The jobs numbers for February were certainly good news. In case you missed it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%, businesses created some 227,000 jobs last month.
Given that a Gallup survey released before the BLS numbers were made available showed unemployment at 9.1%, many are wondering why there is such a discrepancy. Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney explains:
Both Gallup and the BLS use randomized surveys to produce estimates of the current state of the labor market. Gallup calls 30,000 people every month over the span of the entire month. BLS conducts 60,000 interviews a month (both face-to-face and over the phone), but conducts them all in one week. More importantly, however, the BLS uses a model to smooth their raw numbers out to account for seasonal swings in the labor market. Gallup does not.
[E]very January the U.S. economy sheds more than million a jobs as retailers let people go after the Christmas shopping season. There is another smaller drop off in the summer as kids leave their summer jobs and return to school.
The BLS does include a seasonally adjusted unemployment number in each report. For February it is 8.7 percent, which is still below Gallup’s 9.1 percent number. Why?
Every month reporters usually mention two numbers from the BLS: the number of jobs created/lost and the unemployment rate. Most people assume that the unemployment rate is a function of the jobs number. It’s not. The BLS creates both numbers from completely different surveys.
It looks like the economy is rebounding, though the recovery is missing many Americans. And while the good economic news is a boon for President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election, rising gas prices are a sticking point for many voters.
The White House has stood in the way of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would not only create thousands of jobs and make oil more readily available for production. But an effort by Senate Republicans yesterday to approve the pipeline was defeated after President Obama lobbied Senate Democrats to kill it:
Thursday’s squeaker of a Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline serves both as a warning to President Barack Obama that a majority of both houses of Congress supports the pipeline and as encouragement to Republicans to keep pushing the issue.
Obama had personally lobbied Senate Democrats with phone calls urging them to oppose an amendment to the highway bill that would fast-track the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. And as it turned out, he needed every bit of their help.In all, 11 Democrats joined 45 Republicans to support the pipeline. Only the fact that 60 votes were needed for passage saved the White House from an embarrassing defeat.
The 11 Democrats who crossed party lines to support the amendment were Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Last month’s jobs numbers were certainly much needed good news, but a new report reminds us that we aren’t out of the woods yet. According to a new survey from Gallup, unemployment is hovering back around 9%:
Unemployment could rise back to 9 percent of the U.S. population in Feburary, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday, painting a grim picture for the Obama administration, which had been temporarily buoyed by promising jobs figures at the end of January.
Gallup’s mid-month reading, which traditionally previews the government report issued at the end of the month, shows a rise of seven-tenths of a percentage from the 8.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of January. That would be the worst unemployment figure since September of last year.
The survey firm said seasonal factors — including job loss by seasonal workers hired over the holidays — could be responsible for the dip.
“Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January,” the firm said in a statement accompanying the release of the data.
Gallup also found that 10 percent of American workers have part-time positions despite wanting full-time work.
This is a reminder to Democrats that they can’t take a month or two of decent economic news as a sign that Barack Obama will win re-election and they’ll re-take the House. Then again, this isn’t surprising given the predictions the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office recently made about the economy in the next couple of years.
While Rick Santorum is railing on and on about what he sees as dangers of contraceptives and concern for the sex lives of Americans, the latest poll from Gallup highlights, you know, actual concerns of small business owners:
Most small businesses that aren’t hiring say they don’t want to bring on new employees at this time because of concerns about the economy, as well as fears about the cost of health care, according to a new poll Wednesday.
Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said revenues/sales wouldn’t justify hiring additional workers, while 66 percent expressed worries about the overall economic situation, Gallup found. Seventy-six percent of small businesses said they simply don’t need any more workers at this time.
Gallup said that 85 percent of the small businesses survyed indicated that they are currently not looking for new workers.
Meanwhile, 48 percent of those not hiring said it was due to concerns about possible rising health care costs, while 46 percent said they were worried about new government regulations.
“The debate over why U.S. small-business owners aren’t hiring more aggressively tends to hinge on whether overall business conditions, including a lack of growth and revenue, are the primary culprit as opposed to the potential cost of healthcare and government regulations. Apparently, both sides of the debate are correct,” Gallup said.
Almost one in four small-business owners who are currently not expanding their workforce, 24 percent, said they are holding back from hiring because they are worried about no longer being in business in 12 months.
We’re beginning to see some backlash against Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry’s (and to a lesser extent, Jon Huntsman) anti-capitalist attacks against Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. The National Review, an influential voice in the conservative movement, lashed out at Romney’s critics:
Gingrich and Perry have between them about eleven minutes’ worth of relevant private-sector experience — Perry being subsidized by the federal government to farm cotton, Gingrich subsidizing himself by farming his political connections — and therefore may not know (or care) what a private-equity firm such as Bain does. (Gingrich might consider asking his friends at leveraged-buyout firm Forstmann Little, where he was on the board.) Bain is involved in, among other things, leveraged buyouts, meaning that the firm and its investors borrow money from banks to acquire companies, usually firms that are in trouble but believed to be salvageable. These firms generally are bought on the theory that they represent fundamentally sound underlying business enterprises that are for one reason or another performing deficiently, usually because of incompetent management. Strong, thriving companies rarely are targets for leveraged-buyout acquisitions — if things are going well, there is no incentive to sell the company. If the firms are publicly traded, they often are taken private, their stocks delisted from the exchanges, and then reorganized. Once the company has been returned to profitability, it is taken public again or sold to a private buyer, in the hopes of turning a profit on the deal.
Via the National Review comes a look at new ads on the air in Iowa from Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, both of whom are hoping to raise their numbers in advance of Tuesday’s caucus.
Newt Gingrich’s latest ad touts his jobs plan, which he says would lower taxes on small business and promote energy independence:
And Ron Paul’s latest ad strike familiar themes of targeting Washington and criticizing Gingrich and Mitt Romney as “serial hypocrites” and “flip floppers.” The ad also promote Paul’s plan to cut spending by $1 trillion and balance the budget:
At a time when the economy is need of jobs, a new emissions rule about to be put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency will likely be a jobs killer:
House investigators suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not act in “good faith” when it assessed the economic impact of a new emissions regulation, and called for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to require EPA to revisit that rule, which they believe could cost 186,000 jobs per year.
“The [House Oversight and Government Relations] Committee is not satisfied that EPA has conducted a good faith analysis of the employment impact of the [Utility Mact] rule” regarding coal emissions, wrote Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the head of the regulations panel Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “EPA’s jobs analysis failed to look at the impact that higher energy prices would have on employment,” they continued, also noting that “a study by the National Economic Research Associates found that average retail electricity prices will increase by an average of 6.5 percent and result in a loss of 186,000 jobs per year due to the cumulative impact of the rules.”
The representatives also questioned the effect of the Utility MACT rule on the electric grid, which might prove less reliable if the rule goes into effect. “EPA’s steadfast refusal to ascertain the impact its regulatory actions will have on grid reliability is troubling,” Issa and Jordan wrote. “[I]t appears that EPA has purposefully ignored grid reliability issues.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for last month, which on the surface looks like a positive; in that the economy added 120,000 jobs and the unemployment rate decreased to 8.6%:
Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday.
The rate fell from the previous month’s 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October.
The actual employment level increased by 278,000. The total amount of those without a job fell to 13.3 million.
The measure some refer to as the “real” unemployment rate, which counts discouraged workers, also took a steep fall to 15.6 percent from 16.2 percent, its lowest level since March 2009.
The growth for November is right around what is needed to keep up with population growth, and numbers for October were revised upward to over 200,000 jobs. So this is very good news, right? That depends on how far into the numbers you go. On the surface a 8.6% unemployment rate is welcome news comparatively speaking.
However, the report notes that some 315,000 umemployed people got out of the job market. As Conn Carroll notes, the “jobless rate counts only people who are actively looking for work.” So when you remove a chunk of people from the number of the unemployed — again, not because they found work, the umeployment rate will only go down. That’s basic math, but it won’t be the lede in many stories.
It certainly seems like Mitt Romney is going to do everything he can to make conservatives and tea partyers completely detest him. While the man has literally distanced himself from nearly every position he has taken in the past on issues close to the hearts of conservative, Romney continues to defend and stand by RomneyCare, which served as the blueprint of ObamaCare:
Don’t expect Mitt Romney to backtrack on his Massachusetts health-care plan at any point this election cycle.
“I am sure there are many people who have calculated, and perhaps correctly, that the healthcare plan I put in place in Massachusetts is not good for me politically, and if I want to encourage my political future, I should say it was a mistake and walk away from it,” Romney told Fox News host Neil Cavuto in an interview set to air later tonight.
“You have seen a lot of candidates look at their biggest vulnerability, call it a mistake, and ask for forgiveness,” Romney continued. “In my case that wouldn’t be honest.”
He affirmed that he believes the health-care program was the “right thing” for Massachusetts then, although he conceded that it hasn’t “worked perfectly.”
“If it hurts me politically, it’s a consequence of the truth,” Romney added. “I am not going to walk away from that. It’s right for states to come up with their own solutions. I doubt other people are going try and follow the one we put together. Maybe learn from our experience. Maybe come up with something better. But the wrong course is to have the federal government impose its will on the entire nation.”