Contrary to Government Claims of 243,000 Jobs Created, Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs Were Actually LOST In January

Government Misrepresents Employment Picture

While everyone is popping the champagne corks over the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 243,000 jobs were created in January, the facts are slightly different.

Lee Alder notes:

The seasonal adjustment fudge that the Gummit adds to the mix grossly overstated what the actual survey data showed. Here’s a picture. The red line is the actual survey numbers. The blue line is the fake seasonally adjusted number.

Remember: Red… actual. Blue… fake.
Just so you know your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, let’s zoom in to just the past 13 months.
There you have it. The headline, fake, number was up by 243,000, purportedly the biggest increase since 2006. But what’s this? The actual survey number showed a decrease of 1.1 million jobs. In the world of seasonally adjusted government data, down can be up.

Karl Denninger writes:

There are times when one questions a report as possibly being wrong or in error, and then there are times when one has to raise a flag and say “This is an intentionally false picture being presented by a government agency.”

I’m in the latter camp with this one, and it is rare for me to brand something as not possibly wrong and in error, but intentionally fraudulent.


Remember that last month the alleged 200,000 jobs that were gained were a phantom; when one looked inside the household data we found instead deterioration in both the employment participation rate and a decline in the absolute number of employed persons, while population rose. That is, the actual counts (as opposed to black-box statements) said that the labor picture deteriorated in December, contrary to the reported numbers.

This month it was worse. Far worse.

Let’s start with the “base picture” that is causing the cheering:

That nice red line looks good, right? Well……

“Not in labor force” numbers leaped upward on an annualized basis (seasonally adjusted the “right way”) and what’s worse on a raw basis 1.572 million people exited the labor force last month.

This is reflected in the percentage of those not in the labor force as a percentage of the working-age population, which hit an all-time high going back to the initiation of the data series I’ve tracked since 1999:

That’s 0.6% of the entire labor force that departed the working population in one month, three times the alleged drop in the unemployment rate. This means that internally, the numbers were even worse than they first appear!

Indeed, the total number of employed persons fell. A lot. To put a number on it, the total number of employed persons fell by 737,000 by actual count.

Now the cheerleaders will state that this is a common thing in January, and indeed it is. But the correct adjustment is to look at the population increase and subtract that back off as well. In other words, we take the loss of employment and add the population growth. When we do this we get a whopping 2.422 million in the wrong direction which was bested only by the -2.618 million in January of 2009 through the process of this downturn!

In fact other than January 2009 there has never been a single month in my table, which dates back to 1999, that put up a worse combined number. This “performance” rates a literal “second from utter despair and disaster”, and the employment rate shows it:

This is not a strong report folks, and in fact documents an actual and ongoing collapse in the US labor force, despite the crooning on the mainstream media disinformation channels!

Zero Hedge points out:

It appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by an unprecedented record 1.2 million. No, that’s not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month! So as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. Which means that the civilian labor force tumbled to a fresh 30 year low of 63.7% as the BLS is seriously planning on eliminating nearly half of the available labor pool from the unemployment calculation. As for the quality of jobs, as withholding taxes roll over Year over year, it can only mean that the US is replacing high paying FIRE jobs with low paying construction and manufacturing. So much for the improvement.

Chart below shows it all – that jump is not a fat finger!

And Labor Force Participation:

This is the largest absolute jump in ‘Persons Not In Labor Force’ on record…and biggest percentage jump in 30 years.

Chart: Bloomberg

Mish writes:

  • In the last year, the civilian population rose by 3,565,000. Yet the labor force only rose by 1,145,000. Those not in the labor force rose by 2,420,000.
  • In January, the Civilian Labor Force rose by 508,000.
  • In January, those “Not in Labor Force” rose by an amazing 1,177,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed.
  • Participation Rate fell .3 to 63.7%, taking out a 1984 low
  • Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be well over 11%.

Some of those labor force numbers are due to annual revisions. However, the point remains: People are dropping out of the labor force at an astounding, almost unbelievable rate, holding the unemployment rate artificially low.***

The official unemployment rate is 8.3%. However, if you start counting all the people that want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

U-6 is much higher at 15.1%. Both numbers would be way higher still, were it not for millions dropping out of the labor force over the past few years.

Grossly Distorted Statistics

Given the complete distortions of reality with respect to not counting people who allegedly dropped out of the work force, it is easy to misrepresent the headline numbers. Digging under the surface, the drop in the unemployment rate is nothing but a statistical mirage.

In January, those “Not in Labor Force” rose by a staggering 1,177,000. Things are much worse than the reported numbers indicate.

And TrimTabs says:

Either there is something massively changed in the income tax collection world, or there is something very, very suspicious about today’s BLS hugely positive number.


Actual jobs, not seasonally adjusted, are down 2.9 million over the past two months. It is only after seasonal adjustments – made at the sole discretion of the Bureau of Labor Statistics economists – that 2.9 million fewer jobs gets translated into 446,000 new seasonally adjusted jobs.

For background on why more jobs haven’t been created, see this this and this.

Zero Hedge also notes that the gap between implied and reported unemployment is soaring, and that there is a marked shift from high-paying to low-wage jobs.

Update: see this rebuttal.

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  • lambert strether

    All these numbers prove is that the election has been rigged for Obama. Press coverage is part of that….

  • Cal

    Please readjust your tinfoil hat.

    • Mike

      Please keep drinking koolaid

  • Wayne Andrews

    Obama will lie with a smile 2 anyone and so will his administration .

  • F

    I like your blog, but this post is silly. Seasonally adjusting unemployment data is a time-honored technique, and for good reason: by removing seasonality from the data, it makes the data comparable on a month-by-month basis. So even if the net number of actual number of jobs in January was negative, this is normal for January, and, in fact, it was less than for a normal January. I.e., yes, it is good news.

    from :

    “What is seasonal adjustment?
    Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that attempts to measure and remove the influences of predictable seasonal patterns to reveal how employment and unemployment change from month to month.

    Over the course of a year, the size of the labor force, the levels of employment and unemployment, and other measures of labor market activity undergo fluctuations due to seasonal events including changes in weather, harvests, major holidays, and school schedules. Because these seasonal events follow a more or less regular pattern each year, their influence on statistical trends can be eliminated by seasonally adjusting the statistics from month to month. These seasonal adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical, underlying trend, and other nonseasonal movements in the series.

    As a general rule, the monthly employment and unemployment numbers reported in the news are seasonally adjusted data. Seasonally adjusted data are useful when comparing several months of data. Annual average estimates are calculated from the not seasonally adjusted data series.”

    • Phil

      Well, I certainly wouldn’t call it ‘good news’. Non-news would be the most accurate. Shadowstats -which pulls figures from a number of sources has the most comprehensive overview and paints a picture to this point above- ‘In January, those “Not in Labor Force” rose by an amazing 1,177,000. If you are not in the labor force, you are not counted as unemployed.’ That includes ‘long term discouraged workers’ and also short term discouraged workers I believe.

      While I would agree that the type of report from the BLS is nothing new – there’s a lot more to the story and it isn’t getting better. This will buy Soetoro a few months at most.