Thursday, December 06, 2012

Employment Situation Preview

by Bill McBride on 12/06/2012 03:09:00 PM

On Friday, at 8:30 AM ET, the BLS will release the employment report for November. The consensus is for an increase of 80,000 non-farm payroll jobs in November, down sharply from the 171,000 jobs added in October. The decline is probably due to Hurricane Sandy. The consensus is for the unemployment rate to increase to 8.0%.

There are some interesting timing issues, from Phil Izzo at the WSJ: Jobs Report Likely to Tell Two Different Tales

In most months, the survey of households, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate, and the survey of businesses, which determines the number of jobs added or lost for the month, are both based on data from the week of the 12th of the month. But because the survey of households requires phone calls to thousands of homes, the government moved it up a week in November to avoid conflicting with Thanksgiving. The business survey stayed in its usual week. So in tomorrow’s report, the payroll survey will show how many people were working the week of Nov. 12, while the unemployment rate will be based on who was working the week of Nov. 5.
Since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29th, the household survey (conducted earlier) might be impacted more by the storm than the establishment survey.

Here is a summary of recent data:

• The ADP employment report showed an increase of 118,000 private sector payroll jobs in November. This was slightly below expectations. The ADP report hasn't been very useful in predicting the BLS report for any one month, although the methodology changed last month. In general this suggests employment growth in line with expectations.

• The ISM manufacturing employment index declined in November to 48.4%, down from 52.1%. A historical correlation between the ISM manufacturing employment index and the BLS employment report for manufacturing, suggests that private sector BLS reported payroll jobs for manufacturing decreased about 26,000 in November.

The ISM non-manufacturing (service) employment index decreased in November to 50.3%, down from 54.9% in October. A historical correlation between the ISM non-manufacturing employment index and the BLS employment report for services, suggests that private sector BLS reported payroll jobs for services increased about 69,000 in November.

Added together, the ISM reports suggests about 40,000 jobs added in November. Ouch.

Initial weekly unemployment claims averaged about 400,000 in November. This was up sharply due to Hurricane Sandy.

For the BLS reference week (includes the 12th of the month), initial claims were at 416,000; the highest for a reference week this year.

• The final November Reuters / University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased to 82.7, up slightly from the October reading of 82.6. This is frequently coincident with changes in the labor market and stock market, but also strongly related to gasoline prices and other factors. This might suggest some increase in employment, but the level still suggests a weak labor market.

• The small business index from Intuit showed 30,000 payroll jobs added, up from 5,000 in October.  That is some improvement.

• And on the unemployment rate from Gallup: U.S. Unadjusted Unemployment Shoots Back Up
U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, was 7.8% for the month of November, up significantly from 7.0% for October. Gallup's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.3%, nearly a one-point increase over October's rate.
Note: Gallup only recently has been providing a seasonally adjusted estimate for the unemployment rate, so use with caution (Gallup provides some caveats). So far the Gallup numbers haven't been very useful in predicting the BLS unemployment rate, but this does suggest an increase in November.

• Conclusion: The employment related data was pretty weak in November, and I expect the unemployment rate to increase and hiring to be weak; I think less than 80,000 jobs were added in November.

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