Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why I Don't Believe in the Recovery

I was quite surprised last month by the announcement that 290K jobs had been added over the last month.  The number is a little sketchy given that 66K were temporary census hires, but 224K is still a very solid number.  The problem I have with this number is two fold.

1) The ADP employment number usually tracks well with the BLS report.  Scott Grannis has a nice chart:

Strangely, though, the gap last month between the BLS and the ADP grew wider than anything visible in this chart (last month is not shown).  ADP showed 32K jobs, and the BLS showed 290K.  That's a 260K gap.
2) The weekly initial jobless claims numbers just aren't revealing much growth.  During the last few years before this recession, weekly initial jobless claims ran in the 300-340K range.  Now, we are hovering in the 460K range.  We need a 140K average drop to be at a "normal" rate of layoffs.  Chart from Bloomberg below.

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