Friday, November 4, 2011

October job report

There was some good news in this morning's job report despite the number of jobs created being below expectations (80,000 vs. a consensus expectation of 100,000).  Revisions added about 100,000 jobs to prior months with private sector employment in September now estimated to have risen by 191,000.  Beneath the surface, there is better news in October, though it only reversses weakening from recent months.  For example, those working part time for economic reasons declined significantly in October, but that just offset the increase in September. Also, those working full time has risen by about 900,000 in the last 3 months.  However, there has only been an increase of 3000 full-time jobs since March; thus the gain in recent months reversed the decline that took place in the Spring.  Similarly, the decline in the employment-population ratio that took place in the Spring has been reversed, but it still remains near a 30-year low of 58.4%.

The report seems to confirm what has been seen in other data.  The economy slowed down considerably earlier this year, causing not only a slowdown in job creation, but also a reduction in hours for many workers (a shift from full-time jobs to part-time jobs).  Since the summer, economic growth increased somewhat, leading to moderate growth in employment as well as restoring the number of hours worked that had previously been reduced.  the big picture is that the economy continues to experience a sluggish recovery with modest job creation and little change in the unemployment rate.  The good news is that the US has added 2.27 million jobs since February 2010.  The bad news is that there are still nearly 6.5 million fewer jobs than before the recession.