January job numbers redux

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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:

8 Comments
  1. I just saw your article, ’15 jobs that pay well, no degree required’. Who was the smart@$$ who thought that they needed to show a picture of a hard hat holding a set of plans in a new home under construction? Hey, I design homes – and those plans he’s holding there are what I do for a living. But there’s practically no work for me out there these days. I’ve been doing this for more than thirty years now, and I’m darned good at it. You need a new house designed, don’t you? Hey, you need an addition for your own home? No? – Yeah, I thought so. How inconsiderate of you to propose that there’s jobs out there for Carpenters. There isn’t. It’s not a recession for the housing boys, it’s an out and out depression. Oh, you forgot about us – Oh, you just wish we would all go away. After all, all those blue collars got rich during the last housing boom, now, didn’t they? – and so now we all somehow don’t deserve to have a way of making our living, huh?

    My friends an coworkers are really not satisfied with just Bernie Madoff and a couple of others going to jail. This won’t do it for anyone that I’ve talked to in the residential construction industry. The media, bankers, wall street buttheads and a bunch of others who never do the actual work of building a home continue to feed off of what we produce. Your home is one of the last great things that is made in the USA, and I’m here to remind you that it’s never been the fault of the workers that this country is in recession. It wasn’t the housing industry boys that caused any of the last recessions, either.

    From now on would you please be a little more thoughtful about what you publish?

  2. I’m finding that companies are interviewing to get information for free. Every job interview I’ve had I’ve been given “homework” or been asked to sit in on meetings. Companies just are not hiring people. They are just “playing” like they are hiring.

  3. It’s just really bad right now. All these “numbers” are marketing to make people “think” things are getting better. Those IT postings (IT job postings are up 45 percent) may be “real” but they will expire and the same companies will re-post those jobs again and again. That is great for CB, but not great for us who can’t get hired. Companies just will not fill positions right now. They HAVE the money but will not hire staff. It’s crazy.

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