Unemployment: Up Or Down?

Gallup delivers some happier economic data:

In sharp contrast to the government's report Friday that the U.S. unemployment rate increased to 9.8% in November from 9.6% in October, unemployment as measured by Gallup declined to 8.8% in November. This is down from 9.4% in October and 10.1% in September. Because Gallup's U.S. unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted, some of the late October and November improvement is likely the result of retailers hiring for the Christmas holidays. The demographic data reveal that younger Americans and those with some college education are among those now finding work.

Still, this unadjusted measure may be a better indication of actual labor market conditions than the seasonally adjusted measure reported by the government. Seasonal adjustments are useful for economists to attempt to filter out seasonal effects from underlying data trends, but they are hard to calculate when the U.S. economy has been depressed for about three years.