U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 8.1% for the month of August, down slightly from 8.3% measured in mid-August and 8.2% for the month of July. Gallup’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August is also 8.1%, a slight uptick from 8.0% at the end of July.
These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews, conducted by landline and cell phone, with more than 30,000 Americans throughout the month. Gallup calculates a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate by applying the adjustment factor the government used for the same month in the previous year. The government adjusted its July numbers downward last year, but made no adjustment in August, which accounts for the increase in seasonally adjusted unemployment despite the decline in the unadjusted number.
U.S. unemployment declined significantly during the first part of the year, but August marks the third straight month with little change in the unadjusted number. Gallup’s estimate of adjusted unemployment has increased by 0.3 percentage points since June. Despite the lackluster jobs growth, August’s 2012 unadjusted and adjusted unemployment are each more than a full point lower than they were in August 2011.
Underemployment is also down a bit.
Underemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, was 17.1% in August, unchanged from the end of July but significantly improved from 18.5% a year ago. Gallup’s U.S. underemployment measure combines the percentage who are unemployed with the percentage of those working part time but looking for full-time work. Gallup does not apply a seasonal adjustment to underemployment.
The pundits anxiously await the BOL official jobs numbers on Friday. If the numbers show a declining unemployment rate, then President Obama may have a bigger bounce in his re-election poll numbers.
However, with the Obama re-election folks trying to loser expectations on the eve of the President’s acceptance speech tonight, I suspect these numbers will be slightly improved or unchanged.
The decline in unemployment seen earlier in the year has not been sustained, with unadjusted unemployment flat over the past three months. Although there is no longer a net loss of jobs, employers are not adding enough jobs to dramatically reduce the unemployment rate.
Gallup’s slight increase in seasonally adjusted unemployment indicates that the unemployment rate the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases on Friday will likely remain flat and possibly increase by a tenth of a point.
Unemployment hovering just above 8.0% could have important implications for President Barack Obama as the election nears. The only incumbent president since 1912 to win his re-election bid when the unemployment rate exceeded 8.0% was Franklin Roosevelt, who was re-elected as the U.S. recovered from the Great Depression. What may matter more, though, is the direction of the unemployment rate, which provides mixed signals for Obama’s chances — improving earlier this year but leveling off in recent months.