There’s much more to this report than meets the eye.
Clearly, the surge in new jobs reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week came as a surprise to President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who predicted 750,000 jobs would be lost because of the $85 billion in spending cuts mandated by the “sequester.”
The gloom and doom served Obama’s purpose of trying to scare the American people and force Republicans in Congress to accept tax increases.
Obama did his part by shutting down White House tours for the people.
Let’s check the numbers behind the headlines. After saying the job market is “accelerating” from new hiring, the Associated Press noted further down in its story:
“Another factor was that 130,000 people without jobs stopped looking for work last month.” And they are not counted as unemployed by your federal government.
Gallup, which has its own set of metrics on employment, reported the day before the BLS release that its U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate slipped to 43.3 percent in February from 43.6 percent in January — “the lowest P2P rate since April 2011’s 43.3 percent.”
The P2P is an estimate of the percentage of the population 18 and older who works for an employer at least 30 hours a week. The poll was based on interviews with more than 26,000 Americans, Feb. 1 to 28.
Gallup said the lower rate for February 2013 from a year earlier “indicates that there has been no growth in full-time jobs with an employer over the past year.”
That is definitely not good news.
Nor is the finding by Gallup that the percentage of workers with part-time jobs, but wanting full-time work, rose from 9.6 percent in January to 10.1 percent in February — “the highest rate measured since January 2012.”
It appears that the acceleration in jobs is in the part-time category.
Even the New York Times editorially punctured the rosy jobs growth balloon. Granted, the jobless rate has slipped from 8.3 percent a year ago to 7.7 percent last month.
“But,” said the Times, “most of the decline reflects a shrinking labor force rather than new hiring.”
Indeed, stronger hiring would steady the jobless rate or actually push it higher as an estimated 4 million Americans not now in the job market would start looking for work again. What’s worse, the percentage of unemployed workers with no jobs for more than six months actually increased in February, rising to 40.2 percent from 38.1 percent in January — which the Times rightly termed “a ruinous situation for millions of families.”
How many full-time employees have been cut to part-time work because employers want to avoid paying insurance costs for full-time workers mandated not by the sequester but by Obamacare?
Welcome to America 2013, the land of part-time jobs.