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.