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Strong Jobs Numbers For September Were Not A Surprise To LinkUp
In today’s Employment Situation Report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. economy added a very solid net gain of 248,000 jobs in September. The report also included upward revisions for both July and August, capping off a strong quarter and continuing the momentum we’ve seen in the labor market for most of the year. While the report was a surprise to the upside for many economists and pundits, coming in quite a bit ahead of the Bloomberg Consensus Estimate, the data was entirely consistent with what we expected at LinkUp based on our job openings data from the past few months. After the serious miss in our forecast in August, we were pleased to get the September call pretty much on the mark.
Each month during our labor market update on the Wednesday before the BLS data is released, we grade our forecast from the prior month and provide a look back at how we’ve done in each period YTD. Following the release of September’s data, with the possibility that both August and September data could still be revised, we’d give ourselves the following grades for the year:
It’s been a little bit of a rocky year but overall, I’d say our data and the forecasting model we’ve built around it have been nicely correlated to job gains in future months. On a year-to-date basis, our forecasting has tracked almost perfectly to the number of net jobs gained in the the U.S. so far this year.
The job gains in Q3, while not quite as high as Q2 of this year, rank the quarter as the 3rd best quarter since 2011 in terms of net jobs added to the economy.
During our monthly labor market update this week, I also included a slide on retail job openings this year compared to the previous two years. In looking at our data to see if we could get a sense of what we might expect in Q4 in terms of the retail sector, holiday sales, and general consumer spending, we were able to identify two very positive trends.
As the chart above shows, holiday hiring not only began earlier in 2014 than it has in prior years, but those elevated levels of increased labor demand have been sustained for a longer period of time than in both 2012 and 2013. (As a side note, the increase in the total number of jobs from year to year is largely explained by the addition of new companies into the LinkUp index rather than any net increase in the total number of retail jobs in the U.S.). So despite some trepidation going into Q4 as a result of the declining the rate of job opening growth in LinkUp’s job search engine over the past 4 months, we remain cautiously optimistic that the labor market will maintain its forward momentum and that monthly job growth will continue in Q4.
LinkUp’s monthly labor market update for October will be held at 4PM CST on Wednesday, November 5th. If you are interested in attending, please register here.