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January 13, 2014 / Toby Dayton

The Alethiometer Still Works; LinkUp’s Take On Last Friday’s Jobs Numbers & Our Bleak Forecast For January

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation Report for December. Needless to say, the report rippled through the capital markets and had media and Wall Street pundits buzzing all day. And for good reason. Bloomberg’s Consensus Forecast called for a net gain of 196,000 jobs but according to the BLS, the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs.

Bloomberg screen shot Dec 2013

With ADP’s strong numbers released earlier in the week along with The Conference Board’s bullish forecast and other strong economic indicators, most economists spent last week raising their forecasts. What a mistake that was. When the horrible numbers came out, everyone was “stunned” and “shocked.” Those who missed the call spent the day last Friday talking about weather (as if we should be surprised that it occasionally snows during the month, sometimes a lot), the short holiday season, and other irrelevant nonsense that might have impacted the numbers.

In almost every case, people held firm in their belief that December’s abysmal numbers were an anomaly, a temporary blip from the powerful locomotive that is the U.S. job market these days. What they should have been doing was reading this blog and looking at LinkUp’s data because despite a bit of angst over the past few months, our Alethiometer is still working really, really well.

At a minimum, however, people need to look at the quarterly job gains reported by the BLS in 2013.

Q4 hiring

The trend is not good, and if an estimated 100,000 temporary retail jobs related to the holidays are taken out of the data, the trend continued through Q4. Unfortunately, LinkUp’s data for December is equally as gloomy and doesn’t bode well for January’s Employment Situation Report. As we reported on January 1st, new jobs on LinkUp fell by 24% and total job listings on our search engine fell by 9%. Those are awful numbers, the worst since March of 2011. We’ll get another data point for December along with our first reading on January’s numbers at the end of the month, and our perspective might change to some degree, but at this point it looks like the start to 2014 will be as bad as the end of 2013.

As background, LinkUp is the largest and fastest growing job search engine on the web. Totally unique to the space, we are the only job search engine that only indexes jobs found on company websites. We currently have 1.7 million real  jobs from 40,000 corporate websites. What that means is that we have the largest search engine of the highest quality job listings on the web. Every job on LinkUp is guaranteed to be current because the index is updated every night, and there are no duplicate listings because we only index jobs from a single source – the employer’s website itself. Most importantly, we have completely eliminated the garbage that pollutes job boards and job board aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired. That garbage includes things like old, expired listings, job scams, work-at-home scams, lead-gen garbage, fraud, identity theft, and money mule positions, for example. It is that same job board garbage that pollutes the data set delivered by Wanted Analytics to The Conference Board which is why their forecasts are not highly correlated to the BLS data in future periods. LinkUp has eliminated all of that pollution because we only index jobs directly from employer websites. As a result of our unique model, we deliver to job seekers and employers the best user experience and the highest quality job site on the web today. And it is the unique quality of our index that also provides us with the cleanest data set in the market with which to forecast job growth in the U.S.