Friday, February 5, 2010

Confusing Jobs Report

As always, the monthly jobs "report" is in fact 2 reports; on first glance it's a confusing batch of data.

The unemployment rate in the past has been falling in the more commonly cited survey due to massive numbers of people dropping out of the workforce in the less followed survey.  Remember, in America if you are not "actively seeking work" for 4 weeks you disappear.  This has been helping to surpress the unemployment RATE for the past 18+ months as people seem to be giving up... i.e. as job losses continue, the unemployment rate has been falling the past few months.  Will have to look to see if this is the reason for the drop of 0.3% in the unemployment rate (9.7% from 10.0%) or if there are other factors.

The "825,000" newly unemployed estimate via annual benchmark revision figure [Feb 3, 2010: US to "Find" Extra 825,000 Unemployed this Friday after Birth/Death Model Revised] seems to be a much higher 1.2 million on first glance but will have to investigate that one further as well... the quote was 7.2M unemployed was revised up to 8.4M.  If true, that is horrible - that's about 18ish full NFL stadiums of new jobless the government just found under a rock.

The workweek picked up a tad from 33.2 hours to 33.3 hours

Temporary worked added another 50Kish - what we won't know until a few years from now is if the new American workforce is turning into "disposable" - i.e. much more skewed to temporary workers, OR if this is the traditional early cycle surge you see in job growth, where temp workers are hired before full time.

Wages went up, I believe 0.3% which is in the higher range of the past 2+ years.

Other than those 3 items there is nothing in the report we can trust as we see by the massive annual benchmark revisions (over 800K last year and what looks to be 1.2? million this year)  How can we spend any time analyzing figures that are anywhere from 70 to 100K a month wrong?

So we won't.

From the market perespective which at this time is all that matters - a large drop in premarket seems like it will turn to a modest +/- to flattish open.  Works for me; I just prefer not to see huge moves up or down in premarket.  My gut tells me market players are as confused as I am by the data that seems wacky.

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