Oct 5 - September's unemployment rate plunges to 7.8 percent. Despite glaring contradictions between data from households and employers, experts explain why you can trust the numbers. Conway G. Gittens reports.
There was plenty confusion after the September jobs report. A precipitous drop brought the U.S. unemployment rate to 7.8 percent - the lowest since President Barack Obama took office. For some, the fall seems inexplicable, but to others it makes sense. The unemployment rate comes from the so-called household survey, which compares the change in the number of employed to those out of work and still looking. For Philippa Dunne of The Liscio Report, the numbers though volatile, add up. SOUNDBITE: PHILIPPA DUNNE, CO-EDITOR, THE LISCIO REPORT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The participation rate was very high for people with some college or more, and there was also a big jump in part time for economic reasons. That was up about 600,000. And that, even by that noisy series, that's a pretty big move." She says the increase in employment showed by the household survey can be explained by recent college graduates landing a job after the summer. Historically, September tends to be a better month for job seekers, according to research by Deutsche Bank dating back to 1939. The other measure of employment - submitted by employers - shows non-farm payrolls grew 114,000 last month, which means this jobs recovery remains sluggish. Rutgers University professor and labor economist William Rodgers: SOUNDBITE: WILLIAM RODGERS, LABOR ECONOMIST/PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've added 4.7 million new jobs, almost 4.8 million new jobs. However, when you average that out since February 2010, you are still, you are only in this 130,000-to-150,000 range, which is that level that you need just to break even." And even enough to stave off another recession? SOUNDBITE: PHILIPPA DUNNE, CO-EDITOR, THE LISCIO REPORT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Data and the data that we look at, of course, is our own data. How could we not? And that's the state level with-held receipts, and those receipts are not signaling a recession." A little comfort in the numbers for the 4.8 million Americans still looking for work. Conway Gittens, Reuters