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World View & Market Commentary.
Forest first; Trees second.
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The latest jobs report shows significant improvement overall and is broad-based. Payroll jobs in December jumped a relatively healthy 200,000 after rising a revised 100,000 in November (originally 120,000) and increased a revised 112,000 in October (previously 100,000). The median market forecast called for a 150,000 increase in overall payrolls. Revisions for October and November were down net 8,000.
Private payrolls again outstripped the total, gaining 212,000 in December, following increases of 120,000 in November and 134,000 in October. Analysts had projected a 160,000 boost in private payrolls.
In the private sector, goods-producing jobs rebounded 48,000 after a 6,000 decrease in November and a 6,000 gain in October. Construction jobs increased 17,000 in November after decreasing 12,000 the month before. Manufacturing employment jumped 23,000 after edging up 1,000 in November. Mining increased 7,000, following a 3,000 advance the prior month.
Private service-providing jobs increased 164,000 in December, following a 126,000 gain in November. The December increase was led by trade & transportation (up 90,000) with seasonal hiring for couriers & messengers (think UPS and FedEx) particularly strong (up 42,000) and retail trade adding notably (up 28,000). Health care continued to add jobs in December (up 23,000). Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in December (up 24,000).
The public sector continued to decline as government employment dipped 12,000, following a 20,000 decline in November. State & local government jobs contracted 14,000 in December with local education employment falling 9,400.
Average hourly earnings strengthened in December, rising 0.2 percent after no change in November. The latest figure matched expectations for a 0.2 percent gain. The average workweek for all workers in December posted at 34.4 hours, compared to 34.3 hours in November. Analysts projected 34.3 hours.
Today's report includes new seasonal factors for the household survey numbers (payroll data get new factors next month). History is affected back through 2007, leaving some generally small changes in some monthly series. From the household survey, the unemployment rate unexpectedly continued to decline, slipping to 8.5 percent after dropping to 8.7 percent in November from 8.9 percent in October. The consensus expectation was for an 8.7 percent unemployment rate.
Today's report shows the labor market gradually improving. Although improvement still lacks that of the average recovery, the better numbers indicate improved optimism on the part of business expectations about demand. On the news, equity futures rose marginally while Treasury rates nudged up.
"Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that's what foreclosure is..."– Jamie Dimon
The weeks may have been short and the seasonal adjustment difficult but mortgage application activity definitely declined during the two weeks ended December 30 (December 23 week included due to holiday). This is the conclusion of the Mortgage Bankers Association whose purchase index over the two week period fell a very steep 9.7 percent. The drop interrupts what had been a steady stream of good news out of the housing sector.
Down 1.9 percent is refinancing which makes up the great bulk of mortgage activity, at 82 percent for the highest share of 2011. Homeowners are increasingly refinancing their mortgages as rates sink. For the lowest rate of 2011, the average 30-year conforming mortgage ($417,500 or less) was 4.07 percent in the period.