At 8:30am est last Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Labor Department released its Employment Situation report for January 2013. According to the ES, the US economy added 157,000 new jobs during the month. This consisted of 166,000 new private sector positions, minus 9,000 layoffs among government workers.
The number was in line with expectations. It’s also roughly the same as the figures tallied in recent months. It’s about the number of new jobs needed, on average, to absorb new entrants into the workforce, as well–so it did nothing to lower the unemployment rate.
revisions are the real story
They’re positive. And they’re huge!
The November 2012 ES initially reported job additions as +146,000 positions. That figure was revised up in the December report to +161,000. The (final) January revision is to +247,000, composed of +256,000 private sector jobs and a loss of 9,000 in the government sector. That’s a +101,000 gain in jobs vs. the original job estimate, most of that coming in the January report.
The December 2012 ES reported +155,000 job gains. The January report revises that up to +196,000, comprised of +202,000 jobs in the private sector and 6,000 layoffs among government workers. That’s a gain of +42,000 positions.
Despite all the angst about the fiscal cliff and its potential negative effect on the economy, the ES shows employment gains continued apace during the final quarter of 2012. Therefore, none of the slowdown some companies experienced was caused because the job market fell apart.
Yes, some slowing happened. But it has to have other causes. Put a different way, slowness probably isn’t going to disappear even if job growth accelerates.
Possible causes? …looming cutbacks in government spending, consumers’ saving more in anticipation of higher taxes.