It occurred to me this week that there’e less anticipation for today’s jobs report than there’s been in some time. It just feels different, and what’s different is this: nobody’s looking for the turning point anymore.
We’re a year and a half into the “recovery” phase, and apart from a few months last spring when the gains were strong, every single payrolls report has shown, let’s just say it once again, a jobs market that is stagnant.
The argument was that jobs are a lagging indicator, that once the recession was over, jobs would eventually come back, too. There was anticipation that the rebound in corporate profits would lead to a rebound in hiring; some people even went so far as to suggest that companies would have to hire rapidly, that they’d fired too many people during the recession, the “panicked” excuse.
Nobody feels that way anymore. Nobody’s hotly waiting to declare the “turning point.” Now, it seems like we all realize we’re just going to have to bear this thing out until we don’t anymore. If you’re a Wall Street analyst, it’s just a data point. If you’re a trader, it’s just a trading opportunity. If you’re unemployed, however, it’s reality. Slogging reality.
So while we still hope that today’s report has the proverbial upside surprise to it, and heralds the job market’s true turning point, we’re not counting on it. Not anymore.
It’ll get here when it gets here. Whenever that is.
Addendum: More than the actual number for today, more than the details, the most important part of today’s report will be the benchmark revisions for the past year, which the BLS does annually. Was the jobs market stronger or weaker than we thought? That will be the real tell, and will give you an idea of where we’re heading for the upcoming year.
(Photo: Library of Congress)