Friday, February 05, 2010

Temp Workers, Overtime Signal Gradual Recovery

Two positive signs from today's BLS employment report are:

1) Manufacturing overtime hours for January increased to 3.5 hours, reaching the highest level since August 2008 (see graph). This marks the tenth month in a row that overtime hours have either increased or stayed the same as the previous month, following 16 months of declines (or no change) in average overtime hours.

2) The number of temporary help workers increased in January by 52,000 to the highest level since December 2008 (see graph above), and temporary workers increased for the sixth consecutive month for the first time since 2005. The 227,000 increase in temporary jobs since August is the largest 6-month increase since that data series started in 1990.

Both of those indicators signal a labor market that is slowly recovering, and strongly suggest that the worst is behind us.

24 Comments:

At 2/05/2010 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark. You're the only one anywhere noting these two leading portions of the report.

both very good signs.

U6 also declined pretty sharply and that's where all the "black helicopter" folks like to look.

 
At 2/05/2010 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

length of the work week also up strongly.

 
At 2/05/2010 10:27 AM, Anonymous Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

That is indeed good news. I always struggle interpreting the January report due to changes in the population control and the fact that January has one of the highest seasonal adjustment rates for the unemployment data. For example, the unadjusted unemployment rate rose from 9.7% to 10.6% in January while the headline seasonal adjusted number fell from 10.0% to 9.7%. February data will give a little clearer picture.

 
At 2/05/2010 11:40 AM, Blogger bobble said...

we're all temporary now

 
At 2/05/2010 11:54 AM, Anonymous Fulton said...

No! Temporary workers and manufacturing overtime indicate an UNWILLINGNESS TO HIRE.

In January construction employment fell 75000, transport and warehousing fell 19000, manufacturing fell 11000. Temporary help increased 52000 and retail trade went up 42000.

Seriously, what bizarro world do you live in where this is good news? The DOW dropped more than 200 points yesterday and is down 60 today as I write. If markets are efficient, they know something you do not.

 
At 2/05/2010 12:55 PM, Anonymous Olivett said...

@Fulton

If the millions of people in the stock market actually read Carpe Diem every diem the market would rightfully be at 14,000 by now. There's so much money to be made by optimism.

 
At 2/05/2010 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me, but is this not the same green shoots stuff we have been hearing for months? The last few months more jobs are lost yet the ratio either stays the same or goes down. Am I the only one suspicious of this? The concept of “discouraged workers” was invented for the sole purpose of making politicians look good. What else are they doing?

 
At 2/05/2010 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are very real signs of an economy struggling to recover. The question is whether or not Obama and the Democrats can kill any chance it may have. I think we all know the answer - Yes They Can!

 
At 2/05/2010 2:37 PM, Anonymous Tatum said...

The stock market is so overjoyed by all these rosy reports from Carpe Diem that it's shed over 800 points since January 19th.

It took exactly one year for America to realize Obama is full of it. How long before everyone here admits there is no recovery yet?

The Dow first hit this level in March 1999, but we're not partying like it's 1999.

 
At 2/05/2010 5:21 PM, Anonymous Firth of Mirth said...

The VIX is rising again. The market recovered it's losses but more stocks lost than gained. Clearly the market is spooked about the economy. I think the European debt crisis had more to do with today's price movements than the jobs report, but anyone who describes the jobs report as unambiguously good or bad needs his head examined. It does raise questions about how the BLS seasonally adjusts.

Anybody seen the Baltic Dry Index lately? It's tanking.

 
At 2/05/2010 7:32 PM, Blogger bobble said...

the new normal:

even when hiring starts picking up much of it will occur offshore.

to wit: "Cisco Systems Inc. said it will hire 2,000 to 3,000 workers this year. The good news: Those job increases are a net gain in hiring at the firm, Cisco's John Chambers said . . .

The bad news, for U.S.-based job seekers: Only about half of those jobs will be in this country."

link

 
At 2/05/2010 7:32 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

A "gradual recovery" isn't good enough at this point:

The U.S. lost 8.4 million jobs over the past two years, and 1.8 million jobs are needed each year just to keep up with population growth.

Discouraged Workers Surge
02-05-2010

"A total of 8.4 million jobs have been lost since the start of the recession in December 2007."

Obama: Economy probably won't produce enough jobs until 2010
September 20, 2009

"I think we'll be adding jobs, but you need 150,000 additional jobs each month just to keep pace with a growing population," the president said."

U.S. unemployment rate falls unexpectedly, but job losses continue
February 5, 2010

"The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 9.7% in January from 10% in the prior month, but employers eliminated an additional 20,000 net jobs over the month."

 
At 2/05/2010 8:30 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Basically, the U.S. had a mountain of household debt initially. However, over the past year, a mountain of government debt was added. Who'll be paying-down those two mountains of debt? Households-workers-consumers.

A large tax cut a year ago would've helped households pay-down debt and subsequently strengthened banks. Instead, the government raised and cut taxes, increased spending substantially, and created uncertainty and confusion.

So, the government has made it much more difficult to pay-down debt, rather than easier. With a large tax cut a year ago, households would've paid-down or paid-off the highest interest rate debt first to increase monthly income, while strengthening banks, clear the market of excess assets and goods more quickly, to increase production, the recession would've been less severe, with fewer job losses, and the recovery would've been stronger.

 
At 2/05/2010 8:43 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Personally I don't think these two indicators are a signal for any sort of recovery yet...

Any sort of business that depends on people having some disposable income are not willing to make an investment in recalling laid off employees or getting new ones...

From the Christian Science Monitor:
Unemployment rate falls, but recession's toll is worst since the '30s

Revised figures show that the unemployment rate fell, but the recession destroyed far more jobs than previously thought

Business people still don't know what their future costs are going to be...

Obama may drop cap and trade to squeeze climate bill through congress

 
At 2/05/2010 8:54 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...



even when hiring starts picking up much of it will occur offshore.

to wit: "Cisco Systems Inc. said it will hire 2,000 to 3,000 workers this year. The good news: Those job increases are a net gain in hiring at the firm, Cisco's John Chambers said . . .

The bad news, for U.S.-based job seekers: Only about half of those jobs will be in this country."


Well, kill offshoring by requiring them to pay US taxes for all worldwide resources. Second, have an exit tax of thousands of percent that covers every possible way to relocate outside the US.

Make them make use of what we have.

 
At 2/05/2010 9:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Well, kill offshoring by requiring them to pay US taxes for all worldwide resources. Second, have an exit tax of thousands of percent that covers every possible way to relocate outside the US"...

Well that's seriously less than bright!

How many more Halliburtons do you want sethstorm?

Enough to drive the unemployment numbers to 30%?

40%?

Remember the companies don't need YOU, you need them...

 
At 2/05/2010 9:31 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


How many more Halliburtons do you want sethstorm?

Immaterial, as there is no place in the world that the US can't cause some sort of action to occur(Halliburton included). In short, they can run but cannot hide.


Remember the companies don't need YOU, you need them...

So you want to bring back the concept of the 'company town' because of its economic efficiencies?

 
At 2/06/2010 2:21 AM, Anonymous Faddan said...

Wait a minute. You say here that this report is a sigh of a "gradual" recovery yet you've said as recently as a week ago that there are signs of a V-shaped recovery.

Am I confused or are you? Or are you pulling an Obama and lowering the bar in the face of a failed prediction?

 
At 2/06/2010 7:25 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Immaterial, as there is no place in the world that the US can't cause some sort of action to occur(Halliburton included). In short, they can run but cannot hide."...

LOL! Yeah but in the real world sethstorm one does have to deal with the realities that you seem to go out of your way to avoid...

"So you want to bring back the concept of the 'company town' because of its economic efficiencies?"...

Hmmm, now that you're reaching let me clue you in on another bit of reality, no one is forcing someone to work for anyone in this country yet....

Are YOU wishing to change that situation?

Let David Cay Johnston of the NY Times clue you in on some of the facets of why companies are moving...

 
At 2/06/2010 3:53 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


juandos said...

Explain, as there are plenty of ways to quietly deal with such entities while staying within the constitutional framework. A few undecorated wide body jets with unremarkable records can make for a compelling argument against that.


no one is forcing someone to work for anyone in this country yet....

The reality is that it is an academic distinction. While they may have the literal choice of working for the company town, it also is a choice not far from being life or death.

In bad times, they can turn the screws against those whom have little ability to resist. Today, it can be used to threaten the worker with the ability to go offshore or knowing the reality of the job market.

From your article:

Last year, Congress passed a bill allowing companies to quickly write off the cost of new equipment purchased this year and in the next two years. The measure is expected to reduce corporate income taxes by $114 billion over three years, the equivalent of a one-quarter cut in corporate income taxes.

That was a non-sequitur in that it dealt with tax write-offs and not the issue of sending assets offshore.

 
At 2/06/2010 3:55 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Let David Cay Johnston of the NY Times clue you in on some of the facets of why companies are moving...

Further, would that mean that workers are an asset and not a liability? If so, then why are they treated so poorly in comparison to other types of assets?

 
At 2/06/2010 6:01 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Explain, as there are plenty of ways to quietly deal with such entities while staying within the constitutional framework. A few undecorated wide body jets with unremarkable records can make for a compelling argument against that"...

Oh! Oh! Are there secret black helicopters in YOUR life sethstorm?

"The reality is that it is an academic distinction. While they may have the literal choice of working for the company town, it also is a choice not far from being life or death"...

Oh my! What absolute nonsense!

This country is running over with examples of people who've lost their jobs even late in their working careers and have started something on their own and been very succesful at it...

"Further, would that mean that workers are an asset and not a liability? If so, then why are they treated so poorly in comparison to other types of assets?"...

Says who?

When certain assests price themselves out of the market or become obsolete alternatives are sought...

sethstorm where are your tears for the buggy whip makers?

...every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

 
At 2/06/2010 11:12 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


When certain assets price themselves out of the market or become obsolete alternatives are sought...

That or external forces act to prematurely price them out (such as done with the offshoring lobby -and those who favor moving business outside the regulatory domain of the United States) before they truly become obsolete.



sethstorm where are your tears for the buggy whip makers?

Buggy whip makers had a LOT easier time to transition. They didn't have billions of folks in despotic countries causing their demise; it was actual progress that relegated them to other markets.

If freedoms outside of the economic kinds (that is ones that do not deal with trade or business) are priced out as well, how does that square with things?


we're all temporary now

Go long on staffing firm stock?

It's not a way to make a living unless you like the thrill of constant fear. That, or you believe in the threat of misery as a motivator.

 
At 2/07/2010 5:33 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Buggy whip makers had a LOT easier time to transition. They didn't have billions of folks in despotic countries causing their demise; it was actual progress that relegated them to other markets"...

What absolute nonsense!

Do you think the buggy whip makers view Henry Ford as progress or the bane of their existence?

 

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