Data Updates

Data Updates

Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.

September 2014

  • 06.03.2011
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls were little changed in May, rising just 54,000 and coming in well below consensus expectations. Revisions to the past two months data were also disappointing, as nonfarm payrolls were revised down in April and March by 39,000 (29,000 of that came from private payrolls). May’s performance looks like a clear break from the recent past, as average gain in nonfarm payrolls over the prior three months was 220,000. However, since the official end of the recession 23 months ago, nonfarm payroll employment has increased just 550,000, while private payrolls have gained nearly 1 million workers. Goods-producing payrolls were virtually unchanged in May (up 3,000), following an average gain of 53,000 over the prior three months. Construction employment increased 2,000 in May, while mining and logging payrolls rose by 6,000. Manufacturing payrolls, which have swelled by 160,000 in the past six months, slipped down 5,000 during the month, in concert with the recent dour reports on the sector. Private service-providing employment rose 80,000 in May, following stronger readings in April (up 213,000) and March (up 179,000). Retail trade employment, which has been bouncing around noisily over the past six months or so, slipped down by 8,500 in May after a relatively strong 64,000 gain in April (behavior characteristic of either seasonal adjustment issues or mismeasurement ). Smoothing over the last three months, retail trade payrolls are averaging a gain of 16,600, compared to an average increase of 9,000 over the past 12 months. Professional & business services payrolls posted the largest increase across broad service industry categories in May, rising 44,000 and doing so without a boost from temporary help services, which fell slightly for the second consecutive month.

    Elsewhere, education and health services employment continued its acyclical upward trend (rising 34,000), while leisure and hospitality employment edged down 6,000, contrasting rather robust gains over the prior three months (totaling 132,000). Average weekly hours of private employees were unchanged at 34.4 hours in May, but average hourly earnings ticked up 6 cents an hour to $22.98/hour. Unfortunately, the breadth of the expansion in payrolls appeared to falter in May, as the one-month diffusion index fell from 65.0 to 53.6 (indicating that just over half of private industries added to their payrolls during the month). On the household side of the report, the unemployment rate edged up from 9.0 percent to 9.1 percent in May as the number of unemployed persons and the labor force ticked up slightly. The employment-to-population ratio remained at 58.4 percent and is essentially unchanged over the past five months.