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U.S. Jobs Report

01/09/2012

December’s nonfarm payroll report was slightly better than expected buoyed by seasonal December demand for temporary workers. Next month’s report (released on Friday, February 3) will be critical for confirming whether the positive momentum can be sustained.
 
Overall, the modest improvement in U.S. labor conditions over the past two months appears evident. Keep in mind, last year a decent December 2010 report was quickly reversed by a January 2011 dud (Figure 1.1).
 
Headline Numbers
•   December payrolls rose 200,000 ahead of consensus 155,000 and last month’s 100,000
•   U.S. jobless rate dropped to 8.511% from 8.655% last month – lowest level since February 2009 (Figure 1.2)
•   Private sector jobs gained 212,000 ahead of consensus 178,000 and last month’s 120,000
 
Revisions
•    Net revisions for October and November were a loss of 8,000 
•    October was revised from +100,000 to +112,000
•    November was revised from +120,000 to +100,000
 
Internals
•    Underemployment rate dropped to 15.2% from 15.6%
•    December average hourly earnings rose 0.2%
•    December average weekly hours rose to 34.4 from 34.3
•    Manufacturing jobs gained 23,000
•    Construction jobs gained 17,000
•    Government jobs fell 12,000
•    Transportation gained 50,000

o   Holiday delivery workers (couriers & messengers) gained 42,000 (Figure 1.3)

•    Retail trade jobs gained 27,900
•    Education & Health gained 29,000 
 
 
Figure 1.1 Payrolls annotated for December 2010 temporary surge and January 2011 dud

Source: Bloomberg
 
Figure 1.2 U.S. Unemployment rate falls to lowest level since February 2009 but still well above fall 2008 rate

Source: Bloomberg
 
Figure 1.3 Courier & messenger jobs, 10/31/2010 to 12/31/11

Source: Bloomberg

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