The March Employment Situation Summary (040612): 8.2% Unemployment, only 120K Seasonally Adjusted Job Adds
- ISM Services: 56.0%, down from 57.3% in February. Still well into expansion.
- Auto Sales: GM barely beat out Ford after trailing in March 2011. GM was up 12% over a year ago. Others: Ford, +5%; Chrysler, +34%; Toyota, +15%; Nissan, +13%; Honda, -5%. Overall sales were up 12.7% from a year ago.
- ADP Private Sector Employment: +209,000 seasonally adjusted private-sector jobs added; basically in line with expectations. January and February were revised upward by 9,000 and 14,000, respectively.
- Associated Press (“Fourth straight month of strong US hiring expected”) — “The U.S. economy probably generated more than 200,000 jobs in March, capping the best four months of hiring since before the recession.”
- Time quotes Bloomberg – ”According to Bloomberg News, economists predict that the report will show the economy gained 205,000 jobs in March, roughly in line with a report from payroll services firm ADP, which estimated that the private sector added 209,000 jobs last month. If the figure does come in above 200,000 it will be the fourth consecutive month of more than 200,000 jobs being added to the economy.”
- Reuters – “Economists, on average, expect the report to show that the economy added 203,000 jobs in March, according to a Reuters poll.”
- Business Insider’s email got specific: “Business Insider projects a gain of 193,000 for March, with revisions of nearly 40,000 new jobs to the February and January reports.”
Raw Numbers Review:
Readers here know that I believe the real story is in the raw numbers, especially because the seasonally adjusted numbers have been so skewed by the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy since late-Spring 2008.
After February’s report, I wrote the following in reaction to the following record of actual (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) job additions for the past five years:
For the next four months to be truly impressive and representative of a genuine recovery, the economy in my view will have to add at least 4.2 million jobs on the ground. Given that this year’s gas-price surge arrived two months earlier than last year’s, that’s going to be a tough climb.
In March, in the private sector, that has to mean 950,000 or more jobs added. My gut reaction is that they will be there, and that revisions to January and February will be positive. How that translates into seasonally adjusted numbers is nowhere near as important. We’ll see.
The report will be here at 8:30.
HERE IT IS: Ruh-roh (full version with tables) –
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in manufacturing, food services and drinking places, and health care, but was down in retail trade.
… Household Survey Data
The number of unemployed persons (12.7 million) and the unemployment rate (8.2 percent) were both little changed in March.
… Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000 in March. In the prior 3 months, payroll employment had risen by an average of 246,000 per month. Private-sector employment grew by 121,000 in March, including gains in manufacturing, food services and drinking places, and health care. Retail trade lost jobs over the month. Government employment was essentially unchanged.
… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +284,000 to +275,000, and the change for February was revised from +227,000 to +240,000.
The total seasonally adjusted change including prior-month revisions is +124,000 — about 60% of what everyone was predicting.
Assuming that the seasonally adjusted number reflects the raw data (not necessarily a safe assumption, as history has shown), it seems that there are only two ways you can get to a lower unemployment rate with weak job additions: 1) the two surveys (Household and Establishment) are seriously out of sync, and the Household Survey news is really good, or 2) if they are in sync, the number of people in the workforce is continuing to shrink.
UPDATE: Even though there’s a lot of slack in the economy and a lot of people who could be working if the jobs were there, the raw number for March in the private sector is far lower than last year, barely better than two years ago, and far lower than every year from 2004-2007 — y’know, when the press told us the economy was so unimpressive but the unemployment rate was much, much lower –
In historical context, the seasonally adjusted figure of 121K doesn’t look skewed in either direction.
An acceptable raw number for April will have to be 1.25 million or more. Anything can happen, but that does not seem at all likely. It seems more likely that it will be about 1 million and generate another seasonally adjusted figure in the low-100k range.
The misery this administration has needlessly inflicted on the unemployed and under-employed during its three-plus years in office because of poor and historically proven to be poor policy choices is unforgivable.
UPDATE 3: Silver Lining Dept. — The number of seasonally adjusted full-time workers increased by 882,000 in March (the NSA number increased by 1.329 million). Part-timers dropped steeply (-664K SA, -599k NSA).
But the total number employed per the Household Survey dropped by 31,000.