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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Unemployment, Elections and The Press... Oh My!

In case you haven't heard, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5% for December. YIPPIE! All hail Obama! Well, obviously we wouldn't say that at The Elephant in the Room, but if you read some articles in the mainstream media, you might think that's what they want you to believe.

The Huffington Post:
     - Notice how in the third paragraph it DOES highlight the important part about how many of those who were looking for work left the labor force, but this article claims that this significant information was overshadowed by the creation of "more jobs." Hmmm... 200,000 jobs were created and 50,000 people stopped looking. 50,000! That's a 4 to 1 ratio of new jobs to people who just stopped looking.

Fox News:

So what does all this really mean? Well, here is our take:

First, yes, there are seasonal jobs that the MSM sites claim are accounted for. For those that aren't sure what "seasonal jobs" are: during the year there are times where the need for more workers increases (during winter, for example), are the U.S. sees an increase in hiring. The question we ask is: are they really accounted for?

Well, let's take a look at the data: Source: BLS Economic News Release: Unemployment Situation Summary at 08:30am EST on January, 6th, 2012

Jobs that were "Christmas holiday" -related (bold) were up by much greater proportions than other sectors:

• Transportation and warehousing : + 50,000
• Retail trade: + 28,000

• Leisure and hospitality: + 24,000
Health care: + 23,000
• Manufacturing: + 23,000
• Mining: + 7,000
• Professional and business services: 0
• Government employment fell: -12,000 

In summary, retail trade, transportation and warehousing jobs created: 78,000
All others combined: 65,000

The BLS report also says that nearly all the transportation and warehousing job gains were in the couriers and messengers industry (42,000 out of the 50,000) jobs. Hmmm, Fedex, UPS, etc... Christmas gift deliverers maybe?

So, is seasonal unemployment really accounted for? The press claims it is, but clearly these seasonal jobs are included in the net job growth numbers. We aren't trying to rain on anyone's parade, but, everything must be taken in context. Our problem is that the mainstream media is already trumpeting this as a major Obama victory. It's not a coincidence that this media headlining comes just three days after the strongest Iowa Caucus turnout in Iowa Caucus history. It's not a coincidence that this media headlining comes after Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate who does best in national polls versus Obama, won the caucus.

Who knows? Maybe the unemployment situation is really improving. But with the large influx into Christmas-specific jobs and 50,000 people leaving the workforce, I don't believe we can look at the new unemployment rate and trumpet this as a victory. What do you think?


  1. I'm with you on this one... I'll reserve judgement until we see the January numbers. I hope it's accurate but I'm not holding my breath! I don't care what party does it, I just want this economy fixed and the jobs created that will come along with it!!!

    glad you came up with a new topic, i need the distraction from 2 republican groups i've been slugging it out with today over FL Gov. Scott's clean urine for welfare initiative and Sen. Marco Rubio's refusal to raise the debt limit!

  2. Whatsamattausa - Good afternoon! Welcome back and happy new year to you.

    We actually see eye-to-eye? Wow! (haha, ok, I'm being facetious, I apologize). Of course you and I disagree most of the time... but we are always civil.

    I just wanted to put this up because to me, it's not about the numbers, or the job sectors... it's how the media is portraying it. So we are together with our... well... wait a second approach. I just wanted to give the specific reasons why I wanted to wait and see. I can't go along with the media's headlining.

    I'm sorry you are going back and forth with those kind of blogs. Hopefully you can find ours, though in opposition, satisfying.

    Also, did you see our post about Reader's Posts? I know you're more in opposition to us than with us, but that's a good thing. We welcome outside opinions. Do you have any interest in writing things from your point of view? Let us know... Take a look at the link and see some of the Reader's Posts that are already up:

  3. LME - Happy New Year to you (all of you) as well!

    Yes, we tend to disagree but always civilly and I generally I come away with at least a vague understanding of why you support your position. Both of those are reasons I really enjoy this blog. I also enjoy the debate and being of the minority opinion.

    As to the other blogs, it's actually on facebook and the folks just don't care for fact but rather they opt for the argument my 4 yr old son uses which is essentially 'just because'. Further, they want regulation based on that and that just gets me going!

    I just looked at the Readers Posts. I'll likely submit something (likely more than one something over time). I really like the topic of Gov. Scott's 'urine for welfare' initiative and would love to hear your thoughts on that. I also raised the question today as to why being labelled a moderate is such a bad thing. Seems a moderate is what this country needs to stop the divisive politics that have overtaken our government.

  4. I came to the same conclusion about this report. In an article here, I counted 317k forecasted seasonal workers. That's only 7 companies. I found a report from last year stating that Fedex was adding 50k temp workers. I would expect them to have hired more this year due to the growth of online orders. Overall there are over 1 million seasonal workers hired in the US.

    I say wait until next quarter and we'll see where we're really at. 50k leaving the work force and 200k "new jobs" sounds like government math to me. With such complex figures as unemployment and job growth, I'm sure the margin for error is pretty large. Especially in an election year.

  5. Whatsamattausa - In all honesty and sincerity, I do hope you write for our Reader's Posts. You tend to believe things contrary to the beliefs that are trumpeted on this blog, and I think it would be a great opportunity for civil and thoughtful debate. The great thing is that it's done on your time. No obligation, no deadlines, nothing. When you write something, submit it, we post it. It works great for those that do not have the time to manage or maintain a blog. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to email in. The blog post about Reader's Posts should have all the information, but of course, don't hesitate if you have questions. Thank you!

  6. Anonymous - Thank you for your post. I like how you made your own conclusion and backed it with why you felt the way you did. If this is your first time visiting our blog, read through it; that kind of argument and argument backing fits right in. If this isn't your first time, you know this already :-)

    I will definitely be waiting to see what happens in the near future.

    If you have an interest in writing more formal blog posts, check out our Reader's Posts here: No hard feelings if you don't want to, just thought I'd throw it out there.

    Hope to hear more from you. Thank you.

  7. Obstructionist traitors will always find excuses to fault Obama. Problem is, excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.

  8. Anonymous... thank you?

    Perhaps this is your first time here. We at The Elephant in the Room are respectful of all opinions. That doesn't mean we can't challenge those we don't agree with. What we do hope for is that whenever someone gives an opinion or makes a statement, they back it with something.

    My challenge to you:

    "Obstructionist traitors" - what in the world are you referring to?

    "Excuses" - where in our post did you find excuses. An excuse is something that is used to justify a failure. We are not saying there is any failure going on with regards to the unemployment rate. We are merely saying that those in the media that are highlighting simply the rate and trumpeting it as a victory for Obama might be doing so either too soon, or without telling the truth behind the numbers. Yes, we took a position on this, but yes, we did back it. We provided the actual BLS report and pulled real data from it. You, unfortunately did not back what you said at all, nor did you provide any fact-backed rebuttal. Would you like to try to do so? I don't think our numbers lie.

    Thank you.

  9. I can't wait for election time, im sick of the lets talk and lets put all the debt behind us and spend more. We need a pres who can confront what needs to be confronted,whether 'we think we like it or not'.

    HE keeps saying what he wants to do, is it happening? NOT REALLy