Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Question #5 for 2011: Employment

by Bill McBride on 12/28/2010 05:25:00 PM

A week ago I posted some questions for next year: Ten Economic Questions for 2011. I'm working through the questions and trying to add some predictions, or at least some thoughts for each question before the end of year.

5) Employment: The U.S. economy added about 87 thousands payroll jobs per month in 2010 through November. This was extremely weak payroll growth for a recovery. How many payroll jobs will be added in 2011?

The U.S. will add around 1.2 million private sector jobs in 2010. And this despite the construction sector losing over 100 thousand jobs in 2010 (the fourth year in a row of construction job losses).

It now appears that job creation is picking up, and it also appears that the construction sector will add employees for the first time since 2006. There were over 2 million construction jobs lost during the downturn, and a relatively small number will be added next year - but every little bit will help.

This suggests to me that private payroll employment will increase by over 2 million jobs next year, maybe as high as 3 million jobs! My guess is around 2.4 million jobs as shown on the following graph.

Private Sector Payroll Jobs

Of course state and local governments will probably lose some jobs, but it looks like 2011 will be the best year for private job creation since the '90s.

However, this doesn't mean the unemployment rate will decline significantly. The economy needs to add about 125,000 jobs per month to offset population growth, and I expect the participation rate to increase too - so any decline in the unemployment rate will be slow.

With over 15 million unemployed workers - and 6.3 million unemployed for more than 26 weeks - adding 2.4 million private sector jobs will not seem like much of job recovery for many Americans. Hopefully I'm too pessimistic.

Ten Questions:
Question #1 for 2011: House Prices
Question #2 for 2011: Residential Investment
Question #3 for 2011: Delinquencies and Distressed house sales
Question #4 for 2011: U.S. Economic Growth
Question #5 for 2011: Employment
Question #6 for 2011: Unemployment Rate
Question #7 for 2011: State and Local Governments
Question #8 for 2011: Europe and the Euro
Question #9 for 2011: Inflation
Question #10 for 2011: Monetary Policy