Friday, December 4, 2009

Hidden good news in the monthly employment report

This morning's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics had the good news that the rate and absolute levels of unemployment both declined, on a seasonally adjusted basis, from October to November. The estimated unemployment rate fell from 10.2 percent to 10.0 percent, and the estimated number of unemployed people fell from 15.7 million to 15.4 million.

At the same time, the estimated number of people with jobs increased. The employment figure from the monthly household survey rose by 227,000, the first increase since April and the largest increase since April 2008.

Now it's time to bring in Dan Brown. Hidden in the report is some additional good news. Employment figures from the previous months' establishment surveys are revised as additional data comes in. Last month, the BLS reported that payroll employment levels in September and October were 131.0 million and 130.8 million, respectively. In its latest report, the BLS has revised those figures up to 131.1 million and 131.0 million. The revisions sharply trim the job losses that had been reported earlier (instead of losing 400,000 jobs between August and October, it now appears that the losses were closer to 250,000).

The preliminary payroll jobs figure for November is 131.0 million, which is unchanged from the upwardly revised October figure.

The figures indicate that the employment recession may also be bottoming out, if so, this would be a great holiday present.