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May 8, 2014 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Just Might Have The Best Labor Market Forecasting Tool In The Country

It’s been nearly a week since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Employment Situation Report for April. For a number of reasons (but mostly because we got our forecast so dead right), I thought I’d dig into the numbers a bit and provide a bit of post-report analysis. On May 1st, we issued our forecast that projected a net gain of 292,000 jobs in April. That forecast was based on the strong growth in job listings that we saw on LinkUp’s job search engine in March, particularly the 17% increase in new job openings. As a result of the nearly 10% increase in the blended average of new and total job openings, we had the most bullish forecast of all the economists contributing to Bloomberg’s consensus forecast. Of the 94 economists surveyed, we had the highest estimate at 292,000 with the next highest group coming in at 250,000. The average estimate was 216,000 while the low estimate was 150,000.

April 2014 Bloomberg

Not only were we bullish about April, but during our webinar prior to the release of the BLS report, we also stated that we expected the BLS to revise upward its numbers for March.  The conviction behind the revision to March’s numbers stemmed from the steady gains we saw in new and total job openings that we saw on LinkUp in February. (In fact, I’d go so far as to say that March’s numbers will likely be revised up again next month).

In any event, we couldn’t have been happier with last Friday’s jobs report. Not only did we get the call exactly right for April, but the BLS revised the March numbers up by 11,000 jobs. As well, the February numbers were also revised up to a net gain of 222,000 jobs, matching almost precisely our forecast for that period, too. In February, we had forecast a net gain of 220,000 jobs versus the Bloomberg consensus of only 149,000 jobs. So year-to-date, we’d grade ourselves as follows:

YTD Grade

Far more important than our prognosticating, however, the job gains in April constitute the best monthly jobs report since February of last year and represent the 3rd consecutive month with net job growth above 200,000. That hasn’t happened since the period from December of 2011 to February of 2012, (which was, unfortunately, promptly followed by a 4-month stretch with average monthly job gains of only 85,000). So the numbers for April most assuredly strengthen the view that the labor market continues to gain momentum.

With the strong gains we saw last month in new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine, we certainly expect the positive trend in the labor market to continue in May (which seems to be the case considering today’s better-than-expected decline in new filings for unemployment). That would be a welcome change from each of the past 3 years when a decent jobs market in Q1 hit a massive speed bump in Q2 and kind of stalled out for the remainder of the year. Just looking at the trend lines in job openings on LinkUp this year compared to last gives a pretty strong indicator that things this year look far different than they have in a long, long time.

LinkUp job gains J-A 2013:2014

Let’s just hope our alethiometer remains in good working order.

 

PS – We will be hosting a webinar to walk through LinkUp’s May Jobs Report on Wednesday, June 4th at 4PM CST. If you are interested in attending, please register here.