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Now Entering The Labor Statistic Spin Zone

by Christine Stuart | Sep 20, 2013 12:03pm
(7) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Economics, Election 2014, Jobs

Christine Stuart file photo

Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola and Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo at a speaking event two years ago

In dueling press releases Thursday, the Democratic and Republican parties offered their own interpretations of the labor statistics released Thursday. The pictures they painted differed greatly.

According to Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, the news that Connecticut gained 2,300 private sector jobs last month was good news and “a clear indication that we are on the right path.”

The state also lost 6,000 jobs, mostly from job losses in local government.

According to Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr., Thursday’s employment numbers mark “17 consecutive months of an unemployment rate higher than the national average.” The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.1 percent, according to the Labor Department.

“As many states begin to enjoy recovery, Dan Malloy’s assault on the Connecticut economy continues to prevent growth and stifle job creation,” Labriola continued.

DiNardo countered that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration is moving the state forward.

“In fact, the first two-and-a-half years of the Malloy administration represent the best two-and-a-half year period of private sector job growth since the late 1990s,” DiNardo said.  “The governor always says that there is more work to be done, but his leadership is moving us forward to where we need to be.” She said there have been more than 40,000 private sector jobs created during Malloy’s tenure.

Tom Foley, a possible Republican gubernatorial contender, said the Labor Department’s numbers show Connecticut lost another 1,400 jobs in August. He said that brings the total number of jobs lost under the Malloy administration to 34,100.

How can the numbers offered by the two sides be so far apart?

Republicans are relying upon the household survey of 1,600 Connecticut residents, while Democrats are pointing to a payroll survey of numbers reported by 6,500 employers.

The number of unemployed since Malloy took office in January 2011 has gone up by about 34,100, according to the latest numbers from the household survey. The payroll survey shows that about 44,000 non-farm jobs have been created during that same time period.

Economists tend to rely more heavily on the payroll survey of employers than the household survey, but both numbers have been reported on a monthly basis by the Labor Department for about three years.

Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research, said Friday that the numbers in the survey have been going in opposite directions the entire time that both have been reported. He said they are still “looking at all possibilities to figure out how to explain this.”

But fundamentally, the two are measuring different things. The payroll survey measures jobs and the household survey measures mostly the size of the labor force, Condon said.

In a phone interview Friday, he said that instead of adding clarity the two sets of numbers tend to “confuse.”

Which may be good news for politicians on the stump in 2014 looking to convince voters they’re better at creating jobs than their opponent. That means they are latching onto any tidbit of information reported to back their argument.

The Democratic Party issued a press release touting Thursday’s statement from Connecticut Business and Industry Association Economist Pete Gioia.

Gioia, who comments every month on the employment figures, expressed optimism about the August job numbers.

But he warned Friday that politicians “should not take as much credit for good news, and should not take as much blame for the bad.”

In general, Gioia said he relies on the payroll survey, which showed the state gaining 2,300 jobs in the private sector in August.

“You had 2,300 jobs added in the private sector. You can’t get too negative on that,” Gioia said Friday.

But even with moderate and modest gains in employment in the private sector, the state won’t recover all the jobs it lost during the recession until 2016, Gioia said.

That’s well after the 2014 race for governor.

According to labor statistics released Thursday, the state added 14,300 jobs in the first eight months of the year. But in order to fully recover from the 2008 recession, it needs to add 59,000 jobs.

Regardless of which numbers are used, Fred Carstensen, an economist at the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, said he finds it “odd” that the Democrats are arguing that government jobs don’t matter since income from those jobs is used to purchase goods and services. He said the weakness in the public sector is something that should be a concern.

While the private sector continues to make modest improvements, the public sector continues to contract and nationally sequestration has impacted economic growth by about one third, according to Carstensen.

But at the end of the day, “it’s not a constructive debate. They should be talking about what are the policies the state ought to be implementing,” Carstensen said.

He said the job numbers may be problematic for the Malloy administration because the long-term investments he has made won’t begin to deliver significant results for another three to five years.

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(7) Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | September 20, 2013  2:35pm

And what’s the labor participation rate? That number is dropping too which means there are fewer people actively looking for work and it props up the unemployment number making it look better than it is. The real unemployment rate is probably a lot closer to 9% than 8%  - and among urban residents, it is deep in the double digits.

I’m always amazed at the mindless crowing pols do. Somehow they think they can scratch on a board and make 2 plus 2 equal something other than 4. It reminds me of Malloy saying the budget has been cut even as he’s added $3 billion in new spending - what a kabuki dance.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | September 20, 2013  4:23pm

Are the 2,300 jobs added true FT positions?  Or are they PT positions created because employers have reduced the hours of FT workers to avoid Obamacare requirements and someone still has to do the work?

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 21, 2013  2:49pm

Unfortunately for the misinformed—our true high unemployment figures are being manipulated to a lower percentage “by the Malloy administration spin doctors.”  The Obama administration lowered our national unemployment figures with the help of some 98 million people on some form of government welfare—“no longer classified as unemployed.” And, in the meantime Malloy keeps spending money like it’s going out of style—for complete fiscal irresponsibility. Sadly, there is no political miracle on the horizon—as we are stuck with the same miscued actors.

posted by: Lawrence | September 21, 2013  7:01pm

Not included in labor stats: CEOs who offshore thousands of CT jobs in order to make millions for themselves. Some group should start reporting THAT on a monthly basis, and then we’ll see just how popular any “pro business” millionaire Republican gubernatorial candidate from FF County really is.

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 22, 2013  12:13pm

The reason that public sector jobs are dropping is because our massive deficit spending to pay for them since World War II is coming to an end.  We can’t pay the interest on our massive $159.6 trillion dollar deficit which is growing daily. Perhaps it’s
time to start laying off some of our non-achieving congressmen to start cutting our deficit.  The less congressmen we have means that there are less of them spending money we don’t have.  Our problem is that we have too many congressmen using a credit card that has been maxed out for many years now.  We have “too many fat cats devouring our food stamp economy.”  Our working people are being forced into another Boston Tea Party which appears to be on the believable horizon. The White House isn’t helping by their billions of dollars of luxury-wasteful spending. Let’s demand a drastic cut in the White House bloated budget, also, as they are spending money like it’s going our of style. President Barack Obama is—appears to be leading our fiscal demise by bad wasteful personal spending by his documented, continual personal carefree example. Our problem is that our elected government leaders are showing no mercy for the the greedy repossession of the viable future of our grandchildren. However, nothing will happen as long our people remain silent about our virtual state of bankruptcy—that our elected leaders refuse to address. The lack of responsible austerity is leading this country to disaster.

posted by: dano860 | September 23, 2013  8:30am

First, let’s read a timely article in the Sunday issue of The Hartford Courant,
http://touch.courant.com/#section/2347/article/p2p-77488402/
Mr. Santangelo hit many of the problems the State has right on the head.
We have much to offer but the “dome dwellers” are apparently a large part of the problem.
Outsourcing isn’t as huge an issue as many perceive it to be. The need to be involved in a global market is the largest driver behind any U.S. company relocating all or a portion of their work else where. Many companies have entered into compacts with foreign companies in order to gain technology and economic growth. We must remember that CEO’s report to share holders. They want profits over employment. Ever notice how a companies stock rises after a layoff announcement?
The wealthy Republican from FF County is not one of the outsourcing CEO’s as far as I can determine. He was not part of the Steven’s company breakup. Today a majority of his investments are in Steven’s Aviation that is located in four different locations in the U.S.
I have mentioned growth in other states by many companies that are from other countries, on-shoreing? Just a week ago it was revealed that a Canadian outfit now owns Nordstrom’s.
Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Kia all are growing in RTW states.
It is a different world today, the U.S. has gone from manufacturing to a service / consumer country.
In this State we need to turn things around with changes to our entire business structure. Costs are excessive and it seems that they will only go up as the Dome Dwellers seek more creative (secretive) methods of extracting more cash from us and business’s.

posted by: dano860 | September 23, 2013  2:41pm

Correction, the FF guy was’t part of the Bibb breakup.
I forgot to mention Volkswagen and Stihl power equipment also growing in the U.S.