Deciphering the jobs numbers from two perspectives

It was a virtual certainty that the release of the August jobs report would spur a debate about their meaning. And analysts did not disappoint.Zachary Goldfarb writes in the Washington Post that “one thing is almost certain: The number is wrong.”

Goldfarb contends that the number has gained almost “iconic status,” and that it “has been treated with the respect due scientific truth and deference accorded to religious writ.” But, he says, “the power of the jobs number has only grown despite its questionable pedigree.”

While Goldfarb downplays the legitimacy and questions the accuracy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, Mort Zuckerman challenges them from a different perspective.

Zuckerman holds that the unemployment figures are deceptive because they do not account for those who simply have stopped looking for work. Instead, he says, the key indicator of our employment health is the U-6.

“This is the number who have applied for work in the past six months and includes people who are involuntary part-time workers—government-speak for those individuals whose jobs have been cut back to two or three days a week,” argues in The Wall Street Journal.

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