Is unemployment only 9.5%?

By Felix Salmon
November 10, 2009
report, right? Floyd Norris has taken a second look at it, and found something quite surprising:

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You remember Friday’s gruesome employment report, right? Floyd Norris has taken a second look at it, and found something quite surprising:

Unemployment rates remained steady at 9.5 percent. And the number of jobs actually rose, by 80,000. And the number of jobs for college-educated Americans rose more than in any month in the last six years.

That big hike in unemployment to 10.2%, and all the other terrible, horrible, no good, very bad jobs numbers turn out to have been entirely a function of the BLS’s seasonal adjustments. As Norris writes:

All this may be very reasonable, and there is no way I can think of to test whether the seasonal adjustments are reliable. But I suspect seasonal factors are less important this year, when the economy may be changing directions, than they normally are.

Now even the unadjusted numbers aren’t all sweetness and light, especially when it comes to those with less education. But it does make sense to think that seasonal factors aren’t going to be the same this year as they are in other years.

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