Even More Thoughts on the Household Survey from the Jobs Report

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.