Tags: Crudele | unemployment | Census | data

NY Post's Crudele: Unemployment Data 'Nearly Useless at Best, Fraudulent at Worst'

By    |   Friday, 03 April 2015 11:26 AM

The weak March jobs report is creating quite a tumult among investors who wait on pins and needles for monthly employment data.

But New York Post columnist John Crudele says they would do well to cool their jets. The unemployment rate figure is "unreliable — unreliable to the point of being nearly useless at best and fraudulent at worst," he writes.

Unemployment totaled 5.5 percent in March, according to the official data, unchanged from February.

So what's wrong with the figures? The Labor Department requires that 90 percent of household surveys distributed by the Census Department be successfully completed to determine the unemployment rate, Crudele explains.

But, "Census was only able to complete 85.59 percent of March unemployment surveys nationwide, sources tell me," he writes. "And that below-the-threshold number was only reached after Census extended its survey two extra days."

In fact, not one of the six Census regions hit the 90 percent threshold. "The Atlanta region came closest at 89.19 percent, sources said," Crudele notes. "New York, which has always been a laggard, had a miserable 81.27 percent."

And what are the implications of not reaching the goal?

"I'm not an expert on statistics, but this awful performance would seem to invalidate the results of a survey that relies on consistency to measure the ebb and flow of employment," Crudele maintains.

In any case, the March report wasn't weak enough to dissuade the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates this year, says Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets.

Non-farm payrolls rose only 126,000 last month, the smallest gain since December 2013. The labor participation rate matched a 37-year low of 62.7 percent.

And wages climbed just 2.1 percent in the 12 months through March, equaling the average increase since the recession ended in June 2009.

"The report was mostly disappointing. It's not bad news, but it's not surprising," given corporate retrenchment and bad weather, Belski tells CNBC.  "We don't think it takes the Fed off track from raising rates later this year."

Many economists expect the central bank to begin boosting rates in September. It has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008.

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The weak March jobs report is creating quite a tumult among investors who wait on pins and needles for monthly employment data.
Crudele, unemployment, Census, data
Friday, 03 April 2015 11:26 AM
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