Much like the comically large scale on the Biggest Loser that refuses to budge, no matter how much those hopeful contestants – and the American viewing audience – want it to, this month’s unemployment report offered nothing but disappointment and confusion for the millions of hopeful Americans looking to it for significant signs of progresss.
Disappointment because the economy generated only 36,000 net new jobs – the smallest gain in over four months – according to the BLS. At the same time, however, the unemployment rate dropped remarkably to 9 percent. That’s where the confusion comes in.
And that’s why I say we might want to take today’s jobs numbers with a grain of salt. Hear me out…
You know how when people are trying to lose weight, they’re told to pay less attention to the numbers on the scale and instead focus on how well their clothes are starting to fit? That’s the same attitude we should take with today’s unemployment report.
Why? Because, in the words of Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics:
“I think these numbers are meaningless,” Zandi told CNBC this morning, pointing out both the weather’s role in the modest job creation, as well as the obvious discrepancy between the household survey numbers (which include self-employed and agricultural workers) and the unemployment survey numbers (which don’t).
Zandi also noted that “January has historically been the month the BLS has had the most difficulty getting right. I would not read anything into any of these numbers.”
I agree. (Because it’s also worth mentioning that Gallup’s numbers also conflict with those released by the BLS today. Confusing!) So I propose that rather than trying to make sense of how good or bad these numbers really are, we should focus instead on what is in plain sight…
…which is that CareerBuilder continues to see a steady growth in employers posting jobs on our site: proof that employers are hiring and jobs are increasing – and they’re doing so at a steady rate. Take a look at the facts:
- Overall job postings on CareerBuilder are up 6 percent year over year.
- Business development job postings are up 18 percent
- Customer service job postings are up 28 percent
- IT job postings are up 45 percent
- Sales job postings are up 23 percent
For further insight into the jobs numbers, check out the following video of the CNBC interview mentioned above: