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Monday, October 15, 2012
MRC Botches Unemployment Rate Analysis; WIll It Correct?
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 5 Media Research Center Business & Media Institute item by Dan Gainor and Julia Seymour repeated claims that September's drop in the unemployment rate was driven by "a huge jump in part-time workers." Turns out that's wrong.

Rex Nutting at MarketWatch explains:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people with full-time jobs increased by 838,000 in September to 115.2 million, while the number of people with part-time jobs declined by 26,000 to 27.7 million.

In other words: All of the gains in employment were due to full-time jobs.

It’s right there in Table A-9.

How did all of those people get it wrong? By looking at separate table ( Table A-8 ) that shows a big spike in the number of people who want a full-time job but who are forced to settle for less than 35 hours of work because of the tepid economy or weak demand at their company.

The BLS explains that the number of people involuntarily working part-time rose, even though the total number of part-timers declined. It’s the total number of part-timers that helps determine the unemployment rate.

The MRC is not exactly known for correcting items unless they're so obviously wrong that it can't be avoided. You'd think this would fall under that category, but it's more likely that Gainor and Seymour will just shove this under the rug and stay silent about their error.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:13 PM EDT

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