Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the US economy only created 38,000 new jobs in May and revised down by 59,000 jobs the previously reported gains in March and April.
Yet the BLS reported that the unemployment rate fell from 5.0 to 4.7 percent, a figure generally regarded as full employment.
The May jobs increase only covers a small fraction of the monthly growth in the labor force and, therefore, cannot account for the drop in unemployment.
Moreover, the BLS reported that the labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, bringing the decline to 0.4 percentage points over the past two months. Normally, a strong labor market, such as one represented by a 4.7% unemployment rate, causes an increase in the labor force participation rate.
The question becomes: How real is the 4.7% rate of unemployment?
The answer is: Not at all.
The unemployment rate dropped because people unable to find jobs ceased looking and are no longer counted as being in the labor force. If you are unemployed but not considered part of the labor force, you are not included when unemployment is measured. The BLS says that in May there were 1.7 million Americans who “wanted and were available for work,” but “were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.”
In other words, the unemployment rate is a useless measure of unemployment, just as the consumer price index no longer measures inflation. What were once useful statistical measures have been converted into good news propaganda…