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That seems to be what everyone expected from today's release of the September employment report. Calculated Risk points out that collecting this month's data required a few creative adjustments to the usual process, but there was no shortage of commentary ready to declare the report as pretty good news. From MarketWatch:
Hurricane Katrina blew away a quarter of a million jobs, but outside of the battered Gulf Coast, job growth remained healthy in September, government data released Friday show...
U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell by an estimated 35,000 in September, the first decline in more than two years, the Labor Department said Friday.
The unemployment rate rose as expected to 5.1% in September from 4.9%, as 270,000 Americans joined the ranks of the jobless.
The decline in payrolls was much less than the 150,000 drop expected by Wall Street economists surveyed by MarketWatch...
The Commentary in the blogoshpere has thus far been more skeptical. Barry Ritholtz says we should just consider this report a mulligan, Calculated Risk asserts that it will probably be months before we get the true picture, and pgl at Angry Bear just hopes there is nothing ugly hidden among the data uncertainty. All of that seems hard to argue with. Nonetheless, one of the things that got my attention was this (again from the MarketWatch article):
In addition to the better-than-expected September results, payrolls in July and August were revised higher by a total of 77,000 jobs. Job growth has averaged 194,000 per month over the past year.
To me, that is starting to look like pretty healthy net job creation. And I don't quite agree with this statement from Calculated Risk:
The jobs report can be summarized: Construction hot, manufacturing not, Katrina impact unclear. As is usual, construction added jobs while the downward trend in manufacturing continued. In fact, manufacturing jobs (14.234 million) are at the lowest level since 1950.
Not that the statement is wrong. It's just incomplete. While it is true that manufacturing job growth is virtually nonexistent, that is nothing new. And while job gains were had in construction -- as has been the case for awhile -- outside of retail sales advances in employment were broad-based. Here is the detailed story in pictures:
Manufacturing lost 27,000 jobs...
... but in addition we added 11.000 in the financial activities sector...
Overall, that is not a bad set of pictures.
UPDATE: More, from the Skeptical Speculator.
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