Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Job Situation Turns Statistical Corner

New Mexico’s employment situation, according to numbers released this morning, did not improve in December, at least not by the conventional measure of adding jobs. However, by the measure of statistically significant change, things are better. The point here is that the 2,100 wage jobs lost (seasonally adjusted) from November to December are not significant in the statistical sense. Only we numbers geeks may care, but for several months last year, New Mexico was first or second nationally in the statistical significant changes.
With the change, it may be accurate to say the New Mexico is now bumping along the bottom of its recession. But without net new jobs, it is not correct to say, things are better.
Here are some of the numbers, all seasonally adjusted. The full report is at www.bls.gov.
The December 2010 unemployment rate was 8.5%, the same as November and up from 8.2% in December 2009.
The labor force, 957,600 in December, dropped 1,900 over the year.
The number of unemployed, 81,600 in December, was up 200 from November and up 2,600 from December 2009.
Employment, computed by subtracting the number of unemployed for the labor force figure, was 876,000 in December, down 4,500 for the year.
The number of wage jobs, 801,700 in December was down 2,100 from November and down 3,600 year-over-year.
My policy question is what the new administration does rhetorically with the numbers. The Richardson used a kind of doublespeak to claim that things were better because, even though we were still losing jobs, the rate of decline had declined. With the number of jobs still declining, the appropriate description is to say that things are bad, but less bad.

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