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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bad News Behind the Good Jobs Numbers

The Bad News Behind the Good Jobs Numbers | TIME.com: " . . . the Labor Department claims that the jobs numbers should be analyzed without taking the storm into account at all. And by that standard, not only were the job numbers themselves fairly modest, but there are some worrying details in the report that should give one pause before celebrating these numbers too enthusiastically. Construction Employment The report showed a decrease in construction employment of 20,000 jobs. This is troubling — or at least confusing — if Sandy did in fact have a minimal effect on the report, as recent housing start data has been starkly positive . . . Revisions to Previous Months Each month, the Labor Department issues its estimate for the previous month’s job growth, but it also issues revisions for the two months prior to that as well. And this report showed a net downward revision of 49,000 jobs. So really this report gave us a net job gain of 97,000 — a much less impressive figure than the headline 146,000. Declining Participation Rate After showing a solid 0.3% gain last month, the participation rate — or the percentage of adult workers in the workforce — declined once again by 0.2%. That drop in the participation rate appears to be the primary reason the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, as the household survey actually showed a net decline in jobs. While some of the overall decline in the participation rate has been driven by demographic reasons — an older country is going to have fewer people able to work — that only tells part of the story. Some of the decline in participation is undoubtedly a product of a depressed economy, and a true jobs recovery would have this number moving upwards, rather than the other way around. Overall, this report is probably nothing to get excited about either way. It’s roughly in line with the steady-but-unspectacular growth the economy has been producing for the past year. But any proper reading of the report will take into account some of the figures beneath the headline, and the details of this report say that it is less of a cause for celebration than the headline numbers would suggest."  Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/12/07/the-bad-news-behind-the-good-jobs-numbers/#ixzz2EcS7J8Ng

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