Charlie Brown Type Job Growth Once Again in July 2013

If you loved the exciting life of the fictional character Charlie Brown, the protagonist in the famous comic strip Peanuts (created by Charles M. Schultz), then you are likely thrilled with U.S. job growth in July 2013. And yes, the words exciting and thrilled were stated sarcastically. I liked Charlie Brown, (the comic was and remains fantastic), but his life was always less than his expectations.

Just like Charlie Brown — the ultimate optimist –jobs increased a minimal 162,000 in July, with expectations from economists surveyed by MarketWatch for 180,000. Even worse, ADP had forecast a 200,000 net job growth from the private sector, but only 161,000 jobs were realized. Yep—that’s a Charlie Brown result. Total government jobs grew by 1,000 in the month—with expectations having been for job cuts given sequestration on a national level and tight state and local government finances. Even federal government jobs again played into the Charlie Brown theme, having declined a whopping 2,000 (out of 22.748 million from June)– or 0.07 percent. Since the commencement of the allegedly economically fatal sequestration in January of this year, the federal government has eliminated a total 48,000 jobs. And remember that as of January 1, 2013, there was a total 134.691 million jobs in the U.S. Makes one question how a total 36ths of 1 percent reduction in total U.S. jobs could lead to economic ruins due to a spending cut by the federal government, doesn’t it?

Worse, in true Charlie Brown style, not only did the latest month numbers fall short, the prior two months were adjusted downwards. May, which had previously been stated as 195,000 new jobs, was cut to 176,000. [If you are doing the math, the previous May job growth number was overstated by 9.7 percent]. June was likewise revised, shrinking from 195,000 to 188,000.

The attached graph shows the total number of jobs commencing January 2008, using seasonally-adjusted annualized numbers (SAAR). The SAAR removes the influence of seasonality from month to month. Even with this Charlie Brown growth, the U.S. still has two million fewer jobs today as of January 1, 2008.

8-1-13 graph

Some other statistics from the July  U.S. jobs report include:

  • Retail trade gained 47,000 jobs (more than one out of four new jobs). Wholesale trade accounted for 14,000 new jobs. The combined two represented one-third of all jobs created.
  • Food service and drinking places represented 38,000 new jobs
  • 15,000 new jobs were created in financial activities employment
  • Professional and business services made up 36,000 added jobs
  • Essentially unchanged were manufacturing, health care, mining and logging, construction, transportation and warehousing

And the last Charlie Brown statistic? The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 7.4 percent–the lowest since December 2008. Yee haw? — Maybe not. Since that date, the total number of former workers grew by 240,000 from June, 2013, to July, 2103 . Since January 1,2008, 10.719 million unemployed people have been reclassified to no longer in the workforce.

Good news — some job growth

Bad news — anemic as all get out

Worse news – I doubt real unemployment actually declined

Yep, a Charlie Brown job growth rate. And yes, if you were doing the math, more people were reclassified from unemployed to no longer in the workforce in July than the total number of jobs created. But don’t worry, the unemployment rate declined.

Maybe there is a Great Pumpkin………

To read the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics press release, view data and much more, click


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