labor department jobs report
Economists breathed a sigh of relief when the Labor Department reported a better than expected April employment report on Friday, but the details show cracks still remain.
Many of the job gains proved to be in lower paying fields and the average number of hours worked dipped.
In fact, April's report revealed the average workweek for private sector employees declined 0.2 hour to 34.4 hours.
The data also suggests The Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare, is already having an impact on hiring since job growth has slowed most significantly among businesses with 50-499 employees.
This could be the reason why...
Unemployment Down, But February Jobs Report Not All Rosy
Friday's jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed bag.
The report had some positive news, as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest rate since December 2008.
While the preliminary numbers for February show that 236,000 new jobs were created, exceeding analyst estimates by a wide margin, the figure for January was revised down from 157,000 to 119,000. However, the December number was revised up from 196,000 to 219,000. So for the three months of December 2012-February 2013, the economy has added a total of 574,000 jobs, well above expectations.
But despite the increase in the number of jobs, the main reason for the decline in the unemployment rate is that fewer people are participating in the labor market.
The participation rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 63.5% in February as 130,000 people dropped out of the labor force. The employment-population ratio remained flat at 58.6%.
February Jobs Report: Here's What to Expect
Economists expect nonfarm payrolls to show a gain of 160,000 jobs in February, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.9%, when the Labor Department releases the February jobs report tomorrow (Friday) at 8:30 a.m.
Employment growth has averaged 177,000 per month over the last six months, and February is expected to fall short.
One reason is the 2% payroll tax cut that ended with 2012, leaving workers with less disposable income. Also, top income earners were slapped with a higher tax rate.
The full tax impact wasn't felt in January, but retailers and restaurants are beginning to feel the pain.
January 2013 Jobs Report: 4 Reasons Unemployment Will Stay High
The U.S. Labor Department released the January 2013 jobs report Friday, showing the unemployment rate inched upward from 7.8% to 7.9%.
Employers added 157,000 jobs in January, short estimates of 168,000, which would have kept the unemployment rate stable.
The jobs report included some good news: Revisions to last year's data, customary in January, show the U.S. added 335,000 more jobs than initially reported in 2012, bringing the monthly average for jobs gained to 181,000 from the 153,000 initially reported.
Employment gains for November and December were revised higher by a total of 127,000.
Contributing most to January payroll increases were the retail, construction and healthcare sectors. The government continued to shed workers, a trend that began four years ago.
But the employment outlook remains bleak. Joblessness has proved persistent, with the unemployment rate stuck above an unhealthy 7% for more than four years.
"The good news is that January's employment gains, coupled with large revisions to the prior months, may translate into more consumer spending power. The bad news is that unemployment remains stubbornly high," said Kathy Bostjanic, director of macroeconomics analysis at the Conference Board.
Why the January 2013 U.S. Jobs Report May Surprise You
The U.S. employment picture is expected to show continued signs of improvement when the Labor Department releases January's U.S. jobs report Friday morning.
Projections are for nonfarm payrolls to have gained 168,000 employees during the first month of 2013.
While a decent number, the tally won't be enough to budge the nation's 7.8% unemployment rate.
Forecasts from 90 economists polled by Thomson Reuters range from a 75,000 gain on the low end to a 200,000 gain.
In December, the number was a surprisingly robust 155,000. Over the past two years, the average has been 153,000 per month.
"We started the year on a pretty solid footing. I think the report is going to be a little bit better than what most people think," Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research, told the International Business Times.
But a number of factors could skew data in the U.S. jobs report. Here's what you should watch for.
Take a Closer Look Before Cheering the November U.S. Jobs Report
The Department of Labor today (Friday) released the November U.S. jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs last month, handily beating most economists' expectations.
The addition pushed the unemployment rate down from an unhealthy 7.9% to a still elevated 7.7%. That is the lowest level in four years, since December 2008.
Projections for the unemployment level ranged for it hold steady at 7.9% or rise to up to 8.1%.
But the reasons for the drop aren't as encouraging as the lowered rate itself.
The Real Story of the November U.S. Jobs ReportThe reason behind the surprising drop was because more dejected workers simply left the labor force. Some 350,000 people, unable to find work and no longer looking for a job, have dropped off the radar and were not counted among the slew of individuals still out of work.
The labor participation rate fell 20 basis points to 63.6%. Without this drop in the labor force, the unemployment rate would have remained at 7.9%.
Three years after the end of the 2007-2009 recession, the labor force participation rate remains extremely weak. If the rate reflected normal levels, the unemployment rate would be considerably higher.
Also contributing to the unexpected uptick was early seasonal retail hiring, instead of long-term sustainable positions. Retail was a key jobs producer in November, adding 53,000 to payrolls.
That's partly due to Thanksgiving being earlier this year than usual. Plus, more stores kicked-off the holiday shopping spree much before the usual Black Friday start.
These factors "suggest an asterisk will have to be put alongside the monthly non-farm report," Bloomberg senior economist Joseph Brusuelas wrote in today's Bloomberg Economics Brief.
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April's U.S. Jobs Report a Far Cry from Where We Need to Be