A careful look at the government's unadjusted household unemployment data shows a stunning 740,000 jobs added to the economy in February -- three times the 227,000 reported based on the establishment payroll survey.Gallup Reports Large Jump in Unemployment to 9.1%, Underemployment to 19.1%
If this is economic reality, then the underlying economy must be growing much faster than most Americans currently believe. If the U.S. economy is surging, and jobs increased at the rate of three-quarters of a million last month, why haven't we heard a lot more about it? And, given a rapidly expanding economy, how can Gallup's nearly 30,000 random interviews with Americans across the nation show a significant increase in the unemployment rate?
This morning on CNBC, there was discussion about how the increase in payroll survey jobs is hard to reconcile with economists' growth estimates for the U.S. economy. If the payroll jobs numbers are right, then the economy is growing faster than estimated, or maybe, productivity is plunging. Of course, if there are questions about how we reconcile payroll jobs with other economic data, making economic sense of the household survey surge in jobs is even more difficult.
I talked about this on March 8 in Gallup Reports Large Jump in Unemployment to 9.1%, Underemployment to 19.1%
U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1% in February from 8.6% in January and 8.5% in December.Unemployment Rate Not Seasonally Adjusted
The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010, when the rate rose 0.8 points to 9.6% from 8.8% in November. A year ago, Gallup recorded a February increase of 0.4 percentage points, to 10.3% from 9.9% in January 2011.
Gallup's U.S. underemployment measure, which combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed and the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, increased to 19.1% in February from 18.7% in January. This is an improvement from the 19.9% of February 2011.
Except for the years 2008-2009, and recessions in general, seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate tends to peak in January. Thus it will be interesting to watch Gallup's numbers for the next few months to see if there is a definite change in trend.
As it stands now, I do not believe BLS numbers, and neither so it seems, does Gallup.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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