How does this silly government actually work?
The Labor department reports that unemployment is down slightly, from 6% in December to 5.7% in January. But these numbers are essentially meaningless.
One would assume that the department counts the number of people who want to work but can’t find jobs. Wouldn’t that be the common sense way to approach it? But no, they use a much more misleading and statistically nonsensical way to reach this figure.
They count hiring and firing. In today’s Washington Post:
Retailers hired fewer seasonal workers than usual in November and December, and the Labor Department’s seasonal adjustments made it appear that the job losses in those months were greater than they were. When fewer temporary workers than usual were dismissed in January, the adjustments made it appear that more people were hired.
“People not hired for the Christmas holiday season weren’t fired afterwards,” said William Cheney, chief economist of John Hancock Financial Services. “That’s the biggest component of the gains.”