Friday, February 01, 2008

The January Employment Report

The headline number from today's employment report was a decline of 17,000 jobs in January. (Permanent link likely here.) This number is not significantly different from zero, so the BLS calls it "essentially unchanged." However, the point estimate at this point is the first negative number since August 2003, and that will likely dominate the news.

The January report is also where we see some revisions for calendar year 2007, and these are worth considering when trying to get a fix on where we are in the business cycle. Year-end nonfarm payroll employment was revised downward by 376,000 jobs relative to prior estimates. Very little of this revision pertained to the 4th quarter. Factoring in the January number, employment growth has averaged 66,000 over the last 4 months. That's weak growth in anybody's book.

Looking at the household survey, the unemployment rate was also "essentially unchanged" with a 0.1 percentage point decline. Digging a little deeper, the two alternative measures of unemployment that incorporate marginally attached workers (and in one, those employed part-time for economic reasons) ticked up by 0.2 percentage points. These numbers are presented in Table A-12 of the report.

For more on the details, read Barry Ritholz at The Big Picture.

1 comment:

Josephthepoet said...

If a pile of checks are sent out, then a huge chunk of the money will go to food and inexpensive goods (Walmart type stores), and to expensive life-style buys (overseas supplied too).

The employment in other countries will be given a massive assistance by the purchases coming from the “US Stimulation Package”.

The politicians would have done better by, for example:

1 Giving out $billions in food stamps that get spent locally and help the poor.
2 Setting aside $billions more to extend Unemployment Insurance that also helps locally (including to take retraining).
3 Include using $10-20 billion for maybe clean fuels research, or redesign rebating to clean up dirty coal power plants.
4 And by taking a whopping $100 billion of it, and telling the American public that the money is up for grabs for the full cost of their purchase and operational installation of wind and solar power collectors, of all sizes, on a first come first served basis. Exclude large power farms from this stimulation package but not the bulk purchases of with-in city limits units that cities may wish to install. Many American people, cities and companies would jump in to get their chunk of the $billions.

Engaging these few things would cause instant effects and the money will be invested to promote the “US economy”.

The continuing effect would be us becoming world leaders in these and other clean power technologies, many Americans finding permanent good employment, the US becoming a little more energy secure, and investment in the US stock market would also be assisted upward by the effect of American companies gearing up for the manufacturing, sales, and educational needs.

Giving us poor and suffering a few dollars won’t help us. The availability of many good jobs would be better. Sort of like being given a fish as opposed to being helped to become a fisherman.

My first blog on “The US Stimulation Package” can be found at: