US Unemployment figures down – how will Obama and Romney use them?

Here is a clip from the PBS News in the US concerning the improving job figures out of the UAS. While President Obama lauded the September job numbers which showed unemployment at 7.8 percent, Mitt Romney remained critical, saying the numbers alone do not paint an accurate picture of the economy. Jeff Brown asks the Washington Post’s Neil Irwin and Mesirow Financial’s Diane Swonk if the latest report is a sign of recovery. A bit of information on the 2 ways calculating the unemployment rates:

1. Household Survey

The household survey in which the Labour Department go to 60,000 households every month and ask, do you have a job, do you want a job, are you looking for a job? And from that, they construct the unemployment rate.

2. The Survey of Employers

This captures many thousands of employers around the country, showed a more modest job gain, 114,000 jobs added. That’s not that great. That is actually below what you need every month to match population growth.

Neil Irwin summed it up quite well by saying that

“So, the president, President Obama has a very easy story, his campaign, out of this report: The unemployment rate came down, and for good reasons, because people got jobs, not because people dropped out of the labor force.

What Mitt Romney has is a case that has some merit as well: Look, unemployment is 7.8 percent. That’s still way too high. That’s much higher than what we want to see. The broader definition of unemployment called U6, that includes people working part-time who want full-time jobs, people who have given up looking out of frustration. That’s at 14.7 percent. That was unchanged last month.

This is a better report than most people expected. Happy days are not here again. And that’s what they will be arguing about on the trail.”

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