Payrolls: Still Best Ignored

The day after the Iowa caucus, with the media full of horse-race coverage of presidential politics, is a good one to miss the news of the monthly jobs report. Good. The non-farm payroll report, which comes out on the first Friday of every month, is increasingly irrelevant, and anything which takes attention away from it is a good thing.

Aside from the normal gripes about margins of error and higher self-employment rates, there’s another issue which today’s report highlights: it’s not even internally consistent. Apparently, employment rose (a tiny amount) from November to December, but unemployment spiked sharply, from 4.7% in November to 5.0% in December. I don’t think the growth of the working population was that big.

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