Unemployment Rate: Saved by the Gals!

How did we get to that 4.4% unemployment rate?  The answer lay in Table A: The “Employment” component expanded by +437k;

Note that the Household data is from whence the unemployment rate comes from. To see the details of who was contributing to the hiring surge that. Just two weeks before the election, it conveniently dropped the unemployment rate 0.2%:

From Table A-1:

(Men of this age and over…..)
M 16+ 57k
M 20+ 40k

(Women of this age and over ….)
W 16+ 379k
W 20+ 303k

~87% of the jump in the “Employment” component of the Household Survey was women.

Helluva month — a huge decrease in unemployment nearly totally dependent on a massive surge in women returning back to the workplace . . . I never saw that one coming.

Go figure.


UPDATE: November 6, 2006 1:10pm

Yaser Anwar adds: "Investors need to ask the question- How long can the economy thrive
when over 2/3rds of the job gains in the last six months have come from
government, education, health and leisure services?"



BLS, Household Survey, November 03, 2006


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. MAS (San Diego) commented on Nov 6

    In the November linkfest, one link was:

    “The Unemployment Rate tends to hit bottom just before Recessions”

    Can anyone see if the jump in female employment occurred prior to the last recession?

  2. Rational Actor commented on Nov 6

    Am I reading this incorrectly, or was 17% of the increase comprised of women between the ages of 16 and 20? ((379-303)/437) I know nothing about labor markets (some would say I know nothing at all), but that strikes me as odd.

  3. Aaron commented on Nov 6

    I’ve noticed quite a few 30-something waitresses in establishments that in the past only had young hotties. I assume this is the result of adjustable rate mortgages.

  4. Sponge Todd Square Pants commented on Nov 6

    this is what happens with a service economy that no longer produces anything real. In the future the unemployment rate among men in America will be much much higher than that of women. The US government should be very concerned about this potential development.

  5. GMF commented on Nov 6

    Aaron – all the young hotties are hanging out in the shoe department these days, don’t you know.


  6. Macro Man commented on Nov 6

    There are a number of seasonal adjustment issues with respect to education employment. I suspect what you have found is one of the quirks.
    Another interesting phenomenon is the sharp decline in the unemployment rate for workers with less than a high school education. That at least is suggestive that employers are being forced to scrape the bottom of the labor force barrel.

  7. Sam Park commented on Nov 6

    Many of those women were the 25 and older… 20 to 24 actually fell in employment. Here’s my best guess… married couples see their housing prices come down, can’t find a buyer for their homes, have to back out on that new home and lose that deposit… Sorry babe, but it looks like you’re gonna have to help bring home the dough, because we were stupid buying a home at ridiculous prices. Too funny…

  8. Sam Park commented on Nov 6

    Oh… by the way Macro Man, those were seasonally adjusted figures and much of the increase were from those with some college or associate degrees. But I agree, that companies are scraping.

  9. Cherry commented on Nov 6

    Alot of it is seasonal. But with job losses in RE and manufacturing beginning to surge, these jobs don’t last and cause a pre-recession “hike” of the UE rate. See December 2000-January 2001.

  10. Macro Man commented on Nov 6

    The seasonal adjustment issues I refer to above reflect a) inconsistent filing by schools in August/September, hence the upward revisions in those months, and b) the possible impact of last year’s hurricane disruptions on this year’s seasonal adjustment factors.

  11. wcw commented on Nov 6

    I don’t even look at the unemployment rate unless I am concerned with labor-force participation. If you look at employment per civilian, noninstitutional population, which is how I do it, employment is flat since February. Flat beats declining, but I do not see any labor-market tightness.

    On government, education, health and leisure services, though, I don’t worry tons. That is a list of categories where you expect lesser impacts from productivity improvements. Higher productivity, all else equal, is a good thing.

    This is why the benchmark revision is good, since more people were working than we thought, but also bad, since they were less productive than we though.

  12. Josh commented on Nov 6

    I have heard the hot months for having babies is August & September due to the holidays that occur 9 months prior.

    That being said, maybe this is a statistic that deals more with mothers returning to the workforce after baby.

  13. Estragon commented on Nov 6

    As I recall, the household survey has a much smaller sample size than the establishment survey. Especially considering that the establishment survey hasn’t exactly been a picture of accuracy of late, how much faith can we have in an argument based on a component number from its much smaller sample sibling?

  14. Michael C. commented on Nov 6

    >>>Here’s my best guess… married couples see their housing prices come down, can’t find a buyer for their homes, have to back out on that new home and lose that deposit… Sorry babe, but it looks like you’re gonna have to help bring home the dough, because we were stupid buying a home at ridiculous prices. Too funny… <<< I dunno. Hardship on others never strikes me as that funny.

  15. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on Nov 6

    YO BRO…! I had to double up on my Biatches back on the street. My mortgage just readjusted for my crib…. YOU DIG…?

  16. semper fubar commented on Nov 6

    You don’t think all those shoes just pay for themselves, do you Barry?

  17. Sam Park commented on Nov 6

    I guess it’s not a laughing matter. But you can’t say that people haven’t been warning about ridiculous home prices. You know… some people just got too greedy and just had to get that bigger place, and it blew up in their faces. Come on… they’re not gonna cry if you lose millions for your portfolio; so why should you. Take it lightly, because reality sucks.

    With that said, very very funny Economista Non Grata and semper fubar

  18. BDG123 commented on Nov 6

    Well, how long can it last? As long as I’m on the dole, need healthcare and can vacation accordingly, I suppose forever.

    Yaser’s question simply reinforces my belief that we should let the peasants work while Americans dine at the trough of gluttony ad infinitum. When we are finished, we flip the rest of the world the bird and refuse to pay for our little trysts.

  19. Stan commented on Nov 6

    My wife writes P&C ins. She has been telling me for a few weeks that this is happening in big numbers. Why? Families can’t manage on one breadwinner, and it often involves the loss of job or change of job by male component. i.e. the jobs data tells you things are rough, NOT great.

  20. JuanBobsDad commented on Nov 6

    437K newly unemployed
    303k are women over 20
    For this,
    we’re overjoyed
    ’cause unemployement
    Is the lowest rate evah.
    For real data
    Wait ‘tll latah
    Burma Shave.

  21. Yaser Anwar commented on Nov 6


    Tomorrow’s the big re-design day for Big Picture, can’t wait to see what Barry has in mind.

  22. bob commented on Nov 6

    >> re-design day for Big Picture

    This site will be all in blue…

    Oh, wait a minute…

  23. bob commented on Nov 6

    … And the stock market usually posts 52-week hights right before the recession.

    Because by definition, recession is when there is no way up anymore and the only way is down. Usually nobody notices when the recession starts. The first few days of every recession are the best!

  24. Atlanta_Renter commented on Nov 6

    Are these quality, full-time, high-paying jobs? Doubtful, considering women are still paid less than men and are more likely to work part-time. Dividing FT jobs into two PT jobs with no benefits will not help the economy in the long run, at least not for the consumer.

  25. A Dash of Insight commented on Nov 6

    Unemployment Rate: Amazingly Low!

    The household employment survey showed unemployment falling to a rate of 4.4%, well below the Fed’s concept of NAIRU. David Malpass, the Bear Stearns Chief Global Economist who has absolutely nailed the story on economic growth over the last few

Posted Under