Saturday, December 8, 2012

Employment Update: November 2012

The November job numbers (Bureau of Labor Statistics, link) were disappointing. The net gain, officially, was 146,000 jobs. But the actual gain, since my last published report here, for October, was really only 81,000. That is because September and October numbers were revised—and this time downward—by 65,000. Sometimes we gain, sometimes we lose by these revisions. The graphic I show follows, with revised months shaded a light red, November’s number in red. But that last number may also be revised next month as we close out the year.

What appears to ail the economy just at the moment is nothing economic in the narrow sense: uncertainty. All breaths are being held—hard to do when you are shouting yourself hoarse about Black Friday. Sure enough, retail numbers are up around 53,000, but both construction and manufacturing lost jobs. What retail is all about at present is to get rid of its inventory, quickly, before we fall over the Fiscal Cliff or wake up, January 1st, breathing a little easier.

Yesterday’s discussion centered on the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent with that mixture of gladness and despond—because the drop of the rate was due in large measure to some 300,000 people giving up and thus removing themselves from the official labor force. I have commented on the dubious nature of that measure earlier (link).

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