Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Retail trade, construction, health care, and wholesale trade added jobs over the month.
That's from the establishment survey. Benchmark revisions are also this month (January), which means that the number is frequently full of "hair" and the headline has to be looked beyond -- more than usual.
But even "sans hair", there is little to cheer about -- the employment rate did not go down and 157,000 -- assuming you believe the number (and you shouldn't, as I'll get to shortly) isn't good. The workweek was unchanged overall and down for production and non-supervisory employees, now standing at 33.6 hours. That is considerably below "full time, 40 hours" -- still.
Average hourly earnings, on the other hand, was up 5 cents for production and non-supervisory employees. That's about the only good news, despite claimed revisions for November and December (which likely are where the spooge-fest came from in the futures.)
That's where the good news ends.
Here's the table from the household survey, unadjusted, which is what I use and always have.
Notice that both monthly and annualized are now headed southbound. While annualized is still positive, it's going the wrong way -- and the monthly numbers are horrible.
How horrible? Employed dropped by 1.446 million people!
Now to be fair this is usual for January to some degree. But make no mistake folks -- the layoffs this January were double that of last year, when January was -737,000. The idea that this report is "strong" is just plain crap -- or if you prefer, a lie.
Not-in-labor force moved too -- the wrong way. 423,000 gave up last month alone.
The benchmark revision also added massively to population, taking it up 313,000 people, which is about double the monthly average. If you want to look at employment including the change in working-age population it's about 1,750,000 fewer employed, population-adjusted.
This is a serious deterioration and it showed up right here:
And worse, here:
We're one tenth above last January in terms of the employment-population ratio.
In other words there has been no meaningful change in actual population-adjusted employment whatsoever over the last 12 months.
This report is a train wreck.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
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