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Mixed Messages on the Employment Front

October 08, 2010
James Brumley

James Brumley

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Read 'em and weep boys. The employment scenario may not have gotten any worse last month, but it sure didn't seem to get any better. Nonfarm payrolls fell, big-time, by 94K; forecasters were only expected an 11K drop. Most of the contraction was believed to be state governments finally adopting some of their own austerity measures and cutting staff. In fact, private payrolls were actually up by 64K..... a modestly-encouraging glimmer.

Somehow the unemployment rate managed to hold at 9.6%. Perhaps the dumping of 94,000 more unemployed people into the huge pool of already-unemployed people doesn't make a big splash.

100810-employment.gif




That being said, we'll remind you (since the media won't) that these September figures are being posted a day after the weekly unemployment claims - new as well as ongoing - both moved to the very low end of their recent range, and each of which is threatening to turn that move into a full-blown trend. Point being, the September 'total' numbers don't fully reflect the trend that may have started to be bud in the middle of the month.



As it stands right now, both sets of weekly claims data are in bullish mode, while the monthly unemployment is also technically bullish by the vurtue of a very modest decline. Those are three tough trends to accept though.

100810-unemployment-rate.gif

The payrolls data remains bearish under the zero line....a condition that has back-tested very well to that effect, though note the rebounds while under zero are sharp and fast. Here's a look at that history.

100810-nonfarm-payroll-change.gif

About the author:

James Brumley
James Brumley is a freelance writer and registered investment advisor. He began his career as a broker with a major Wall Street firm, where fundamentals and long-term holding periods were core strategies. After that, he switched gears completely, becoming an analyst at a short-term trading newsletter that focused on technical analysis. He now manages client money using the best of both philosophies. His company, Bluegrass Portfolio Management, offers investors an opportunity to reap superior returns with minimized risk. Go to http://bluegrassportfolio.com/ to learn more.

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