Saturday, December 5, 2009

Seasonal Employment to the Rescue

The latest jobs report showed the U.S. economy adding jobs in November. It’s a hopeful sign, but no one should get carried away with excitement:

  • There was an increase in the number of people employed, but only up to about the level of September, and more huge layoffs are coming a month from now.
  • The traditional seasonal increase in employment happened this year, but it was smaller than usual, and most of the new jobs will end before New Year’s Day.
  • The unemployment rate fell, but mostly by forcing another 100,000 workers out of the work force.
  • The retail hiring shows that retailers were optimistic about this year’s holiday season at the beginning of November, but the retail report for November shows that this optimism was not particularly justified.
  • The jobs report clashes with all other measures of employment, which probably means that the number of permanent office and factory jobs declined again during the month.

Still, it is better to have a job for a month or two than not to have one. And the relative stability of the economy in this season suggests that the economy is not likely to fall apart with the new shocks that are on their way next year.