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Economy facts with official sources, rev 7/5/14. Reference for discussions with persuadables

All 9 pages (EF-0 through EF-8) were updated 7/4/14.

NEXT UPDATE OF *ALL* PAGES IS SATURDAY September 6. However, on Saturday August 2, I will do a short summary of the jobs report that comes out on August 1 -- 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


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 short-term changes in some highly volatile component 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 (thousands)

Needless to say, our good friends on the right highlight the drops 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.

(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 (May 2014) 12.1% by the way, down 0.6% in the last 4 months and at its lowest level since October 2008. 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

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

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.

Recent job summaries


6/7/14 - Good (but not great) jobs report this month - 217,000 net new payroll jobs. The last 3 months have averaged 234,000 / month, an improvement from the 150,000 jobs/month average of the preceding 3 months (the latter is only a little above the 130,000/month that is required in order to "tread water" -- to keep both the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate the same). Over the past 12 months, job growth has averaged 197,000 jobs/month.

We've also, at long last finally broken through another barrier in May -- we have recovered the payroll jobs lost during the recession. For the first time, there are more payroll jobs now than there were at the pre-recession peak in January 2008. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001

Unfortunately the working age population has also grown substantially since then. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 7 million more jobs are needed in order to cover the population growth during that time in order to return us to the peak pre-recession job conditions -- as I understand it, to the same unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate as back then, with adjustments made for retiring baby boomers (those who would have likely retired even with job market conditions as good as they were during the peak).

Realize though that the pre-recession peak was the result of a super-bubble created by reckless lending and people collectively using their home equity as an ATM machine to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars per year. So I'm not sure that's a good point to use as a basis of their "missing workers" calculation (see next paragraph).

For more on the Economic Policy Institute's figures and "missing workers" projections, see http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/ and U.S. News & World Report's reporting of it -- http://news.yahoo.com/missing-workers-mean-no-time-celebrate-jobs-data-162600773.html

From the Bureau of Labor Statistic's household survey - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm - The unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 6.3%. This was due to the increase in jobs being partly offset by reentrants to the labor force -- unemployed people who were not actively seeking work in April (thus not being counted as unemployed) but resumed their job search in May (thus being counted as unemployed). In this paragraph, "actively seeking work" means having looked for work sometime in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Also from the household survey - the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) remained unchanged in May at 62.8%, sitting at the same multi-decade low first reached in October 2013. It is down 0.6 percentage points from a year ago. The labor force increased by 192,000 people last month (that increased the LFPR by about 0.03%, but that's not enough to bump up April's 62.8% LFPR to 62.9%).

The number of employed people in the household survey (this is a different survey than the one that produces the much more reliable payroll jobs report discussed a few paragraphs above) grew by 145,000 in May, and by 548,000 over the past 3 months, and 1,895,000 over the past 12 months. (Note that in April, it fell by 73,000 -- just goes to show how volatile and statistically noisy this survey is, and not to make a big hoohah about any one month's number, as many reporters and pundits did).


7/3/14 - Great jobs report this month - 288,000 net new payroll jobs. And April and May were revised up by a combined 29,000. So we've got 327,000 more new jobs than in last month's report. In the last 4 months we've added more than a million jobs -- 1.019 million, an average of 255,000/month.

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

Over the last month:
+81,000 Labor Force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+407,000 Employed
-325,000 Unemployed (jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
-0.0% Labor Force Participation rate (still stuck at 62.8%, a multi-decade low first reached in October)
-0.2% Unemployment rate (from 6.3% to 6.1%). Is Unemployed (as defined above) / Labor Force

Over the last 3 months:
-533,000 Labor Force
+479,000 Employed
-1,012,000 Unemployed
-0.4% Labor Force Participation rate
-0.6% Unemployment rate

Over the last year:
-128,000 Labor Force
+2,146,000 Employed
-2,273,000 Unemployed
-0.7% Labor Force Participation rate
-1.4% Unemployment rate

In June, The U-6 "underemployment rate" fell to 12.1%, the lowest since Oct 2008. (In the U-6 statistic, they count as unemployed a jobless person who has looked for work sometime in the last 12 months. Unlike the headline unemployment rate U-3 statistic where they don't count any jobless people who haven't looked for work in more than 4 weeks)

Some other highlights:

# Number of Americans out of work for at least 27 weeks: 3.1 million, lowest since February 2009.

# The median duration of unemployment fell to 13.1 weeks from 14.6 weeks in May, the lowest in more than five years.

# The number of long-term unemployed has dropped by 1.2 million over the past year to just under 3.1 million. That is half what it was three years ago.

Aberrant statistic of the month - part time jobs

You may have read that most of the new jobs created in June were part time (see Table A-8, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t08.htm
). Or even that full-time jobs were lost, so that all of the job gains were from part-time jobs (see Table A-9, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm )

Note that most of the statistics from the Household Survey -- from which both the Table A-8 and Table A-9 numbers come from -- are highly volatile from month to month. This month it seems the righties are picking on the June part-time jobs monthly change over May as the statistic of the month that demonstates the hollowness of the "Obummer" economy.

I had some issues with a couple of such posts, see:
for my dissection of both the Table A-8 part-time numbers and the Table A-9 part-time numbers.

As I said, there is a lot of volatility (mostly from statistical noise) in these numbers from month to month, and post48 above talks about that the most. This month to month variation dampens out over longer periods of time (one month it zigs, one month it zags, but over time, the zigs and zags average out and one gets a better picture of the real underlying trend).

Over a one year period (easily available from the Tables), it turns out that using the Table A-8 numbers, that new part-time jobs were 9.1% of the total new jobs. And using the Table A-9 numbers, new part-time jobs were 0.5% of total new jobs.

Here's another very similar kerfuffle I had about the part-time numbers about a year ago. Part time jobs supposedly increased more than total jobs, so full time jobs supposedly fell. They also mixed statistics from two separate surveys (the Household Survey and the Establishment Survey) which is always a big no-no. It also notes that over the past year (April 2013 vs. April 2012) (the post was written in May 2013) that part-time jobs increased only 60,000, while the total Employed increased 1,645,000 -- so again, over a year's time frame the percentage of new jobs created that was part-time was miniscule. http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022801053#post78

# Part-time workers for Economic Reasons (Table A-8 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12032194

# Part-time workers for NonEconomic Reasons (Table A-8 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12005977

# Full-time workers (Table A-8 numbers -- No such in Table A-8, sorry. I don't know any full-time worker statistic that is compatible with the two Part-time statistics above. I'd guess that full-time workers = "Employed" minus the sum of the above two part-time worker categories. "Employed" is available in Table A and Table A-1, and here: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12000000 )

# Part-time workers (Table A-9 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12600000

# Full-time workers (Table A-9 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000

And no, the Part-time workers for Economic Reasons (A-8) PLUS Part-time workers for NonEconomic Reasons (A-8) does not equal Part-time workers in Table A-9. (The A-9 numbers each month are roughly about 1 million more than the sum of the corresponding two A-8 numbers). I frankly can't explain the differences.

Here's some more battles over the job numbers in the past couple of days -- destroying common myths that are out there:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189459#post17 - Myth: They don't count the long-term unemployed in the unemployment rate - Not true: as long as a jobless person tells the Household Survey surveyor that (s)he wants a job and as long as (s)he has looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks (in the case of U-3, the headline unemployment rate) or in the last 12 months (in the case of U-6, the sometimes dubbed "underemployment rate") than (s)he is counted as unemployed.

While I was at it, in the same post I destroyed another myth: People who run out of unemployment insurance benefits are not counted as unemployed in the unemployment rate statistics.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189459#post29 - Myth: wages are about the same as 30 years ago, meanwhile the cost of living has gone way up. -- No, not according to the BLS statistics anyway. Average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees have gone up about 2.45-fold during those 30 years, a little bit more than inflation. It's ahead of inflation by about 7% over these long long 30 years (equivalent to a growth rate of inflation-adjusted earnings of just 0.23% / year ( 1.0023 ^ 30 = 1.07 where "^" is exponentiation)).

In fairness, realize that this statistic -- although EXcluding generally high-earning supervisory and management and business owners and self-employed -- and although it does INclude many millions of generally low-earning and modest-earning blue collar and pink collar workers -- it is not a statistic of just low- and moderate- wage workers. It also includes highly paid professionals -- doctors, lawyers, and engineers, for example -- whose salaries are converted to dollars per hour.

Understand that I'm not saying the economy is great. Its been a slow slow recovery from the pit of hell that Bush left us. (In all but the first year or two, the Republicans in Congress have obstructed everything Obama has tried to do to move the economy forward). It is still a weak economy, and the modest 6.1% unemployment rate doesn't adequately reflect the weakness of the labor market - an opinion I share with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

It's just that I'm tired of seeing the same damn myths posted over and over again that people heard or read from some polemicists, and never attempt to check out.

I would just as eagerly destroy myths that the economy is really doing way better than some statistic indicates, but I've never seen that kind of myth. All the myths I know of are some variant of some XYZ statistic understates how bad the economy is.

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

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

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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