If the U.S. Economy Added 431,000 jobs in May, why are only 41,000 in the Private Sector?

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Today, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the addition of new jobs "at the fastest pace in a decade" with "the largest gain since March 2000".  

The reality is that the May jobs figure was only boosted by hiring 411,000 temporary public sector government workers for the 10-year count of the U.S. population by the U.S. Census Bureau. The private sector added only 41,000 jobs.  

From 2002 to 2006, I served as the U.S. Labor Department’s Regional Representative for California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Guam, and learned a lot about labor laws and high growth sectors of the economy in our state as well as our neighbors.

One of the things I loved was what former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao’s staff used to call "numbers day".  This was the first Friday of the month most of the time when unemployment numbers and the amount of non-farm payroll jobs were released.

It was always an amusing day for us in the media – the Bush Administration would spin our story about how the number of jobs was increasing and unemployment falling.  Our friends in organized labor would spin their story about how the sky was falling and how rates of between 6% and 7% for unemployment were somehow a catastrophe for workers.  They had forgotten that unemployment during the Carter and Clinton years far exceeded that and that our numbers were actually quite remarkable given the events of 9/11/2001 and the severe impact the terrorist attack took on many sectors of the economy.

Today’s unemployment projection according to the BLS is 9.7%, down from 9.9% — clearly a victory if you don’t follow the BLS trends and understand what the numbers mean.

Today, President Obama will be doing high fives with just about everyone in the White House and at all public events and claiming victory for this mighty task for reducing unemployment and creating jobs.  He’ll say that there’s still more to do.  He will again tell the "glass half full" story rather than recognizing the stark reality that stimulus "spin" is just that.  Adding government positions rather than creating real, sustainable jobs by innovators, entrepreneurs and small businesses is not sustainable.

California has the chance on Tuesday to elect individuals in primaries who have been job creators and who understand that government’s place is to promote an environment where small businesses can flourish rather than to over-regulate and stifle growth.  It’s time we took back our state and focused on what stimulates the economy rather than adding more regulatory red tape which stands in the way of growth an innovation.

Take your jobs seriously as voters because our economy cannot survive on "spin".  It must be run by people who know what private sector jobs look like and how to create them.

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