The Strangest Number In Today's Jobs Number

Tyler Durden's picture

While we already presented the explanation for the dramatic drop in today's unemployment report (almost entirely driven by the surge in part-time jobs for economic reasons, hardly a thing to be proud of as more and more full time jobs, especially those on Wall Street, are a thing of the past, while the transition to a part-time worker society has been documented extensively in the past here), there is another number that is by far the most perplexing in today's NFP dataset: that showing the employment of workers in the 20-24 year age category (both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted). See if you can spot the outlier in the chart below.

The chart above shows the sequential change in Non-Seasonally Adjusted jobs for the 20-24 year old cohort (aka those who normally are in student age) into the month of September going back to 1980, as represented by the Household Survey.

We have shown just 22 years of data, but believe us: in this data set, the September NSA jobs change has been negative every single year since the beginning of data collection. Except for 2012 (and considering the surge in temp-jobs for economic reasons, one can be certain that if indeed correct, all these young people obtained primarily part-time jobs, if any).

Ok, what about the Seasonal Adjusted: after all that Arima-X-12 data fudger should be put to good use. Well, here is the data:

Cutting to the chase: the September surge in Seasonally Adjusted jobs give to 20-24 year old is the biggest in decades. This is on top of the only positive NSA increase in 20-24 year old jobs in history.

How does one explain this stunning discovery? RBS's Richard Tang, who noted it first, proved one explanation:

While we cannot be certain, the back-to-back gains in September 2011 and September 2012 could reflect a decision by younger workers to remain in the workforce rather than pursue a higher education. Given how difficult it is to get a job in the current environment, more young workers may be choosing to hold on to the jobs they already have. In fact, this does seem to be the case during periods of weakness/recessions. The last time we had back-to-back September gains in employment in the 20-24 year old cohort even approaching what we have seen in September 2011 and 2012 was in the 2000-2001 period. Prior to that, it was in 1984-85. In any case, the unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds plummeted from 13.9% in August to 12.4% in September, the lowest reading since November 2008. The 1.5 percentage point drop in September matched the sixth-largest monthly drop going back to 1948.

A valient effort but one thing remains outstanding: the record amount of student loans outstanding, and defaults, which as we explained last Friday, is indicative of one thing: everyone is doing their best to avoid the labor market in this worst possible time for jobs and is hiding instead in the "safety" of a Federally funded college education. This explains not only the record amount of student loans outstanding, well over $1 trillion in total, and over $900 billion just Federally funded.

So somehow in September, in addition to all the other discrepancies in the labor report, we have one more to add: that of the Schrodinger Student: one who is both in college and piling up student loans on one hand, yet on the other hand entering the work force in the month of September, a time when historically every single month in recorded history has seen an exit from the labor force for the 20-24 year old cohort.

We'll leave this one for Jack Welch to figure out.

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Jason T's picture

When I was 21, I started in manufacturing, 22 was supervisor in training, 23 engineer in training.. 24  



iDealMeat's picture

I'm loving this new math..  I'm also moving from a "no vote" to an Obama voter..  Anything to accelerate the total reset..


Long popcorn..

Surly Bear's picture

Surely Surly can explain studies, bitchez!

redpill's picture

They've already defaulted on their student loans, what do they need a part time job for?

TonyCoitus's picture

That was a great year.....for a Detroit Tiger fan!


Go Tigers!

Badabing's picture

So let’s say I got a part time job and can’t make ends meet.

So I go out and find another part time job to fill the void.

Does that now count as two people employed?

The statistics are as fake as my avatar!

SWRichmond's picture

There are no jobs, there are only interventions.

Fukushima Sam's picture

These new jobs for the 20 - 24 cohort are great!  You get to stand in line in front of the Apple store and get paid!  And you get to go door-to-door to talk to people about Obama.. and get paid!

DeadFred's picture

Everyone is assuming something here that isn't in evidence. Who says the loans are going to 20-24 year olds? Mom and Dad were laid off. Mom went back to school hoping for a new career. Dad's on disability and Junior has a part time job to try to supplement their food stamps as they live in the home that they haven't made a mortgage payment on for three years. Now it makes sense. Green shoots all around and we should give the guy in the WH four more years to keep the shoots growing.

mumbo_jumbo's picture

you might be onto something there, maybe all these 20-24 year old temp jobs ARE cause of the Obama reelection campaign?

GMadScientist's picture

Say you only get one job, but it's at Wal-Mart...

Seats filled are not important; dollars paid are.

redpill's picture

And sorry to pick nits Tylers, but this is not part of the NFP data set, it's part of the Household data set from the Current Population Survey, which is a much thinner survey with much higher margin of error, which convneniently makes it much easier to fudge.  

And of course next month after everyone has already voted, these will be revised in line with expectations and nothing will be done about it.

SafelyGraze's picture

schrodinger totus simultaneously is and is not NBC

schrodinger-flation simultaneously raises and lowers prices

schrodinger dollar simultaneously is and is not a liability 

schrodinger metal simultaneously is and is not in vault

schrodinger msm simultaneously reports and overlooks events

just kidding (not) 

Silver Bully's picture

'They've already defaulted on their student loans, what do they need a part time job for?'

I believe Evelle said it best in Raising Arizona:

"H.I., you're young and you got your health, what you want with a job?"

Mercury's picture

I moved over two years ago...

jimmytorpedo's picture

in with my parents

(fixed it for you)

seek's picture

I've been quite stunned at how many of my previously unenlightened* (R)-leaning friends are doing the same, their vote relly coming down to who would drive things into the ground fastest.


* = they bought into the two-party paradigm, enlightenment being the realization the whole system is a scam.

ceedub's picture

As much as you want to think you're an engineer, you're not. Technician maybe, engineer no.

hannah's picture

so are saying that you cant become an engineer in only one year...? LOL...a perfect example affirmative action in action.....! the gov just hands out peices of paper with 'degree' on them.

centerline's picture

Actually, you legally can't call yourself an engineer in private sector work unless you have had at least 4 years as an engineer-in-training and passed written exam and other requirements to be licensed.  Anyone representiting themselves as an engineer otherwise can get into trouble.

There are some exceptions here and there - like Software Engineer.  But, it can be a real slippery slope when you get into areas that require licensing to sign drawings.

akak's picture

So, are you saying that, legally speaking, Ben Bernanke is not a Bullshit Transfer Engineer?

Bohm Squad's picture

No, his credentials for that position are solid.

Lore's picture



You see it everywhere. Another case in point: "REALTOR" is trademarked. You can't call yourself a "REALTOR" without a piece of paper, the implication being that you're not a competent seller of a house unless you have someone else's "licence." 

donsluck's picture

Correct. Good old boys club. For 25 years I performed all the engineering duties that the PEs did, even trained recent grads in skills specific to my duties, as they got payed more than me! Fuck it. I started my own company (I never graduated from high school) and I now hire an Engineer if I need the stamp, and keep the profits for myself. Something like 70% of companies are owned by non-degreed individuals. I have my own theories on why.

blunderdog's picture

People who own/run their own businesses TEND TO BE more independent-minded and don't do well in the "structured authority" environment of college. 

Basically, folks are born with a predisposition to be boss or worker, and if you're born to be a boss, you're not likely to want to sit in a classroom for 4 years. 

Conversely, folks who did well in school deal better with conflicting directives and the group-politics that are so common in the modern office environment than the "boss" types.

Intelligence and educability aren't significant factors, that's for sure.

Lore's picture

That model doesn't fit my experience.

In small business AND large organizations, the vast majority are incapable of THINKING CREATIVELY.

Consider the number of highly educated people who don't have an original thought in their head. 

Standardization constrains flexibility and ingenuity. 

It's part of the reason why our system is breaking. Our elites want to stop nature. They strive to manipulate everything because evolution TERRIFIES them.

blunderdog's picture

I don't see any clear disagreement--I'm curious what I said which you think actually conflicts with this.  I agree with your view.

"Creativity" isn't usually what leads someone to want to start a business.  Most of the time, it's just folks who don't want to work for someone else. 

The *creative* enterpreneur is the exception, same as the creative employee.

centerline's picture

I know alot of people who can outperform PE's all day long.  The license alone doesn't guarantee anything except some core knowlegde and good test taking skills.  Experience, common sense, drive, etc. are different things.

Not a good ol boys club though really.  Is a fight to not be turned into a commodity.  Too late for my area of expertise though.

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

Sanatation Engineers probably do have 4 year degrees.

Jason T's picture

You're right.  Technical Service Engineer... 6 months of intense training on how we manufactured printed circuit boards.. but you never stopped learning.  Age 25 I quit... 2 years later company closed up for good. 

If those same 21 year old are going to college to learn how to manufacture circuit boards.. I wish them luck after they have both debt and little job prospects in that industry in the US.  

hannah's picture

jason there is a huge difference in meaning between a service 'engineer' and a bach if science in engineering. did you actual design chips...?  this is a perfect example of why this country fell off a cliff. would you let a surgeon with 1 years rapid training do open heart surgury on you....?

Jason T's picture

In the beginning, I should stand corrected.. was product support techician doing quotes and proposals.  2.5 years after that, I got the title of Tech Service Engineer.  I designed the process flow to manufacture the boards and basically took ownership of the boards yeilds and profitability.  Was a great job and I had a great opportunity for someone that didn't go to college but had half a brain to work at.

Country fell off a cliff cause we let our industrial base go to shit.    We don't make high volume circuit boards anymore.  We've got about 300 mom and pop shops left, that's it.  So 20 year olds don't have these kinds of companies to work at anymore, so they go to college, which has become so exspensive sadly.

I'm with you on offending the title of "Engineer" as I was no engineer in that respect.  


robobbob's picture


The fulfillment and climax of the American dream occurred during a time when ability trumpted all. A piece of paper was nice, but carried little weight in the face of experienced knowledge and a proven track record of real world success. OTJC was the standard path for most. Slowly but surely, the grizzled vets who knew through experience or intuition have been driven out and replaced by box checkers and ticket punchers. Occasionally those fresh from the halls of academia would have new perspectives, or be in the know on the latest advances, but by and large most have only been taught to conform to the path of advancement found in a centralized bureaucratic totalitarian environment, graded on a curve. Don't think critically. Don't think outside the box. Give the answer the professor/boss expects to hear. Always have a scapegoat or an out ready to blame someone else if things don't work out. Short term gain trumpts long term success. 

What was edisons major? what year did tesla graduate? Gates got a degree in what? The wright bros would be arrested today for what they did. Some people are incompetent and the public might need assurances that they are not dealing with idiots, but when the process is held in higher regard than ability or performance, that is the end of fairness. that is the goal of the central planners, a nice tidely classified structured world. sacriface results for the sake of process. the end is surely coming. That is why the country has fallen off a cliff.


Poetic injustice's picture

I was sitting and cobbling together circuit boards at age of 12 in my father's sweatshop. Good times, as in fact he paid well for that. Also got a PC motherboard and promised to get the details if we wanted to make a cool PC. Great memories.

azzhatter's picture

I used to get techs who worked for me offering to forego a raise if they could get an engineer title

azzhatter's picture

I used to get techs who worked for me offering to forego a raise if they could get an engineer title

Lore's picture

Accreditation is to engineering as fiat currency is to money.

The government subsidized Accreditation Industrial Complex (AIC) would prefer that you forget how much you can do yourself.

Arnold's picture

 Operating Engineer. Just show some skill and interest in Union activities.

I think that fixed it.

johngaltfla's picture

They are counting Obama campaign workers as "new hires" even if they are volunteers on college campuses.

Fluffybunny's picture

[Jaston T: When I was 21, I started in manufacturing, 22 was supervisor in training, 23 engineer in training.. 24]

I got my first job when I was 9. Worked at a sheet metal factory. In two weeks, I was running the floor. Child labor laws are ruining this country.

hannah's picture

thats nothing...i was a fetus when i got my first job creating MBRS for goldman sachs. i would sign the docs by sticking my little arm out the birth canal and signing away. finally i was born and made vp within a week....!

KidHorn's picture

When my atoms where in a soon to go supernova star...

Temporis's picture

Nice to meet you Mr. Blankfein.

Strider52's picture

I was born in a log cabin that I built myself.

jekyll island's picture

You didn't build that cabin, someone built it for you.