The jobs report in five – nay, six! – charts

September 7, 2012

This morning's jobs report was awful. Unemployment went down from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, but nonfarm payrolls only increased by a dismal 96,000, with another 40,000 jobs lost in revisions of previous months' figures. How does that compare to past months? Let's find out:

Unemployment and Payroll Numbers

Unemployment went down, but that's because people dropped out of the labor force, not because a healthy number of jobs were created. It fits with the pattern of stagnation of the past few months:

Public and private

Public employment continued to fall, by 7,000 employees in the past month alone, after months of shrinkage since the end of the Census (which is the big spike in the public employment data below) and the stimulus, and the dawn of austerity with the Republican takeover at the House and subsequent presidential actions like the federal pay freeze and the debt ceiling deal:



Alternative unemployment measures

As I explained last month, the BLS releases six unemployment measures. There’s U3, the number that shows up in all the news article, which counts people who don’t have jobs, but have looked for one in the past four weeks, but U1, U2, U4, U5 and U6 exist as well.  U1 and U2 are usually lower than U3, and measure the percentage of people who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer and the percentage who have lost jobs or done temporary work in the period in question, respectively.U4, U5 and U6 are usually higher than U3. Each of these categories includes everyone in all the lower categories: all people in U3 are in U4, all people in U4 are in U5, and all people in U5 are in U6. U4 adds people who have stopped looking for work because they’ve concluded none is available. U5 adds people who would like to work but for whatever reason have not looked for work recently. U6 adds the underemployed, or part-time workers who want to be working full-time but cannot for whatever reason.

The six measures are pretty well coordinated, and all six have stayed roughly constant of late, with all rates dipping down with U3 this past month:

Sectors

Different sectors were hit to varying degrees by the downturn, with construction doing the worst of the bunch but health and education barely getting hit at all. This month was especially grisly for manufacturing, which lost 15,000 jobs:


Wages

The rate of wage growth fell dramatically due to the recession, and remains stagnant, with average hourly earnings falling one penny from $23.53 an hour to $23.52 this past month:


UPDATE - Bonus chart: labor force participation

Labor force participation fell from 63.7 percent of the non-imprisoned population over 16 to 63.5 percent. That's not just the lowest level since the recession hit, it's the lowest level since September 1981, and the lowest level for men since the BLS started keeping track in 1948:

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