Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 in January, but the real story is the annual benchmark revisions. Reflecting more complete data on unemployment insurance tax records, the level of nonfarm payrolls as of December 2012 was revised up by 647,000. Moreover, the pattern of these revisions make the recent job growth trajectory appear more substantial. We’d previously thought that the average monthly job gain over the past three months of 2012 was 151000—in line with its previous 2012 average. Now that average has been bumped up to 201,000, and even after rolling forward through January’s (now) slight dip, the average payroll growth over the past three months has been an even 200,000. Private payrolls, which advanced by 166,000 in January, were revised up by roughly 700,000 in 2012 (government payrolls were revised down during the year). Importantly, the pattern in the revisions suggests a bit more momentum in the fourth quarter, with private payrolls averaging a monthly increase off 225,000 in the fourth quarter, compared to an average gain of 142,000 in the third quarter. The previous pattern was a much more modest acceleration: 181,000 average in the fourth quarter, relative to a 140,000 average gain in the third.
Regarding the composition of the private payroll revisions, goods-producing payrolls were revised up by 119,000, reflecting an upward adjustment of 139,000 to construction employment, an upward revision of 20,000 to mining and logging employment, and a 42,000 knockdown to manufacturing payrolls. Private service-providing payrolls were revised up by 580,000, with upward adjustments spread over nearly all the major categories, except for healthcare and social assistance employment, which was revised down by 36,000 in 2012. The household survey was revised to reflect annual population adjustments, though the adjustments were relatively minor and did not effect the labor force participation rate (which is still at 63.6 percent) or the employment-to-population ratio (flat at 58.6 percent in January). The unemployment rate was also virtually unaffected by the population adjustment, though it was nudged up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent in January.