How to Read This Month's Jobs Report
Posted at 11 a.m. on Feb. 1
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the January jobs report, showing steady but subdued growth at 157,000 jobs created last month, as well as significant upward revisions to the November and December numbers. The consensus was for 155,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate rose to 7.9% from 7.8%.
Matthew Yglesias explains what’s going on: “Each month the unemployment rate is calculated based on a survey of households… And each January they redo their population estimates. These estimates are not backward-projected into the old data, meaning that from December 2012 to January 2013 you’re comparing different survey universes… You can’t compare December’s 7.8 percent to January’s 7.9 percent except to say that there wasn’t much change.”
FT Alphaville calls this an “okay-good report” that provides “even more reason not to worry much about that negative headline GDP number.”
Felix Salmon has more: “The good news in the report is about levels rather than changes… the number of Americans with a job is 800,000 higher than we thought last month, even if the unemployment rate, at 7.9%, is no closer than it was in September to the Fed’s 6.5% target.”