Feb 4, 2019

An asterisk on January's jobs report

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics response rate to initial establishment survey, h/t MUFG's John Herrmann; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The U.S. government's blowout January jobs report had the lowest response rate in a decade.

Why it matters: Economists suspect that the 60.7% hit rate on the establishment survey from the 142,000 businesses and government agencies typically surveyed could mean a downward revision to the whopping 304,000 new jobs added in January.

  • "A weak collection rate yields risk of an abnormally strong payroll gain that ultimately is revised lower," John Herrmann, a strategist at MUFG Securities Americas, tells Axios.

December's initial response rate came in at 61%, but the follow-up survey's response rate ticked up to 88%. That led to a significant downward revision of December's payrolls from an initially reported 312,000 to 222,000.

  • There are plenty of cases in which payrolls are revised higher with future collection of establishment survey data — November's jobs report was revised up twice in the most recent example. But Herrmann says that would be unlikely for January.
  • January tends to see weak job growth after companies ramp-up hiring over the holidays, then let go of temporary workers, Herrmann points out.

The big picture: Barring an unprecedented downward revision, January will be the 100th consecutive month of U.S. job growth. Even with December's downward revisions, payrolls remain solid, but the markdowns show the data may not be breaking out the way initial estimates suggest.

Go deeper

Unemployment fell to 50-year low in 2019 but wages stagnated

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's jobs report missed expectations, but still delivered solid numbers, showing the U.S. economy added well over 100,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained near a 50-year low.

The big picture: BLS reported that the number of people who were employed part time but would rather be full-time employees declined by 507,000 over the year.

Women outpace men on U.S. payrolls

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Men count was derived by subtracting women count from total; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

There are more women on American payrolls than men as of the latest U.S. jobs report.

Why it matters: The data reflects a hiring boom in industries that are female-dominated, while sectors that are more likely to employ men are lagging in job gains. The last time women overtook men in payrolls was “during a stretch between June 2009 and April 2010,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the milestone.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Growing divide between the two Americas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Life in the U.S. is increasingly divided into two realities — one in which things have almost never been better and another in which it's hard to imagine them being worse.

Driving the news: Bankruptcies led more companies to announce job cuts last year than at any time in more than a decade, WSJ's Aisha Al-Muslim reports (subscription), citing data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020