March 4, 2011

The February Employment Situation Summary (030411, Morning)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:19 am

First, a flashback for historical context — In May 1984, the 20th month after the 1980s recession ended, the economy on Ronald Reagan’s watch added 308,000 seasonally adjusted jobs (280,000 of them in the private sector), when the workforce was 25%-30% smaller:

BLSseasAdj1982to1985

February 2011 was the 20th month after the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy’s recession officially ended. As shown here, the first 19 post-recession months have seen a net LOSS of 228,000 jobs. Perhaps today’s employment report will finally get that number into positive territory.

Given the hints I’ve seen that the press is going to break out the pom-poms today if the numbers come in good, we should recognize that even if they do, the POR Economy’s post-recession performance will still be over 4.8 million jobs behind Reagan’s economy — the equivalent of well over 6 million if adjusted for population size.

Okay, now to the current economy. The economic news this week has been pretty good, leading to hopes that a good employment report might finally add an exclamation point to a week of good news instead of throwing cold water on things.

Specifics:

  • The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing and Non Manufacturing indices each came in with stellar readings. The former’s February value was 61.4%, up from 60.8% in January (anything about 50% indicates expansionary sentiment on the part of survey participants). The commentary was strong: “New Orders, Production and Employment Growing; Supplier Deliveries Slower; Inventories Contracting.” The far more important NMI value was 59.7%, up from 59.4%. Prices paid sentiment was that they’re increasing. That’s potentially troubling, but hardly a reason, at least at the moment, for bearishness.
  • Vehicle sales were very strong in February, up 27% from February 2010. Government/General Motors (+46%) and Toyota (+41%) were the big gainers. Every major maker reported stronger numbers. One ominous note: Chrysler’s product mix was 81% light trucks and 19% cars, compared to 69%-31% a year ago. The company may be in for big trouble if gas hits $4 or so and stays there.
  • ADP’s employment report showed 217,000 additional private-sector jobs. It’s the third or fourth strong report in a row. Why that hasn’t been translating into strong numbers in the government’s report is a mystery.
  • Seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment claims were 368,000, the lowest number since July 2008, the first month of the recession as normal people define it. Even more impressive, the raw, not seasonally adjusted number was over 25% lower than the same week a year ago, the biggest differential in many months.

The predictions:

  • Gallup says things are getting worse — “Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.3% in February — up from 9.8% at the end of January. The U.S. unemployment rate is now essentially the same as the 10.4% at the end of February 2010.”
  • This source is predicting 185,000 seasonally adjusted job gains and a slightly higher unemployment rate of 9.1%.
  • According to this Associated Press report from yesterday, “The consensus before the ADP survey was that U.S. employers added around 175,000 jobs. Some analysts now think the figure could be around the 250,000 mark.”
  • A different AP report predicts the jobless rate will be 9.1%.

The NSA Benchmarks: Here are the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) numbers for the past 10 years –

NSAforJanToJune2001to2010

In this context, strong numbers for actual overall and private-sector jobs added would be about 800,000 and 400,000, respectively. On-the-ground numbers significantly lower than that will signal an unimpressive performance, regardless of what the seasonally adjusted numbers are.

The report will appear here at 8:30.

The news:

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +121,000 to +152,000, and the change for January was revised from +36,000 to +63,000.

So giving full credit, 250,000 more people (192k plus December’s and January’s +31k and +27k respective revisions) were estimated to be working in February than was the case in January. Thus, the post-recession Obama economy is finally showing positive job growth — a whole 22,000 jobs in 20 months. Again, as seen here, it took Reagan’s economy only 7 months to go positive.

On the NSA front, the actual adds in February were 816,000 and 427,000 for overall jobs and the private sector, respectively. So the benchmarks were met.

Pending some deeper digging, it looks like February was a relatively good month for the Obama economy, perhaps the best since he took office. But, benchmarking against Reagan and obviously pending revisions, it still trailed the real Gipper’s comparable post-recession month by 116,000 jobs — more like 150,000 jobs when adjusted for population.

So — although I know the press will ignore the request — spare me the cheerleading.

Other commitments will prevent me from commenting or posting further on this report or anything else for the rest of the business day.

Positivity: President of Chile stresses importance of the right to life

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 7:06 am

Via the Catholic News Agency:

Mar 3, 2011 / 01:54 pm

President of Chile Sebastian Pinera said March 2 that human rights, especially the right to life from conception to natural death, must be protected in order to achieve comprehensive human development.

President Pinera wrote in an article published in L’Osservatore Romano that “Development has always been a central objective of humanity and constitutes a principal goal for nations, governments and the international community.”

“Benedict XVI’s encyclical ‘Caritas in veritate’ concentrates in depth on the concept and need for comprehensive development as put forth in the Social Doctrine of the Church,” he continued.

The president noted some of the recent challenges has Chile faced. He recalled the Feb. 27, 2010 earthquake and underscored that the “the Church and civil society should actively participate” on the path toward development.

He also reflected on the solidarity that unified the country during the rescue operation to save the 33 miners trapped in the San Jose Mine in Atacama. “Chile came together as one big family, overcoming differences and willing to do whatever necessary to find and rescue the miners.”

“We know that we were able to count on the prayers of the Pope and of millions of men and women of good will around the world, and we continue to count on them today,” he said.

The president said development must take place “in both its material and spiritual dimension,” and that this requires seeking after the common good, defending “the inalienable rights of the human person in every moment, place and circumstance, and supporting a transcendent humanism.”

It is essential, he stressed, “that our democracy protects human rights, especially the right to life from conception to natural death.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.