Today’s drop in the unemployment rate had the conspiracy theorists accusing the Obama administration of massaging the numbers. But according to Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna, Obama’s campaign may have played a role in the numbers.
…And so did Mitt Romney’s.
In his note summing up the week in economics, LaVorgna writes:
we have observed a large rise in parttime employment, which arguably hints of the sort of temporary, part-time hiring that is often associated with political campaigns. In addition, we also observed a large +368k increase in employment of 20 to 24 year olds, arguably the demographic most likely to take part working on political campaigns.
Get that? The campaigns did boost employment by their direct hiring of young workers!
…the drop in the unemployment rate does not jibe with either the economy’s recent patch of middling growth or the fact that most of the gain in household employment was outside of private industry.
The fact that most of the gains were part-time and that a large portion of the increase was in the 20 to 24 year old demographic, arguably provides some anecdotal evidence that election year hiring may have artificially lowered the unemployment rate. However, we will not know this to be the case until well after the election season ends.
Incidentally, the New York Times’ Catherine Rampell has her own explanation on the jump in employment for page aged 20-24 — namely, that they are now leaving summer jobs earlier than usual, and that BLS’s seasonally adjusted numbers now reflect this.
Changes in seasonal patterns like this one can introduce more error into the headline numbers, and can at least partly explain why the overall change in household employment looked so much bigger in September than seems plausible.
After seasonal adjustment, the increase in employment among those 20 to 24 was given as 368,000. That’s about 42 per cent of the overall increase in employment growth for people of all ages. (After making seasonal adjustments, the employment level for 20- to 24-year-olds was reported as declining by 250,000 in August.)
So, no conspiracy, but not without anomalies.