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Economy facts with links to official sources, rev 10/4/14

All 9 pages (EF-0 through EF-8) were updated 10/4/14.

NEXT UPDATE OF *ALL* PAGES IS SATURDAY December 6. However, on Saturday November 8, I will do a short summary of the jobs report that comes out on November 7 -- that summary will be at the bottom of this posting (EF-0)


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 Jobs. 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

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

To skip the following lectures and get to the latest month's jobs report -- including changes over the last month, over the last 12 months, and since the beginnings of the job recovery in February 2010 -- please scroll down to near the end of this EF-0 posting, to the "Recent Job Summaries" section.


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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?

(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

(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 jobs 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 (Sept 2014) 11.8% by the way, down 0.4% in the last 4 months and down 1.8% 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 on a national average scale.

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 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 anyway

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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.

END of "Beware the tricks" lecture
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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 jobs 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 jobs increase in January was in the interval 113,000 +/- 90,000 jobs -- that is somewhere between 23,000 jobs and 203,000 jobs. And a 10% chance that it is outside this interval.

And in the Household Survey, there is a 90% chance that the monthly unemployment change is +/- 300,000 of the stated number, and 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 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

11/9/13: Notice extensive revisions to EF-5 National Debt, Budget Deficits and Surpluses. Besides the usual monthly updates, the Fiscal Year 2013 results are in (Fiscal Year 2013 ended September 30, 2013). Anyway, federal spending in FY 2013 was 64 B$ LESS (1.8% LESS) than in FY 2009 (the last Bush budgeted year). Federal spending as a percentage of GDP dropped substantially during those 4 years -- from 24.46% of GDP to 20.49% of GDP (calculations below). Something to keep in mind when some rightie rants and raves about the socialist Obama spending us into the poor house. Oh, and the FY 2013 deficit at 680 B$ is less than half the FY 2009 deficit of 1,413 B$.

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.

Recent job summaries, in chronological order

I've deleted all but the latest as it probably leads to confusion (it confused me more than once). I might stick the old ones, the previous 2 or 3 or so, somewhere in this thread out of the way in its own post so they are still accessible, without getting in the way.

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10/3/14 - Great jobs report this month 248,000 net new payroll jobs in September. And July and August were revised upward by a combined 69,000. So we have 317,000 more jobs than we did in last month's report (248+69=317).

The other good news is that the unemployment rate dropped 0.2% to 5.9%, the lowest since July 2008, 6 years and 2 months ago. And the U-6 unemployment rate -- which counts as unemployed every jobless person who has looked for work sometime in the past YEAR, plus part-timers who want a full-time job -- is 11.8%, the lowest since October 2008, 5 years and 11 months ago.

Also good is that part-time workers declined by 384,000 and full-time workers increased by 671,000. (A favorite meme of the right-wingers is that all or most of the new jobs are part-time - certainly not so this month, and not so in the past year or since the job recovery began). And total Employed increased by 232,000 (all the numbers in this paragraph are from the Household Survey, which is different than the Establishment survey that produces the payroll jobs number).

The bad new is that there are 97,000 fewer people in the labor force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks). And thus the Labor force participation rate notched down 0.1% to 62.7%, a 34 year low, last seen February 1978! (boomer retirements are responsible for about half of the decline we've seen the last few years in that number. A still weak economy and poorly understood demographic shifts account for the other half ).

Some key numbers from the Household Survey (note the Household Survey is different from the Establishment Survey that produces the payroll jobs of the first paragraph). See below, and see Table A-1 for the main Household Survey numbers - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm


Over the last month:
-97,000 Labor Force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+232,000 Employed
-329,000 Unemployed (jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+0.0% Employment-To-Population Ratio (it's at 59.0%)
-0.1% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) (at 62.7%, it is at the lowest level since February 1978, 36 1/2 years ago)
-0.2% Unemployment rate (to 5.9%). Is Unemployed (as defined above) / Labor Force . Lowest since July 2008.
-0.2% U-6 unemployment rate (to 11.8%, lowest since Oct 2008) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709
-174,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-384,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+671,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)

Ouch on the Labor Force and Labor Force Participation Rate. But great that the U-6 unemployment rate -- the BLS's broadest definition of unemployment, is at nearly a 6-year low. U-6 counts as unemployed every jobless person who has looked for work anytime in the last 12 months, even just once; as well as part-time workers who want full-time work

Over the last year:
+389,000 Labor Force
+2,330,000 Employed (yeah!)
-1,941,000 Unemployed
+0.4% Employment-To-Population Ratio (woo hoo!)
-0.4% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) (ughh)
-1.3% Unemployment rate
-1.8% U-6 unemployment rate
-811,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-62,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+2,404,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+1.39% INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers ( CES0500000031 )
......... the weekly earnings percentage is 11 months thru August because no data for Sept yet

The reason there's no data for September yet for the weekly earnings is because the inflation adjustment number for September is not yet available. By the way, this is the one number in the table that comes from the Establishment Survey rather than the Household Survey.

All the "over the last year" numbers are really good numbers except the 0.4% drop in the Labor Force Participation Rate. Interesting though that there was a 0.4% increase in the Employment To Population Ratio. The Population being talked about is the civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over, yes, including 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 -- a figure that has been slowly moving up since the job market bottom?)

Part-Time Workers Who Want Full Time Jobs, as % of All Employed
Sep'13 Jun'14 Aug'14 Sep'14

5.5% 5.2% 5.0% 4.8%



Since the Payroll Job Recovery Began -- Last 55 months thru Sept 30, 2014: 9'14 - 2'10:
(This is the period from when continuous growth of payroll employment began, thru Sept 30, 2014)
+2,142,000 Labor Force
+8,001,000 Employed (yeah!)
-5,859,000 Unemployed
+0.5% Employment-To-Population Ratio (woo hoo!)
-2.2% LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) (ughh)
-3.9% Unemployment rate
-5.2% U-6 unemployment rate
-1,801,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-269,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+8,500,000 Full-Time Workers (Table A-9)
+1.52% INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers ( CES0500000031 )
......... the weekly earnings percentage is thru August 2014 because no data for Sept yet

All good or great numbers, except the Labor Force Participation Rate. But I'm heartened by the more important +0.5% improvement in the Employment-To-Population Ratio -- even though a large number of boomers retired in that period (old people, no longer how old, are included in these statistics).

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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

The Council of Economic Advisors' Take on the Jobs Report http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/10/03/employment-situation-september (find this at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea and look for the last "The Employment Situation in" post)

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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