Employment report WAS fake but accurate

In the John Hood Daily Journal column published today (that I wrote), I predicted that the January federal employment report probably would indicate a gain of about 200,000 to 300,000 jobs and that the media would report that as good news.

Right on both accounts.

But don’t ask me how to bet on the Super Bowl, or what Lottery numbers you should pick.

What I also said is that the “gain” is in seasonally adjusted terms — a statistical oddity that is useful for number crunchers but has little to do with the U.S. employment market month-to-month. And that in fact, the economy most likely lost about 2.7 million jobs between December and January, because that’s what it has done each year over the past decade.

Right again. Table B-1 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows a drop of 2,689,000 jobs from December (132,952,000) to January (130,263,000).

The labor market models expected the economy to shed 2,932,000 jobs; instead, it lost “only” 2,689,000. So we added 243,000!

If previous patterns hold, we’ll start adding (in real terms) a half-million jobs or more monthly in the spring. Whether the additions will beat or disappoint expectations is anyone’s guess. But, as the column said, the way the numbers are reported, when the number of jobs is growing or shrinking, is misleading and a disservice to all but the nerdiest techie types.

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