Weak Unemployment and Payrolls Data in January Just Doesn’t Really Matter

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The Labor Department is out with its critical monthly employment situation report. Wall St. will not exactly be cheering, although the news is not exactly awful. The unemployment rate is now officially listed higher at 7.9%. Bloomberg and Dow Jones were calling for a reading of 7.8% and Bloomberg was looking for 7.7%.

Nonfarm payrolls came in at 157,000, and that was slightly under the Dow Jones consensus of 166,000. Private sector payrolls came in at 166,000, versus the 185,000 projected by Bloomberg. Average hourly earnings also rose by 0.2%, versus the 0.1% gain expected by Bloomberg. Investors will want to know that the revisions added another 127,000 payrolls, if you combine the revisions for December and November.

The report sounds like a deceleration in jobs. That may be true, but the revisions for December and November may make up for some of that. As a reminder, the negative headline gross domestic product for the fourth quarter is preliminary data and the drop into the red was almost entirely due to lower government spending. America still has to work around the issue that some 12.3 million Americans are without work, now that more people are being counted in the workforce again.

Manufacturing jobs rose marginally, and other gains were seen in housing jobs, retail, health care and in wholesale trade. Meanwhile, warehousing and transportation saw slight contraction in jobs, and those really need to be rising for the face of the economy to really look better. We also saw that government jobs fell by 9,000.

The markets are not really blinking on this report. S&P futures are up 8 points and DJIA futures are up almost 80 points. If you really want to track the broader economic expectations, you should look at our report on how the inflow of capital is driving demand for stocks. This alone may indirectly bump companies to start hiring more and that may help unemployment ahead.

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