Nov 7, 2008

Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs report shows pockets of good news nestled in with the bad. But how much can we rely on the BLS Report, when they even admit to sharply revised jobless figures?

Remember September’s preliminary estimate of 159,000 jobs lost? Ooops! BLS now says it’s closer to 284,000 workers facing unemployment that month. And August’s estimate of 84,000 job losses is really close to 127,000, BLS says.

So take this data with a grain of salt, but here’s how unemployment shakes down this month, along with selected analyst insights:

  • Starting with good news, healthcare employment rose by 26,000 in October and by 348,000 over the past 12 months. Still, healthcare is not entirely recession-proof, as Merck announced it would lay off 7,200 people.
  • Employers cut 240,000 jobs in October, bringing the year’s total job losses to nearly 1.2 million.
  • The unemployment rate rose to 6.5% (the highest unemployment rate since 1994) from 6.1% in September (higher than economists’ forecast of 6.3%).
  • Adecco stays positive, pointing out that “over 93% of the country continues to be employed despite the economic uncertainty.”
  • Retail trade employment fell by 38,000 in October, with the largest losses occurring among automobile dealers (-20,000) and department stores (-18,000).
  • “The economy has entered the very deep portion of the recession and should remain there over the coming six to nine months,” said John Herrmann, president of Herrmann Forecasting. He told Bloomberg News that “these numbers imply a stimulus package of closer to $500 billion, ranging over the remainder of this year and through 2009.”
  • “There is so much bad in this report that it is hard to find any silver lining,” Morgan Keegan analyst Kevin Giddis told CNN.
  • How bad can it get? During a bad recession, the economy can shed as many as 500,000 jobs a month, according to Bob Brusca of Fact and Opinion Economics in New York.
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