LEE’S SUMMIT, SEPTEMBER 9, 2012 – It takes a great deal of work to get the information necessary to understand the Unemployment numbers; but since numbers matter I went looking and want you to be able to do the same so you can find the version of the unemployment numbers you want to track, and what period of time you want to track it for comparison.

I did my work between January 2009 (the year President Barrack Obama took office as my baseline: to do that I had to find the tables.  You can find the 2009 data I used by clicking here .   There are two tables that I found useful:

  •  Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age (Table A-1)
  • Persons not in the labor force and multiple jobholders by sex, not seasonally adjusted (in 2009 it was Table A-13)


Then I wanted to see the 2012 numbers to be able to compare them so I want back to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found the Employment Situation News Release from Friday, August 3, 2012 titled The Employment Situation — July 2012 (click here for it) and I looked up tables A-1 and A16 (remember it changed numbers but it is the same title as in 2009.

Then I needed one last set of numbers: the August numbers.  It is easy to find when you know you’re looking for the Employment Situation report for August (click here for it) or search for: “THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — AUGUST 2012”.

Now it gets a bit complicated so I compared everything I was doing to the reported numbers to make sure they were correct.

I found it very disconcerting that while we went from 8.3% down to 8.1% the number of employed went down:

  • July 2012 – 142,220,000
  • August 2012 – 142,101,00

How can it be that the people employed went down (less employed) and yet we have a reduction in the unemployment rate?  So I looked at the civilian workforce (from Table A-1) and there was my answer: it dropped!  We had a civilian workforce in July of 155,013,000 but in August it was down to 154,645,000 (so we lost 368,000 people from the workforce).

Table1- Unemployment Comparsion 2009-2012

Numbers in Thousands

A close look at the numbers also shows that the number of employed people went down 119,000 for the month so that’s the answer.  We lost more people from the workforce than we lost jobs, so the resulting number looks better; but it is not.

Then it hit me – how truly bad the employment situation really is.  With all the jobs we’ve added to the economy, and all the people we’ve added to the labor force (new entrants into the able bodied working age population) there are only 2,000 new jobs created (net of losses) from January 2009 to August 2012.  We went from 142,099,000 in January 2009 to 142,101,000 in August 2012 (that’s table A-1 2009 to table A-1 2012).  Two thousand more people are employed today than were in January 2009.

It turns out that when you factor in the people who are considered “PERSONS WHO CURRENTLY WANT A JOB” and those who are “MARGINALLY ATTACHED TO THE LABOR FORCE” (the definitions are at the bottom of A-13 2009 and A-16 2012) you end up with an unemployment rate in January of 2009 of 11.9% and an unemployment rate of 14.3% in August 2012.

I don’t care which numbers the government reports, I just like being able to do my own math, avoid all the political spin and know what the truth is.

This helps me understand why the economy for those of us in the Manufacturing sector seems much worse than in 2009.  If our consumers are unemployed and under-employed to this extent and the Civilian Labor Force has truly gone down by 368,000 from July to August: no wonder customers are not buying – they don’t have customers of their own.

Respectfully Submitted

The Lee’s Summit Conservative