Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bad Math, And The Truth About Job Growth In America

"The man who knows the truth and has the opportunity to tell it, but who nonetheless refuses to, is among the most shameful of all creatures. God forbid that we should ever become so lax as that."
--- Theodore Roosevelt

There are several running jokes in the financial world these days:  Bank of America, Tim Geithner, the Consumer Price Index, the price of Gold:

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold Retreats 1% As EU Debt Worries Weigh
Wall Street Journal

Why in the world would the price of Gold "retreat" on Eurozone debt worries?  Because the headlines say it did, and the Gold Cartel wants it to...simple as that.  Gold is most likely down on any given day because the US Dollar is [falsely] up, no matter what a headline is trying to convince you of.

But there is one running joke in the financial world that is not only funnier than all the rest, it is substantially sicker than any of them.  That joke is the monthly Non-farm Payrolls Report.  If there is a bigger lie being perpetuated by the US Government, it escapes me.  Every month, month after month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) attempts to convince Americans that the floundering US economy is creating jobs.  The shills of the financial news media fall for these lies hook, line, and sinker with their talking head analysis and screaming headlines touting "jobs growth".  Never mind their own constant reminder that we are not in a depression, but a "jobless recovery".  Can any of these financial court jesters do simple math?

"Ranting Andy" Hoffman chimes in from his new post at Miles Franklin:

...on Friday we saw a huge miss versus "whisper numbers" of the monthly NFP jobs report, despite the popular propaganda that it was "in-line" with expectations.  For perhaps the fifth time this year, the comical "ADP employment report" came out Wednesday way above "expectations," prompting giddy media shills to proclaim the end of the recession.  However, as usual the ADP report had absolutely zero predictive value of Friday's NFP report, which was roughly in line with the cruddy expectation of 120,000 job additions during the month in which hiring of temporary holiday shopping workers is greatest. 

In other words, please remember the #1 rule of economic data propaganda.  If the ADP report is "stronger than expected," shout how bullish it is from the rooftops, but if it is "weaker than expected," completely ignore it.  Moreover, no matter how many times the NFP report fails to correlate with the ADP report, continue to hype it up so it can be positively spun when needed.

The job report itself was another dud, highlighting not only how weak the U.S. economy is, but how desperate the government is to 'make a silk purse from a sow's ear.'  Yet again, with barely any statistically significant change in overall jobs creation, the government reported a HUGE drop in the "unemployment rate," this time from 9.0% to 8.6%.  Yes, despite the 120,00 jobs reported being EXACTLY in line with expectations, the reported 8.6% unemployment rate was a huge 0.4% BELOW the expected 9.0%!

Publishing such rubbish is a mockery to the American public, which has seen REAL U-6 unemployment rise to near 1930s Depression levels.  The reason for the lower unemployment rate is the same as always - more and more people dropping out of the labor force due to expiration of unemployment benefits, and thus a lower amount of "unemployed" as the evil, twisted Bureau of Labor Statistics defines it.  In fact, labor force participation collapsed last month to 64%, the lowest level in 28 years, while the average unemployment duration period shot up 4% last month alone!

 - ZeroHedge

By Arthur Delaney
Despite a stark drop in the national unemployment rate reported Friday, economists warned it will take decades for the labor market to return to pre-recession employment levels if the economy's achingly slow growth continues.

The U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs in November -- falling short of economists' expectations -- while the unemployment rate dipped from 9.0 to 8.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning. But roughly half of the decline in the unemployment rate came from the 315,000 Americans who dropped out of the labor market last month, in part a reflection of the slow pace of the recovery, economists said.

Guest Post: The Real Employment Situation Report
From ZeroHedge
This mornings release of the Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was in truth bitter sweet.   On the positive side there were 120,000 jobs created in the previous month and the unemployment rate fell from 9.0% to 8.6%.   Furthermore, September and October jobs were also revised higher.  That is the sweet part.  Unfortunately, while the headlines give us the sweetness the underlying data provides the bitter. As we discussed earlier this week with the ADP Employment report, which showed a 206,000 job increase, this is the seasonally strong time of year for employment increases due to the retail shopping season.  Therefore, it is no surprise that we saw a fairly healthy jump in employment but unfortunately these jobs tend to be very temporary in nature.  Secondly, 120,000 new jobs is well below the necessary job creation level to return the country to full, healthy, emplyment.   I say "healthy employment" because technically if enough people fall off the rolls into the category of "discouraged worker", where they are no longer counted, we could have a much lower unemployment rate - it just won't be a good thing.

Jeff Nielson, of Bullion Bulls Canada has done a magnificent job of exposing the LIE that is the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report in his essay below.  The desperation of the current White House administration to CON-vince the American public that they are "on the job" is painfully obvious.  Would somebody please show the clown that came up with the term "jobless recovery", to mask the truth of our Depression, the door to the unemployment office...

U.S. Jobs-Lies Exposed
By Jeff Nielson
Regular readers know that when I’m seeking insights into the serial U.S. economic propaganda that I often refer to the mind of the “compulsive liar”. After all, by definition all propagandists are compulsive liars. In the case of U.S. government statisticians, the “compulsion” is wanting to retain their employment.

Undoubtedly we have all met one or more compulsive liars in our own personal lives. Not only is it a common human vice, but by its very nature it is one which is always revealed  by those who possess it. The “evolution” of all compulsive liars is identical and inevitable.
It begins somewhat innocently. An individual is in some sort of personal bind and thus resorts to a lie to extricate himself/herself from that dilemma. The liar is surprised/impressed with how well the lie worked in that situation, and so begins to use this “tool” more and more frequently.
The irony of lying, however, is that the less we do it, the more effective it is; and conversely the more we do it the less effective it becomes. The dynamics are obvious. Someone who rarely/never lies enjoys high credibility as a consequence of their penchant for honesty. Thus when such people lie the lie achieves maximum success – i.e. it deceives people to the greatest degree.

On the other hand, once someone becomes a liar it is an activity which must be less and less effective. To quote the old cliché, “…you cannot fool all of the people, all of the time.” As a result, with each new lie a larger and larger percentage of the population sees through the deceit – until eventually the liar has discredited himself with the majority, and is shunned and ignored.
This evolution is such a familiar pattern within our species that it has been immortalized by one of our most famous parables: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Not only does that allegory precisely mirror the behavior pattern just described, but it also reveals to us why the compulsive liar is doomed to failure. His (her) lies inevitably become less and less plausible in absolute terms.
In the parable, the boy’s lies lose credibility as a matter of probabilities. If a boy sees a wolf once but it disappears before anyone else can see it that is quite plausible. However, if that boy (or even different people) repeatedly “cry wolf” but no one except the original spotter ever sees the “wolf” then the lie becomes less and less plausible.

In the real world, which is a much more complex place than the pastoral setting of the parable, compulsive liars tend to self-destruct in a different manner: through the body of lies becoming increasingly self-contradictory – rather than merely less plausible.

Here there is no better real-life example than the U.S. labour market, and the increasingly absurd serial lies of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The supposed (net) “jobs gains” which the BLS has been reporting for over two years now are all obvious fabrications. I have explained how/why these reports are fabrications in various ways in previous commentaries, however perhaps the most straightforward way to do so is simply to look at the weekly lay-off numbers.
Historically (i.e. back in the years when the U.S. economy was strong and healthy), it has never been able to consistently generate net employment gains when weekly layoffs were at an approximate level of 400,000 (as they are today) – high by historical standards. Today, however, the U.S. economy is the opposite of “strong and healthy”.

Interest payments on the staggering levels of personal, corporate, and government debt are a gigantic millstone around the neck of the U.S. economy. The pathetic weakness of this economy which has resulted from being bled-dry with interest payments is unmistakable. Even with the Federal Reserve permanently freezing interest rates at 0% (just like Japan did twenty years ago), it has been totally unable to breathe any life into this corpse.
Yet here we have the statistical charlatans at the BLS claiming that despite the high level of layoffs, and despite the crippling levels of debt that the U.S. economy is still generating net employment gains every month. Understand the arithmetic here. In order for the U.S. to produce net jobs-gains today (while weekly layoffs are consistently averaging over 400,000/week), it would have to be producing more new jobs on a gross basis than at any other time in history.

Adding in the numbers, roughly 1.75 million Americans have been getting “pink slips” every month via these weekly layoffs,  consistently, throughout this entire pseudo-recovery. Obviously to produce positive jobs growth (month after month) the U.S. economy needs to generate more than 1.75 million new jobs that month (and every other month) – something it has never been able to do with layoffs at such high levels.

However, with the U.S. economy weaker than at any time in its entire 200+ year history, we have the liars at the BLS telling us month after month that the U.S. economy is producing more new jobs (on a gross basis) than at any other comparable period in its history. It is not remotely plausible, and on that basis alone the BLS has thoroughly discredited itself.
Now refer back to what I said earlier. Compulsive liars self-destruct because their lies start to openly contradict each other. Here we see how the serial lying of the BLS has now caught up with it.

Back in the real world, while ordinary Americans read about this mythical jobs growth month after month, they have seen that the U.S. economy continues to disintegrate. Foreclosures and the inventory of foreclosed homes remain at an all-time high. Mall vacancies have continued to rise throughout the entire “recovery”. Even local governments are going bankrupt.
Precisely how can a “consumer economy” be experiencing 2+ years of steady jobs-growth when every month more and more of its retail outlets are shutting down? Note that this comes at the same time that the U.S. government has gone from being the largest source of net jobs-growth in the U.S. economy to becoming a job-slasher itself.
Right behind the U.S. government in previously creating jobs is the U.S. construction sector – mired in its own permanent depression. So here we have the three biggest engines of job-creation in the U.S. economy: government, retail, and construction all being irreparably crippled – while each month the BLS launches into a new chorus of “jobs, jobs, jobs” Again, the contradictions here are so stark that on this basis as well the BLS has totally shredded its credibility.

Obviously the American public is becoming steadily more skeptical of this serial-lying. Proof of this can be found in the collapse over the past six months in U.S. “consumer confidence” numbers – which are now back to the same level as at the supposed “end of the recession”. When consumer confidence collapses while the sheep are being told month after month that a “U.S. economic recovery” is underway and there are supposedly steady gains in employment, we now see “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” manifested in real life.

What is the response of the BLS to this clear demonstration of suspicion/mistrust toward its numbers? As with all compulsive liars, the response has been to tell even bigger lies. And so (at last) we get to today’s most recent jobs-lies: the supposed gain of another 120,000 jobs combined with a huge plunge in the unemployment rate from 9.0% to 8.6% - one of the largest one-month declines in U.S. history.

Again we see lies contradicting lies. Those readers with a reasonably sophisticated understanding of the U.S. economy know that it needs to generate roughly 150,000 new jobs each month, just to keep up with population growth. This means that it is mathematically impossible for the 120,000 created this month to have reduced the U.S. unemployment rate, at all – let alone generating one of the largest one-month declines in history.

So how did the rate drop? There is only one mathematical possibility: large numbers of people (more than a half million) gave up looking for work, thus reducing the total percentage of those unemployed. Put another way, according to the BLS’ own numbers, the U.S. economy just experienced one of the largest one-month plunges in U.S. history in terms of people deserting the employment market.

Does it make sense that more than half a million Americans would suddenly give up looking for work in one month with the “U.S. economic recovery” now supposedly having continued for nearly three years? Does it make sense that a half million Americans would suddenly give up looking for work with supposedly more than 2 years of steady jobs-growth in the U.S., and 120,000 “new jobs” this month alone? Does it make sense that in a consumer economy that more than a half million Americans would suddenly give up looking for work – when the temporary hiring for the holiday season has supposedly just begun?

Does it make sense that more than a half million Americans would suddenly drop out of the work force when the number of Americans in the work force has already been plummeting for the last 10 years?

Does it make sense that a half million Americans would suddenly give up looking for work when wages for the average American have been steadily falling for the last 40 years?

With a lower and lower total number of Americans working, with those who do have jobs making less and less money, and with crippling debt levels requiring Americans to spend more every month just in paying interest on their debts, obviously the need for more jobs has not been this great since at least the Great Depression – and likely not even then.

Only one thing could cause a huge number of Americans to suddenly desert the labour market at this time: a sense of complete and utter hopelessness. Here we have the one contradiction of the BLS’ lies which it cannot overcome: the unmistakable rise in despair among ordinary Americans could not and would not occur in a “growing” economy which has been creating (net) “new jobs” for more than two years.

The two “pictures” portrayed here are totally irreconcilable. On the one hand, we have the behavior of Americans clearly demonstrating an economy mired in a depression. This behavioral picture is reinforced by a plethora of economic statistics showing an economy in a state of near-collapse.

On the other hand we have the statistical stalwarts at the BLS. They insist that the U.S. economy has been producing net jobs-growth for roughly 2 ½ years. Yet the moment we take a “hard look” at the BLS’ numbers we see them drowned within a sea of statistical contradictions – rendering their claims utterly absurd.

Once upon a time (back when Americans at least had access to credit if not savings), U.S. propagandists could simply tell the sheep that “an economic recovery” had begun, and then (like the well-trained Pavlov’s Dogs they had become) they would begin spending money they didn’t have – and an anemic, debt-leveraged “recovery” would become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Those days are gone. With no savings and no access to significant amounts of new credit, merely telling the sheep that another mythical recovery has begun accomplishes nothing. Pavlov’s Dogs have run out of saliva. No matter how many times U.S. statistical liars bang the dinner-chime, nothing is going to happen.

Most compulsive liars end up appearing more pathetic than sinister. Again the reasons are obvious. At the same time that these serial deceivers are exposed as the pitiful wretches that they are once their lies are no longer believed, we see these compulsive liars in a state of total mystification – unable to comprehend why their deceptions no longer magically solve all of their problems.

They are “one-trick ponies”, and that trick no longer works.

Perhaps the worst unintended consequence of continuing to pretend that the U.S. economy is “growing” and “creating jobs” is that it negates any sense of urgency among the 500+ chair-stuffers that Americans have elected to represent them in their government. If today’s U.S. economic catastrophe was being portrayed as the “Greater Depression” that it is rather than a “jobless recovery” (which is yet another logical contradiction), then obviously these politicians could not justify their lethargy, dithering, and endless squabbling.

The Titanic is still sinking. And yet all the “boys in the band” at the BLS want to do is to play another waltz – to keep the passengers dancing so that they don’t notice their wet ankles. Hardly a viable strategy for “the world’s largest economy”.

The Joke is on us America.  It sits in the White House and on Capitol Hill.  As long as those filling the seats of government are allowed to continue believing their own lies, the laughter will be at our expense.

Which is worse, the telling of the lies, or believing the lies that are told?

No comments:

Post a Comment