Friday, December 7, 2007



This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported ( ) that nonfarm payroll employment grew by 94,000 in November.

Here’s the first paragraph of that report:

“Nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in November (94,000), andthe unemployment rate held at 4.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of theU.S. Department of Labor reported today. Job growth continued in professionaland technical services, health care, and food services. Employment continued todecline in manufacturing and also fell in several housing-related industries,including construction, credit intermediation, and real estate. Average hourlyearnings rose by 8 cents over the month.”

Use the 94,000 job-growth figure to update the chart below in your mind’s eye.

Job Growth

(Click on chart to enlarge)

Recessions shaded

That’s not a bad number, but you can see the falling trend. The economy is not creating the 150,000 to 200,000 jobs a month as it was a year or two ago, and is nowhere near the 200,000 to 300,000 pace of the late 1990s. The quote above identifies manufacturing, home-construction, mortgage-financing and real estate as areas of job loss.

None of this is surprising. The economy is weakening and everyone is waiting to see whether the slump in housing, and all its attendant sectors and industries, will pull the rest of the economy down with it. Or, perhaps, the economy will perk up and cruise along. So far there is no clear trend in either direction, and this morning's job-growth report does not settle the issue.

(The chart was taken from [Click on Seminars and then Charts.] Go there for additional charts on the economy and a list of Economic Indicators.)

The Lehmann Letter © 2007 Michael B. Lehmann

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