This Friday, February 7, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics January “jobs report” (officially known as the Employment Situation Summary) will be released at 8:30 a.m. EST. The slow economic recovery from the 2009 recession has made this monthly report one of the most anticipated and analyzed measures of the economy. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “It is the best weather vane for which (sic) the economy is headed.” December’s weak results of 74,000 jobs created, the Federal Reserve pull back from their bond-buying program to stimulate the economy and the resulting gyrations in the U.S. and foreign stock markets mean even more attention is focused on January results….perhaps too much?
The ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report states, “Underlying job growth, abstracting from the weather, remains steady.” When truckers can’t drive, airplanes are grounded, construction can’t work and retailers have less foot traffic a monthly employment report is bound to be negatively impacted. The Federal Reserve pull-back on bond buying over time allows the focus to be on “real” economic performance. During the economic stimulus the average increase year-to-year in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 2011 was 3.2%. Average growth over the last ten years has been 2.4%. 2011 certainly didn’t feel like a banner year in job growth!
The CPI in 2012 was 1.7% and in 2013 1.5% – the first time the CPI has gone up less than 2.0% for two consecutive years since ’97-’98. But the important word in that sentence is up, and the understanding that the variation in the CPI in a good steady, series of years doesn’t vary much around 2.0%. The other good news in the economy is the reduction in the unemployment rate from 7.9% in January of 2013 to 6.7% in December 2013.
Recruiting in the marketing analytics field has reflected the slow, steady, but little bit weak growth happening in the economy since the recession of 2009. There have been some fits and starts as consumers, i.e. hiring managers and companies, get concerned about the bad news coming out of the pundits. Interestingly recruiting in our “hot” field of business analytics often mirrors the job reports. When hiring was strong in October and November of 2013, we saw an increase in offers and acceptances often in positions that had been open for some time. Companies just want some reinforcement in economic performance to pull the trigger and hire. Data continues to grow and the ability to analyze that information is sorely needed. As the chief data scientist at SAP, David Ginsberg, said, “The guy who can translate Ph.D. to English. Those are the hardest people to find.”
At Smith Hanley Associates we remain bullish on the economy and the continuing slow but steady need for hiring in this area in 2014. Join us in a “Town Hall” conversation on this topic on Wednesday, December 12 at 3:00 p.m. EST with the DMA Analytics Council by emailing us for your invitation.