Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Bit of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Via Instapundit, we are directed here, where we find the following graph:

Kinda scary, but note that it shows percent change from the most recent employment peak. Since employment was incredibly high prior to the Recent Unpleasantness, the reversion to the mean--and then beyond it, looks worse than it is.

The whole thing prompted a trip to the BLS web site to get raw non-farm employment numbers, from which, via the wonders of a bit of Excel hacking, I got a 3-month-smoothed rate of change on employment. Here it is:

So, this one's bad, but comparable to the stuff that happened in '74 and many of the recessions in the 50's. Interesting chart--does anybody see things getting more orderly, and the cycles (mostly) damping out over time? I wonder if this is better economic management, or whether it's a result of the structural changes from a manufacturing economy to a service/information economy.

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