The Number the Media is Ignoring: 200,000 Fewer People Employed in Household Survey

The Number the Media is Ignoring: 200,000 Fewer People Employed in Household Survey

While the mainstream media is burying the rising 8.3 % unemployment rate by touting 163,000 jobs created in July, there is another number they are ignoring: the fact that roughly 200,000 fewer people reported that they were working.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts two surveys each month, one of employers and the other of households. It’s a fact used by the media to justify focusing on job growth rather than the unemployment rate. But the numbers in the household survey–the one the media is ignoring–actually outweigh the job growth in the employer survey.

In fact, if you compare the two numbers–an apples-to-oranges comparison, but the mainstream media is already treating the two surveys as if they are interchangeable–there have been net job losses in July. The reason for the mismatch between the surveys is that hiring and layoff in July are traditionally volatile–a fact the mainstream media was careful to highlight the day before the numbers were released. 

Even if we just take the positive number reported in the employer survey, 163,000 new jobs are not enough to keep up with the growth of the labor force. Economists have pointed this out today–often to the surprise of the journalists interviewing them, who are reassuring each other that the July numbers are good for Barack Obama’s re-election effort. 

When you ask the people actually looking for work–and the roughly 150,000 who have given up, another number the media is neglecting–an entirely different picture emerges, one that the mainstream media have no interest in reporting.