Friday, November 2, 2012

President Obama -- net job creator

This month's federal jobs report makes it official--President Obama gets to claim the mantle of being a net job creator.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the U.S. added 171,000 non-farm payroll jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in October. The BLS also revised the payroll jobs growth in August upward by 50,000 and revised job growth in September upward by 34,000, meaning that the October jobs estimate is roughly a quarter of a million jobs higher than last month's estimate. With these additions, the estimated number of payroll jobs stands at 133.8 million compared to 133.6 million when President Obama took office. When the BLS estimates are revised and re-benchmarked early next year, job growth is likely to be higher by another 300,000 to 400,000 positions.

The net addition of 200,000 to 600,000 jobs might seem modest, but it sure beats the 300,000 jobs that the previous Republican administration lost over the same period of its first term and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that were being vaporized at the end of its second term.

The job growth during the Obama administration is even more remarkable given the decline in public sector employment. Over the Obama administration, there has been almost no net growth in federal government jobs (there were 2.79 million federal workers when the President took office, and there are 2.80 million now), and there have been considerable losses in state and local government employment (113,000 fewer state employees and 466,000 fewer local government employees). Over the same period of the previous administration, just over 800,000 public-sector jobs were added.

The Romney campaign is already seizing on the other figure from the jobs report--that the unemployment rate ticked up from 7.8 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis in September to 7.9 percent in October. But even this figure carries good news, as the increase is due to a jump in people looking for work. From September to October, the proportion of the adult, civilian population that was in the labor force (working or looking for work) increased from 63.6 percent to 63.8 percent, and the proportion of the population that was employed increased from 58.7 percent to 58.8 percent. Another sign of growing confidence in the economy is that the number of people who are unemployed because they voluntarily left their jobs increased in October.