Sunday, December 6, 2009
Noise or a trend?: BLS reports lower unemployment
On Friday, the latest unemployment statistics came out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It showed that the official (U3) employment rate for November was 10%, which is lower than the 10.2% reported for October. In addition, the broadest definition of unemployment (U6) was also down from 17.5% in October to 17.2% in November.
It's rather difficult to tell what's a statistical blip and what's a trend. If you clicked on that last link, the displayed graph (above) of job losses appears to argue that losses peaked in January of 2009 and are now (relatively) close to zero. I don't claim to understand the cyclical nature of unemployment, but the potential trend is positive.
Unfortunately for the unemployed (including unemployed chemists), I am unaware of any reports of significant increases in job creation. Furthermore, most economists foresee relatively high unemployment for 2010 and this report from Goldman Sachs' economists indicate that they expect unemployment to peak at 10.75% in mid-2011. For all our sakes, let's hope Goldman is dead wrong on that one.