Friday, May 06, 2011

Jobs report: Like a 2010 rental buyback

I always feel bad for the people that walk into a used car dealership and look at the shiny, one year old cars with 24,000 rental miles on them. Having driven more than my fair share of rentals over the years, I know that these cars are beaten to death before they go to auction. Most of them get spruced up enough to get off the dealer's lot but they are destined to have a short life because of the neglect they suffered at the hands of Hertz or Avis.

Well, that's a bit like today's jobs report. Expectations were for 180k jobs to be added. The number blew that away adding 244k jobs. The cynic in me says the BLS probably did the following math:

BLS statistician #1: We want to beat the number so let's make it 182k, okay?

BLS Intern: Sure. Oh did we add the 62k part-timers McDonald's hired last month?

BLS statistician #1: Good catch. 182K + 62k = 244k jobs. Yippee. Let's hit the McDonald's drive thru !!!

Here's the real breakdown....

Very few changes but the strength continues to be in 3 areas - retail (general merchandise, ie, Walmart, was strong again), leisure and hospitality (food and drinking businesses led the way) and healthcare (someone has to take care of us after eating all of the Walmart/Olive Garden food).

The skeptics will point to the birth/death number which is getting out of hand again. This assumes that 175k "jobs" were created at new small businesses that just aren't measured yet. If my kid registers Sally's Lemonade stand, she's counted as creating jobs. It's silliness, but because we are not told how these numbers make their way into the final jobs report it's hard to discount them.

I'll put up some more info later...

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