First US Jobs Reports for 2012 – Summarized View

US Jobs Jan’12 Release (for Dec’11 Employment Status)

– Reality not as rosy as the headline figure. Headline  unemployment rate improved from 8.7% to 8.5%. However, note that employment-population ratio remained at 58.5%.
– Note that while population increased, civilian labor force decreased. So the improvement in headline employment rate is less a result of more jobs created than less people looking/vying for jobs in the labor market.
– Conclusion? Yes jobs are created, but not quite eough to  improve the overall employment status. While the headline tells us it’s an improvement, it’s more like a status quo of the previous mth.

US Jobs Feb’12 Release (for Jan’12 Employment Status)

– Updated population control (estimates) made direct comparison  of Dec’11 and Jan’12 challenging.
– Applying the new population estimate to Dec’11 and Jan’12  figures, we can see the participation rate remained the same m-o-m, while the employment-population ratio increased. It gave more support to the headline unemployment rate improvement.
– Avg working hrs and earnings, part-time employment situation,  duration of unemployment (details omitted here), though neither obvious nor strong, generally support the improvement in employment status.
– Compared to Dec’11, Jan’12 figures confirmed the improvement  in the overall employment status.

Overall, “Manufacturing” (esp. durable goods) and “Professional and Business Services” have been the main driving forces of job creations in the last two months, while the Government has been slashing jobs. No obvious clue for the months ahead but Manufacturing shall remain an important factor.

As the latest retail sales and industrial production reports released this week suggest the auto & parts sales in Jan’12 increased in volume but dropped in price, there remains a
reason to rein in premature optimism. Any improvement (in March’12 release) over the 0.2% seen in past couple of months shall be a positive surprise.

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