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Job market steady as she goes

As I noted last month, the huge spike in announced corporate layoffs was nothing to worry about (all of the outsized increase came from troop reductions), and today's announcement confirms that nothing unusual is going on. No deterioration in the job market, and no sign of any double-dip recession.

The ADP estimate of private sector jobs growth came in a bit stronger than expected, and last months' number was revised upwards. ADP seems to be doing a better job tracking the BLS jobs numbers, so today's ADP report suggests a strong likelihood that the jobs number released this Friday will be in line with, if not a bit stronger than, market expectations (+125K).

To be sure, while these charts show no deterioration in the jobs market, they do not come even close to suggesting a healthy economic outlook. Jobs growth of 125K per month is just about enough to keep pace with growth in the labor force, but not enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which remains very high. The economy is limping along at a pace much slower than it ordinarily would be, coming out of a deep and prolonged recession. But although the news is nothing to cheer about on its face, it is nevertheless better than what the market has been expecting (e.g., a renewed economic slump). Thus the equity market has enjoyed a 13% bounce in the past month. With markets, everything is relative; there are no absolutes.

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