The 1 Job Statistic No One Is Paying Attention To

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Make no mistake: The U.S. economy may have added 103,000 jobs in September, but 103,000 unemployed workers were not added to payrolls.

J.T. Smith, chief investment officer and economist at investment-banking firm Aristar Funding, parses the difference.

The U.S. Treasury, according to Smith, said withholding receipts fell by $7 billion in September from the previous month. Smith argues that the drop in those taxes doesn't signify job growth of more than 100,000, so he went hunting for the answer. "This headline number of 103,000 jobs is so far off, it requires some digging to understand why," he says.

His search ended on Table A-16 of the non-farm payrolls survey, which showed multiple job holders increased 4.5% to 6.946 million in September from 6.649 million in August.

From May to August, the number of multiple-job holders dropped by a total of 435,000, so a one-month increase of 297,000 that reverses the trend deserves more attention. That statistic doesn't usually receive much thought, but what it says about the state of affairs for U.S. households is crucial.

"It's something people forget to pay attention to," Smith says. "Incomes are down, so people are picking up second jobs. Saying that there is real full-time job growth doesn't make sense. Unemployed people weren't given full-time jobs."

That would suggest households are still struggling and some people need to work second jobs to make ends meet.

"You can look at that increase and say, 'Maybe it's an anomaly, maybe it's a seasonal thing,' " Smith says. "But if you dig into the survey to look at where the job increases were, you'll see retail way up, which is typically part-time work. Health care saw big increases, so perhaps it's nurses taking on second jobs."

"They're just counting jobs, they're not counting people," Smith adds. "It's telling me that the establishment survey is picking up these second jobs and is counting them twice."

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.

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