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Friday, November 6, 2009

Nonfarm Payrolls Report surprisingly bad - or was it?


How awful was today's non-farm payrolls report?

Let's start with the bad news:
  • Nonfarm payrolls for October fell 190,000, which is worse than the decline of 175,000 that had been widely forecast. 
  • Job losses for the previous month were upwardly revised to reflect nonfarm job losses of 219,000. 
  • The unemployment rate surged to 10.2%, which is up from 9.8% and higher than the 9.9% that was widely forecast. It also marks the highest unemployment rate since 1982.
  • The manufacturing sector saw payrolls drop by 61,000. This is worse than the 45,000 jobs lost in the prior month.
But not everything was awful. There was some good news buried in there as well:
  • A drop of 190,000 is bad but it is still an improvement over the previous month's 219,000
  • Average weekly hourly hours were unchanged at 33.0, which is a bit below the 33.1 that had been forecast. At least there was no decrease.
  • Average hourly earnings increased 0.3% month-over-month, which is stronger than the 0.1% monthly increase that had been expected.
  • Less jobs were cut in October than the previous month in the following sectors: builders, financial firms and service industries which include banks, insurance companies, restaurants and retailers
  • Temporary workers rose by 34,000, the first gain since December 2007. Temp workers are the first to be brought back after a downturn so we can hope this signals that we are nearing the beginnings of a recovery in the job market.
Today report confirms that it will be a tough slog before the job market fully returns to health.

Today's report also confirms that the "less bad" scenario continues to apply. But I'll take "less bad" over "worse" any day.

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