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Is pornography killing the economy?

(Update: Business Insider's Josh Barro makes a good case that there's no porn effect at work in the numbers. The upshot is that the BLS would count anyone working in the Aug. 12 pay period at any point as employed, so a shutdown late in the period wouldn't be counted as lost jobs.)

The adult film industry appears to have made a disappointing August jobs report look even worse.

The report shows carnage in the movie business. It lost 22,000 jobs on the month, or nearly 6 percent of its total jobs:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

That's a huge drop. It's probably enough to change how analysts see this jobs report, from kinda gloomy to really gloomy. But what's behind it?

The data don't tell us, right away. But news reports would suggest that pornography is a strong possibility.

More specifically, the temporary shutdown of America's adult film industry last month.

In the middle of August, an adult actress, who goes by the name Cameron Bay, tested positive for the HIV virus. That prompted studios to stop filming. A week later, the trade group that called for the shutdown essentially called it off, because all other performers who had worked with Bay tested negative for the virus.

It appears that the shutdown fell in the window when the government was collecting its jobs data for the month. The Labor Department collects employer data in the "pay period including the 12th (of the month),  which may or may not correspond directly to the calendar week." Last month, the period that includes the 12th ran through the 24th. That means the shutdown was happening while the government was pulling its numbers together.

Jim Tankersley covers economic policy for The Post. He's from Oregon, and he misses it.



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