Employers in the U.S. added a smaller- than-forecast 111,000 workers to payrolls in January and the unemployment rate rose, evidence of an economy growing at the moderate pace predicted by the Federal Reserve.
The gain in employment followed a 206,000 rise in December that was larger than previously estimated, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The jobless rate rose to 4.6 percent, the first increase in three months.
Here is the report from the BLS:
First -- note that BLS ONCE AGAIN has raised the originally reported numbers. For God's sake, people, can we get some good timely data? PLEASE
I have a big problem with this report (what else is new?). The report says construction jobs increased 22,000. At the same time, the weekly unemployment reports from the last few months have shown several states with over 1,000 lay-offs in construction (Florida, Minnesota and California were on these lists if memory serves). These two numbers simply don't jibe together.
Manufacturing lost 16,000 jobs. Professional services gained 25,000 and education/health increased 31,000. Leisure and hospitality gained 23,000.
OK, so this is a smaller than expected gain in overall employment. BUT ...
With today's report, the Labor Department officially revised the payroll numbers after reviewing more complete tax data not available earlier from state unemployment insurance programs and making adjustments to its estimates of seasonal hiring patterns.
The revision added 754,000 jobs to the previously estimate for the year ended March 2006, the biggest revision since Labor started adjusting the numbers in 1991.
This is the second time in the last two years we have seen some really big adjustments to the labor report. One of the reasons I have personally been bearish over the last two years is the as reported weak job gains. However, that job weakness was not at the level reported. In fact, the size of the revisions makes that prediction unwarranted. Will someone at the BLS kindly get their act together so the information we use is actually good information?
In addition, the size of these revisions is making the monthly release practically meaningless. And this is a really important number to be made meaningless, people.