U.S. employment fell again in November, by 138,000

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data showing that the United States economy added 263,000 jobs in November. Some, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, saw this as unequivocally good news:

But, as I’ve noted before, these numbers come from the Establishment survey which measures the number of jobs. When we look at the Household survey which measures the number of people employed, we see that, in fact, the number of Americans in employment actually fell in October by 138,000.

This followed a fall of 328,000 in October. Indeed, as Figure 1 shows, the number of Americans in employment has now fallen in four of the last eight months. Indeed, while the number of jobs has increased by 2.7 million since March, the number of Americans in employment has only risen by 12,000.

Figure 1: Change in numbers of jobs and number of Americans employed, thousands

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The next time you see someone trumpeting growth in jobs numbers, ask yourself how the number of Americans employed has changed.