Here’s How the Unemployment Rate Dropped Last Month While U.S. Lost 33,000 Jobs

This morning’s September jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not actually capture the extent of the economic misery in the U. S. mainland last month. The data showed a stunning loss of 33,000 jobs (the first time the U. S. has had a negative figure since 2010) while simultaneously reporting that the unemployment rate dipped to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent in August.
But here’s the quirky thing about how the U. S. government’s counts people as being employed: according to the official web site of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, an individual can be counted as employed even if they didn’t receive a dime in salary during the week the data is collected. The BLS explains its rationale as follows: (Italic emphasis added.)
People are considered employed if they did any work at all for pay or profit during the survey reference week. This includes all part-time and temporary work, as well as regular full-time, year-round employment. Individuals also are counted as employed if they have a job at which they did not work during the survey week, whether they were paid or not, because they were:
On vacation;
Experiencing child care problems;
On maternity or paternity leave;
Taking care of some other family or personal obligation;

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.