-35, -83, -88, -67, -47, -51, -51
That's the change in payrolls from the establishment survey for each month since January. These famously volatile numbers have seemingly turned a new leaf in 2008. In fact, the rolling seven-month standard deviation was the lowest on record in July:
Of course these numbers are subject to revision, but more accurate numbers could send the standard deviation either higher or lower. Is all of this more evidence of the Great Moderation's impact on employment changes? Or perhaps some gentle number massaging? Since the same pattern is absent from the household survey, it's likely not the latter. What the numbers are consistent with, however, is a consistently crappy economy.