


Here are some summary tables of the key December 2015 jobs reports statistics from the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey released on January 8, 2016.

A narrative "Detailed Discussion" section follows these tables.

In the below tables, all "%" ones are percentage point changes, *not* percent increases or decreases. FOR EXAMPLE, when you see something like this:

+0.1% Unemployment rate

It means that the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points (this EXAMPLE is from May 2015 when the unemployment rate rose from 5.4% to 5.5%). This is an increase of 0.1 percentage points, *not* a 0.1% increase. The corresponding percent increase is (5.5-5.4)/5.4 X 100% = +1.9%, i.e. a 1.9% increase. So in summary, IN THIS EXAMPLE, the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points, and also increased 1.9%.

Before each item, (vv) indicates very bad, (v ) indicates bad, (0 ) indicates neutral, (^ ) indicates good, (^^) indicates very good

(^^) +292,000 Nonfarm Payroll Employment ( CES0000000001 )
== HOUSEHOLD SURVEY (warning: this survey's monthly change figures are very statistically noisy) ==
(^^) +466,000 Labor Force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
(^^) +485,000 Employed
(^ ) -20,000 Unemployed (jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
(^ ) +0.1% Employment-To-Population Ratio aka Employment Rate (it's at 59.5%)
(0 ) +0.1% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) (at 62.6%)
` ` ` I rate as neutral because though it went up (good), it is only 0.2% above a multi-decade low
(0 ) +0.0% Unemployment rate (it's at 5.0%). Is Unemployed (as defined above) / Labor Force .
(v ) +0.0% U-6 unemployment rate (it's at 9.9%) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709
(vv) +249,000 Not in Labor Force, Wants Job LNS15026639
(^ ) -63,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
(0 ) +27,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9).
(^^) +504,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)

^--Monthly change figures in the Household Survey are probably best ignored due to volatility caused by statistical noise. That's true in both "bad" months and in "good" months

See "Detailed Discussion" section below for a narrative discussion of the above statistics over the past month, the past year, and since the jobs recovery began in March 2010

OVER THE LAST YEAR (last 12 months):
+2,650,000 Nonfarm Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey, CES0000000001)
+1.54% INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers ( CES0500000031 )
......... the weekly earnings percentage is 11 months thru November because no CPI data for December yet
==== HOUSEHOLD SURVEY ========
+1,691,000 Labor Force
+2,490,000 Employed
-800,000 Unemployed
+0.3% Employment-To-Population Ratio aka Employment Rate
-0.1% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate)
-0.6% Unemployment rate
-1.3% U-6 unemployment rate (fabulous. it includes anyone that looked for work even once in the past year)
-521,000 Not in Labor Force, Wants Job LNS15026639
-764,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-86,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+2,604,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)

The reason there's no data for December yet for the Weekly Earnings is because the CPI inflation adjustment number for December is not yet available.

All the "over the last year" numbers are really good numbers except the Labor Force Participation Rate shows a 0.1% DEcrease. Interesting though that there was a 0.3% percentage point increase in the Employment To Population Ratio. The Population being talked about is the civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over, yes, including all elderly people, even centenarians.

Seems to me that there is too much discussion in the media of the Labor Force Participation Rate (the employed plus the jobless people who have looked for work in the last 4 weeks, all divided by the population), and not enough attention to what seemingly matters more -- the Employment to Population Ratio. Why aren't we celebrating the increase in the percentage of the population that is employed (the employment to population ratio)-- a figure that has been slowly moving up since the job market bottom, despite the growing wave of baby boomer retirements?

SINCE THE PAYROLL EMPLOYMENT RECOVERY BEGAN -- Last 70 months thru December 31, 2015: 12'15 - 2'10:
(This is the period from when continuous growth of payroll employment began, thru Dec. 31, 2015)
+13,593,000 Nonfarm Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey, CES0000000001)
+4.59% INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers ( CES0500000031 )
......... the weekly earnings percentage is thru Oct. 2015 because no CPI data for Nov. yet
+4,139,000 Labor Force
+11,348,000 Employed
-7,209,000 Unemployed
+1.0% Employment-To-Population Ratio aka Employment Rate (woo hoo!)
-2.3% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) (ughh)
-4.8% Unemployment rate
-7.1% U-6 unemployment rate
-212,000 Not in Labor Force, Wants Job LNS15026639
-2,914,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-268,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+11,825,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)

Part-Time Workers Who Want Full Time Jobs, as % of All Employed
Dec'14 Sep'15 Nov'15 Dec'15

4.6% 4.1% 4.1% 4.0%

A graph of part-time and full-time workers (this is through November 2015)

CLARIFICATION: in the above, these are part-time workers and full-time workers, not part-time jobs and full-time jobs.

This excellent post from early July show two perspectives of the trends in part-time workers and full-time workers (not part-time jobs and full-time jobs). Thanks mahatmakanejeeves

What kind of Wages?

INFLATION-ADJUSTED Average Weekly Earnings Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees, Total Private, 1982-84 Dollars

Here is the nominal, i.e. not-inflation-adjusted version of the above:
Weekly: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000030
Hourly: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008

See "Detailed Discussion" section below for a narrative discussion of the above statistics over the past month, the past year, and since the jobs recovery began in March 2010

The links to the data above
# Nonfarm Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001
# INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031
# Labor Force http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000
# Employed http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12000000
# Unemployed http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13000000
# Employment-To-Population Ratio aka Employment Rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300000
# LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000
# Unemployment rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
# U-6 unemployment rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709
# Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12032194
# Part-Time Workers (Table A-9) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12600000
# Full-Time Workers (Table A-9) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000

FFI on the most recent jobs report, straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age (household survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

Several graphs of the key economic stats -- http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cps_charts.pdf

The whole enchilada -- including all 16 "A" tables (the household survey) and all 9 "B" tables (the establishment survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

Table A-1 and other tables can be found at the all-tables full jobs report at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf, or gotten one-at-a-time from the bottom section of http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm . For example, Table A-9 alone is at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm )

BLS Commissioner's Statement on The Employment Situation http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jec.nr0.htm

The Council of Economic Advisors' Take on the Jobs Report
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/08/employment-situation-december . (find this at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea and look for the last "The Employment Situation in" post). Or Google what's in between the {}'s: {site:whitehouse.gov employment situation in December}

Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner's Corner: http://beta.bls.gov/labs/blogs/ Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/BLS_gov

mahatmakanejeeves thread - very comprehensive OP each month when the jobs report comes out, as well as additional material he posts to the thread in the following hours. Watch the OP for edits too. And the thread for more material

Detailed Discussion

1/8/16 - Excellent jobs report this month 292,000 net new nonfarm payroll employment in December. October and November were revised up by a combined 50,000. So we have 342,000 more payroll employees than we did in last month's report ( 292 + 50 = 342 ).

Over the past 3 months, payroll employment gains have averaged 284,000 per month. Over the past year, payroll employment has increased by 2,650,000 (an average of 221,000/month). And since the jobs recovery began in March 2010, payroll employment increased by 13,593,000.

While the payroll jobs numbers this month are very good (the +292,000 number), the Household Survey numbers ranged from flat to quite good ).

The numbers in the below paragraphs come from the Household Survey, which is different from the Establishment Survey that produces the payroll employment number.

(Monthly change figures in the Household Survey are probably best ignored due to volatility caused by statistical noise. That's true in both "good" months and in "bad" months. However, over longer periods of time like a year or more, the monthly zigs and zags will have somewhat averaged out and a more statistically valid trend will emerge.

In particular, year-over-year (12 months) figures should be much better statistically because the current month is being compared to the same month last year, e.g. December vs. December of a year before, and therefore there should be much less error in the seasonal adjustment process -- as both will be adjusted by the same seasonal adjustment factor, and so will cancel out in the comparison. )

Table A-1 and other tables can be found at the all-tables full jobs report at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf, or gotten one-at-a-time from the bottom section of http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. For example, Table A-9 alone is at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm )

Some Household Survey numbers were good or improved in December

As always, Monthly change figures in the Household Survey are probably best ignored due to volatility caused by statistical noise. However, people insist in discussing these monthly changes, so here goes....

The labor force increased by 466,000 -- consisting of 485,000 more employed and 20,000 fewer unemployed. The labor force is the sum of the employed and the unemployed. (Remember the official definition of unemployed is jobless people who have looked for work over the past 4 weeks; its not all jobless people who want a job). Over the past 12 months the labor force has grown by 1,691,000. (LNS11000000).

The Employed increased 485,000 in December. (LNS12000000) (Remember this is the Household Survey, a separate survey from the Establishment survey that produced the +292,000 payroll employment figure. The Household Survey is much more volatile than the Establishment survey, due to its much smaller sample size). The Employed has increase by 2,490,000 over the last 12 months.

As for the unemployed decreasing by only 20,000 -- no, that's not good of course. But on net what happened is that almost as many people entered the labor force (got employed or began looking for work in the past 4 weeks), 466,000, than got employed, 485,000. The difference in these two figures is the change in the unemployed.

The 485,000 who got employed is a very good number. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta jobs calculator -- https://www.frbatlanta.org/chcs/calculator.aspx -- only 114,000 net new jobs per month on average are needed to keep up with the growth in the working age population who want a job.

Part-time workers who want full time work (aka Part Time For Economic Reasons, Table A-8) decreased by 63,000. Their numbers have fallen by 764,000 over the past 12 months -- from 4.6% of the Employed to 4.0% of the Employed.

Full-time workers increased by a huge 504,000 in December (compared to total employed which increased by 485,000). This is a volatile data series. (It increased by a trivial 3,000 in November).

Over the past 12 months, full-time workers increased by 2,604,000 (217,000/mo average). And since the jobs recovery began, it has increased by 11,825,000.

The labor force participation rate edged up by 0.1% to 62.6% (the positive change is of course good), but that's just 0.2% above September's 62.4% multi-decade low, which was its lowest level since the mid-1970's. ( LNS11300000 ) (The last official explanation I've seen is that half the drop in this rate from 2000 is due to boomer retirements, 1/4 of the drop is due to the still poor economy -- that analysis was written about a year ago -- and 1/4 of the drop is a puzzler).

Here's something recent (August 6), I haven't looked at it yet: "Trends in Labor Force Participation", 8/6/15

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/20150806_labor_force_participation_retirement_research_consortium.pdf )

The employment to population ratio was edged up 0.1% in December. Over the past 12 months it has increased by 0.3%. And since the jobs recovery began, it has increased by 1.0%.

Some numbers were flat in December

The unemployment rate (5.0%) was unchanged. Thanks to the labor force going up by a huge 466,000 while 485,000 more were employed, thus reducing the unemployed by a mere 20,000.

BLS's broadest measure of unemployment -- U-6 -- remain unchanged at 9.9%. It includes in its version of the "labor force" everyone who has looked for a job in the last 12 months (even if just once). And it includes part-timers wanting full-time work. (Unlike the official unemployment rate -- which counts only those who have looked for work in the last 4 weeks as unemployed, and counts all part-time workers as "employed").

However, over the past 12 months, the U-6 unemployment rate has dropped by 1.3%, from 11.2% to 9.9%

Some Household Survey numbers were bad in December

A bad number this month is that the number of people who say they want a job but who are not officially counted as unemployed -- the Not In The Labor Force but Wants Job -- increased by 249,000. These are people who have not looked for work in the past 4 weeks, but say they want a job. (In November, this figure declined by 416,000, and in the past 12 months it has declined by 521,000. This is a very volatile data series)

Some people make an enormous hoo hah about the 94.103 million who are not in the labor force. However, most are retired or in school, not wailing in despair because they don't have a job and have given up trying to find one.

What matters is the people who are Not In The Labor Force but Wants Job, which is 5.886 million, or 6.3% of those not in the labor force.

Add them to the 7.904 million who are officially unemployed, and you arrive at 13.79 million jobless people who say they want a job. That's a big number, but its nowhere near 94 million.

Paul Solman's "U7" unemployment rate -- which counts every jobless person who says they want a job, regardless of how long it has been since they looked for one -- and also counts part-time workers who want a full time job as unemployed -- is around 12.10% per my calculation (which is usually 0.04% to 0.06% higher than his).

It usually takes a day for him to produce this number, which is why I am presenting my calculated number rather than his. It is UP a tiny 0.05% from November. (wrong direction!)

And as always, remember not to take any discussion of month-to-month Household Survey changes too seriously, as they are mostly statistical noise.


Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there, such as right-wingers slamming any gains the economy is making under Obama (that said, I don't deny the economy is wobbling s-l-o-w-l-y forward -- thanks in large part to Republican obstructionism in Congress, and Republican policies in the many states they control). Such tricks of the polemicists include:

(1). Highlighting adverse one-month or other short-term changes in some highly volatile component, and making it seem like it's the story of the whole Obama administration's job record such as, for example, the monthly changes in the civilian labor force, age 16+, seasonally adjusted. Here for example are the monthly changes for 2012 in thousands: (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000?output_view=net_1mth ):

Jan Feb Mar. Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct. Nov Dec
401 498 -15 -246 381 188 -164 -301 349 489 -228 206 (labor force, thousands)

Needless to say, our good friends on the right highlight the drops in the labor force in the months when it drops, and make no mention of the rises when it rises. This is also known as cherry-picking the bad statistic of the month.

As you may know, the righties and the media love to pooh pooh any drop in the unemployment rate when the labor force drops, explaining that the unemployment rate dropped mostly because people gave up looking for work and left the labor force, and so are not counted. But how often have you heard them bring up a rise in the labor force in a month when it rose?

Another example: full-time jobs:

Awk! 252,000 full-time jobs were LOST in April! (April 2015, a month where the media was touting the 223,000 gain in payroll employment)

But note this statistic, coming from the Household Survey, is highly volatile from month to month:

Monthly changes in full-time workers (in thousands): http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000

` ` ` Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014) 410 209 203 396 332 -538 196 310 552 371 -174 427
2015) 777 123 190 -252 (full time workers, thousands)

One could just as well have said 1,265,000 full-time employees were gained over the last 5 months (253,000/month average). Or 2,314,000 were gained in the last 12 months (193,000/month average). And note that nobody wrote OP's about full-time employment gains when the September report came out (+552,000), or December (+427,000) or January (+777,000)

(2). Cleverly mixing seasonally adjusted data with unadjusted data (without making that clear of course) Or using exclusively seasonally unadjusted data if that paints the picture they want to paint

(2a). Implying that a number is not seasonally adjusted -- for example disparaging a November or December payroll employment report of a good 250,000 increase in payroll employment by saying that's a paltry gain since there should be a lot of Christmas shopping season hiring going on. (Uh, no, like almost all BLS statistics reported in the media, the payroll employment numbers are seasonally adjusted)

Another example - saying a big increase of 0.5% in consumer spending in December is not a big deal, and ought to be way higher since December is after all the big Christmas spending month. (Uh, no, again, the numbers are seasonally adjusted)

(2b). Related -- using NOT seasonally adjusted numbers when that better makes their case, and saying that the unadjusted numbers are "the real numbers" untarnished by bureaucratic "adjustments" and "manipulations"

A great example is comparing not-seasonally-adjusted numbers for December and January, and making an enormous hoo-hah about the decline of the job count in January (when of course much of the extra Christmas season help is laid off, but the polemicists don't mention that explanation).

The below compares the monthly changes of the NOT-seasonally adjusted numbers ( http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CEU0000000001 ) to the seasonally adjusted numbers ( http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001 ) for the 19 months from January 2014 through July 2015:

Payroll Jobs, Thousands:
the NOT-seasonally adjusted numbers
` ` ` Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014: -2811 741 957 1163 920 594 -1050 391 687 1081 478 6
2015: -2813 848 779 1139 928 474 -1045

the Seasonally adjusted numbers
` ` ` Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014: 166 188 225 330 236 286 249 213 250 221 423 329
2015: 201 266 119 187 260 231 215

Of course, most people would see through such an obvious stunt like comparing raw job counts in December and January, so a RW polemicist would rarely try this particular stunt. But I've seen it done for July (a fall off after the hiring of June graduates that most people don't think about).

And they certainly do similarly with other data series where seasonal changes are less understood.

(3). Cleverly mixing statistics from the household survey (CPS) and the establishment survey (CES) (without making that clear of course). The CPS survey of households ( http://www.bls.gov/cps/ ) produces the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, the number employed, and innumerable other statistics. The CES ( http://www.bls.gov/ces/ ), a completely separate survey of businesses, produces a number of statistics, most notably the headline payroll employment numbers (widely regarded as a better indicator of job changes than the CPS's Employed number because of the larger sample size among other reasons). Because of statistical noise and volatility, these 2 surveys often come up with seemingly incompatible results. Needless to say, right-wing polemicists mix and match statistics from both surveys to produce nonsense.

(4).Cherry-picking the start and end points of some data series
This is a generalization of item (1.) except that instead of highlighting the latest month of an adverse statistic, they may pick another starting point that is an outlier. For example in October 2013, someone mentioned that the latest U-6 unemployment measure is no better than it was in March 2013, 7 months ealier. True, but March was at a noisy zag low; its clear to see from the graph that there is a downward trend, not a 7-month plateau. U-6: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709

Here are the 2013 values (the 2012 values are all above 14.4% BTW, it was 15.1% in January 2012)

Jan Feb. March Apr. May. June July Aug. Sept Oct.
14.4 14.3 13.8 13.9 13.8 14.2 13.9 13.6 13.6 13.7 (2013, U-6 in percent)
. . . . . . ^-the cherry-picked low starting point the RW'er chose

(The U-6 unemployment rate (sometimes dubbed the underemployment rate) is now (December 2015) 9.9% by the way, down 0.4 percentage points in the last 4 months and down 1.3 percentage points in the last 12 months. It is the broadest measure of unemployment that the BLS produces -- it includes part-time workers wanting full-time positions. It also counts as unemployed any jobless person who wants a job and has looked for work at any time in the past 12 months (whereas the headline U-3 unemployment rate counts those who have looked any time in just the last 4 weeks).

It's like global warming when the righties always pick 1998 -- an anomalously hot year because of a strong El Nino -- as their starting point to argue that there has been very little warming since.

That is why seeing the whole data series is so important, and not just accepting the time period and the statistic that a right-wing polemicist dishes out. However, finding the data series number is often quite a challenge, and something that in my experience involves a large bag of tricks. It is my intent to write more about how to find the data series you need. But for now, if there is one trick to mention, this one is the most helpful: http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=ln

(5). Comparing the current statistics to 2007's statistics, as if 2007 was a normal economy we should get back to - I see this all the time. Yes, today's economic statistics just about across the board suck compared to 2007's. But keep in mind that 2007 was not a normal economy. It was a very sick bubble economy with a very high fever -- people using their houses as ATMs to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Anybody could get a mortgage, virtually no questions asked. The belief that housing prices never go down, at least not on a national average scale (thus the theory that a geographically diversified bundle of mortgages was always a safe bet).

The same for comparisons to 2000 -- that too was a very sick economy -- astronomical price/earnings ratios in the stock market, day trading and momentum investing. The belief that Alan Greenspan had mastered the "Goldilocks" economy (not too cool, not too warm) and that, now that we understood how to use the Fed's powers to control the economy, we will never have a recession again. That tech companies with huge negative earnings and no business plan were great investments. That we were all going to the moon, and we were all going to the stars (speaking of the economy and the stock market).

Well, I'm extremely very sorry to have to tell you -- we don't want to get back to the very sick high-fever bubble economies of 2000 or 2007. So quit the whining about how things now are so much worse than back then -- no they aren't when you consider the sickness and unsustainability of those economies back then.

(6). Talking about inflation-adjusted numbers as if they were not, e.g. "wages have been flat (or dropped) for the last 20 (or whatever) years while we all know that prices just keep going up" -- leaving off the word "real" or "inflation-adjusted" qualifier on wages (which takes into account rising prices).

Nominal wages, i.e. raw wage numbers unadjusted for inflation have definitely been rising for years and decades, whereas real wages (meaning adjusted for inflation) have indeed been roughly flat. For example:

(nominal, i.e not inflation adjusted) Average Hourly Earnings Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees, total private, seasonally adjusted: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008

(real, i.e. inflation adjusted) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000032 -- to get the long view, set the time period's beginning point from the default value a decade ago to 1964 - the earliest one can set it. The pull-down boxes for setting the time period is near the top, where it sets "Change Output Options". Be sure to check the "include graphs" checkbox, and then click the little dark blue "go" button

(7). Using government statistics and trickery (see above techniques) to make some point, and when you call them on the trickery, and give them the correct information, they tell you they don't trust government statistics! In other words, they are fine with government statistics (or studies that are derived from government statistics, which they all are) if they can twist them to fit their viewpoint, otherwise, they don't trust them!

As for postings by DU members, always check the source of the article they posted, for example one perhaps unintentionally posted a bunch of crap from a right-wing polemicist (Peter Morici) http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251259885#post3 (that's post #3 -- interestingly the poster was PPR'd about 4 months later). Note that sometimes the publication might be an OK mainstream source, but you should still check out the author.

SEE ALSO THE "MYTH:" SECTIONS IN THE PAGES BELOW. For example, the EF-2 page has a lot of myths about the job numbers, such as the myth that they don't count the jobless people that have exhausted their jobless insurance benefits in the unemployment numbers. Just search on the following and include the colon:


END of "Beware the tricks" lecture

General notes from previous deleted job summaries - to be reorganized and refiled

I'm working on the wages things brought up in earlier DU posts -- for now, See: Real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) average weekly earnings, all employees (total private), 1982-1984 dollars, Seas Adj: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000012
And of production and non-supervisory workers: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031

Note on statistical noise: As an example: payroll employment increased by 113,000 in January 2014 in the establishment survey. But according to the household survey, employment that month increased by 638,000. Just goes to show how wild the statistical noise is, and not to get excited one way or another with any one month's particular numbers.

On statistical noise, I found this BLS technical note on sampling error -- http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.tn.htm . Based on what it says, there is a 90% probability that the payroll employment increase is within +/- 90,000 of the stated number. And a 10% chance that it is off by more than 90,000.

And in the Household Survey, there is a 90% chance that the monthly unemployment change is +/- 300,000 of the stated number (note this is 3.3 times the payroll employment's sampling error). Also, that there is a 90% chance that the unemployment rate is about +/- 0.2% of the stated number.

The above only covers sampling error. There are also many other sources of error (search the above link for "non-sampling error")

The individual components that go into these numbers have an even larger sampling error. As explained above, right-wingers love to find the aberrant statistic or two of the month and make it out to be the story of the Obama administration, rather than what it really is -- just one month's number in a very statistically volatile data series.

Recent topic updates

4/6/13: There has been a recent decline in the federal workforce. This has brought the total federal workforce to below where it was when Obama took office. So if some rightie is telling you that Obama has been expanding the federal workforce, point them to EF-1 below.

4/6/13: Note much new material has been added on the national debt, such as which percentage is foreign owned, the increase in the national debt / GDP ratio since 2000, the interest on the national debt, and the average maturity of the interest on the marketable portion of the national debt (only 4.5 years in Dec 2011). See EF-5 below.

8/3/13: Added section to EF-5: Deficit Projections - FY 2013 deficit projected to be less than half what Obama inherited

1/11/14 - I've added some discussion of the impact of the boomer retirements on the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in EF-2. Yes, lately, older Americans have a higher LFPR than in the recent past (its been on a general rising trend since 1985), but still their LFPR is much lower than that of the age 16+ population overall. Since the elderly share of the 16+ population is rapidly rising, this exerts downward pressure on the overall 16+ population LFPR. The net effect is that the latter effect (the very-low-LFPR elderly as rising share of the 16+ population) overwhelms the effect of the rising elderly LFPR, with the net result that the overall LFPR goes down.

10/4/14 - The Council of Economic Advisers' study of the decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate.

11/8/14 - Added a new page: EF-9. Incomes and Inequality (in progress)

Romney justifies virtually no job growth at his 3 1/2 year point in Mass.

Probably your crazy uncle is telling you that he's tired of hearing "Oblamer" blame Bush for the poor state of the economy and essentially zero job growth since he took office (since January 31, 2009 thru August 31, 2012, under Obama 261,000 jobs have been lost, although he is in positive territory in private sector jobs).

Your crazy uncle also pooh poohs you when you tell him that in the last 30 months, under Obama 4.6 million private sector jobs and 4.1 million total jobs (actually civilian non-farm payroll jobs), have been created, telling you that you are cherry-picking Obama's best months blah dee blah.

# Payroll Jobs: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001
# Private Sector Payroll Employment: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000001

Well, Romney in his June 24, 2006 press conference (nearly 3 1/2 years into his governorship of Massachusetts), blamed the economy he inherited for his woeful job record over his entire term, and touted the 50,000 jobs created since the turnaround. Exactly the sort of argument that the righties are criticizing us for making regarding Obama.

Transcript and press-conference video (1:50): http://www.youtube{DOT}com/watch?v=ArRj-dQXX3Y
(replace the {DOT} with . in the above URL. I don't know why it is fighting with me)

TRANSCRIPT:"You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And then we turned around and we're coming back and that's progress. And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month. We've turned around and since the turnaround we've added 50,000 jobs. That's progress. And there will be some people who try and say, 'well Governor, net-net, you've only added a few thousand jobs since you've been in.' Yeah but I helped stop, I didn't do it alone, the economy is a big part of that, the private sector's what drives that -- up and down -- But we were in free fall for three years. And the last year that I happened to be here, and then we turned it around, as a state, private sector, government sector, turned it around. And now we're adding jobs. We wanna keep that going, to the extent we can. We're the, you know, we're one part of that equation, but not the whole equation. A lot of it is outside of our control, it's federal, it's international, it's private sector. But I'm very pleased that over the last a 2, 2 and a half, years we've seen pretty consistent job growth. 50,000 new jobs created, some great companies, we just had, last week, Samsonite announced their headquarters moving here. Companies outside Massachusetts moving in to Massachusetts. That kind of commitment, that kind of decision, says something about what they feel about the future of our state."

Well, then I wondered, is 50,000 jobs so great for a state the size of Massachusetts? Using July 2011 data, Massachusett's share of the USA population is 6.587 Million / 311.6 Million = 2.1139%. (It would have been better to dig up population numbers more around the 2003-2006 time frame but I doubt that the percentage would be more than slightly different). So on a per-capita basis, 50,000 jobs in Massachusetts is equivalent to 50,000 / 2.1139% = 2.366 Million nationwide jobs.

I'm assuming since the press conference was held in June 24, 2006, that the 50,000 jobs is through the end of May 2006 since they wouldn't have end-of-June numbers in yet.

Well, Obama in a similar point of his presidency -- the end of May 2012, had presided over the creation of 3.744 Million jobs.

So on a per-capita basis since their respective job turnaround points, Obama's job creation record is 3.744 / 2.366 = 1.58 X better (58% better) than Romney's.

And since Romney is "very pleased" with his job creation record in Massachusetts since the turnaround, he should be 1.58 times "very pleased" with Obama's record.

(Note that since Obama took office January 20 (2009) and Romney took office January 2 (2003), I could have moved Obama forward by a month to the end of June. If so, Obama's job creation record through the end of June 2012 is 3.819 Million jobs, and his per-capita record is 3.819 / 2.366 = 1.61 X better (61% better). But I'll settle for the end of May figures. )
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