# Tinkering With the Jobs Stats

## Rich Galen

##### 12/7/2009 2:35:30 PM - Rich Galen
We have previously established in MULLINGS that I am mathematically challenged. It's not arithmetic dyslexia; I just can't do the calculations properly. The Lad, sadly, has inherited my non-functional math gene.

Having said that, I am hoping that one of you will be able to explain how the unemployment number went from 10.2 percent in October to 10.0 percent in November, in spite of the economy shedding 11,000 jobs.

It seems to me that the unemployment rate should not go down unless the number of people working goes up.

Oh, wait. This might help. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics web page FAQ: The basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:

People with jobs are employed.

People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.

[In another area, the BLS defined unemployment, thus: "Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work."]

People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.

Sounds like something Emmanuel Goldstein might have said in George Orwell's novel 1984: People who are neither employed nor unemployed are … non-people.

Nope. That's not it. According to the BLS' stats, in October 138,275,000 were employed. In November that number was 138,502,000 which appears to be an increase of about 250,000 people having found employment.

Yet, according to the BLS:

Total nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in November (-11,000). Since the recession began, payroll employment has decreased by 7.2 million.

To recap: 11,000 people lost their jobs. 250,000 more people are employed. Unemployment went down from 10.2 to 10.0.

?

Someone … Is … Fiddling … With … The … Numbers.

New Topic I:

While most of us blissfully contemplated the BSC bowl games on Saturday and watched the NFL on Sunday, our hardworking U.S. Senators were working, working debating provisions of the healthcare legislation.

About which, David Espo, the senior reporter for the Associated Press wrote this:

"Across hours of rhetoric, poll-tested charges and countercharges proliferated. Partial truths vied with inflated claims."

That kind of writing tells you why Espo is among the most respected journalists in Your Nation's Capital.

New Topic II:

I have resisted writing about Tiger Woods because I don't want to hold myself out as a paragon of virtue. But yesterday a fifth woman spoke up and said she'd had an affair with the golfer.

The Mullings Director of Standards & Practices asked me what I thought of that and I said, keeping faith with my gender, "That's only one per year of marriage."

If you need me I'll be in the den for the next few nights. UPDATE: While I was writing this column, MSNBC's gossip columnist Courtney Hazlett filed a story saying:

The number of women connected to Tiger Woods could topple a dozen by week's end, according to several sources familiar with Woods' behavior during his frequent trips to Las Vegas.

That's more than two per year of marriage. I guess I'll be sleeping in the garage.

New Topic III:

That couple that crashed the White House State Dinner last week might be having some second thoughts. According to local reporting, they had to appear at the local courthouse to answer for having stiffed a guy who did some work on their property for about \$2,000. According to the AP

"Tareq Salahi was forced to give up a Patek Phillipe [watch] he was wearing to pay the couple's \$2,000 debt to a landscaper."

Not only that, but according to the Washington Post, when they came out of the courthouse sans watch, old Tareq had a ticket on his car for having an expired inspection sticker.

Not done yet, though. Montgomery County, Maryland where the fantasy couple lives, controls liquor sales. Again, according to the AP,

"The Montgomery County government filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michaele and Tareq Salahi" for "bouncing a nearly \$24,000 check for liquor purchased … for America's Polo Cup World Championship, a charity polo event they held in the county last May."

How long do you think it will be until until Michaele Salahi claims she (a) had an affair with Tiger Woods and (b) she is unemployed?