Hey, hey: please chant along with me until you get dizzy and fall over: “Slow growth mode! Slow growth mode! Slow growth mode!” Even though the December numbers were revised upward from 74 to 75 thousand, the January numbers failed to approach the consensus forecast of 170-185,000 I heard on NPR this morning, and came in at around 113,000 instead. I jumped up to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) to see if this had impacted the markets as yet, but the index has been up all morning (it’s currently up +76.9 as of my most recent peek) so it’s probably fair to say that the markets have priced this into their overall behavior.
The latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are less than forecast, but very much in keeping with painfully slow growth.
Unemployment rates are also largely unchanged at 6.6 percent overall, and the count of the long-term unemployed still comes in at over 3.5 million. The latest Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that long-term unemployment has declined by 1.1 million over the past year, but if I understand their reporting mechanisms correctly this has as much or more to do with discouraged workers in this category leaving the workforce as it actually has to do with some of them finding work, either part- or full-time.
The Information sector from Table A-14 is unchanged from December, and shows unemployment at 6.6 percent for that sector, entirely in synch with the overall average figure. If there’s one ray of sunshine in the most recent report it appears in the summary section where employment in professional and business services (which has some relationship to IT, though more likely for contract workers or consultants than full-time employees) added 36,000 jobs for January, and where that sector added an average of 55,000 jobs per month for all of 2013. But in case you already didn’t know, my long-standing mantra for IT pros remains: “Stay put. Hunker down.” Sigh. I’d hoped that 2014 would show a breakout into less ambiguous and more generous growth. At least, there are still 11 more months to report for this year, so there’s time for things to improve.