201801.10
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Which One Really Belonged On Yellen’s Dashboard?

The latest JOLTS survey from the BLS suggests nothing much has changed from that particular view of the labor market. The level of estimated Job Openings (JO) while down slightly over the last few months remains exceedingly high. By contrast, the rate of monthly Hires (HI) continues to be subdued, if at the high end…

201801.05
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The Reluctant Labor Force Is Reluctant For A Reason (and it’s not booming growth)

In 2017, the BLS estimates that just 861k Americans were added to the official labor force, the denominator, of course, for the unemployment rate. That’s out of an increase of 1.4 million in the Civilian Non-Institutional Population, the overall prospective pool of workers. Both of those rises were about half the rate experienced in 2016….

201801.05
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Payrolls Hit The Trifecta of Awful

Last year was an objectively bad year for American workers. The latest payroll figures from the BLS for December 2017 fill out what was an awful picture. According to its Establishment Survey, the data that’s taken as the definitive source on the US labor market, total payrolls expanded by 2.055 million in 2017. That annual…

201712.08 2

Defining The Economy Through Payrolls

The year 2000 was a transition year in a lot of ways. Though Y2K amounted to mild mass hysteria, people did have to get used to writing the date with 20 in front of the year rather than 19. It was a new millennium (depending on your view of Year 0) that seemed to have…

201711.03
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Four Point One

The payroll report for October 2017 was still affected by the summer storms in Texas and Florida. That was expected. The Establishment Survey estimates for August and September were revised higher, the latter from a -33k to +18k. Most economists were expecting a huge gain in October to snapback from that hurricane number, but the…

201709.07
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Enough With The Labor Shortage Already, It Doesn’t/Can’t Exist

Can we finally put to rest all notions that the US economy is at full employment and doing well, and therefore wage inflation is right around the corner? I suspect not. This dance has been ongoing for years now, continuing through what was nearly a recession, so there is little reason to believe that economists…

201709.01
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2017 Is Two-Thirds Done And Still No Payroll Pickup

The payroll report for August 2017 thoroughly disappointed. The monthly change for the headline Establishment Survey was just +156k. The BLS also revised lower the headline estimate in each of the previous two months, estimating for July a gain of only +189k. The 6-month average, which matters more given the noisiness of the statistic, is…

201708.04
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Payrolls And The 2014 Problem

If the economy this year is like it was in 2014, the latest payroll report is moving in that direction. As has been the case since that time, the Establishment Survey will typically estimate two good months in a row. For this year that means those above 200k, as the 209k in July 2017 follows…

201704.19
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The Foggy Exit

The aging of the Baby Boomers is not something that caught economists completely by surprise. That generation has been the subject of (academic) study going back to the surge in birth rates right after World War II. In economic terms, the challenges presented by the prospective retirement years for this cohort has been anticipated to…

201704.07
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It Was And Still Is The Wrong Horse To Bet

The payroll report disappointed again, though it was deficient in ways other than are commonly described. The monthly change is never a solid indication, good or bad, as the BLS’ statistical processes can only get it down to a 90% confidence interval, and a wide one at that. It means that any particular month by…