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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

RealFacts Weekly Economic Trends Report

Updated: Apr 18



Do the Unemployment Rate and Jobs Report Tell the Whole Story?


Two key economic reports that came out this week are the U.S. Unemployment Rate and the Nonfarm Payroll Employment or Jobs Report. These two reports give an indication of the direction the economy has been heading since the former is a lagging economic indicator and the latter is a coincident economic indicator.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Unemployment Rate increased to 3.9 percent. The jump in the unemployment rate after holding at 3.7% for three straight months reflects a further decline in household employment.



At the same time the Unemployment Rate was increasing, Nonfarm Payroll Employment declined from January. The mixed report boosts the odds of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates by June, 2024. See graphs below.



However, for the Jobs Report, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Since December 2022, it’s been difficult to rely on the Jobs Report to give an accurate indication. According to Charles Payne, host, the preparers of the report have been faced with a veracity problem. “We’ve been bombarded with a lot of fibs … and a whole lot of contradictions.”


To illustrate this point, after the Jobs Report initially comes out, there are two subsequent revisions of the numbers over the following two months. In eleven of the past thirteen months the report has been revised downward, reflecting fewer jobs than initially reported. For 2023-24, those revisions have been significant. In January 2024, the number was revised downward by 35% from 353,000 jobs to 229,000 jobs. For all of 2023, the final number of jobs was 360,000 fewer than initially reported for a decline of 11.46%. See Table below.



Source: Making Money with Charles Payne, Fox Business News


It’s important to understand that neither the Jobs Report (Nonfarm Payroll Employment) nor the Unemployment Rate tell the entire picture, so when making investment decisions, temper your enthusiasm when these reports first come out. For instance, the Unemployment Rate is compiled from the Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted by the BLS but it doesn’t provide essential details about how American workers are really faring or how race and gender impact unemployment and underemployment.


The true percentage of people who don’t have jobs or aren’t making enough money is often worse than the official unemployment rate suggests because the CPS doesn’t collect certain information from those surveyed. The CPS counts people who worked for pay or profit during the survey week and all persons who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-owned enterprise or who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs.


When coupled with the Jobs Report, investors can see a trend but it may not be entirely accurate. For example, according to Danielle DiMartino Booth, QI Research CEO and Chief Strategist, “Google spent $2.1 billion in 2023 on severance, if you’re on severance, you’re not actually reflected in the Nonfarm Payroll, that great big number that they love to talk about on the White House lawn, but are not reflected in the unemployment rate that has risen from 3.4% to 3.9%. Even as we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of Americans give up looking for work. That 3.9% number … would certainly be north of 4%, which is not good in an election year, if they were actually accounting for everybody who has given up.


Furthermore, the Jobs Report doesn’t account for some government jobs that have been added to the CIA and NSA but about 20% of all employment jobs are government jobs, which does not boost the economy but becomes a drain on the economy.

Source: Making Money with Charles Payne, Fox Business News


Conclusion

In conclusion, if you’re an investor trying to make rational investment decisions, don’t rely on the Unemployment Rate and Jobs Report to tell the whole story or to predict which direction the economy is going. These reports may indicate a direction, but they don’t tell the whole story. Right now it appears to be worse than the government is reporting.


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