Jobs, savings, and reporting on them

Currently on the front page at MSNBC.com:

jobs_front.JPG

And here’s the story:

Jobs growth was modest in January
Firms hire 110,000 workers, unemployment rate edges up

WASHINGTON – The nation’s unemployment rate climbed to a four-month high of 4.6 percent as somewhat wary employers added fewer new jobs in January. Wage gains were more modest.

The newest report on the economy, released Friday by the Labor Department, suggested that the jobs market got off to a slower start in 2007 yet still remains in decent shape. The more subdued job growth — 111,000 positions — is consistent with the expectation that growth in the economy as a whole will moderate this year.

The tally of new jobs added last month fell short of economists expectations for a gain of around 150,000 positions. Analysts also had said they anticipated that the overall unemployment rate would have held steady at 4.5 percent, the rate that was registered in December.

Left unsaid is, that if the economic growth is going to “moderate” this year, that economic growth must have been good last year. We really didn’t hear a whole lot about that. But I digress.

My main point here is that the shortfall of 39,000 jobs in January is, in a way, much more than offset by adjustments to the previously-preliminary gains for December and November. Last month, December was reported to have shown a growth of 167,000 but that has been revised to 206,000. Last month, November was reported to have shown a growth of 154,000 but that has been revised to 196,000.

This means that November and December saw growth of 402,000, not the 321,000 that was reported last month. That’s a difference of 81,000, more than twice this month’s shortfall.

The MSNBC/AP article notes that December and November were adjusted upwards, but it doesn’t say by how much. If we’re going to get all excited about these preliminary numbers being lower than expected, let’s make sure to remember that the most recent preliminary numbers were lower than reality, and by a margin that more than offset this month’s preliminary shortfall.

Meanwhile, Instapundit links to a Don Surber post about the worst savings rate since the Great Depression. In a nutshell, the report is (or at least the coverage of the report) is bunk.

Turns out that the report doesn’t include savings in pre-tax plans like 401(k) and similar retirement savings accounts. So, um, what’s the point?

This really seems to support Murdoc’s personal position. I have about $10 in a real-life savings account. Really. I put no money whatsoever into a real-life savings account last year. But, between a number of other savings plans, I think I actually accumulated more savings last year than I ever have before.

So the Great Depression scare is most likely, well, a lie. And I was just about to pack the family and belongings into the van and head across the country to search for the ghost of Tom Joad.

Comments

  1. The DJIA is down 0.04% (5 points) at this moment. That’s not struggling, that’s just flat. Something tells me that MSNBC just WANTS the market to struggle.