A Historic Day: BLS Edition

Well, maybe not so historic per se – simply the first time my Twitter feed wasn’t inundated with the mass cry of wonks and economists because the Bureau of Labor Statistics website crashed. So the big winner of the December Jobs Report is clearly a bunch of servers somewhere, but otherwise it was a decent report as Ezra Klein summarizes:

Payrolls increased by 200,000 — and the growth was spread relatively evenly across the economy. Retail added 28,000 jobs. Manufacturing added 23,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 50,000 jobs — 43,000 of them in the “couriers and messenging” subcategory, which suggests some of those gains are temporary holiday hires. Health care added 23,000 jobs. Food services added 24,000. Mining added 7,000 jobs. The only payrolls that shrunk in December were government payrolls: we lost another 12,000 public-sector jobs.

Other tidbits:

  • The unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, but again that primarily comes from a drop in the labor force participation rate – I.e. people leaving the labor market as the BLS defines it.
  • The long term unemployment situation still stinks – stuck at 40% of those unemployed for six months or longer.
  • The underemployment rate – those working part-time but looking for full-time work – fell from 16.6% to 15.2% year over year.
  • The public sector shed 280,000 jobs last year – mostly coming from local government and the USPS. As Betsy Stevensen put it this morning on Twitter, most of those local government jobs were in education and a represents a veritable bloodbath for local employment.

The other notable trend was a point brought up by Stevensen and graphed by Matt Yglesias:

Last month continued a trend of employment gains largely captured by those with college educations and significant loses by those with high school diplomas.


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