A whole lot of (Census) jobs

Bad news for the economy: U.S. payrolls jumped by 431,000 in May, thanks entirely to temporary government hires

By Andrew Leonard
June 4, 2010 4:55PM (UTC)
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U.S. Census worker Gary Caporale, of Ortley Beach, N.J. tries to find someone living at the house made famous by the cast of the "Jersey Shore" television show, Friday, May 21, 2010, in Seaside Heights, N.J. This year, the "Jersey Shore'' Jersey shore has become a destination in its own right as fans of the MTV reality series descend on the Garden State to experience the same sights, sounds and smells. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) (AP)

The U.S. economy added 431,000 new jobs in May, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but 411,000 were temporary U.S. census jobs. Subtract the Census jobs from the total and government payrolls actually declined, while private payrolls rose by only 41,000. The unemployment rate fell from 9.9 to 9.7 percent

That's not a good number -- the trend line for real job growth in the U.S. is pointed in the wrong direction (The BLS also revised April's 230,000 gain down to 208,000.)


Any gain in jobs is better than an outright shortfall, of course, and the broadest measure of unemployment -- the U-6 number, which counts the "total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force" -- fell to 16.6 percent, the lowest point since January. But that's still extraordinarily high. This isn't a labor report to feel happy about it.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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