Friday, February 4, 2011

January Employment Data

Hiring The Department of Labor has released the January employment data.  However, because of bad weather and government job losses, the reliability of these numbers--at least as a sign of any broader trends--is minimal.  Among the findings was an increase of only 36,000 jobs the past month.  This, in addition to populations readjustments and fewer people braving the cold to look for work, resulted in a decline of the unemployment rate to 9% from the previous month's 9.4%.

Of course, if the weather affected things a lot in January, February may be worse . . . .



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The numbers were so confusing (how can the unemployment rate drop so much when job growth isn't even enough to match population growth?) that I started following the discussion on the NYT Economix blog, The consensus there and elsewhere seems to confirm Jeff's skepticism. In addition to the weather, there were significant technical revisions, plus January is the month when the BLS uses updated population estimates. The blog's conclusion (quoting a money manager) is the best summary I've seen: “Between weather and revisions, there are too many crosscurrents playing into this jobs report to draw a strong trend. It’s going to start getting better at some point in time, but that sort of remains to be seen.”

Posted by: Dennis Nolan | Feb 4, 2011 9:52:02 AM

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