Today’s Jobs Report Solves Some Headscratcher Mysteries

The Pandemic wreaked havoc on seasonal patterns; and “seasonally adjusted” numbers often misfired. We knew that since mid-2020. Today some of it was resolved.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The employment report, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was a shocker in the positive sense. Markets had counted on terrible numbers to derail the Fed’s tightening strategy and derail the rate hike in March. But when the strong numbers came out, yields spiked, with the 10-year yield up 12 basis points to hit 1.93%, the highest since December 2019.

And there was another thing. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the normal seasonal changes in the US economy: Home sales, retail sales, initial unemployment claims, the number of people who are working, etc. These economic activities fluctuate hugely and predictably with the seasons every year.

Seasonal adjustments, based on the normal seasonal patterns, are designed to smooth out the data and allow for month-to-month comparison. This worked fairly well until it didn’t: When the pandemic screwed up the normal seasonality of the economy.

I have been screaming about this since the summer of 2020, and started to provide some not-seasonally adjusted data overlaid with seasonally adjusted data to shed light on this mystery that produced either shockingly good or shockingly bad results in “seasonally adjusted” terms. But “not seasonally adjusted,” the results were just fine. Some of the seasonal adjustment factors were then revised to bring them in line with the new reality.

Today it was the jobs report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics applied new seasonal adjustment factors to the January data and going back. In addition, the BLS, as it does every January, revised the data of the survey of employers (Establishment Survey) as a result of its annual benchmarking process. And the Households Survey data was revised for updated population estimates. This solved some of the bizarre distortions we have seen in the “seasonally adjusted” data last year, in both directions.

We’ll get into this in a moment. But first we get into the blow-away jobs data, “seasonally adjusted.”

Employers reported that they added 467,000 people to their payrolls in January, seasonally adjusted. December job gains were revised up hugely, and for the past three months combined, employers added 1.62 million jobs. This brought the total number of employees on the payrolls to 149.6 million, still down by 2.87 million from February 2020 and by about 8 million below pre-pandemic trend (green line).

Households reported that the number of working people, including the self-employed and entrepreneurs that are not tracked by the Establishment Survey, jumped by 1.2 million people in January, and by 2.94 million people over the past three months, bringing the total to 157.2 million people who are now working. This was still down by 1.69 million from the total in February 2020, and was about 6 million workers below pre-pandemic trend (red line).

The labor force and “labor shortages.”

The labor force – defined as people who were either already working or who were actively looking for a job in the four weeks prior to the survey of households – jumped by 1.39 million people in January from December, to 163.7 million.

This jump in the labor force was entirely based on the annual revision of the population estimates, with the prior population estimates having understated the labor force. As it does every year, the BLS did not adjust the December-and-prior household data, including the labor force data, with the new population estimates. Today’s revisions were made for January and going forward, and January shows the catch-up. This adjustment resolves part of the mystery of why the labor force in 2021 was stuck at this low level.

In addition, 1.8 million people were not included in the labor force because they couldn’t look for a job during the reference period due to the pandemic, up from 1.1 million people in December.

This leaves the labor force down by 1.4 million people from February 2020 and by 3.3 million from pre-pandemic trend, even as employers were furiously trying to fill an enormous 10.9 million job openings.

The unemployment rate, after the adjustment of the population data for January that brought the labor force up, deteriorated a tiny bit, to 4.0% in January, from 3.9% in December.

The Employment-to-Population ratio improved a tad to 59.7%, the highest since March 2020, from 59.5% in December.

Average Hourly Earnings jumped by 23 cents in January from December to $31.63 per hour, and were up 5.7% from a year ago. These historically large gains in wages were not nearly enough amid the raging inflation. With CPI inflation at 7.0%, the purchasing power of labor, as measured by average hourly earnings, fell further behind.

The Seasonal Adjustments to a seasonally wild economy.

Two categories are particularly seasonal: jobs in retail and jobs in education.

Retail jobs spike every year in October through December as retailers hire temporary workers for the holiday selling season that they then lay off in late December and early January. This happens every year, and seasonal adjustments predict this and smoothen it out, thereby understating the actual retail jobs in November and December and overstating actual retail jobs in January.

Not seasonally adjusted, retail employment in January fell 2.6% from December (purple line in the chart below). But retail employment before the pandemic fell by an average of 3.5% in January from December. So the drop this January was smaller than the typical drop in prior years. So “seasonally adjusted,” retail employment in January rose from December by 0.4% (red line).

You can see from the purple line how the not seasonally adjusted patterns changed during the pandemic, including in November and December 2021, when the number of jobs spiked less than in prior years, as more employment had shifted to ecommerce operations that count as jobs in warehousing, transportation, etc., and that therefore in January, employment in retail fell less than in prior years.

These are very large numbers — over 10% of all jobs are in retail and over 10% are in education — for a total of over 30 million, or over 20% of all jobs. And so even small errors in the seasonal adjustments have a large impact on the overall numbers:

Education employment dives twice a year every year: Over the summer and to a lesser extent in December and January. Workers in education are employed by:

  • State governments (2.5 million in January)
  • Local governments (7.8 million in January)
  • Private sector (3.6 million in January)

In total, 13.85 million people were employed in education in January, not seasonally adjusted, a drop of 558,100 from December.

This drop was slightly less than the typical drop in January of 600,000 to 650,000 in the years before the pandemic. So seasonally adjusted, employment rose by 41,400 (red line).

The purple line, not seasonally adjusted, shows how the pandemic changed the patterns, including a smaller dive over the summer, and a smaller recovery afterwards, and what appears to be a permanently lower pattern, as educational institutions have trouble hiring, and as college student enrollment has dropped:

In terms of overall employment, the BLS changed the factors for seasonal adjustments going back over the data in 2021 in both directions quite substantially:

  • In the seven months of Jan, Feb, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec, the changes had the effect of increasing seasonally adjusted employment by a total of 1.28 million.
  • In the five months over the spring and summer, the changes had the effect of decreasing seasonally adjusted employment by 1.06 million.
  • The net effect over the year was an increase of 217,000.

This resolved in part the seasonally adjusted mystery of the headscratcher-strong jobs growth numbers in May, June, and July (red box in the table below, in the  column “as previously published) and equally headscratcher-weak jobs growth numbers in November in December (purple box”, in the column “as previously published”).

Note in the right column the massive down revisions for May, June, and July (totaling -974,000), and the massive up-revisions for November and December (totaling +709,000. And these revised seasonally adjusted numbers make a lot more sense than the numbers we got at the time (table from the BLS report):

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  155 comments for “Today’s Jobs Report Solves Some Headscratcher Mysteries

  1. Seneca's cliff says:

    After about 20 spam phone calls today I decided what I would do to solve both the jobs and supply chain problem. I would make all cold call and email spam operations illegal retroactively so that everyone engaged in those activities over the last 5 years would be sentenced to 5 years of hard labor in the supply chain. So instead of calling people about extended fake car warranties ( or managing, or profiting from such things) these folks would be forced to drive trucks, unload containers, mold plastics and make windows at attractive labor rates. This would also improve productivity as business people would no longer be distracted by these scurvy cold callers.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      LOL.

      Have you ever tried to put one of those cold-calling chat bots to work in the supply chain? Talk about nightmare!

      • Xavier Caveat says:

        I had a bot cold call me today asking if I wanted the extended warranty on my vaccinations.

      • just-a-boy says:

        I talked quite a while with one of those chaps from South America that will lower your interest rates on your credit card….. After a while when he knew I knew it was a scam I asked how much they haul in in a day, he said $2200. in a good day…. If you want to see them hang up real quick tell them yer cards are all maxed out….

        And the extended car warranty calls, when they ask about my car… It’s a 1986 Honda Prelude…. click….

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          “It’s a 1986 Honda Prelude”

          Haha, back in the day we called it the “Honda Quaalude”.

    • The artist formerly know as Marcus says:

      I’ve always wondered if anyone falls for that car warranty stuff. Then last week a older fella starts calling my work number and leaving messages that he definitely needs that warranty because his old 4-runner is dying and he can’t afford repairs. I realized that my number was spoofed and that he thought it was me who called. So, I called him to explain that this isn’t a car warranty company and that he’s being scammed. He said, “well, can you give me the number for the warranty folks?” I felt bad for the guy and repeated that the whole thing is a scam and tried to explain number spoofing but that went over like a fart in church. He just kept saying the he needs to get his car back on the road. Damn parasites out there stealing from people like this.

      • Rg says:

        Yes. There are a lot of older folks out there with early dementia and that’s who the scammers are after.

        • Randy Oldman says:

          I got a cold call last week informing me that I was in big trouble with the Canadian tax agency. I connected with a person and asked how proud his mother would be that he has this fine job. His response was (south Asian accent) “I am an orphan, my parents threw me in the rubbish when I was 6 months old”! Good one!

    • David Hall says:

      My iPhone is set to silent except when people in my contacts list call. Others may leave a message. My phone translates the voice message to a text message. I blocked spam phone numbers.

      • Finster says:

        I do the same thing. Except I just never set up voice mail.

      • historicus says:

        Do you have the steps to set the phone to that condition?
        Sounds like a good idea.

        • COWG says:

          Easy, h …

          Settings>Phone>Silence unknown callers…

          For the iPhone…

        • doug says:

          this works for me:
          Set the default ring tone to No ring.
          Give everyone in your phone book a non default ring tone.
          I have medical with one (amazing grace), friends have another, work has one, and finally family with its own tone.
          If someone calls you that you don’t know, phone doesn’t ring. All good. This took a bit to set up, but I love the phone not ringing.

        • GSH says:

          On an iPhone, go to “Settings”, then “Phone”, then “Silence unknown callers”. Done

    • Brent says:

      =illegal retroactively=

      You are my source of inspiration.I am following in your steps !!!

      US Constitution Article I, Section 9, Clause 3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

      I am preparing Bill of Attainder against my MIL without having to jump thru the fiery hoops at the Court of Law.Since it is under the seal I will not tell you what is therein.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I bought a call block device off of Ebay for $69. You hit a button and it blocks the call. It puts all blocked calls in a database. When the caller calls back you get one ring and then the call is zapped. I’ve got over 100 calls in my database so far and it’s growing longer every day.

    • Brant Lee says:

      What ever happened to the No-Call list?

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Brant Lee

        Doesn’t work. Verizon sells your phone number to telemarketers.

  2. Augustus Frost says:

    The change in “real” wages is usually worse than it looks. It’s not 5.7% – 7% for a net negative 1.3%.

    It’s 5.7% less any taxes on this wage increase minus 7%.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Great point, but isn’t it a little more subtle than that? It’s 5.7% less any taxes on the wage increase above the average tax on the prior wage.

      Agree that take-home pay doesn’t go up 5.7% because the extra $$ get taxed more. But it’s the difference in tax rates that matters.

      Expenses still up 7% and wouldn’t you know it, the sales tax goes up too.
      No wonder governments think inflation is okay; they don’t have to pay for it.

      • Augustus Frost says:

        Yes.

        My marginal tax rate is currently 37.4%: federal, state, and FICA.

        For me, a 5.7% increase would be slightly less than 4%.

        That’s a 3% actual pay cut.

        For the median income of about $65K, if their marginal combined tax rate is 15% to 20%, maybe around 4.75% which is slightly over a 2% pay cut.

        That’s like $1500/YR or $125/month subject to tax credits they can use.

        It’s quite noticeable which is why a lot of people are mad now.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Not quite. What’s your prior overall tax rate (total taxes / total income)? Your after-tax % increase depends on your prior take-home after taxes.

          Suppose your average tax-rate was 20% and your pre-tax income was $100K (for round numbers). So, after-tax, you used to earn $80K.

          Now you get a raise of 5.7% or $5.7K. And you pay 37.4% in taxes on that marginal income, so your take-home goes up just $3.6K. But now you’re earning $83.6K instead of $80K, so that’s still a 4.5% increase in your take home.

          Against 7% inflation in your cost of living, it’s still a 2.5% pay cut.

          If we do it again assuming you got a 7% raise (so your employer can pretend that they’re “matching inflation” for you), your take home goes up $4.382K. That’s not a 7% increase in your take-home, it’s just 5.5%.

          (If/when the tax brackets are adjusted for inflation it won’t be quite so bad since the effective average tax rate on the prior income should go down.)

        • Mickey says:

          Remember that while social security went up 5.9%, medicare went up 14%, and depending where one is on the total soc sec benefit, its a proble.

          Also, when the government decides that inflaion for soc sec is 5.9% while inflation is likely much higher, union deals for wage increases follow that and then non union workers get stuck with that which is why so many workers fall behind .

          Which also ties to pensions not being able to cover the negative spread in growth with negative interest rates.

          The entire system is stresses based on a simple principle that there is no such thing as a free lunch

  3. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    I had 3 bot calls this morning. The only thing different were their first names.

    • WES says:

      I got a call from India wanting to know if I needed my ducts cleaned.
      I told them my ducks were nice and clean since they had a bath this morning!

      • Troublemaker says:

        Duct cleaners and anyone wanting to visit my house to do work get an acknowledgment from me. Tell them you need the work done and will pay cash.
        Pick a time when the outbound traffic is absolutely the worst and use a real, but distant address up a mountain or in the depths of traffic. They check for address, so it should be real. If they call back to confirm, confirm.
        If you are hard core, give them an appointment near but not at your house so you can go there and wait. Take pictures of truck logo and license plate when they show up.
        When the ones up the mountain call back exasperated, or at the nearby address where you are want to start, tell them you are on the Do Not Call List and they’ll be arrested, lose their contractors license-if they even have one- if they call you again etc.
        Help destroy the validity of the ‘services’ the spam callers offer the duct cleaners etc.

  4. TimTim says:

    Look, I get it, some forms of statistical adjustment are more palatable than others.

    But, honestly, it all appears nothing more than an episode of the green wing with government workers instead of doctors.

  5. Peanut Gallery says:

    Wolf, did you observe during your time in Japan that teachers were more highly skilled (and more highly paid, revered in their communities, etc.) than in the US?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Don’t know about pay comparisons. But from what I can tell, they are respected (not sure about “revered”).

      • Oji says:

        Officially, pay is comparable, but Japanese teachers receive “bonus pay” at various times that typically amounts to about 5-6 months salary. This is not counted as salary, and is technically merit-based, but is rarely denied.

        Also, teachers receive a per diem for travel to and from work, and qualify for public employee housing as well, which is modest (read: very cramped by U.S. standards) but livable. The per diem is typical of private employers as well, btw, and not particular to teachers. Public employee housing, too, includes many other types of gov. workers, but buildings are often dominated by types of employees, for example, a building may be all teachers (from various schools).

        And, yes, teachers are highly respected. Teachers are also quite powerful, socially, in that they are known to lecture bad parents, enforce school standards off school grounds, and even visit the homes of underperforming/misbehaving students to inspect their living and studying conditions.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          Never been there but consider Japan to be a lot more civilized society than the US.

        • Tokyo_Steve says:

          Also, teachers in Japan are virtually required to work after school and weekends, supporting various “club” activities, to the extent that any time not spent at school or performing school-related activities is seen as somehow being selfish or insufficiently dedicated to the profession. Japan is experiencing a deficit of teachers because young people are shunning the profession due to the reputation that schools and boards of education have for overworking their teachers.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I’m still waiting for the price of Beef in Japan. In the 1970s it was $26/lb and the Yen was 360 to the dollar. The Yen is now almost at parity with the dollar. With all this inflation and devaluation I wonder what it is now? All beef has to be imported.

      • Brent says:

        They sell imported Japanese beef on Amazon,look up “Wagyu Beef” or “Kobe Wine Beef”.Price is $160/lb or $7.99/oz,free to look at the picture 😀

        Why so expensive ?

        The farmers at Kobe Wine Beef Association partnered with the local wine manufacturers and the cows are fed byproduct from the wine production.

        Also they sell on Amazon $250/lb pork from Spain.Piglets are fed milk and later on they are fed only acorns.

        My interests lay elsewhere,I could not care less.

      • andy says:

        Isn’t the Yen almost at parity with a penny?

      • Tokyo_Steve says:

        Not all beef is imported, but quite a lot of it is. Last year we paid about $42/lb at the neighborhood market in Hirō (section of Tokyo), which is overpriced due to its location and the (mostly foreign) clientele it serves. This is for imported Australian beef. I’m sure if you go out to the burbs of Tokyo it is roughly $20-$25 lb for cheaper alternatives.

  6. Ahmed says:

    Could these numbers also mean that some of the hordes, who quit their jobs to create self employed LLCs for various stints, are finding that there is too much competition everywhere and they need to go back to taking a real job?

    • tom15 says:

      To much competition?

      In 30 yrs we have never turned away so much work.
      Only to have them call back 1-3 weeks later asking to be
      put on our schedule…regardless of wait time.

      Not 30yrs old, and no one in sight to take over business.
      We are not the only ones.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      My guess was that folks that lost all their money on leveraged bets on the most hyped stocks that are now down 60-90% decided that this strategy wasn’t working after all, and they’re now rejoining the labor force. And we’ll get some of that, but I think it’s too early to see it in the numbers.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      Ahmed,

      The free money running out is the main reason, many are heading back to work.

      It’s harder to say about the gig workers (if many are giving up). It’s also important to remember that most “independent contractors” actually work for a single boss.

      Considering a lot of the apps like uber eats actually try to double dip and take money from the actual food transaction with the restaurant and from the driver for delivery; I wonder if many of the more successful restaurants like McDonald’s will start having their own drivers and cut out things like uber eats. It would also be interesting if the bigger chains could pool their resources together to create more professional third party companies, who drive for specific restaurant chains (who have contracts with them); to avoid anti competition accusations, they could even allow local restaurants in. I’d bet they would try to hire gig workers, putting it back at square one. But, it would be easier to force these companies to actually hire their drivers as employees.

      Having someone deliver your food and more is a luxury though, so I wonder if that can continue on this scale with this inflation. Most gig workers are basically employees who are being scammed or providing a luxury (unneeded) service (food delivery). I’d bet most pizza delivery drivers, make more than uber eats drivers and the pizza delivery drivers can hide their tips better.

      • phleep says:

        “Most gig workers are basically employees who are being scammed or providing a luxury (unneeded) service (food delivery).”

        So, college enrollments might pick up as various people being compensated in a pandemic world drift back to the more classic paths to a career. I teach in college and numbers are way off.

        On teacher-student relations, I find them pretty respectful now, they are more muted and less in the mindset of narcissistic super-star hot-shot than back in the 80s. Whether that bodes well for the needs of our future economy I can’t say.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Re: respect for teachers ph:
          I can certainly understand how difficult it must be for younger folks to understand that there was a time in this country (and most others from what I have read and heard ) when teachers had absolute hegemony over THEIR classroom.
          That was when a parent was waiting at the door, usually with a ”switch” or belt in hand after ONE phone call from a teacher reciting less than respectful behaviour(s) from a kid, and the parent made damn sure that the expected respectful behaviour was very clearly understood by the kid.
          It was called, ”adult centered child raising,” as opposed to the ”child centered child upbringing” prevalent these days, with the obvious and inevitable results now SO well known.
          That was also when teachers, in general, were very well respected members of the community, with their opinions welcome at every local meeting, etc.

  7. Old school says:

    Saw an interesting graph today that showed GDP minus government deficit has been negative since around 2012. We have passed the threshold of growth without Fed printing and spending. It’s not the sign of a bright future.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      Be interested to see that graph but to me, a more meaningful number is the change in the deficit from 2008 onward versus 2000-2007.

      Some level of government deficits is “normal” which is why I use 2000-2007 as the “normal economy (also without QE) while post 2008 is undoubtedly the fake economy.

      I have never charted or graphed it but looking at the Treasury’s website and reported GDP changes, the change in the deficit after 2008 approaches or exceeds annual “growth”.

    • Catxman says:

      @oldschool

      If the gov’t is boosting those figures, that would make sense. It’s been eating a larger and larger share of the economy for some time now. Milton Friedman said he had no problem with gov’t debt being as large as it is, as long as it wasn’t growing fractionally as a percentage of the whole shebang. I think he’s right.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      Old school,

      Right now, all other large and major economies are screwing up just as bad or worse (varies by country) than America, so America isn’t falling behind yet.

      The real question is, what happens after the everything bubble pops? America could still early pull it together after that pop, obviously most investment money would be gone, but the question is, what will happen? It will depend on how it’s decided America will be run from then on, which could be anything at this point, we do live in the crazy clown times.

      Eventually, if America holds it together, the US government debt could pay negative returns, so the size won’t matter as much. It will still be necessary to reduce the annual deficit though.

    • historicus says:

      File that with “Trade Deficits Don’t Matter”.
      We print so we can import.

  8. WES says:

    In 2021 the Fed and Congress pumped freshly created trillions of dollars into the economy.

    That is like a garter snake swallowing a grapefruit. The snake’s body becomes greatly distorted. Will the snake ever fully recover?

    I think the economy is also being greatly distorted. And not in a good way.

    Are we seeing our own version of the crack up boom?

  9. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

    Mark Twain (SC)

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      That’s not an “either/or”, it’s an “and also”!

      Thanks to the IYI Syndrome described by Taleb, we have leaders who are both “smartly” putting us on and simultaneously (on other issues) being imbeciles who really mean it!

      • Augustus Frost says:

        There is definitely no brain trust of “wizards behind the curtain” managing the economy to prosperity.

        There is an article today on CNBC.com rationalizing how the FRB blew its inflation call. The consensus among the “experts” is that it was due to delays in nominations. If only the nominations had been on time, they would have got it “right”.

        The idea is idiotic but no matter how often and how badly the economics brain trust screws things up, they just don’t get it.

        They mistake manic psychology which makes this fake economy possible for their supposed brilliance.

        • LK says:

          Considering Powell’s flip on inflation as soon as his seat was secure, I believe it.

        • historicus says:

          LK
          Powell to be confirmed Fed 15th.
          That could indeed be an important date. He has the power to raise rates NOW….not wait til March.
          Also, the Olympics will be over right about then…..and Putin and Xi might get to their “to do list”.
          It could be wild times.

        • phleep says:

          … What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? …
          ― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

          Life is a fake economy. We stumble forward destructively to all in sight (while wearing the blinders to not see it) pursuing the bait of a few conceits, until our current gambit is exposed, and falls apart. The human adventure is utterly unsustainable so far (on any large time horizon). We could only get away with our conceits until their “success” now lays bare the negative externalities piled up and glaring all around. Grift, false horizons and various addictive fantasies get us out of bed. We are too unethical, poorly regulated, stupid and crazy to have any viable governance of our species, or adult solutions to our collective action problems. That is the TRUE everything bubble: of folly. It is delusional all the way down. We are lovely but mainly grotesque. You’re welcome.

          That said, I still see our USA as a pretty relatively good shabby and laughable house on a horrific block. It is good enough for a fellow of my low tastes.

        • LK says:

          Just watched the BBC documentary series “A Century of Self.” Fascinating. I’m wondering if we are seeing the end game of that century.

        • Depth Charge says:

          “That said, I still see our USA as a pretty relatively good shabby and laughable house on a horrific block. It is good enough for a fellow of my low tastes.”

          You probably have a house which was purchased for a reasonable price, vs a Gen Zer who’s just starting out and doesn’t have a pot to piss in. They are well and truly screwed. If you were to have to start from square 1 right now, you’d have a whole different take.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          this for DC:
          Not so sure about that; hearing from young folks in their late 20s who are making up to $150 per hour as skilled carpenters, plumbers, tree climbers, even lawn maintenance guys…
          Best I ever made for lawn was $10 per hour in 1956, which is approx. $100 per hour these days, $50 per hour for carpenter in early 1980s???
          Seems like one reason for the predominance of females in college these days is the smart guys knowing full well they will do better, at least into their forties doing skilled manual labor???
          another swing of the pendulum, eh

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      DawnsEarlyLight,

      It’s mostly run by corrupt people (who vary from socially savvy idiots to geniuses), who are surrounded by other corrupt people, who will get eaten alive, if they don’t behave corruptly. The level and types of corruption, varies by country.

      This happens because governments became corrupt over time (too many become comfortable with the status quo), or because the people were dumb enough to suggest their governments create unrealistic societies. The people thinking of the here and now, supporting snake oil salesmen with great societal pitches, is an old tale.

      Eventually, the society in that state, becomes no longer sustainable and something happens.

      Many view this entire thing as a cycle countries go through, with the cycles becoming increasingly long over time. It’s hoped that major tech breakthroughs like true AI, can break the cycle.

    • Implicit says:

      It’s the latter; they ain’t
      jokin

    • RedRaider says:

      smart people vs imbeciles

      Good one.

      My version of this: as a teenager I wondered if other people could read minds and didn’t tell me because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

      Strange the reasons we come up with to explain the situation.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        …”as a teenager I wondered if other people could read minds and didn’t tell me because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings.”

        Now, that is a good one! 🤭

  10. Biloxi says:

    “And so even small errors in the seasonal adjustments have a large impact on the overall numbers.”

    This suggests today’s NFP might just be a statistical error. Considering today’s employment numbers are due to jobs verified by social security number, I have no idea why there should be any ambiguity at all.

    Some brave soul should submit a freedom of information request to obtain the underlying raw data. The BLS seems about as reliable as the CDC.

    • Prophet says:

      Biloxi,
      Simply remove the “L” from “BLS,” and well, there you have it!

  11. Harry Houndstooth says:

    Well since most people do not consider investing in the stock market on the short side, perhaps a healthy market correction might help fill some of 10 million job openings.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      There are a ton of restaurants and shops that for years, I wondered, how are they still in business? There doesn’t seem to be enough customers to keep this place running.

      If enough of all these excess shops and restaurants go out, that should fill the gap. There are also alot of jobs that could be automated away, especially in the offices.

      • Flea says:

        Lots run by drug cartel = laundry money

        • phleep says:

          When I was practicing law, I worked on a case of that. Pancake house with paper bags of fake earnings coming into the cash register from the cartels. I see those restaurants too: no customers and no sign of doing much business. There are some labor stats (“informal” economy) to look for too. Doesn’t help things for the government funding, say, street repairs, or the guy here paying 37 percent plus in taxes.

        • phleep says:

          Oh, and these fake businesses were observed well before the pandemic shut down brick-and-mortar. I presume plenty of them applied for stimmies relief too.

  12. Prophet says:

    “Average Hourly Earnings jumped by 23 cents in January from December to $31.63 per hour, and were up 5.7% from a year ago.”

    I believe this figure ($31.63) is the combination of both hourly and salary-based wages, correct me if I’m wrong. Are there statistics for each category, uncombined? By combining the two, I believe the BLS is deliberately hiding the fact that the average hourly wage (definition: dollars per hour) is far below the $31.63 quoted above. On a national scale, I’d bet the average hourly wage is in the neighborhood of $18-$20/hour. Another interesting statistic would be what percentage of the currently employed workforce is paid by the hour, and what percentage by salary? I doubt the BLS has such statistics, for if it did, it would reveal how underpaid the paid-by-the-hour workers really are.

    • Trucker guy says:

      Mean personal income 54000
      Median personal income 35800
      Mean family income 115000

      Statistics can tell you any story you anyone you want. You just gotta work at it.

      • Prophet says:

        The median is far lower than the mean due to the number of workers earning an hourly wage. Thanks.

        “Statistics can tell you any story you anyone you want. You just gotta work at it.”

        Isn’t that the BLS’ mission statement?

    • Flea says:

      Truck driver in Midwest class b ,21.50$

    • Gomp says:

      Is it gross cost to the employer or net to the employee? Bennies, ss match etc. healthe insurance?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Hourly wages and salary are treated as the same and are combined for labor statistics purposes. That’s also how you get the average hours worked per week, and similar data.

      • Prophet says:

        Thanks Wolf, I get it, that this is how the stats are reported. But I beg to differ, although it doesn’t matter what I think. Thanks for your excellent reporting.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Companies that friends have worked for on a ”salaried” W-2 basis have insisted on receiving weekly or biweekly ”time cards” filled out to show exactly 40 hours per week no matter how many hours actually worked.
        Actual hours must always be greater, or out the door…
        Hope that has changed these days, eh?
        With re BLS, their main usefulness in general, for many decades, is current listings of union wage determinations for computing cost of labor in different jurisdictions; otherwise as mentioned above. (remove the L )

        • tom15 says:

          I run a business tied to construction.
          It’s only the Mrs & I now.
          When we had employees, salary or hourly, both with benefits
          was offered. They always took the salary.

        • Implicit says:

          Then there are the “C corps.” small businesses
          That don’t pay themselves any salary, but have a lot of write-offs. However,
          They will usually work for 4 or 5 years to be able to get Social Security. At least it used to be that way. They often work over 50 hours a week for “nothing”

    • historicus says:

      There is payroll tax and other costs to employing hourly wage earners that must be added to the employer’s cost.

      • Prophet says:

        Understood. I Just want to see the BLS separate the hourly-based stats from the salary-based stats. How can the two be combined? It doesn’t make any sense unless the BLS is trying to hide how pathetic the hourly-based stats really are. It won’t happen though, I know.

  13. Dazed And Confused says:

    Why has Eurozone and UK employment recovered better than US employment in the pandemic aftermath despite less fiscal and monetary stimulus, lower GDP growth and less inflation?

    Eurozone now has a record low unemployment rate, below the level it was pre-pandemic.

    In UK, payrolled employees now exceed pre-pandemic levels by 400K+ in a country with just 20% of the US population.

    US unemployment while low is still above pre-pandemic levels and total employed in US still a couple of million below pre-pandemic levels.

    How did Eurozone and UK manage to outperform US like this or is it just a side effect of the sort of statistical adjustments and corrections that Wolf analyzes in this article perhaps being done differently across different geographies?

    • Flea says:

      7 trillion reasons

      • Dazed And Confused says:

        That’s a bit cryptic – is that like the difference in USD between US combined fiscal stimulus and QE vs. Eurozone+UK fiscal stimulus and QE or something.

        Are you saying that the excessive US fiscal and monetary stimulus actually impeded employment recovery here?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Dazed And Confused,

      Go look up the numbers first, before coming up with grand theories:

      Eurozone unemployment rate December: 7.0% (compared to 4.0% in the US)

      EU unemployment rate December: 6.4% (compared to 4.0% in the US)

      In addition, when people were furloughed during the pandemic in the EU, they didn’t count as unemployed, and if they’re still furloughed, they still don’t count as unemployed. So unlike in the US, the unemployment rate never shot up because most of the workers that got furloughed didn’t count as unemployed.

      https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Unemployment_statistics

      • Dazed And Confused says:

        I am fully aware of the numbers and I NEVER said that Eurozone unemployment is below US unemployment.

        My point is that the Eurozone unemployment is now below pre-pandemic levels as you can see on the linked graph whereas in the US it is still above pre-pandemic levels. So Eurozone has had a complete employment recovery but US is close but not there yet.

        But thanks for the information about how Eurozone furloughed employees are counted – I was not aware of that and it may explain this apparent anomaly.

      • Dazed And Confused says:

        Furlough counting does not explain the complete recovery of UK payrolls to 400K above pre-pandemic levels however.

        Furlough in the UK ended in October 2021.

        • Anthony says:

          At a most astonishing cost financially to the Government and the country. During the last two years (I suppose like in the USA) goverment debt has risen close to 19%. That, of course, explains all the inflation here in the UK and why interest rates and taxation is going up.

          The increase in our heating bills was primarily caused by reliance on windmill created electricity and of course, here in Europe, we have had little or no wind for nearly four months or at least, not enough to turn the useless pieces of junk.

        • Implicit says:

          There recovery from the pandemic has been a couple of months ahead of the US thus far.

  14. The number of people outside the labor force is still a mystery. What are these population estimates? We added 1.4M workers to the labor force? We lost a million people during the pandemic, just death, not disables, maybe half were gainfully employed. Is this the zombie apocalypse? You know somethings broken when they beat the estimates on jobs added and unemployment goes higher. The labor market is tighter than it was? That part makes sense. Now birth rates are dropping which may not have an effect for 15 years, but without all those kids running around a lot of jobs go unfilled (education). The employment trend line is more of an oscillator? Companies which cannot find employees will either raise prices or go broke.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You’re not in the labor force if you’re not actively looking for a job during the reference period. If you just feel like taking off for a few months and you’re not looking for a job, you’re not in the labor force. People have all kinds of reasons to not look for a job. Retirement, health, taking care of others, being fed up with work life, plenty of money….

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Don’t forget the cash only workers Wolf; really can’t say much about that part of the equation the last few years, but previously, for the 40-50 years before that, approximately 20% of the work force for ”tract” or less than top of the line custom homes were paid cash, either daily or weekly.
        My SS statement had numerous years in the sixties and seventies with very very low or no reported income.
        Remember well one raid by INS that took every single worker off a shopping center remodel in FL, right after the POTUS inauguration in ’17 ; none of the supervisors of course!
        None of the workers ever returned, in spite of being owed money.

        • Implicit says:

          True. caught.
          Worked for a painter 40 years ago, and he had two crews- union and non-union. The non union often prepared the union jobs, and it was often worth it to just take the fine.

      • Mark says:

        You know – Instead of relying on obviously fake Chinese statistics from our own government ( 4 %) unemployment……

        Maybe discussing the abysmal, never lower labor participation rate.

        It’s the only statistic that is even close to the truth …… and it’s ugly.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Mark,

          Sheesh. I have news for you: You cannot force people to work in this country.

          Lots of people CHOOSE not to work. Millions of people retired because they’ve had it. Some younger ones made a ton of money in stocks and cryptos and they feel like they don’t have to work; they’re day-trading or skiing or whatever, and they’re loving it. Some got some rental properties. Others are taking care of kids or their elderly parents. Millions of people are full-time students. Others are scheming to start their own business…

          The unemployment rate is based on people who WANT to work, and are ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR A JOB, but cannot find a job. There are different types of unemployment rates. The narrowest one is 4.0%. The other ones are higher. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, the unemployment rates are meaningless. Once you understand what they track, they’re useful.

      • DayTripper says:

        Re population growth. We visited friends in Marvelous Marin on Saturday. Getting off the freeway in San Rafael, noted a line of at least one hundred or more, hard to count those away from the curb, day laborers lined up waiting for a contractor or someone to stop.
        All males, all Hispanic, mostly young. With over two million coming across the border in one year, this has to have an effect on the ability of local teenagers or adults to get jobs, or housing–at a livable wage anyway.

  15. DR DOOM says:

    How bout’ that productivity melt-up? The Big news in my myopic reality today was $92 a barrel oil and 1.92 % 10 year treasury and my big ass Nat Gas bill I got today. Plus tooth# 30 going south. Too old and ugly for a go fund me site for my up-coming implant! The good news is I got my Heck Mug loaded with a Black and Tan and was sipping on it while I was reading and absorbing Wolfs Work Product. All said and done I can add being above ground and that ain’t bad.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “How bout’ that productivity melt-up?”

      Hahaha, it took a long time for someone to bring that up. Thank you!

      In the prior quarter, there was the productivity melt-down, and instantly, everyone and their pooch were posting it here and sending it to me via email to show that everything was collapsing.

      Well, no. I told folks back then that productivity would bounce back because after a collapse in employment, when you get the hiring binge, the way it is calculated, productivity falls by a whole bunch, and then the next quarter it bounces back up. Happens after every recession, though maybe not quite as sharply as this time.

      In other words, nothing special happened.

  16. FinePrintGuy says:

    I’m not scratching my head. Four words you need to google: “Child Tax Credit Expiration”.

    A lot of people are headed right back into the workforce.

    • Depth Charge says:

      Gee, it’s almost like all this money printing and government cheese has created a lot of distortions and negative consequences. I’m sure the MMT crackpots will try to spin it as a success.

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      Does this mean we are not going to have King Crab legs (at $50 a pound) available in the Hood?

  17. JustTruth says:

    ADP reported payrolls dropped 300,000 in January. Are you going to believe them Wolf or the scumbag lying criminal government? I choose to believe ADP.

    • drifterprof says:

      Interesting about the ADP report. I searched and found the following (quoted from “marketrealist” website):

      The ADP (ADP) estimate includes only private non-farm payrolls, while the BLS estimate includes both private and government non-farm payrolls.

      The ADP releases just one estimate for non-farm payrolls addition, while the BLS releases an initial figure that’s revised twice to include results from companies that sent their responses late. The first BLS estimate includes results from ~70% of the survey size, while the second and third revisions include an additional 20% and 1% to 2% of survey responses, respectively.

      ADP has estimated the data correlation between the private payroll additions reported in the ADP-NER and the final BLS Employment Situation report at ~0.96.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      JustTruth,

      “Are you going to believe them Wolf or the scumbag lying criminal government? I choose to believe ADP.”

      Multiple choice:

      1. believe Big Gigantic Evil Greedy Lying Corporate America (ADP)
      2. believe “the scumbag lying criminal government”
      3. believe is something you do in church

      Hint: we discuss economic data here and not beliefs. Save your beliefs for your spiritual efforts.

      What you don’t realize, since you don’t like to look at data but want to believe in things, is that ADP’s numbers are all over the place. They process the payroll for a lot of companies, but they have a lot of competition too, and so they only see their slice of payrolls. And they don’t process the payroll for big slices of the economy, such as education, government in general, major corporations that process their own payroll, or even small companies that process their own payroll. And they extrapolate from what little they see. That’s fine. But that has its limits.

      So I just ran the numbers for you.

      In December, ADP said that 776,000 jobs were created; compared to the BLS which said at the time that 199,000 jobs were created (it revised this to 510,000 jobs today). ADP doesn’t revise its data. All you get is the first shot.

      So which did you “believe” a month ago when the data came out: ADP’s 776,000 jobs or the BLS’ 199,000 jobs?

      For all of 2021, ADP with its limited point of view, said that 6.13 million jobs were created. The BLS based on survey across all of the US employers, said that 6.66 million jobs were created.

      And I do encourage you to actually read the article instead of spreading your beliefs here.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      Was in Home Depot today and they had hardly any employees working at the cashier stations. Nearly every station was self service. In the lot where you pick up the mulch and topsoil I wound up having to load 200 lbs myself becasue there was no one else around. I could have helped myself to as many bags as I wanted as there was no one to check my receipt.

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        I’ve noticed the same thing with Home Depot.
        The Vons supermarket near my house started adding self service checkout stations about a year ago. If you don’t have a lot of items, and if you don’t have alcohol, it can be a lot quicker. I am thinking that the supermarket will gradually reduce the number of human checkers and increase the self service checkout stations. We’ll see.

      • Ensign_Nemo says:

        Here’s a funny story that shows the difference between the inner cities and the suburbs.

        The last guy out the door on Christmas Eve in 2020 forgot to lock the door behind him at a local supermarket ten miles north of Pittsburgh.

        A few dozen customers wandered in on Christmas Day, shopped, and checked out with the self-scans.

        The store later cross-checked the register totals with the video surveillance and the customers apparently paid for everything they bought.

        This was probably the only store in the chain that had any sales at all on Christmas Day.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        Swamp-‘Home Alone’ (as a handyman friend terms it) got rid of all ‘standard’ cashier stations (excepting lumber & garden) in these parts over a year ago (Sonoma C’ty, CA). Seems they do have to keep a few humans standing around the self-serve checkouts to deal with the ongoing ‘untrained operator errors’, though. Some like it, some don’t. Being a relative geezer, i find meself driving farther to Lowe’s and a bit more human assistance when i must patronize a big-box rather than one of the local, small hardware stores still-extant in my rural part of the county…

        Ghost of SteveMcQ-again, has already occurred or is happening at Albertson’s’ (owns Safeway/Von’s) all over the state as we read…

        ymmv, of course…

  18. Ace says:

    Uh ha. Lol. Ok, so this is good. Now how skinny does the fed think it can get without looking all stretchy and flabby? Will they go on a tai bo kick? Stairmaster?! There are a lot of other fat kids out there and Ol USA hates getting body shamed. U can do eet mr powelle just put down the sodey pop

    • Depth Charge says:

      Weimar Boy Powell is hoisting a single malt scotch to his thin, lying lips without so much as a care in the world. Be a shame if it was tainted with arsenic…

  19. ivanislav says:

    Bitcoin is up 11% on the day, risk on! Welcome aboard Air France’s own Concorde for flight 4590, destination “to the moon”. And now for a word from the captain, Mr. Powell…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Dead-cat bounce?

      • Alku says:

        short squeeze?

        • TimTim says:

          Honk Kong Hamster?

        • DR DOOM says:

          Btc, if you think technicals mean anything, is still at the down side of the good ol’ Head and Shoulder pattern pointing to more pain to 20k. To me technicals more often or not are like skid marks after a car crash. Or if you prefer , Max Keiser says it will take over the world as it supposedly has taken over El Salvador and will be worth 100 million USD. I am screwed. I only have a flip phone. I am a BTC Ludite.

      • ivanislav says:

        You wish, buddy. These kind of opportunities don’t come around every day. This time next year, I’ll be sipping pina coladas in a jacuzzi on the moon with Elon – that is, if I feel like letting him into the VIP. I haven’t seen a moneymaker this exciting since going all in on real-estate in ’07!

        • phleep says:

          I have my shorts in place. My shorts (being a poor but inventive guy, still working at it with a funky little brokerage account) do not expire, but do need a certain compressed moment of freakout. I see this as likelier since so many retailers have day trading immediacy in their accounts and mindsets. This freakout contour has been happening about once a year. Let’s see — incursions in Ukraine and/or Taiwan? I would be yelling “Vegas!” “Yahtzee!” It would be yachts and NFTs, Lambo and Krystal champagne from there. Sounds pretty meme-ish, no? On the dark side.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          ivanislav,

          LOL. You almost got me! It’s only when I reached the end — “this exciting since going all in on real-estate in ’07!” — that I realized what you were doing and spit my coffee (it’s 7:20 a.m. here) all over my keyboard.

      • historicus says:

        Bear market rallies are the most vicious

        But never before has Fed rhetoric been so influential … and insider knowledge so valuable. There are 3 former Fed Governors that can attest to that.

      • Harry Houndstooth says:

        In My Humble Opinion, Bitcoin is worth essentially nothing.

        However, looking at the graph:

        Low 1069 2-17-2017
        High 19650 12-15-2017
        Low 3400 12-8-2018
        High 11865 6-28-2019
        Low 5165 3-13-2020
        High 61283 3-12-2021
        Low 31576 7-16-2021
        High 64400 11-12-2021 Higher High
        Low 35070 1-21-2022 Higher Low

        So if someone put a gun to my head and asked long or short, I would go long in this dead cat bounce. Fortunately, I do not have a gun to my head and SRTY and SQQQ (URTY and TQQQ on the dead cat bounces) are better vehicles to play this bear market which already started and the impending crash that Wolf has eloquently revealed, in my humble opinion.

        David Hunter is a bright guy who has done very good work on sentiment. He has been calling for a blow off top with the Russell 2000 going to 2900 in April 2021 and now 3000. After this blow off top he is calling for a 70% to 80% crash in stock market. Fortunately, he has been wrong and not stopped me from making plenty of money from my market call of what I considered to be the blow off top of the Russell 2000 at 2450 in early November 2021 documented here on Wolf’s website. But recently David Hunter nailed the first bottom of the S&P 500 at 4300. I do not want to dismiss his work and I have trimmed my exposure in this retest of the lows, which he acknowledges might happen, and indeed appears to be happening. Just because you are not paranoid doesn’t mean someone is out to get you. There is a ton of cash on the sidelines. The higher high and higher low on Bitcoin scares me.

        Steve Forbes has convinced me that cryptocurrencies have legs. Intelligent humans involved have converted gains into real fortunes.
        In my humble opinion, at least you could plant a tulip bulb and get a flower. With this type of volatility, why would individuals not involved in laundering money want to use it as a currency? I might be interested when it retreats closer to the 5000 range.

        El Salvador passed legislation to make bitcoin legal tender in September 2021, the first country in the world to do so, but the bold experiment has enjoyed limited success. Hundreds of citizens claimed that payments weren’t being received by shops, or that funds were disappearing from their accounts. Traders also briefly exploited a loophole in the state-issued wallet app to turn a quick profit.

        http://www.newscientist.com

    • Jim Cramer Fan says:

      Higher lows and higher highs. I believe that this was the last chance to buy BTC under $40k. On a side note, permabear and crypto critic Sven Henrich (aka Northmantrader) is now bullish on Bitcoin. Perhaps one day we’ll see the Willem Dafoe of finance sporting laser eyes.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Jim Cramer Fan,

        Hahaha, you fell for it.

        ivanislav’s humor & sarcasm completely passed above your head.

        Concorde flight 4590 was the one that caught fire after some debris hit the fuel tank, and in a spectacular manner it flew while engulfed in flames and then crashed in a huge fireball that killed everyone aboard. Google it to see the images, in reference to BTC, hahahaha.

        BTC fans have zero sense of humor, it seems.

        So re-read this whole thread, and maybe you’ll get a good laugh out of it — and don’t forget to laugh a bit about yourself. It feels good.

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          “cashed in a huge fireball”

          I found a type Wolf, I think you meant to type “crashed”?

          I don’t want to be “cashing in” any Fireballs :-)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Ha, yes, cashing in a fireball would be embarrassing, thanks. Fixed.

      • Depth Charge says:

        “Sven Henrich (aka Northmantrader) is now bullish on Bitcoin.”

        I noticed his buddy Adam Taggart is now starting to pimp BitCON, too. That’s when you know the whole thing is going to implode. These old Gen Xers have been salty about missing the run-up all along, so they’re going to BTFD like Isaac Newton and get fleeced, sheared, then skinned. Perfect.

  20. Chinedu Mmaduebo says:

    I’m simply talking about my self: Wolf is the best analyst I have encountered as he marvelously analyses economy, businesses, employment,governance, housing, transportation . You are blessed. Keep the good work up!

    • Eugene says:

      Best analyst does not mean a good trader .He is a mediocre retail trader(remember his short call 2021?).2022 will be a stockpeaker market and we may get ATH before july and a huge 25% correction after .We may have another 15% correction during the ides of March also.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Hahahaha, yes that short is still dogging me. If I had covered it on Friday, I would have lost 31% on it. I have featured a gazillion stocks here that are down 60% to 90%. BTC is down about 40%. Most options expire worthless, and people have a 100% loss. There are lots of losses to go around. My Spandex short is just one item in my basket, and now I feel pretty good about it. Yes, timing was ultra-shitty. The Fed and the market got a lot crazier than I thought they would. But now the pieces that I expected much earlier are falling into place.

  21. historicus says:

    How are independent contractors, from anything like Uber drivers to a guy with a Bobcat that contracts rather than is on a payroll, show up in job reports?
    People who worked remotely during the “pandemic” ….did their classifications change at all, and is it changing back as they are called back to work?

    A few things seem clear to me…

    Easy Fed money allowed a flood of money to be borrowed by the government, then doled out in a fashion that encouraged idleness. That seems to be ending.
    The Government agencies are very poor at reading employment numbers as they are at reading the cost of housing and rents.
    Biden keeps referring to the job numbers as “job creation” and pats himself on the back. These are jobs being “recovered”, first lost due to the governmental response to COVID. So button it Joe.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      historicus,

      1. “How are independent contractors, from anything like Uber drivers to a guy with a Bobcat that contracts rather than is on a payroll, show up in job reports?”

      These people show up in the household survey, the red line in the first chart.

      2. “People who worked remotely during the “pandemic” ….did their classifications change at all, and is it changing back as they are called back to work?”

      As long as they’re working for the same employer, nothing changes, whether working at home or at the office, and they’re still in the establishment survey (green line in the first chart).

  22. Dazed And Confused says:

    Wolf wrote:

    “This brought the total number of employees on the payrolls to 149.6 million, still down by 2.87 million from February 2020”

    The national figures mask significant variation by state.
    A couple of months ago, four states (TX, ID, AZ, UT) already exceeded their pre-pandemic employee payroll numbers while CA, MA, NY and NJ were amongst the biggest laggards.

    • historicus says:

      Dazed
      I see Red vs Blue in those state #s

    • ivanislav says:

      The problem is CA doesn’t sufficiently fund government and education. If CA were to follow through with defunding the police and criminal “justice” system, those liberated workers would be free to pursue tech and other jobs of the future. The cost of that education would be partially offset by the money saved in criminal justice and the rest could be paid for with a doubling of the tax brackets. Maybe a few billionaires would complain, but who cares.

      As for TX, you can’t trust their jobs numbers. They don’t even know how to count. And besides, no one should be forced to work a job, especially if it’s less than deeply fulfilling. Harris/Newsom 2024!

  23. Dazed And Confused says:

    Wolf wrote:

    “The employment report, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was a shocker in the positive sense. Markets had counted on terrible numbers to derail the Fed’s tightening strategy and derail the rate hike in March.”

    The Biden Administration had been managing expectations of up to a few hundred K shortfall in employed totals because workers temporarily absent from work due to positive omicron tests would be officially counted as unemployed. That should mean that the employment picture is even better than portrayed by this very strong job’s report.

  24. Michael Engel says:

    1) For entertainment purposes only : SPY ETF
    2) BB #1 Apr 19/20, BB #2 July 7/8. Jan 24 low is between #1 and #2.
    3) There is a channel tilting up : Nov 5 to Jan 4 highs. // a parallel Dec 3.
    4) Tiny BB #3 Oct 26/27.
    5) On Feb 2 SPY was rejected by the channel and BB #3.
    Options :
    6) Positive : SPY drop to BB #2 and move up to a) a lower high 0.886.
    b) a new all time high to SPX 5K +.
    7) Negative : SPY drop to BB #1 or between Feb 16 hi/ Mar 4
    2021 low.

  25. fred flintstone says:

    LOL……some folks in government will probably finally push through a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour in the next few years……..which adjusted
    for the crazy a..,,,,,inflation will be the equal to $7.40.
    Can’t wait to see all the back slapping in Washington when it happens.
    These guys don’t miss a trick.
    The patriots are all gone…..its just a pack of crooks. They ought to hung by their thumbs.

  26. Michael Engel says:

    1) FB is media. The media prima donnas are shocked the Meta metamorphosis.
    2) U can no longer trust BLS bs.
    3) Are u going to work. Of course. But her boss sent her back home because business is slow. She works hours, still employed, but BLS bs.
    4) AMZN overextended labor force might be chopped after Valentine
    Day. The online panic is over, AMZN silk road is useless.
    5) IF BLS next job report indicate a reverse negative pulse, nobody will believe that the strong economy is entering a recession.

  27. Michael Engel says:

    John Hopkins : 904,228 are gone.

  28. Yancey Ward says:

    I guess I don’t understand why the BLS doesn’t adjust the discontinuity backwards through time. If there were 1 million more in the working age group, and working, then they didn’t all just show up in January of 2022- they were there all through the last decade (the adjustment comes from the decennial census, right?).

    I know it is always guesswork, so any backwards data splicing is also guesswork, but they way it is done makes interpretations around the discontinuity difficult.

  29. rjs says:

    re: “Households reported that the number of working people…jumped by 1.2 million people in January”

    the population benchmark revision revised December’s employment figure 1,471,000 higher but didn’t include that revision in the household survey figures for December; hence, January employment actually fell by 272,000… the actual changes to the January household survey are in Table C here: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

    • Wolf Richter says:

      rjs,

      “January employment actually fell by 272,000…”

      BS. The numbers in 2021 were UNDERSTATED and were CORRECTED in January. That’s what this was all about. Read my article — not just one line of it — and read what the BLS is actually saying.

  30. Biloxi says:

    I’m beginning to see that the monthly NFP reports are not real data. If they were real, then they wouldn’t need to be dramatically revised. This article very calmly throws around major revisions as if they were understandable.

    What’s a calculated margin of error for the BLS here? Plus or minus 50%? I think Wolf’s too much a gentlemen to say what Mish asserts over at Mish-Talk.

    He shows quite credibly that for 2021 the BLS revisions for job formation are thus:

    • The sum of overestimates totals 2,507,000
    • The sum of underestimates total 1,890,000

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Biloxi,

      You’re in the wrong place here. ALL economic data gets revised as more data become available. And the economy is largely what this site is about. So go watch cat videos. They’re cute, and they don’t get revised. Or read the Scriptures; they don’t get revised either.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        Wolf-bravo! Illustrating our endless mental struggle-the desire for certainties offered by religion (metaphysical or human-based) vs. the oft not-reassuring, but factual, findings of honest science-which can only labor towards a better, and never totally-settled, understanding of the universe (to paraphrase Heinlein: ‘…if it can’t be independently quantified, it’s not science, it’s opinion…’).

        (now, time for me to re-watch the cinema-verite cat video series ‘Henri’…).

        may we all find a better day.

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