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March 4, 2014 / Toby Dayton

The Polar Vortex Will Eventually Abate And The Labor Market Will Improve; Jobs Numbers Friday Will Surprise To The Upside

Snowman DogIt seems as if the only thing people can talk about these days is the weather. Though somewhat tiresome, it’s probably justified given the circumstances this winter. Between the endless series of storms rolling across the country paralyzing everyone from Texas to Maine, most especially those below the Mason Dixon Line where snow plows and salt are understandably in short supply, to the drought and then the short-burst monsoon in California, weather-talk is all the rage these days. And for us poor Eskimos living in Minnesota or anywhere in the upper midwest for that matter, we’ve been stuck in the polar vortex for so long we might as well be living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. (Now that’s cold).

We’ve had 53 days of below-zero temperatures so far this winter and we’re rapidly approaching the record of 68 days set in 1875. That’s 1875, as in only 17 years after Minnesota became a state. Admittedly, I’m not quite sure what statehood has to do with temperature other than perhaps some misbegotten, child-like assumption that as a territory, Minnesota remained covered in the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Of course, most people around the country assume that still to be the case, and unfortunately we’re fulfilling the stereotype beautifully. But just as assuredly as the ice will eventually melt as the days grow longer and things start turning green once again, so too will the nation’s labor market eventually thaw out and the economy will start growing once again. (How’s that for a segue?).

Comfort in the inevitability of that optimistic forecast comes from the positive gains we’ve seen in both new and total job listings in the first two months of the year. In January, new job openings indexed exclusively from 50,000 company websites around the country rose by almost 100,000 from December to over 500,000 in January and total job listings rose by an equal amount to 1.4 million. The percentage gains of 27% and 11% in new and total job listing growth respectively were the largest we’ve seen in our data in over 3 years. Based on those numbers, we are forecasting a strong jobs report Friday that should show a net gain of 220,000 jobs in February, better than the tepid consensus estimate of 140,000 jobs.

Feb 2014 Forecast

As background, Linkup has taken a completely unique approach to the jobs space as the only job search engine that only indexes jobs found on company websites. We currently list over 1.8 million job openings indexed from 50,000 company websites throughout the country (and around the world, actually). What that means is that we have nearly 2 million real jobs from real companies. They’re always 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. And most importantly, we have completely eliminated the type of job listing garbage that pollutes so many job sites these days including such things as work-at-home scams, lead-gen garbage, fraud, identity theft, money mule positions, etc. As a result of this unique approach to indexing jobs, we deliver a fantastic user experience to job seekers and a terrific value proposition to our employer advertisers. It also means that we possess an incredibly unique, tremendously clean data set of job openings that we’ve been able to leverage very successfully to gain insights into what is going on in the U.S. labor market.

In February, to continue our analysis, we saw continued gains in new job listings by state climbing 3% and total job listings by state rising by 4% from January. While not quite matching the torrid pace of growth seen in January, the uptick is nevertheless welcomed and should bode well for strong jobs numbers in March.

Jobs By State Feb 2014

The gains seen in new and total jobs by category were slightly less positive, with new job listings falling 2% and total job listings by category rising 2%.

Jobs By Category Feb 2014

So based on LinkUp’s jobs data from February, our preliminary forecast for March is a net gain of 320,000 jobs. (The LinkUp numbers for February in the table below do not match the tables above because of the particularities of our forecasting model).

Feb:March Forecast

We’ll update the forecast for March at the end of the month when we have our first look at LinkUp’s March data, but at the moment it looks like things will be coming up roses in the next few months. Unfortunately for now, however, we’re still stuck in the polar vortex and to further perpetuate and even expand the stereotype of Minnesota, I thought I’d throw in a few photos of where I’ve spent most of my time on the frozen tundra lately:

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