UPDATED: Unemployment Numbers: Seeing Trees v. Forest, Which is Burning

The Miracle of the Trump Economy

Lord Damp Nut actually re-Tweeted this meme. Go figure

I’ve been struggling to understand the surprising jobs number reported for May; they make little or no sense to me. While some states are lifting their shelter-in-place restrictions would (no doubt) have employers recall workers, I’m confused that the demand would exist to warrant such a large re-hiring, especially in a service economy. I’m not dying (literally) for a haircut, and no one I know here in the People’s Republic of Seattle is booking an appointment even though salons in Warshington are alleged to have the green light to open with a lot of new conditions.

I don’t know if cooking-the-books at Bureau of Labor Statistics is likely or even possible. But given that the BLS ultimately reports to the Department of Labor, run by Eugene Scalia, the son of late SCOTUS Justice Fat Tony, I cannot rule anything out of being impossible.

My theory: The Paycheck Protection Program might have finally kicked-in and small businesses returned their workers to active status even though the business is not really operating at scale.


Some of the jobs gains reported for May could be a reflection of the Paycheck Protection Program, the U.S. government’s forgivable loan scheme that provides funding to small businesses that keep workers on payroll, which was launched at the beginning of April…

Roughly 4.5 million businesses have received a total of about $510 billion in paycheck protection loans, data from the Small Business Administration shows. Some 2.9 million of them did not receive their funds until after April 27, according to the data.

Howard Flax is a case in point. He shut his art supply stores in San Francisco and Oakland in mid-March, laying off his 16 employees. He applied to the PPP program in early April but didn’t receive a $137,500 loan until mid May. Flax immediately hired back 14 workers, even though revenues are still well short of pre-crisis levels and his business restricted to curbside pickup.

There is the business of actually looking for work once you are fired. There is a 4-week roll-over before you drop off the unemployment rolls during which time you have to demonstrably look for work. How many people are going to pound the street during a pandemic when all the employers are shut-down? So I think this has to be the impact of the PPP working as designed.

And of course, there is the question of definitions. Is a worker who is furloughed actually unemployed. (Well, to the workers that doesn’t make a difference; they are still not getting a paycheck.) BUT, if you reclassify some workers from being Fired to being Furloughed, it might lower the unemployment rate. I’m not sure who qualifies as furloughed outside of Public Sector; maybe Union shops?

And WHEN the Trump-Virus sparks up again (it is not an IF) what happens then?

So I think that there is a lot going on here. And while 2.5M Americans gaining employment is absolutely a good thing, the 40M or so still unemployed is a large-scale tragedy.

Let’s not lose sight of the forest which is burning.



THE NYT gave President DONALD TRUMP the unimpressed eyes emoji on the jobless rate, leading the paper with a big unemployment graph, and the bug “From Worst to Second-Worst” A1 of the NYT


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8 Responses to UPDATED: Unemployment Numbers: Seeing Trees v. Forest, Which is Burning

  1. MDavis says:

    That didn’t take long.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. StringOnAStick says:

    I retired rather than risk being a dental hygienist in the time of Covid, but the entire office is back at work thanks to the PPP, so that’s 7 people no longer counted as laid off.

    The lady who cuts my hair is thinking of hanging up her scissors due to the risk, and yesterday her salon building owner wants her and all her clients to sign liability waivers, which looks like her last straw. I hate this fucking timeline, but I’m enjoying having really long hair again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. probably noted on Fox news like this: on page 47 in small type at the bottom of the page:

    “There was an error on our front page story yesterday about Mr. Smith. He does not, in fact, *fuck goats*. He *milks goats*. We regret the error. –The Management”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. osirisopto says:

    Of course they lied.

    THey always lie about everything. Anyone in the media, in government, in business, or trump university graduate who didn’t think they lied about the unemployment numbers is lying to themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dennis Cole says:

    And those low, Low LOW unemployment numbers during last year’s “roaring Economy?” They were conjured in much the same way, using means for counting those off work that are not all-inclusive, as they say. As in every other presentation to the Sheeple that involves numbers and Maths, they use their own perimeters and parameters, and move those around to suit expectations, and NOT current conditions. Goalposts get shifted, the playing field is leaning so badly to the Right that the “Tilt light” is flashing furiously, while the alarms are clangoring accordingly, all while we’re constantly being reassured, “everything is fine, it’s all going to be OK……….LOOK! We’re springing back! Glory hallelujah, what miracles he can wrought!”

    It’s gonna be a long, hot summer, (which technically hasn’t really started yet,) and I’m fearful that entire sections of America are going to burn, that the Police/Military begin using Lethal Force, and thus get overrun by a helluva pissed-off populace, and as many people are likely to die from that as from however many Rounds the Virus keeps returning, to continue decimating us.

    Yep, good ‘ol cheerful me, as usual. Which is why I don’t comment as much. I just can’t continue with the witty parlais while the actual, real Fascists and Jackbooted Thugs take over our Capitol.

    Liked by 3 people

    • tengrain says:

      Please comment all you want, Dennis. Everyone contributes and we have a rounder picture of what is going on.



      Liked by 4 people

      • Dennis Cole says:

        TG – it’s not so much grumpy old me, it’s my Muse. She’s withdrawn almost to the point of catatonia, she’s so disgusted. And not just by Drumpf’s actions, it’s the lack of reactions, from the Press, the TV anchors, all the way up to Nancy’s “official pronouncement.”

        And as it turns out, he himself would not have to fire the fatal shot on 5th St., he would order it done, by “his” military. In fact, he could order mass executions using machine guns, and everyone would just gasp, and exclaim,”Well, he’s never gone that far before! Let’s hope he doesn’t do it again.”


  6. Pingback: The US Unemployment Rate Is Actually 16.3% | personnelente

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