On Friday, jobs numbers for March were released and Donald Trump took quite the victory lap. Tweeting numerous times, insisting that Minneapolis resident and father of two George Floyd was “looking down” happy about the “equality” that the jobs report indicated, and bragging at every opportunity that “his” jobs report was unbelievable, just too good to be true. As it turns out, he was right (for once).
The jobs report was unbelievable because it wasn’t accurate. The numbers are based on a survey by Census workers who asked participants whether or not they were working and if they were unemployed. Reasons for their unemployment were listed and many workers chose “other” as their reason because they are still employed but waiting to be called back to work.
Had the “other” reasons been counted, the job gains would have been far smaller and the unemployment rate much higher in that report.
According to The Washington Post:
‘When the U.S. government’s official jobs report for May came out on Friday, it included a note at the bottom saying there had been a major “error” indicating that the unemployment rate likely should be higher than the widely reported 13.3 percent rate.
‘The special note said that if this “misclassification error” had not occurred, the “overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported,” meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May.’
Of course, there are other issues with Donald Trump claiming victory over that jobs report. First, the people who have returned to work did so because states are reopening their economies, a decision left up to each individual state’s governor. Trump cannot be credited with that. Second, even if the jobs numbers had been entirely accurate, they still indicated that the United States has the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s. That’s not exactly anything to brag about.
‘The “other reason” category is normally used for people on vacation, serving jury duty or taking leave to care for a child or relative. These are typically situations where the worker decides to take leave. But in this unusual pandemic circumstance, the “other reason” category was applied to some people staying at home and waiting to be called back.’
Conspiracy theories about how the numbers became so skewed have already begun, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics insists that, not only is that not possible, the real focus here should be on the devastation to our economy and our workers.
‘Instead of focusing on possible Trump interference, many economists wish people would focus on the fact that 21 million Americans are currently unemployed and over 2 million have permanently lost their jobs…The situation remains dire, they say, even after a few jobs returned in May as the economy reopened.’
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