NH’s jobless rate jumps to 2.9% in June

But state says federal government got its calculations wrong

Ap 20107683994269Last month, Gov. Chris Sununu boasted that the state’s May unemployment rate of 2.5% was the lowest in the nation for the second month in row. But on Monday, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted that rate up to 2.9%, and June’s rate was pegged at the same level.

The bureau also reported a monthly loss of 1,810 jobs in the Granite State, while the number of unemployed also went down by a few hundred.

Deputy Employment Security Commissioner Richard Lavers now says that the federal government got the numbers wrong.

“It shows the BLS survey is struggling,” said Lavers. “They try to adjust the survey model to deal with the pandemic, but they seem to have thrown up their hands. They don’t know how to put people in the right box for employment and unemployment.”

Lavers, citing “state system data that is rock-solid accurate,” is gaining jobs, said the state is gaining jobs, not losing them.

Indeed, he said, the system shows that during the same time period, some 16,000 people left the unemployment rolls, and that was before Governor Sununu cut off federal benefits on June 19, cutting nearly another 10,000 off the rolls.

The BLS bases its data on surveys to employees and workplaces, but New Hampshire has a small sample of roughly 1,300 households, resulting in volatility, said Lavers. Then it adjusts the rate using seasonal adjustments based on historical norms, though how they do all that is somewhat mysterious, said Lavers.

“They hold that close to the vest,“ he said, adding, “but it is tough to apply historical norms right now.”

He also says federal surveys fail to capture startups’ hiring activity. New business filings have jumped since last year, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office, and Lavers said Internal Revenue Service data confirms that many of these businesses are actively hiring.

Despite the monthly job loss, the BLS figures do show that state has come a long way since June 2020, when the unemployment rate was 10.3%.

Some 733,350 Granite Staters are now working, about 51,000 higher than last year at this time. But the total labor force is still down by a few thousand, as any business looking for labor knows too well.

And even the 2.9% unemployment rate in June is way better than the national rate of 5.9%, which actually rose by a tenth of a percent from May rate.

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