Friday, January 4, 2013

Employment Update: December 2012

At least preliminary employment data for the entire year 2012 were published this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (link). All told, 155,000 jobs were added in December, and revisions to October and November data increased employment over the previous report here by 13,000 jobs. News reports yesterday projected an increase of more than 200,000 jobs by such experts as JP Morgan. Therefore, today, disappointment may be registered. Indeed, as will be shown below, 2012 under performed 2011. Herewith the graphic:

As I did last year so again this year, I can now also show these data annualized. That graphic is next:

The bottom line here is that after two horrendous years, 2008 and 2009, when we lost 8.663 million jobs, in the next three years we’ve recovered 4.701 million jobs, thus a little more than half (54.3%). If the current pattern continues, it will take us another 2.5 years to reach the level we had in 2007.

The longer these patterns continue, the more I am inclined to think that perhaps the Great Recession heralded a more fundamental change than, as recessions typically do, just a spell to catch our breath in the all-out Consumption Marathon. The sluggish results for 2012 seem to confirm that suspicion. When things are confusing, contentions, unpredictable—and jobs are ever harder to get—people do respond by curbing their buying. It would be madness to do otherwise.

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