Friday, February 6, 2009

Jobs are way down but the market is up

Job losses were significant in January. There's no way to gloss over the fact that the economy has lost about 4 million jobs so far in this recession—that's ugly. The only piece of good news was that average hourly earnings rose 3.9% in the past 12 months. Employers have cut jobs at a brisk pace, but the situation is not so dire that salaries and wages are being slashed.

Despite the worse-than-expected news on the jobs front, the equity market is up about 2% as I write this. News reports are attributing the market's gains to hopes that Obama's stimulus package now has a greater chance of passing, given the ugly employment situation. My explanation would be that the fundamentals of the economy have been pointing to improvement for the past few months. Jobs, after all, are a lagging indicator of what's going on in the economy. So I think the market is now responding, finally, to the improvement in the economy.

1 comment:

joemckendrick said...

Down about 4 million from the peak is rough for a lot of people. But it's interesting to see from the chart that more people are still employed today (~135m) than at the final peak of the go-go dot-com era (~132m). The overall population and workforce size is somewhat greater now, of course, but still an interesting contrast.