January 29, 2014
Data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics
BLS Seasonally adjusted non-farm employment. Overall seasonally adjusted non-farm employment is at about year 2005 levels. The down trend in the past couple of months is of some concern – see next chart and commentary, below.
BLS Not Seasonally Adjusted non-farm employment. 2013 finishes the year with the 2nd employment peak falling slightly below the first peak (the last column shows 4 “peaks” as the column includes 2012 and 2013). As noted previously – the 2nd peak is usually greater than the first peak when job growth is continuing. When the 2nd peak is lower than the first peak, the local job market is shrinking. You can see this in the chart below for 2001, and 2008-2009. The pattern is similar to the 2001 downturn. Is this signaling a possible regional recession? Far too early to tell but we should keep a close watch on this.
Here’s a chart that highlights the double peak and downturns in 2001 and possible downturn signaled in 2013 – the downturn of 2008-2009 does not need a highlight!
Update March 2014. The BLS has updated its data and charts through January 2014. They revised their previous data and now show a slight increase in the rightmost peak, and that is good news. Looking at recent peaks, job growth remains quite weak.
We are now in the annual cyclical downturn, with unemployment at 8.7%. Which is super high by historical standards.
BLS Chart non-farm, not-seasonally adjusted, through January 2014: