When all you read is gloom, turn here for a much different perspective.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All Eyes On Jobs Data

Let's have a quick look at what to look for when employment or (jobs) data is released. No doubt folks will spin the numbers to meet their objectives. But here is where you can find the actual most current release. Yahoo does a nice economic calendar, so you can track when the Department of Labor releases the raw numbers. You know I cherry pick the good ones. If you like -- you can find the gloomy ones on your own.

Let's first look at a snapshot of last week's initial claims for unemployment report:

Source: US Dept of Labor

You may remember that everyone was surprised by the large drop by 94,000 claims. What was more noteworthy was that the 4-week moving average also showed a decline.

If that 4-week moving average number continues to remain negative, that is a "leading indicator" of continued good news for the jobs market.

In any case, there are new jobs being created out there. From the Tuesday Department of Labor monthly report entitled "Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary", there are indeed places where jobs are solid:

Of the 369 areas covered by the report-
1) Eight metro areas registered unemployment rates of only 3.0 percent.
2) 34 of areas registered rates below 4.0 percent.
3) 218 of areas (59%) reported rates below the national average of 6.5 percent.

The largest year over year percentage gains in employment among the major metropolitan divisions were recorded in:

Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (+1.8 percent)
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (+1.6 percent)
Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (+1.5 percent)
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va. (+1.1 percent)

Just more evidence that this continued dire commentary on the US economy is overblown.

It's 2009. It is time to get focused on recovery, period.


  1. Not so fast.

    Statistically speaking, one blip for one week is kind of irrelevant.

    Now if 8 out of the previous 10 weeks were like that, THEN I would agree with you.

    But, I think it was an outlier and not germane to the actual realistic portrait of the market.

    Especially when their advance numbers are pretty ugly:

    The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Dec. 20 was 4,506,000, an increase of 140,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 4,366,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,422,500, an increase of 103,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,318,750.

    from the same report...

  2. We'll have a new SA 4-week number to use in less than 8 hours.

    And with the new report I'm sure a new list of metro areas where the job market is strong.


  3. And the new SA 4-week number is now out and more strongly negative at -27,000!

    Surprisingly sanguine...

  4. Kudos to you for being the optimist in these pessimistic times.

    I'm not sure if looking at small gains in some metro job markets is relevant to the millions of unemployed unable to afford moving to where there might be jobs. The other problem is the sectors creating jobs and their rate of pay.

    Numbers can be spun good or bad. We've had years of spin control. I'd prefer some open dialogue in regards to our economy and a true assessment of the massive debt and entitlements programs we are unable to pay back or afford.

  5. Thanks Anonymous for the Kudos,

    The actual job numbers now show as a leading indicator that jobs are on the mend.

    I am looking at some other charts and will have a detailed post on leading indicators over the weekend.

    No surprises... they are looking good.


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