Folks, welcome to the recovery winter. When the December payroll employment number came in strong, a lot of doubters said the BLS just didn’t have the seasonal adjustment factor right and a lot of the new hiring was “really” temporary and Christmas related. Well today the January numbers are out and they’re even better than December was—243,000 net new jobs, and 257,000 net new private sector jobs. State and local layoffs continue to be a drag on the economy, and it continues to be true that at this pace it will take years to get us back to full employment, but these are the kind of numbers I’m looking for when I talk about an accelerating recovery. This is still a crappy labor market and there are still a dozen way policymakers could screw us in 2012, but if they avoid new disasters we are on the road to recovery.
More good news in the revisions. November was revised from +100,000 to +157,000 and December was revised from +200,000 to +203,000.
There was some talk after the December report that we should expect a surge in courier layoffs in January, but in fact the seasonally adjusted numbers have only a small decline in January courrier employment. The big gains are in specialty contractors (+14k), fabricated metal products (+10.9k), machinery (+10.5k), transportation equipment (+10.3k), wholesale trade (+14.0k), accounting and bookkeeping (12.5k), and arts and recreation (+14.9k) along with some of the old standbys in hospitals and doctors offices. I want to separately note a 20,000 person surge in temp employment which is typically a sign of employers responding tentatively to an increase in demand. Federal employment lost ground, we saw massive reductions in local government education employment, and 13k layoffs in clothing stores. Of idiosyncratic interest, the Other Information Services sub-category that includes me lost jobs for the first time in a while.
Mining employment has added basically 100,000 people over the past year.
Not a huge gain, but it’s noteworthy that construction of residential buildings is now adding jobs.