That’s my summation of the unemployment numbers.
Both the number of unemployed persons (10.5 million) and the unemployment rate (6.7 percent) changed little in February. The jobless rate has shown little movement since December. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.6 million and 1.0 percentage point, respectively. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.4 percent), adult women (5.9 percent), teenagers (21.4 percent), whites (5.8 percent), blacks (12.0 percent), and Hispanics (8.1 percent) showed little or no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.0 percent (not seasonally adjusted), about unchanged over the year. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 203,000 in February to 3.8 million; these individuals accounted for 37.0 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed was down by 901,000 over the year. (See table A-12.)
Both the civilian labor force participation rate (63.0 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.8 percent) were unchanged in February. The labor force participation rate was down 0.5 percentage point from a year ago, while the employment-population ratio was little changed over the year. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 7.2 million in February. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work. (See table A-8.)
In hockey, they say a tie is like kissing your sister. These numbers are like kissing your brother. There’s been improvement over the course of the year, but it’s stalled in the last few months. Disturbingly, unemployment for black men, 20 and over, jumped from 12% to 12.9% (while it fell for women and teens of both sexes).
Everyone agrees that the winter just now winding down (hopefully) has been brutal for most Americans. And while it’s easy to conclude that the Polar Vortex has been responsible for an excess of school shutdowns and ice related traffic snarls, it’s much harder to conclude that it’s responsible for the economic vortex that appears to have swallowed the American economy over the past three months.
But this hasn’t stopped economists, Fed officials, and media analysts from making this unequivocal assertion. In reality the weather is not what’s ailing us. It’s just the latest straw being grasped at by those who believe that the phony recovery engineered by the Fed is real and lasting.
Of course the biggest weakness ascribed to the snow and ice has been the very disappointing employment reports over the last few months. Analysts faced a very difficult task in squaring these reports, which showed fewer than 187,000 new jobs created in December and January combined, with the accepted narrative that the recovery was firmly underway and that the economy was no longer dependent on the Fed’s monetary support.
For these desperate economists the weather was a godsend.
I believe a recovering economy would be expected to create more than 300,000 jobs per month in order to make a real dent in underemployment. Those levels, once routine in past decades, seem untouchable today. But weather-related pessimism had caused economist to ratchet down their predictions to just 150,000 jobs in February. Based on that, today’s numbers were seen as a win.
But economists are ignoring the likelihood that the weather was never a major factor. Take the cold out of the equation and you would be left with a mediocre February number following two consecutive monthly disasters.
A much more plausible explanation to me is that the economy has been weak recently because it is weak fundamentally. The data deterioration corresponds not just to unseasonably low temperatures but also to the diminishment of monthly QE from the Federal Reserve. If you recall the highly anticipated “taper” finally began in mid- December. From my perspective the Quantitative Easing has become the sunshine that drives our phony economy. Diminish that sunshine and the economic winter spreads.
But the sad fact is that QE can push up prices in stocks and real estate, but can do very little to affect positive change in the real economy. That’s why I believe that BMW’s are selling like hotcakes even as Chevies sit on the lot. Our current policies help the wealthy at the expense of everybody else.
Poetry, isn’t it? Lame-brained Democrat policies to “stimulate” the economy end up hurting the “folks” who need help the most. They want jobs, not Facebook at $72 a share. They have neither.