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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press August Jobs Report: Read With Care

August Jobs Report: Read With Care

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Monday, 10 September 2012 05:02

The Post had a good article reminding people that the jobs numbers are subject to large revisions. It is always important not to make too much of a single release.

I was among those surprised by the August numbers. I expected something like the July report, with 160,000 jobs. Even that is far from great (how does full employment in 2028 sound?), but at least we would be making up some lost ground. The 96,000 jobs reported for August is just treading water, keeping pace with the growth of the labor market.

Anyhow, other data would seem to support a stronger pace of job growth. Most importantly the number of weekly unemployment claims remains near its low point for the recovery. In addition, the number of job openings reported by employers is up by more than 500,000 from year ago levels, a period in which they were adding well over 100,000 a month. Car sales and chain store sales were both pretty strong in August.

My guess is that the September number will be considerably stronger. But in any case, the Post's warning on the monthly data is well-taken.

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by SS, September 10, 2012 10:20
Dean, the un-adjusted number was actually quite good 250,000+ higher than last years, although once seasonally adjusted the number came in well below last years. There was a good analysis comparing the August number to tax revenues which were also up over last years. I will try to post a link to it I can find it again. Seasonal adjustments are very unreliable and are corrected once a year in end-January/ February when the indices are reconciled, usually with very large adjustments, sometimes over a million jobs added or subtracted.

Presuming this was not manipulation we should have a good chance for a better number in September.
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written by SS, September 10, 2012 10:30
Here's the link analyzing the jobs report that I promised, worth reading --from the WSJ via Business Insiders:

http://www.businessinsider.com/jobs-data-actual-numbers-were-strong-seasonal-adjustment-is-wrong-2012-9
...
written by R L Fast, September 10, 2012 12:49
Dean, there's been a lot of talk about people leaving the workforce, but never any context. Boomers began taking early retirement in 2008, and there are a lot of us. We've known this was coming for at least thirty years.

Is this number of people leaving the workforce really alarming, or is it exactly what we should expect?

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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