WSJ: ‘Jobs Picture Isn’t Pretty’

From WSJ:


We got two more pieces of the jobs picture this morning. Let’s look at them:

First, initial claims took a big dive last week, dropping 27,000 to 365,000. You can all breathe now. It’s not all sun and roses, of course. Last week’s initial claims were revised higher, as they are seemingly every week, to 392,000, a distressing number. The four-week average nudged up by 750 to 383,000, still too high.

Also, announced jobs cuts rose 7.1% in April, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, to 40,599 — and up 11.2% from last April — another bit of evidence that the jobs market isn’t doing well.

The research firm noted that a little less than 25% of the cuts came from the education sector, as the public sector deals with its own crippling debt load. Still, Challenger put a hedging spin on it.

“While job gains may indeed hit a lull in the coming months, we do not foresee a sudden upsurge in downsizing activity,” the firm wrote.

To help you sift through the morass, we’d like to create another in a string of anecdotal indicators that don’t really mean anything but are fun to play around with anyway, like the Super Bowl indicator, the hemline index, and the underwear index. We’ve come up this: the my-doctor-says-people-can’t-find-jobs index.

This one is based on a complex mathematical formula developed by a team of MIT grad students working in remote locations around the country and it goes something like this: MarketBeat’s doctor said yesterday that the people coming into his office that don’t have jobs still can’t find jobs. So, there. Try and deconstruct that one, you raging bulls.

Now then, all that considered, where exactly do we stand on the jobs front? Here’s a scorecard:

-Weekly jobless claims are sitting around 383,000, the four-week average.

-ADP pegs April private-sector job growth at 119,000.

-TrimTabs pegged April jobs growth at 116,000.

-Announced layoffs are rising, as per Challenger, Gray.

-Last month, the BLS reported 120,000 jobs were created in March. The Street expects that tomorrow, the BLS will report 168,000 jobs were created.

-The official unemployment rate is 8.2% — the so-called U-3 — but everybody understands by now that numbers excludes millions who have either dropped out of the labor force, or can’t find full-time work. A broader measure, the U-6, is at 14.5%.

Where’s that leave us? Well, it leaves us where our doctor said it does. People without jobs are still having a hard time finding jobs.

And take two of these and call him in the morning.