06 January 2010

December 2009 Non-Farm Payrolls Report Preview and Forecast

As you may know, and as we suggested the other day, the ADP report, based on payroll data from American business, showed a loss of 84,000 jobs in December, versus expectations of a loss of only 75,000 jobs.

We also suggested that this Friday's US Non-Farm Payroll Report will be a positive surprise, at least 10,000 or so jobs to the good. Here are the details.

The Imaginary Jobs component, also known as the Bureau of Labor Statistics Birth-Death Model, will contribute approximately 72,000 jobs allegedly created by small businesses with less credible evidence than a Bigfoot or an Elvis sighting.

Not that they are always positive. Each January there is an enormous job loss shown here, in the neighborhood of about 350,000 jobs. The reason they do this is because the seasonal adjustment factor is so huge in January that this imaginary jobs number does not matter, since it is subtracted (and added) from the numbers prior to the seasonal adjustment.

We can expect this model to continue to show positive annual jobs growth until the End of Days, and perhaps longer than that if there is fireproof paper in the afterlife.

The 'headline jobs number' which is the Seasonally Adjusted Number will be a positive 58,000 jobs, and provide much joy and exultation in Washington and on Wall Street. Pundits like Paul Krugman will caution that the economy is still fragile and a second stimulus bill will be required to insure these positive gains.

What is the basis for these projected numbers? The same basis used by the BLS - nothing. At least nothing connected with the real world. These are the numbers that bureaucrats might mindlessly crank out in response to the desire of their bosses for certain targets, a phenomenon well understood by most corporate financial staffs.

We drew the trendline on that chart earlier this year, assuming that the government would wish to show a steady job increase with a positive number by December, or at least January. So far we have not been disappointed, although there have been quite a few revisions along the way.

There will also be revisions this time again, with some jobs added and borrowed from prior months to help make this latest number seem believable.

So, let's see how it really turns out. Am I being too cynical? I used to spend many hours estimating these numbers and potential targets, but this month I decided to go with the trends. Not trends in job growth, but trends in the general corruption of nearly all financial and economic data in the US, from the government, the banks, and the kleptocracy.

Perhaps the numbers will be realistic and credible this time, and I can be pleasantly surprised.

And perhaps the Obama Administration will begin to deliver the promised, genuine financial reforms.