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Employment - Mixed News but Some Positive Signs

Some of the datapoints from the release:

Establishment Survey:


  • Total nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in January (-20,000).
  • The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from -127,000 to -224,000, November was revised from 4,000 to 64,000, and the change for December was revised from -85,000 to -150,000.
  • In January, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $22.45.
  • The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was up by 0.1 hour to 33.9 hours in January. The manufacturing workweek for all employees rose by 0.3 hour to 39.9 hours, and factory overtime increased by 0.1 hour over the month.  Since June, the manufacturing workweek has increased by 1.2 hours.

 Household Survey:


  • In January, the number of unemployed persons decreased to 14.8 million, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage point to 9.7 percent. 
  • The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million.  
  • Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in January, up from 734,000 a year earlier.  The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
I view these results as mixed as revisions are higher (net loss increase over the last three months is 102,000), duration of unemployment is longer, number of marginally attached workers continue to increase BUT the workweek is increasing, overtime is increasing and hourly earnings are up.  I tend to watch the workweek and overtime as these are leading indicators to increased hiring.

Bottom line:  Not overly good, but some encouraging signs.

Stocks marginally up, long bond down, but the rest are up and the curve is steeper.  The results would seem to point to the mixed message.

Disclosure: no position (literally)