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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

by Calculated Risk on 2/27/2011 03:38:00 PM

As a reminder, the weak payroll report for January was blamed on the snow. Usually I don't buy the weather excuses, but it did appear weather played a role this time. When the report was released, I wrote:

The 36,000 payroll jobs added was far below expectations of 150,000 jobs, however this was probably impacted by bad weather during the survey reference period. If so, there should be a strong bounce back in the February report.
That is a key reason the consensus is so high for February. Bloomberg has the consensus at 180,000, MarketWatch has 200,000, Goldman's forecast is 200,000, and I heard ISI is at 230,000).

It will be useful to average the two months to estimate the current pace of payroll growth - especially if weather played a role in January and there is a strong bounce back in February.

And we have to remember the numbers are grim:
• There are 7.7 million fewer payroll jobs now than before the recession started in December 2007.
• Almost 14 million Americans are unemployed.
• Of those unemployed, 6.2 million have been unemployed for six months or more.
• Another 8.4 million are working part time for economic reasons,
• About 4 million more have left the labor force since the start of the recession (we can see this in the dramatic drop in the labor force participation rate),
• of those who have left the labor force, about 1 million are available for work, but are discouraged and have given up.

A simple calculation: If the economy is adding 125,000 jobs per month (average over two months), it would take over 5 years to add back the 7.7 million lost payroll jobs - and that doesn't even include population growth. Grim is an understatement.

Schedule for Week of February 27th
Summary for Week ending February 25th