Friday, April 02, 2004

Fuzzy, Fuzzy Math

Job numbers are out for March, and it's a decidedly mixed bag. If analysts are scratching their heads, imagine the lay person such as me.

The number of jobs "created" in March hit a four year high - 308,000. But before we get too wrapped up in that number, a significant chunk of this job "creation" was as a result of grocery workers returning from a prolonged strike in California. So, in my mind, that's not so much job creation as job recovery. Also, job numbers in the manufacturing remained essentially flat, despite rosy predictions from ISM yesterday.

The unemployment rate inched up a little bit, to 5.7% from 5.6% in February. Again, this is in contrast to numbers earlier this week that indicated jobless claims had decreased a bit.

So, again, it's a mixed bag. It doesn't take much to pick apart the stats. On the other hand, it doesn't take much to find a silver lining either, if that's the spin you're trying to create. Bottom line: there hasn't been a significant recovery in employment figures, despite whatever crowing we'll hear emanating from the oval office today.

Here's a link to another view on the glass half-empty / half-full jobs predictions.

I just can't wait for George Bush to proclaim himself as "the jobs president".

Update: There a little whiff 'o scandal associated with "early leakage" of job numbers. Someone made some big money this morning in the bond market on insider info. As Drudge would say, DEVELOPING...