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Friday, August 17, 2012

August Unemployment Not Looking Good

New Gallup unemployment data suggest an increase in the government's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August when it is reported on Friday, Sept. 7. During recent months, Gallup's measurements have been more optimistic than those of the BLS. Barring a sharp reversal in this relationship, the government's unadjusted unemployment rate might be expected to stay the same or increase in August.


Gallup's Daily tracking of the unemployment situation is based on interviews with more than 30,000 adults over the 30 days ending Aug. 15, and shows essentially no change in the unadjusted unemployment rate at 8.3% compared to 8.2% in July. In turn, this suggests that the government's unadjusted unemployment rate could increase to 8.7% in July from 8.6% in June. The government's measurement of the unadjusted unemployment rate has been known to differ with Gallup's findings, but a drop of 0.3% in July is necessary to bring the government's unadjusted rate down to Gallup levels.

More interestingly, there were no BLS seasonal adjustments in August 2011. If this remains the same in 2012, the Gallup seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August would be 8.3% while that of the BLS would be 8.7%, assuming a similar increase to that shown in the Gallup data. Further, Gallup's data show the labor force participation rate to be increasing in August. In turn, that could have an additional negative impact on the unemployment rate for August if the government's data show a similar pattern.


Trying to guess the U.S. unemployment rate has been a thankless task in 2012, even using Gallup's 30,000 interviews as a basis for estimation -- even worse than trying to guess the results of the government's establishment survey. However, like ADP's (Automatic Data Processing) estimates of the establishment survey results, Gallup's numbers have been close to the household survey results much of the time.

Regardless, barring heroic adjustments or a sharp change in direction, Gallup data suggest the seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for August will increase -- possibly substantially -- when announced in early September.    

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