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By the Numbers

Featuring brief segments of economic analysis from our senior economist Michael Bazdarich, PhD.

The economic analysis we previously featured in By the Numbers is now available on the Western Asset Blog. This page will no longer be updated.

October Payrolls: Same Old, Same Old

Today’s payroll job news was right in line with the releases of recent months. The 214,000 gain in total jobs marked the ninth straight monthly gain of 200,000 or better. At the same time, as seen in the chart below, recent months’ gains do not represent a departure from the trends of the last four years.

So, those who think that 200,000 jobs per month is great will find nothing in today’s report to bother them. And those who think that 200,000 per month does not allow for any catch-up from the losses of the recession will also find nothing challenging in today’s news.

A related question is whether the pace of GDP growth is indeed picking up toward 3% or better. Since job growth has, again, been steady for quite a while, the recent job news can support an accelerating economy only if we can expect some improvement in the rate of productivity growth, and there is no evidence of that as yet.

We should add that our chart focuses on private-sector jobs, so it doesn’t include a noticeable improvement in the pace of government hiring. Over 2012–13, government jobs declined steadily by about -5,000 per month. This year, government jobs are growing on average by about 10,000 per month. So, while private-sector output growth is likely steady, the overall economy is getting some boost from the government sector.

Our present take on the economy is smack dab in the middle. While we are skeptical that overall growth is indeed picking up much, we certainly thought the downside concerns surfacing last month—when 10-year yields touched 1.86%—were overdone. For us, as well as those mentioned above, the steady job growth is right in line with our outlook.

Private-Sector Job Growth
October Job Growth Chart
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 31 Oct 14.

Michael Bazdarich

Product Specialist/Economist

Mike brings more than 45 years of experience to his position. "By the Numbers" will address economic data releases that are pertinent to a broad range of investors.

Prior to joining the Firm in 2005, Mike ran his own consulting firm, MB Economics. He earned his PhD in Economics at the University of Chicago.

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