AUG#: +130,000 jobs.

Unemployment up at 3.7%...AUG jobs under Trump HERE

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Job Openings Hit Record Highs; Layoffs Hit Record Lows in February 2015

Just after Friday's disappointing jobs report for March 2015, we get the always-delayed JOLTS (Job Opening, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey) for February 2015.  The quick summary:  There was a big increase in the number of job openings and a big decrease in layoffs.   

And, if we look closely, we might see some of the reason for the disappointing jobs numbers for March:  A record-breaking surge in job openings in February, a continued upswing in the number of people who quit, and a record-breaking low number and rate of layoffs in February. Perhaps employers cannot find people, at least in certain areas and in certain fields, to fill their jobs openings.

The number of job openings is very high; the number of hires is still high compared to last year but slightly down from the past few months; the number of additional jobs and workers was modest in March.  And companies are simply not laying off many people compared to previous years.

Is this a sign that employers are not able to find people to fill open positions? 

This may mean that employers cannot find enough qualified applicants to fill those openings.  (It may mean that employers are going to have to start training the employees they need which would be a good thing.)  It may also mean that companies decided not to fill those February job openings in March for a variety of reasons.  We won't know what is true for a few more months.  (One month does not a trend make; never has, never will.)

Another Jobs Record

The number of hires has exceeded the total number of separations (which includes quits, layoffs, discharges, and "other" separations) for 53 consecutive months now.  That also beats the old record of 52 consecutive months of more hires than separations from late 2003 through 2007.  (JOLTS numbers started being formally counted and reported in 2000.)   When we have more hires than separations, the number of jobs and the number of people working goes up.  When we have fewer hires than separations, the number of jobs and the number ofpeople working goes down.  It's not surprising that the consecutive string of months of more hires than separations mirrors the consecutive string of months of job growth.       

So let's look at a telling graph:

At the end of 2014, we had 1.8 jobseekers per job opening in this country.  In February, that ratio has decreased slightly to 1.7 jobseekers per job opening.  Though this is the best ratio we've had since 2007, we still have many more people per job opening compared to late 2000, the end of the Clinton years.  This is one of the reasons that things still feel difficult for so many people:  We never reached the halcyon days of the 1990's during the mid-2000's recovery before the economy crashed, and we still have a long way to go before we get back to the job availablility of the Clinton years.      

Millions and millions of jobs:

Here's the breakdown for February:
  • Job Openings:                                            5,133,000
  • Hires:                                                          4,916,000
  • Total Separations:                                       4,650,000 
  • Layoffs & discharges        1,591,000
  • Quits                                 2,687,000 
  • Other separations                373,000
  • Number of hires minus separations               266,000

Note that the number of hires minus separations is very close to the increase in the number of jobs for February 2015 according to the latest revisions.

Other takes on today's JOLTS reports:

Reuters agrees with me:  US Job Opening Data Points to Skills Mismatch  OK, employers!  Set up those training programs!  Now!  


Friday, April 3, 2015

How Many Jobs Were Created in 2015? (Final Update)

Total Jobs Created/Lost In 2015:

  • 2,744,000 payroll jobs were ADDED in 2015 in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • That's an additional 229,000 jobs per month in 2015.
  • 2,651,000 private payroll sector jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • That's an additional 221,000 private jobs per month in 2015.
  • 93,000 government sector (federal, state, and local) jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers in 2015. 
  • That's an addition of 8,000 government jobs per month in 2015.
  • 2,490,000 MORE people were employed during 2015.  ("Employed" numbers include people who are self-employed and people working in agriculture.  This number is reported by workers; the "jobs" numbers are reported by employers. )
  • That's an additional 208,000 people employed each month in 2015.
  • 2,604,000 MORE people were working full-time in 2015.
  • 113,000 FEWER people were working part-time in 2015.
  • These are NET numbers, meaning they are the numbers of jobs ADDED after all jobs LOST are subtracted.  
  • Breakdown of the 93,000,000-94,000,000 "record number" of people "not working" HERE.  

What Was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office (compared to now)? Updated for March 2015

What was the unemployment rate when Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated and took office? What was the unemployment rate when Obama came into office?  7.8%

(Unemployment rate then and now on the graph below.)

This report has been updated HERE for June 2015.

This report has been updated HERE for April!

April 2015 numbers were released this morning, Friday, May 8.  Details HERE.  All reports now being updated; check back throughout the day.
  +223,000 jobs, Unemp. Rate down slightly to 5.4%.

What was the unemployment rate after Obama's first full month in office (February 2009)?  8.3%
What was the unemployment rate at peak?  10.0%

What is the unemployment rate now?  Today's unemployment rate (March 2015's)?   5.5%  

All Latest Jobs and Unemployment Reports HERE

How many people were looking for work when Obama was inaugurated; how many were working?  And how many people are looking for work and how many are employed now?

Please read below the graph.

The following chart shows the unemployment rate in three month intervals plus the last three months:

Why are there two lines, one for "Seas Adjusted" and one for "Unadjusted" in the chart above?  This is explained at the bottom of the article.
  • What Caused the Rise in Unemployment When Obama Took Office?  Obama caused the unemployment rate to rise?  (Continue reading; the answer  is below the fold.)
  •  What Was the Unemployment Rate When Bush Took Office?  How high did it rise?  (The answer is also below the fold.)  

How Many Jobs Were Created or Lost in March 2015? Full-time? Part-time?

How Many Jobs Were Created (Gained) or Lost by firms, companies, or government employers in the U.S. in March 2015?

  • 126,000 TOTAL payroll jobs were ADDED or CREATED in seasonally adjusted numbers.  This number was about half of what was projected, but it is still an increase in the number of jobs.
  • 129,000 PRIVATE payroll sector jobs were ADDED or CREATED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • 3,000 GOVERNMENT (federal, state, and local) jobs were LOST in February. 
  • 34,000 MORE people employed.
  • 190,000 MORE people employed full-time. 
  • 170,000 FEWER people employed part-time.
  • 70,000 MORE people employed part-time involuntarily.  (In other words, people who want full-time work but can only find part-time work.)  Though this number increased this month, it has generally been going down.  In the past year, it has decreased by 744,000.
  • 130,000 FEWER people unemployed.
  • Unemployment rate stayed the same at 5.5% primarily due to a decrease in the number of people who are unemployed (not working AND actively looking for work).
  • The alternate unemployment rate decreased to 11.0% from 10.9%. 
  • 96,000 FEWER people in the civilian labor force (people either working or looking for work).  Why did these people leave the labor force?  Continue reading below...

But how many jobs were LOST in March?

In NET numbers, NO jobs were lost in March 2015. 

All jobs numbers reported monthly by Bureau of Labor Statistics are NET jobs numbers.  In other words, they represent the number of jobs gained (newly created jobs) after all job losses are subtracted.  If there are job gains, that means that there are more new jobs, more people being hired, than people being fired or jobs being cut.

If there are jobs losses, that means that there are fewer new jobs, fewer people being hired, than people being fired or jobs being cut.

Every month since September 2010, we have had more new jobs created than jobs lost.  This is the longest period of consecutive job growth since these records have been kept.   

The more specific numbers of new hires and number of jobs cut are detailed in the monthly Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey (JOLTS) which is published about six weeks after the monthly jobs reports.  This link "How Many People were fired in 2014?" provides a more in-depth explanation of how many people lose their jobs and how many people get new jobs every month.  For example, in 2014 over 55,000 people were fired or laid off on average each DAY... but an average of 160,000 people were HIRED each DAY in 2014.

Did people leave the labor force in despair, discouragement, and misery?

The labor force in the United States is huge and volatile.  Millions of people enter and leave the labor force every month in the United States; you can find more specifics HERE. 

But here's what happened to people in March:

  • In February, there were 157,002,000 people in the civilian labor force.
  • 2,288,000 who were not in the labor force in February entered the labor force and started LOOKING FOR WORK in March.
  • 4,221,000 who were not in the labor force in February entered the labor force and started WORKING in March. 
  • Meanwhile, 2,226,000 people who had been looking for work in February STOPPED LOOKING FOR WORK and left the labor force in March.  As the weather was cold in February and into March, it is possible that some of these people decided to postpone their work search until the weather improved; however, this is the lowest number of unemployed people DROPPING OUT of the labor force in any March of the past 7 years. 
  • And 4,430,000 people who had been employed in February STOPPED WORKING (and were not looking for work) in March.  A big chunk of these people probably retired, though we don't know that for sure.  This is the highest number of employed people who stopped working and left the labor force in March of any year EVER.  
  • For every unemployed person who "gave up" for some reason and stopped looking for work and left the labor force, there were approximately TWO EMPLOYED people who left their jobs and left the labor force.  
  • These numbers, plus adjustments for relatively small numbers of people turning 16, people dying, people leaving or entering the country, resulted in a slightly smaller labor force of 156,906,000 in March.  However, there are still about 700,000 more people in the labor force this March than a year ago.   
To Summarize:  

In summary, there are more newly-created payroll jobs and more people employed in March, but not as many newly-created jobs as there were in January or February, and not as many as was predicted.  There was a big jump in the number of employed people working full-time and a big decline in the number of employed people working part-time.  

The unemployment rate stayed the same as the number of unemployed people decreased.  The numbers of unemployed people who stopped looking for work in March may have been influenced by the continuing cold weather in early March in the Northeast and Midwest.

As usual, the numbers in any one month need to be taken with a grain of salt, as any movements in any one month are not necessarily trends.

However, we have now had 61 consecutive months of private sector job creation, a record as long as such numbers have been kept.  

How Many Jobs Created or Lost Under Obama? (March 2015 update)

This report is outdated.  Current information can be found at either of the links below. 

October 2015 numbers were released Friday, Nov. 6.  Details HERE.
October update for this report found HERE.

How many NET jobs created or lost under Obama* as of March 2015? 
How many private sector jobs have been lost or added during Obama's presidency?

How many new jobs in the last 6 years since Obama was inaugurated?  How many Americans were working or employed when Obama took office... compared to now?

Continue below.....

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 2015 Unemployment Rate, Jobs

Well, the pundits got this one wrong, wrong, wrong.

After months of 200,000+ jobs gains, March was very weak, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating only 126,000 new jobs in total, 129,000 new private sector jobs.  These numbers were half of what the economic pundits expected (see the previews below), and these were the lowest new jobs numbers in months.  We have to go back all the way to December 2013 to find a lower new jobs number.


May 2015 numbers to be released Friday, June 5.
Details HERE.
April 2015 numbers were released Friday, May 8.  Details HERE.  

April: +223,000 jobs, Unemp. Rate down slightly to 5.4%.


So what does this mean?  Perhaps nothing.  An anomaly of one month when dealing with numbers as large as those of the United States jobs market is not unusual.  That's why numbers are considered "preliminary" and are sometimes corrected months after the initial report.  But the booming increases of January and February were also cut back a bit, by about .03%, or 3 hundredths of a percent of the total jobs market, so who knows?  We won't know whether this means anything for at least another month.

We know that initial unemployment claims are at the lowest levels they have been for years, since the early 2000's.  We know that numbers of job openings are high, the highest they have been since the early 2000's.  We also know that the number of unemployed dropped.  It is possible that the less-than-expected increase in the number of jobs may reflect companies having a harder time filling positions in February and into March:  It was colder and people may have stayed out of the winter job market a bit longer than usual.  Remember that job numbers are reported as of the second week of the month, and it takes several weeks to get new hires on board.  So we'll all just have to wait and see.

I'm still crunching numbers here and looking at spreadsheets, so check back over the next week for more graphs, charts, highlights, and updates.

March 2015 Highlights (Specific reports listed below):
  • +126,000 total new payroll jobs; +129,000 new private sector jobs.  These small increases are much lower than the consensus of the "pundits", who estimated that we would add about 245,000 jobs in March.
  • The BLS decreased its January estimates, originally at +257,000 new jobs, again.  They were decreased to +239,000 last month and now down to +201,000 new jobs in January.  The BLS also decreased its February estimates from the initial +295,000 down to +264,000.
  • Unemployment rate stayed the same at 5.5% as the number of unemployed declined.
  • Alternate unemployment rate fell from 11.0% down to 10.9%.  
  • Labor force participation rate decreased .1%.  The number of people in the labor force decreased by 96,000.  The reported number of people employed increased by 34,000, the reported number of people unemployed decreased by 130,000.
  • Number of people working full-time increased by about 190,000 while number of people working part-time decreased by about 170,000.  That's 2,962,000 MORE people working full-time over the past year, since March 2014, and 364,000 FEWER people working part-time over the past year. 
  • The number of involuntary part-time workers (people working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work) increased by 75,000 in March, but it has declined 744,000 over the past year, since March 2014.
  • The number of long-term unemployed (people looking for work over half a year) dropped by 146,000 in March, and has dropped 1,119,000 over the past year, since March 2014.
Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 11.5 million MORE jobs in total
  • 12.1 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 10.3 million MORE people working
  • 10.5 million MORE people working full-time.
  • 178,000 FEWER people working part-time.  
  • (Yes, despite what you may have heard, from the depth of the recession until now, we have many more additional people working full-time vs. part-time jobs. When a recession hits, companies generally cut back on full-time workers first.  When companies start hiring again, the number of full-time workers increases.)
Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 7.2 million MORE jobs in total
  • 7.9 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 6.2 million MORE people working
  • 5.2 million MORE people working full-time
  • 924,000 million MORE people working part-time

March 2015 reports: (Notation on the links will be changed to "UPDATED for MARCH" when the updated reports become available.) 

Preview of Friday's jobs numbers (written Thursday):

"The pundits" expect about 245,000 more jobs when the BLS counts are released tomorrow (Friday) morning at 8:30 a.m., with the unemployment rate remaining the same or adding  .1% back to 5.6%.  If there are many more jobs but the unemployment rate stays the same or goes up a tenth, this would be a good indication that more people have entered the labor force in March.     
  • The ADP private payroller report came out yesterday which estimated an additional 189,000 private sector jobs in March.  Estimates for February were raised slightly, but estimates for January were decreased.  According to ADP's estimates, this was the first month in 14 months that the US has added fewer than 200,000 private sector jobs.  (ADP has tended to underestimate private job growth when the report is released, and initial estimates have been revised upwards 9 out of the past 12 months.)
    Comments from ADP:  
    "March job gains came in under 200,000 for the first time since January of last year,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. “The decline was centered in the largest companies, those with 1000 or more employees.” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Job growth took a step back in March. The fallout from the collapse in oil prices and surge in value of the dollar is hitting the job market. Despite the slowdown, underlying job growth remains strong enough to reduce labor market slack.” 
  • "Economists polled by Reuters are forecasting a healthy 244,000 rise in non-farm payrolls in March. If confirmed, it would be the 13th straight month of job gains of over 200,000, matching a run in 1994-95.  In the post-war period only the runs of 14 months in 1976-77 and 15 in 1983-84 have been higher.

    Yellen (Federal Reserve Chair) said a significant pickup in core inflation was not a precondition for the Fed to pull the trigger on rates. Nevertheless, inflation remains stubbornly low, although consumer prices did rebound in February as the cost of gasoline rose.
    For many economists the focus on Friday is less the jobs figures than average earnings, which are seen picking up after a muted 3 cent per hour rise in February. 
    A spate of weak U.S. economic data at the start of the year, from retail sales to business spending, has prompted economists to scale down their growth views and push back to September their expectations of a first rate hike since 2006."
  • The ISM (Institute of Supply Management)  "The (March) Employment Index registered 50 percent, 1.4 percentage points below the February reading of 51.4 percent, reflecting unchanged (manufacturing) employment levels from February."
  • Bloomberg writes:  "Focus is on tomorrow’s monthly payrolls data, in which economists predict nonfarm payrolls rose 245,000 in March, down from February’s 295,000 with no change to the 5.5 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since 2008. Wage growth is also forecast to be little changed."
  • The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board  jumped in March:  " The Index now stands at 101.3 (1985=100), up from 98.8 in February. The Expectations Index increased from 90.0 last month to 96.0 in March. The Present Situation Index, however, decreased from 112.1 in February to 109.1."
  • The Consumer Sentiment index for March compiled by the University of Michigan  decreased to 93 from the February reading of 95.4.  The Michigan people put the report into perspective:  "Consumer optimism reached a ten-year peak of 95.5 in the 1st quarter of 2015:  Its highest level since the 3rd quarter of 2004. The harsh winter weather and the small rebound in gas prices caused some slippage in consumer confidence since the start of the year. Importantly, most of the recent variation was among lower income households, whose budgets are more sensitive to higher utility costs and disruptions in work hours. Households with incomes in the middle and top thirds of the distribution, in contrast, recorded gains in confidence in the March survey. Expanding job opportunities as well as more favorable wage gains have meant that consumer spending will rebound during the balance of the year. While there is a widespread expectation that interest rates will begin to rise later in the year, few consumers anticipated that the size of the increases will dampen their credit sensitive purchase plans."
  • "The Rasmussen Employment Index  which measures worker confidence has either not been released for March or is no longer available without a subscription.  In February it "rose a point to tie the highest level measured in six years.  At 104.2, worker confidence is up from 103.3 in January and matches December’s all-time high."  So.. no useful information from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen. 
  • Job search engine was somewhat higher than the other estimates.  Linkup projected a net gain of 275,000 jobs in March.  (They base their projections largely on job openings.) 
  • Presumably  in response to ADP data and to other lower estimates Market Watch just posted an article entitled "Four Reasons why the March jobs report may not change minds". The "minds" the article talks about are people on Wall Street and other business people who feel that the economy is doing well and growth is strong.  The article talks about the "sizzling" growth of 295,000 new jobs in February vs. lower estimates of 243,000 new jobs for March.  The article talks about low numbers of unemployment claims as well as raises for the lowest paid workers by comanies such as Target and Walmart. 
  • Finally, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits has again started to head down, which may well mean higher job numbers than forecasted.  In February, the "pundits" were concerned because the number of new claims had risen a bit "to its highest level since May, which could raise concerns about some weakness in the labor market."  according to MSN Money.  But as February headed into March, the number of new claims started to decline.  As you can see on the chart below, last week's claims were among the lowest.. since approximately 2000.