Two months ago, there were various prominent pundits who were furiously mocked and ridiculed by those whose job in the media it is to mock and ridicule, for suggesting what most know: that economic data is widely nuanced, massaged, adjusted, goalseeked and outright manipulated by various political interests. That someone would feign outrage by this allegation is laughable at best (and sorry, the "too many people were involved to keep it a secret" excuse is now absolute rubbish following the confirmation of Liborgate, yet another conspiracy theory until it became a conspiracy fact), yet all the "serious" outlets of insight did just that. Now that the election is over, for one reason or another "unnuanced" normalcy is about to strike back with a vengeance, as soon as tomorrow with the official release of November jobs data. And if the just released Gallup unemployment data is any indication, the amount of outright goalseeking by the fine folks at the BLS was nothing short of startling. Because after recording an adjusted unemployment rate of 7.4% in October, the November unemployment rate, based on a random sample of 29,308 adults, soared by a whopping 0.9% in one month to 8.3%, the most since the Great financial crisis itself! And furthermore, at 8.3% the unemployment rate is now the highest since May. Is it time yet for all those sellsiders to admit they were wrong weeks after producing beautiful pitchbooks of how 2013 will be "different this time" and the economy will soar? Or should we wait a few weeks first?
The unemployemnt rate per Gallup:
These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews, conducted by landline and cell phone, with approximately 30,000 Americans throughout the month -- 67.2% of whom are active in the workforce. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. Last year, the government adjusted the November rate upward by 0.5 percentage points.
It is unclear what caused the increase in the unemployment rate in November, although some experts speculate that it was caused by jobs lost as a result of superstorm Sandy. It is also possible that lackluster holiday hiring is to blame.
Although the increase in the unadjusted rate in November is a sharp contrast to the 0.9-point decline seen in October, November's 7.8% rate is still tied for the second-best unadjusted unemployment monthly reading of 2012. However, on an adjusted basis, November's rate is the highest reading in six months. Looking at year-to-year comparisons, seasonally adjusted unemployment is down from 8.9% in November 2011.
As for U-6 (underemployment)...
Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 17.2% in November, a 1.3-point increase since the end of October. The uptick in November also puts an end to the six-month trend of improvements or no change. Still, underemployment has improved 0.9 points since November 2011.
Gallup's U.S. underemployment measure combines the percentage who are unemployed with the percentage of those working part time but looking for full-time work. Gallup does not apply a seasonal adjustment to underemployment.
Finally, as so often happens in the New Normal, take anything you believe and flip it. Which is why if objective reality is precedent, expect the BLS to announce yet another improvement in the unemployment rate, increasingly more often notices of major layoffs of blue chip companies notwithstanding.