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Aug 5 2011   4:08PM GMT

Is “A Little Good Employment News” Good Enough?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Headline for July 2011 Employment Situation Summary

As I was listening to NPR yesterday, one of the news staff indicated that best-guess forecasts for today’s latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics was likely to report 85,000 new jobs added and employment to hold steady at 9.2 percent. But when that report went public at 8:00 AM Eastern this morning, the July numbers were higher at 117,000 for jobs added, and lower at 9.1 percent employment overall.

How I wish that the prediction that higher-than-expected numbers would boost stock markets proved to be warranted. As I write this blog, the markets have been open for almost three hours and the Dow is trading down 155  points or so (about -1.37 percent from today’s open). The S&P 500 is down -1.88%, the NASDAQ is down -2.82%, and major overseas and foreign markets are all down, down, down. We’re “testing the bottom of the markets” as the old stock traders’ saying goes — and where she stops, nobody knows, either!

For July, the Information sector (as reported in Table B-1) is down by 1,000 jobs overall. This is only minimal movement, so it’s not unfair to say that things are pretty much unchanged since last month over the whole information sector. The biggest loss is in telecommunications which shed 2,700 jobs, mostly offset by a gain of 1,900 jobs in the “Other information services” grab-bag in this category.

It’s funny that even though things are better than expected, with overall unemployment down just a tad, that markets continue to tank. Could it be that all the pent-up concern that built up while the world held its breath to see if the US would default on its debt, has now been released in the form of a big sell-off? Maybe so. But my old mantra comes back to bug me: “Stay put. Keep calm. Hope for improvement.” It look like that last item is going to take a while to materialize… Let’s just hope the ride doesn’t get too rocky in the meantime!

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