Thursday, October 15, 2009

Imagine you're running a fever. You start with a temperature of 99.1 which two hours later climbs to 99.5 and then two hours after that it is 99.5 and then two hours after that 100.3 and two hours after that it is 100.7 and then two hours later it is 101.1 and then two hours later on to 101.3.

To me, your condition is continuing to worsen. Sure, your temperature didn't go up by as much on a linear basis by as it did the previous two hours, and by even less using a logarithmic scale, and yes, your temperature has to stop going up before it can start to go down, but your temperature is nonetheless higher... and to me, a higher temperature is evidence of a worsening condition and not a situation that is 'improving'.

So it makes no sense that economic news depicts the latest unemployment numbers as evidence of an 'improving' economy. Yes, fewer people lost jobs this week than last week (a decrease of less than 2 percent) but the economy still shed more jobs than it added.

So while it is 'good' news that fewer people lost their jobs than was expected and fewer than during previous weeks, this report in no way should be taken as a sign that the economy is getting better.

Another item of note: it appears as if the Labor Department is under-reporting the number of people losing jobs, as they continually need to revise upwards their original reports. A number of years ago, I wrote that the Commerce Department was under-reporting growth in the economy during the Bush Presidency, perhaps as a way of painting an overly - and unjustified - negative picture of the economy. Is the Labor Department now deliberately under-reporting job losses in order to paint an unjustified less-negative picture? Jim Geraghty thinks NJ bureaucrats are doing this in New Jersey, perhaps to help Corzine win re-election, it's not inconceivable that pro-Obama bureaucrats in the Labor Department are doing the same on a national scale.