More and more interesting stuff comes out on the jobs report. My post yesterday mentioned some issues surrounding the change in the number of part-time workers in the employment numbers. I just came across this report from Robert Barbera at the Johns Hopkins Center for Financial Economics (thanks to Economist’s View for finding this). While I feel we’ll likely have to wait for several more months of data to determine if the lower unemployment rate is a trend or not, Dr. Barbera posits that the spike in part-timers is itself a trend, which he attributes to “faulty seasonal adjustments.”
[T]he surge in part time employment is almost certainly a reflection of faulty seasonal adjustments. We witnessed three monthly spikes in the tally for part time for economic reasons. A spike in 2010 totaled 579,000. A spike in 2011 totaled 483,000. Most recently, we witnessed a spike of 582,000. All three occurred in September.
I suspect that Dr. Barbera is probably on to something. Looking at the 12-month moving average of the number (to get rid of some of the volatility inherent in the monthly numbers) shows a grinding decrease in the number of part-time employees over the last three or four years.