NH officials cast doubt on federal jobless report

·2 min read

Jul. 13—CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu and state unemployment analysts cast doubt upon a federal jobless report issued Tuesday that included a spike due to seasonal adjustments.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported New Hampshire's unemployment in June was 2.9%.

But what concerned state officials most was that federal officials had adjusted New Hampshire's unemployment upward in May — from 2.5% to 2.9%.

Last week, state officials revealed that a federal report on unemployment had falsely concluded that the unemployment rolls had grown 35%, when in fact they had gone down by 19%.

The mistake last week was due to the double-counting of those who had been on unemployment until June 19, when the state ended its $300 per week in expanded federally paid benefits.

"It is clear the United States Department of Labor continues to have issues with their systems, as evidenced by last week's error in double counting jobless claims," Sununu said of the latest report.

"With record job postings, increased business formations, and continuous decreases in unemployment claims, the truth is that N.H.'s economy has never been so strong."

The June 2020 seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in New Hampshire was 10.3% in the height of the pandemic.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2021 was 5.9%, an increase of .1% from May.

Employment Security Deputy Commissioner Rich Lavers confirmed the .4% monthly adjustment in New Hampshire was "unusually high," and it runs counter to the agency's own employment trend records.

To begin with, the June unemployment report is based on the survey federal officials conducted during the week that began June 12.

This was before the extended unemployment benefits in the state had ended, Lavers noted.

From April 22-June 12 there was a drop of 16,000 New Hampshire residents who collected unemployment.

Yet this seasonally adjusted report concluded the number of people employed in the state during May had actually gone down.

"They are trying to tell us that the number of people employed declined from May to June, while the number of unemployed basically stayed flat during that time," Lavers said. "Our own data directly contradicted these findings."

Lavers said the federal survey also doesn't take into account new businesses; it takes the federal government up to a year to include these new workers in their figures.

The state's own report found that the number of new businesses formed each month grew from 244 from January to June 2020 to 355 per month from January to June 2021, a 45% increase.

"So clearly our new start-ups are being undercounted by the federal government," Lavers added.

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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