My Faith in Economists…

PART of the confusion in yesterday’s employment numbers is explained at the end of this NYTimes story.

Still, economists agreed that September’s household survey, which showed a gain of 711,000 jobs, was far too optimistic. About half of the increase came from the survey’s overestimation of the number of teenagers who would quit their jobs at the end of summer. When fewer teenagers than usual left the labor force in September — perhaps because the economy made summer jobs hard to find — the Labor Department’s seasonal adjustment counted a large increase in jobs.

OK, it’s complicated. They measured about 350,000 fewer teenagers leaving jobs at the end of summer than usually leave jobs at the end of summer, so they chalked it up as teenagers taking 350,000 NEW jobs that opened up.

What REALLY happened was that at the BEGINNING of summer 350,000 fewer teenagers than usual were able to find jobs, so they couldn’t be leaving them at the end of summer. I mean, DUH! What were these people thinking? They said the numbers looked this way because 350,000 teenagers took jobs at the end of summer.

What do teenagers do at the end of summer? They go back to school. But the economists didn’t think of that. Not a good day for the reputation of economists. Perhaps they are more than a little out of touch with “regular people.”