McDonald's hiring binge in April is the only reason today's "awful" job numbers weren't devastating.
The numbers out today: the U.S. economy created 54,000 jobs, about half what was expected. Unemployment ticked up to 9.1 percent. This bucks a three month trend were the economy created about 220,000 jobs each month, on average.
But it gets worse. Keep this in mind: Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment reports don't actually measure all employment over the course of 30 days. They measure all the employees on company payrolls on one given day, usually the 12th of the month. So the May figure really compares how many people were getting pay checks on May 12th to how many got checks on the payroll that covered April 12th, and all other 12ths before that.
McDonald's much heralded hiring day—and subsequent riots—was April 19th, when the company planned to hire 50,000 jobs in one fell swoop, but were overwhelmed by so many applicants they actually overshot the goal and signed up 62,000 McWorkers. So, those McJobs weren't captured in the April jobs numbers, which were actually pretty good. The McDonald's hires are captured in the May report.
That makes today's numbers all the more depressing. McDonald's hired more people than the rest of America combined. If it weren't for the country's largest restaurant chain going on a burger flipper binge, the reports wouldn't say "sharp slowdown" they'd say "reversal" or "devastating."
The White House is keeping a stiff upper lip. Austin Goolsbee, of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said, "There are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years." Adding, "Therefore, as the administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report."
And, before I leave you, consider this somewhat related fact: private employers—including McDonald's—actually hired 84,000 people in May. Local governments cut 28,000 jobs, 18,000 of those in education. You can't have government cutbacks without some job loss.