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Kimberly Amadeo

Census Hiring Inflates Jobs Report

By June 4, 2010

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The employment report shows 431,000 jobs were created in April. However, once the 411,000 temporary Census jobs are taken out, it is less than the 150,000 increase needed to keep the economy growing.

The unemployment rate dropped from 9.9 to 9.7%. The number of unemployed dropped back down to 15 million, from 15.3 million in April. That's because the number of people in the labor force dropped by the same amount. The unemployment rate decreased because the number of unemployed dropped more than the labor force itself. That's probably because of the temporary hiring for the Census. For a history of unemployment reports since March 2007, see Unemployment Statistics History.

Overall, the employment situation is improving. True, there are 571,000 fewer jobs than May of last year. That's a bad thing. BUT the good part is that it's better than July, when there were 6.8 million fewer jobs year-over-year.  To see the trend, review my calculations on Jobs Google Spreadsheet.

The trend in manufacturing jobs, a leading indicator, also improved as 29,000 jobs were added in April. This is still 251,000 fewer jobs than the year before, but it's better than June 2009, when manufacturing was down 1.6 million jobs.

Manufacturing is a leading indicator because it produces the big-ticket items consumers put off buying in a recession. Once the economy starts to improve, these orders are the first to come back. In the last recession, manufacturing jobs started to improve before the overall job market. For the data, see Google Spreadsheet Manufacturing Jobs. (Source: BLS, Employment Situation Summary)

What This Means for You

There were 31,000 non-Census temporary jobs added in May. Over 361,000 temp jobs were added since September 2009. In the expansionary phase of a business cycle, employers add temporary workers before hiring full-time works.

There were 8.8 million part-time workers who would prefer full-time work. The increase in part-time and temporary workers reflects a shift towards the Freelance Economy.

Employment may improve year-over-year sooner than it did in the 2001 recession, which lasted 8 months, and had 29 months of year-over-year job losses. It's hard to tell what the  long-term impact of the Census hiring will be on the employment data. To find out more, see When Will Job Opportunities Improve? For a history of employment reports since March 2007, read Employment Statistics History.

Articles from Alison Doyle, About.com Guide to Job Searching

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