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Notes to myself, possibly of interest to others.
-- Bill Northlich

Monday, April 5, 2010

Actual Encouraging Employment Stats.

Perhaps the biggest news was the March employment report from the BLS, whose establishment survey estimated that U.S. employment increased by 162,000 workers in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. I was surprised that Mark Thoma, Dave Altig, and Dean Baker found this disappointing. Certainly it was better than ADP's estimate that seasonally-adjusted private-sector employment had fallen by 23,000 in March, and received confirmation from the separate BLS household survey estimate that March employment grew by 264,000 workers, as well as from the 55.1 reading for the employment component of the ISM manufacturing report. True, 48,000 of the 162,000 new payroll jobs represented temporary Census positions. But those people are nevertheless now working rather than unemployed, and earning a salary with which they can buy goods and services or avoid bankruptcy and foreclosure. It's also true that another 40,000 of the March gain came from temporary help services, but that's often where employment growth first shows up. And I acknowledge that 162,000 isn't enough to bring the unemployment rate down, which remained stuck at 9.7% for March. Even so, this is enough better than what we've been seeing and than we could have seen that I personally am quite relieved. For a mix of the range of other optimistic and pessimistic takes on the employment numbers, see Phil Izzo's usual nice summary.
---James Hamilton, Econobrowser, 4/4
The 162,000 jobs added in March 2010 was the largest increase in employment in exactly three years, since March of 2007...The Household Survey, which uses a different survey methodology [from the BLS], registered an increase in employment for March of 264,000. Since the beginning of 2010, 1,113,000 jobs have been added in the US economy, according to the Household Survey. This is much more than the 162,000 gain registered by the Establishment Survey in the first three months of 2010.
I wouldn't make too much out of the divergence between the household and establishment surveys as the former has a large margin for error. However, it might be worth mentioning since the divergence has persisted for three consecutive months. It is possible -- though not necessarily likely -- that the Household Survey, which does a better job of detecting employment in very small companies, could be picking up on trends in this hyper-sensitive area characterized by a highly elastic demand for labor that is not captured by the Establishment survey.
---James Kostohryez, Minyanville, 4/5

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