Jobs are up, but so is the jobless rate. What’s going on?

More jobs? Check.

Fewer initial unemployment-insurance claims? Check.

Fall in the number of long-term unemployed? Check.

Lower unemployment rate? Well …

Not seasonally adjusted. Figure for Sept. 2013 missing. Source: Georgia Department of Labor

Not seasonally adjusted. Figure for Sept. 2013 missing. Source: Georgia Department of Labor

Georgia’s jobless rate bottomed out in April at 6.9 percent. Since then it has gone up unexpectedly, hitting 8.1 percent in August according to figures released today. During that time, the number of non-farm jobs reported has grown by 41,400, to the highest mark since June 2008. Unemployment claims have continued a four-year downward trend (see nearby graph). The number of people out of work for 27 weeks or more is down by more than 9,000 since April.

The number of private jobs rose between July and August by 8,100; the number of government jobs by 16,600 (mostly seasonal education employees returning to work with the beginning of the school year). Employment rose in goods-producing industries (5,700) as well as service industries (19,000). Manufacturing and construction, two sectors hit hard by the Great Recession, continued their upward trend.

And yet, the number of people counted as out of work was also up. What’s going on?

Most likely, the operative word here is “counted.” To count as being unemployed in government statistics, you have to be actively looking for work. When you don’t think there’s any work to be found, you’re more likely to drop out of the labor force.

Labor-force figures for August won’t be reported until tomorrow, but from April to July that number grew by about 11,000, which is consistent with more people looking for work. It doesn’t match up completely with the number of people reporting themselves as out of work and looking for work (38,718 during those months), but keep in mind the labor force also changes when people move from one state to another, retire, return to school, etc. No single factor will explain the entire change, and some of them offset one another.

(UPDATE: It turns out the labor-force figure is available for August. Just like last August, it fell slightly — about 0.2 percent this time — and was basically flat from April to August. The foregoing reasons the labor force can change still apply.)

Consider the last time Georgia’s unemployment rate was as high as 8.1 percent — exactly a year earlier, August 2013, when it was 8.2 percent. Here’s how the underlying data have changed during those 12 months:

  • Number of jobs: grew by 79,300
  • Number of unemployed: fell by 4,370
  • Number of long-term unemployed: fell by 35,000
  • Number of initial UI claims: down by 4,381

The headline unemployment rate would tell you things are virtually the same as a year ago. Yet, 79,300 more Georgians are working, and 4,370 fewer Georgians are unemployed despite the indications more discouraged job-seekers are returning to the labor force. I’d say a lot has changed for the better.

Job-market strength also shows up in places like government revenues. In August, the state reported income-tax withholding payments rose by 4.1 percent while sales tax receipts rose by 6.9 percent. Those just aren’t the kind of real-time numbers that point to a slowing labor market or economy.

It’s worth pointing out that from 2011 to 2013, Georgia’s unemployment rate for August was eventually revised downward by an average of 0.3 percentage points, while our rate for July was revised downward by an average of 0.2 points. The Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t release its recalculations for this summer until February, so we don’t know how accurate these numbers are. (Side note: The AJC’s news side had a story just last week explaining why some economists say the government’s methodology for calculating the jobless rate makes it an “increasingly unreliable” metric.)

Absent a lot of news about employers around the state shedding workers — when, instead, employment news has generally been about companies’ hiring — it’s hard to get too worried about that curious jobless rate.

Reader Comments 0

54 comments
Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Governor Nunn will fix any downward trends. FACT

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

So jobs are up, job losses are down, and the Obama Dept of Labor (Pravda?) is saying the Unemployment rate is up. Remember, Kyle, it's OK to "shelve your brain" if it supports the Democrat party.  At least that appears to be the motto of the blindly partisan hacks who post here.  You know, the same ones who tell folks who disagree with them to open their eyes/minds. 


What a bunch of hypocrites. 

zekeI
zekeI

The unemployed numbers are just one sign of several things. First the democrat, Obama, economy is still in the tank. It is not improving , or, improving so slowly  it is doing nothing to create new or expanded jobs opportunities. Now he wants to raise the minimum wage, which will throw more low skilled and young people out of jobs! And, between the pro union agenda coupled with the nlrb and labor department, businesses will not spend or expand jobs with such a cloud over their operations!


Would be very interesting if the government would for once give the actual number and percentage of working age people not working! It would probably be more in the 18% to 20% range!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The most robust job market in my adult life stretching back to the early 70's was created by the economic policies of Ronald Reagan.


Little value in the unemployment rate as currently calculated. Does not indicate the quality of jobs nor the number of underemployed.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Lil' Jason wouldn't do any better on jobs than Our Governor Deal--they haven't covered job creation in his U.S. Government class yet.

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

Military industry is gearing up for war...  Jobs galore just got to get off the couch.

straker
straker

I Whine


You seem desperate to suggest the US Govt. is somehow cooking the unemployment numbers.


A little too desperate.


Do you break out in a cold sweat at the prospect that Deal might lose?

Marcuscassius
Marcuscassius

When you get a Republican state, you get unemployment. They just go together. Republicans don't know how to create jobs. They coddle the rich and keep their people down. So, as the country recovers from the Republican created Recession, they will lag far behind. Until Republicans realize that, if they look at the map, their states are the poorest. they get the worst education, they have the lowest pay.........and then stop blaming Democrats for the problems they create,  They aren't going to get any richer.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

  If you take the CEA at its word, you might be a bit confused. Two quarters ago, itclaimed that the stimulus added or saved just under 2.7 million jobs. That’s 288,000 more jobs than it claims the stimulus has created or saved today. (The Congressional Budget Office has downgraded its claim of the stimulus’ “success,” too.) Compare that to the President’s promise to create 3.5 million jobs by 2010—the economy, instead, lost millions of jobs, leaving Obama 7.3 million jobs short of his goal.


https://www.askheritage.org/what-is-obamas-fake-jobs-scheme-costing-america/


A pattern of deception?

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

Best way to improve the unemployment rate


Unemploy Nathan Deal

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar


Kyle...


Do you believe the unemployment numbers ? ( With spin allowed of course )


Or do you as Deal suggested believe they are part of a conspiracy to get One Term Nathan Deal unelected ?

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

 New Labor Department numbers show that the U.S. job market kept pace last month. The nation added 146,000 to payrolls. That’s roughly where we’ve been. Indeed, the U.S. has averaged 151,000 new jobs monthly in 2012. Meanwhile, in November, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest point in four years.


You’re forgiven for a quick head scratch, here, and thoughts like these: Hurricane Sandy was last month, how come the numbers don’t show it? Just how rigged is this data?


http://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2012/12/07/just-how-bogus-are-todays-unemployment-numbers/


Sound familiar?

TBS
TBS

Does Mark Butler have any evidence that there is a manipulation of the numbers?


If so has he contacted the bureaus doing the alleged manipulation? 


One should be able to assume that he knows what the numbers are that are used for the calculations in question.  If he knows what the numbers are then he should be able to back into exactly where the manipulation is taking place. 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

I'm sure it'll be revised downward as well.  But it sure is odd that unemployment increased as it did in Georgia as most of the country kept going down. 

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

When it suits you , its even higher.  When it doesn't suit you , speculate.

TBS
TBS

Seems the innuendo and implications of a devious plot at the federal level haven't been backed up with any hard evidence.


Wonder why that might be?

MHSmith
MHSmith

Citation for previous statement below.

Construction firms now facing labor shortages

...The good news for the construction industry in Georgia is that building of most types continues to move forward at a healthy pace. That's the bad news as well. 

The combination of low unemployment, attrition and lack of new blood has resulted in a dearth of qualified and skilled workers such as carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers and pipe-fitters...

 http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2000/05/08/focus3.html?page=all

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

 John Crudele of The New York Post writes that there was evidence of fraud taking place at the Census Bureau as far back as 2010, and that the fake data was used to calculate the monthly unemployment number. He also cites sources who say that manipulation still goes on today and affected the unemployment report in the lead-up to Obama's re-election. The unemployment number just happened to drop from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent in the two months before the November vote.


The monthly employment number is determined by a survey, conducted by the Census Department, where people are literally called and asked if they have job. That results of that survey are given to the Labor Department, which uses them in their calculations of unemployed Americans. Crudele claims that an employee named Julius Buckmon was caught fabricating interviews to make it look like he had done more work than he had, and Buckmon tells the Post that he was encouraged to do so by "higher-ups." By making up interviewees and giving them jobs, he could theoretically have boosted the data falsely.


http://www.thewire.com/business/2013/11/reports-claims-unemployment-numbers-were-faked-2012/355264/


Apparently we have a trend here.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

 We are not the only ones skeptical about these numbers. Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch posted on Twitter:  “Unbelievable jobs numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything. Can’t debate so change numbers.” 


Bingo.

MHSmith
MHSmith

In the Atlanta construction market there is a labor shortage once again. The unemployment page has been turned, no doubt in my mind.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Remember "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." They don't care. What are you going to do about it? 

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Think of what else they lie about, like the weather.

dreluv
dreluv

It no surprise Nathan Deal is the blame for high unemployment rate in Georgia.

When national unemployment rate was high the republican blame president Obama.

So we blaming Nathan Deal

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The TV debate(s) should be a very boring battle of statistics - each side picking their own favorites.  Then there will be the charges and counter charges the questioners will keep bringing up hoping for fireworks.

Quite possibly, there might even be some policy differences discussed.

concernedoldtimer
concernedoldtimer

Thanks for this article....makes sense. Your colleague on this paper toof a much different view point.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

Thank god for Mississippi huh?


But hey we have fake magazines that say we are number 1 for business !!!!


 In dollar terms, adjusted for inflation, per capita GDP in Georgia has declined markedly since the turn of the century. If we compare ourselves to the rest of the country, the trend is even worse. When we began the century, GDP per Georgian was $903 above the national average. Last year, GDP per Georgian had fallen $6,621 below the national average.


In 2002, 12.1 percent of Georgians lived in poverty. By 2012, that number had risen to 18.1 percent, a jump of 50 percent. Some of that must be attributed to the Great Recession, which has hit not just the nation but the entire globe. But compare our performance to that of the rest of the country: In 2002, Georgia had the nation’s 20th highest poverty rate. Today we have the 7th highest poverty rate. There is no way that can be defined as success or even as holding our own.


I'm not sure Georgia can survive much more Republican leadership.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

I think they're counting all the illegals they plan to move here to vote for them.


Even though they've probably been bennied up already. $$Big Time$$

MHSmith
MHSmith

@LilBarryBailout 

There isn't much states can do to reform the Federal Tax code or write the trade and immigration polices that are needed to create jobs and keep those jobs in this country for the American workers by not flooding the labor market with an over abundance of immigrant labor.


The rest is in restoring the proper regulatory balance that favors neither Labor or Capital. 


MHSmith
MHSmith

@Marcuscassius 

Once upon a time, the most successful Democratic leader of them all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, looked south and said, “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.”

Today our national Democratic leaders look south and say, “I see one-third of a nation and it can go to hell.” 

~ Zell Miller


The now red states of the south under Republican control were once solid Democrat(from FDR up to about 2000). According to FDR we were the poorest third of the nation then and now, as Zell Miller well said.... today's national Democratic leaders look south and say, “I see one-third of a nation and it can go to hell.” 

Change your Democrat's attitudes toward the south and the southern people if you want to take back control from the Republicans.

However, the root of your argument between rich and poor is actually one between Capital verses Labor

I haven't seen the Democrat doing much to shift the balance back in the direction of labor to narrow the widening income gap in this country. The Democrats are every bit the "Free Trade" kooks the Repubi-tarians are and neither one of these lying parties wants to do the right thing for the American workers on immigration reforms.   


ThulsaDoom
ThulsaDoom

@Marcuscassius


Um. The red states in the deep south are the poorest because they were run for most of this nation's history by the Democrats. They've only turned Republican in the last 3 decades. And that was when the sunbelt states, which obviously include the mostly red states of the deep south, started to gain economically on their blue state northern counterparts. You need some help with your history sir. 


As for Republican administrations not being able to create jobs Ronald Reagan is laughing in his grave. 


Your mantra about the Rs coddling the rich and keeping people down is nothing more than emotion based wealth envy. Does anyone really think you get elected catering to the top 1 or 5% of the population? Sheesh. 

TBS
TBS

@IReportYouWhine 

That was November of last year.

Can you tell us exactly what transpired since that time in terms of the findings from that investigation?

Thanks in advance for the update.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@IReportYouWhine A congressional investigation has been launched into allegations that the United States Census Bureau falsified employment numbers, including in the months just before the last presidential election.


And what did they find....


Nothing.


Keep trying....you'll get there eventually. 

LDH2O
LDH2O

@IReportYouWhine  Because workforce participation takes people out of the job market (Kyle explained this, read it again) so unemployment falls.

TBS
TBS

@IReportYouWhine 

Why hasn't Mark Butler come forward with the definitive proof?

I'm sure you know right wing Op Eds will only get him laughed at.

All he needs are the actual numbers and he is off to the races.

FYI: Don't bet on him coming forward with the proof of all this manipulation.

There is manipulation going on but it isn't the numbers.  It is a manipulation of those who willfully buy into the conspiracy of the manipulated numbers. 

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@IReportYouWhine There is not one shred of evidence of any fraud in the numbers.


Im sure some Republican states have numbers that look good. Just not this one.


These guys are statisticians who are just looking at the numbers.


Frankly I would have thought this goes against Kyles new rules about posting false information.


Maybe Kyle thinks they are cooking the books too but Id like to give him a little more credit than to fall in with that crowd.


Do you really think the guys are sitting over at the DOL thinking of ways to Get Nathan Deal ?


Ill bet most of them dont even know who Deal is and couldn't care less.



TBS
TBS

@HeadleyLamar @IReportYouWhine 

Don't need any hard evidence when doubling down on nothing to fool the gullible will work just as well. 

As you can see it seems to be working on more than just a few of the Deal supporters. 

TBS
TBS

@Kyle_Wingfield @HeadleyLamar 

Good call on citing sources.  Too many wish to cut and paste without them.

Side note: I'm sure it isn't the way you wanted to go but your new rules and process seems to have really raised the bar on commenting as a whole.

Good job.