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Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Record Job Streak: A couple of Comments

by Calculated Risk on 10/08/2017 08:09:00 AM

On Friday, the BLS reported that the U.S. economy lost 33,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in September (the decline was mostly related to the impact of the hurricanes).

This negative headline jobs report followed a record 83 consecutive months of positive jobs reports.

A couple of comments:
1) If we adjust for the 2010 Census hiring and firing (data here) the streak of consecutive positive jobs reports was actually 90 months long. It makes sense to adjust for the Census hiring and firing since that was preplanned and unrelated to the business cycle.

Payroll jobs added per monthClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the monthly change in payroll jobs, ex-Census (meaning the impact of the decennial Census temporary hires and layoffs is removed - mostly in 2010 - to show the underlying payroll changes).

The previous longest streak was 48 months ending in 1990.  If we adjust for the 1990 Decennial Census, that streak was actually 45 months - making the streak ending in 2007 at 46 months the second longest.

2) There is a reasonable chance that the recent streak isn't over - and that the September jobs data will be revised up.

In September 2005 - following Hurricane Katrina - the BLS reported 35,000 jobs lost in September.   This was revised up to only 8,000 jobs lost in the October report, and revised up again to a gain of 17,000 in the November report.  After annual revisions, the gain in September, following Katrina, is now reported as 67,000.

If something similar happens, the streak would still be alive!