Friday, April 07, 2006

Grass is Green, Sky is Blue

by Ken Houghton

The Devil in the Details
Just a quick overview:
U.S. employers added 211,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped back to a 4-1/2-year low 4.7 percent...The pace of hiring last month was stronger than the 190,000 jobs that had been forecast by analysts, who also had expected the unemployment rate to be unchanged at February's 4.8 percent.

Looks good: 21,000 more jobs than expectations, an 11% increase (and Duncan Black would have lost the "under", had he bet it). (He would not have been the only one.)

Then again,
The Labor Department modestly revised down new hiring in February to 225,000 jobs instead of 243,000 reported last month while January new jobs totaled 154,000 instead of 170,000 - a cumulative reduction of 34,000 in the number of jobs created over the two months.

So we should actually believe that the economy net-gained 211-34 = 177K jobs over the three months. But maybe they were good jobs?
Wage growth was less robust than forecast, as average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent to $16.49 rather than the 0.3 percent expected by economists. Over the 12 months through March, wages rose 3.4 percent, down from 3.5 percent in the 12 months through February.

Oh, well. Look, over there, an illegal alien!

UPDATE: The more even-tempered gentlemen at Angry Bear look at the actual data and both find it encouraging. As they rightly should.

Sometimes, an expectation is just an expectation.
You mean 590,000 jobs over three months?

The economy is booming. College grads are entering a booming job market. Applications at business schools, law schools, etc. are way down this year, because students are taking good jobs instead of going to more school, as they would if they economy weren't doing as well.

The economy is on fire right now.
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