February 1, 2013

January Employment Situation Summary (020113): Unemployment at 7.9%; 157K Jobs Added; Prior Months Revised Up by 127K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:22 am

I haven’t had a chance to take the usual look at the raw data from previous years, which I will do after the report’s release, but I can say that January is the most difficult month to peg, because on the ground hundreds of thousands get let go from Christmas and seasonal jobs. This means a fairly good chance that the seasonally adjusted results will not reflect the underlying reality.

That said, the seasonally adjusted predictions from the press are that the unemployment rate will stay the same and that about 155,000 jobs will be added:
- Bloomberg has 165,000.
- Reuters has the aforementioned 155K with no change in the unemployment rate.
- An in-house report at CNBC has the same.

I’m expecting the report not to be that bad but also not impressive, based only on a hunch that the administration wouldn’t have let its jobs council die if it knew that today’s report was going to be really, really awful.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

… HERE IT IS, and it’s tepid for January, with big upward revisions to previous months (full release with tables:

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.

Household Survey Data

… Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teenagers (23.4 percent), whites (7.0 percent), blacks (13.8 percent), and Hispanics (9.7 percent) showed little or no change in January. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

… Both the employment-population ratio (58.6 percent) and the civilian labor force participation rate (63.6 percent) were unchanged in January.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January. In 2012, employment growth averaged 181,000 per month. In January, job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, health care, and wholesale trade, while employment edged down in transportation and warehousing.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +161,000 to +247,000, and the change for December was revised from +155,000 to +196,000. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and the monthly recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions.

Well (pending a look at the actuals), that’s good news and two forms of bad news. The good news is that November and December were better than originally thought. The first form of bad news is that those job gains were achieved in a quarter of contraction which, though it had some underlying strength, was still, well, a quarter of contraction. The second form of bad news is (again, pending a look at the actuals) that the trend is in the wrong direction (from 244K to 196K to 157K).

More later.


UPDATE: BLS’s annual comprehensive revision added 422,000 jobs, causing much of the upward revision to November and December. Since the employment trough in February 2010, the economy has added 5.5 million jobs in 35 months (an average of 157,000 per month), and is still over 3.2 million jobs shy of the January 2008 peak — before taking population growth during the intervening five years into account.

UPDATE 2: Though you have to bounce between the Household and Establishment Surveys to make the comparison, although total employment is up by almost 1.2 million since January 2009.

UPDATE 3: Full-time employment is only up by 98,000 since January 2009. Full-time employment is still a stunning 5.96 million below its November 2007 peak.

UPDATE 4: Go here for additional commentary and analysis.



  1. Full time employment and labor force participation are the two rates that mean the most to me, as a measure of this recovery. That assumes these stats cannot be substantially (and thus perhaps artificially)altered by government employment.

    Comment by Jim — February 1, 2013 @ 10:56 am

  2. Two words for the upward revisions to the November and Decembers numbers: seasonal hiring.

    Comment by zf — February 1, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

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