Wednesday, March 12, 2014

At long last. more Wisconsin jobs numbers tomorrow!

Tomorrow is scheduled to include the release of the first Wisconsin jobs numbers for 2014. As usual, these have been delayed for the start of the year because the Bureau of Labor Statistics goes back and benchmarks 2013 and other years to more data, and they also update the seasonal factors that they use to translate raw data into the more commonly-used seasonally-adjusted data

As I've said before, I don't expect too many changes out of last year's numbers, as it appears to largely match the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages, unlike in previous years when the QCEW was coming in higher than the monthly numbers, which led to higher revisions with the annual benchmarking.

As for January's numbers, a good indicator is the amount of unemployment claims that have been coming in. As you can see here, the numbers for the first 4 weeks of the year were less than previous years (to be expected in a growing economy), spiked up in early February (including a jump of more than 5,000 in one week), and has since retreated to a more normal number for late winter.

What's also worth mentioning in that January jobs "increases" are usually a reflection of lower-than-normal post-Holiday layoffs. For example, here are last year's figures.

Change in jobs, Wisconsin, January 2013
seasonally-adjusted all jobs +1,800
non-seasonally-adjusted all jobs -74,100

seasonally-adjust. private jobs +12,300
non-seasonally-adjust. private jobs -49,500

So the drop in new unemployment claims may be a sign of a decent January jobs report, except that Michigan and Illinois have both reported their numbers for January, and both had significant losses. Neither of those states were reporting unemployment claims that were all that different than what they had this time last year, so maybe the bad weather kept anyone from hiring at the start of the year, even at January's suppressed rate.

It'll be sure to ignite the progress report on Gov. Walker's failing promise of 250,000 new jobs, but the benchmarking will be even more of an indicator of how that's going than the seasonally-adjusted January report will. Stay tuned on it, because you can bet whatever the number is, a whole lot of people will spin it as bullshit.


  1. Ah, but the key to the monthly jobs figures is the reference week, which is whichever includes the 12th day of the month. For January this year, that is week 03 of UI claims.

    Initial claims were 12,279, down a bit from the previous year's 13,212, and continued claims were 105,267, down a bit from 112,299 a year earlier. But the January 2013 CES reference week was actually week 02 of the UI data, with initial/continuing claims in 2013 being 15,315/113,955.

    So there's some cause to expect that January's data might be artificially inflated by this happenstance of dates.

  2. Based on all the lawyerin up that's been done, between the John Does 1 and 2, the Talgo lawsuit, and on and on....There should be a nice bump in legal jobs.

  3. For the record, the benchmarks added a few thousand to the jobs numbers for 2013 (as it did in the US). January had a big 0 for private sector jobs, but govt jobs up as a seasonal thing. I'll have more on this in another post

    1. The original numbers for Decembers of 2012 and 2013 were 2,382,000 and 2,425,900 respectively for a net gain of 43,900. The release says that's been revised down to 39,700.

      This still seems pretty high though, since pre-released QCEW says that the December 2012 - September 2013 (not seasonally-adjusted) gain was 41,518 jobs. But the best 4th quarter this century (in 2010) was to lose 10,031 jobs. QCEW revisions aren't usually more than a very few thousand, so it seems unlikely that 2013 private sector gains were as high as 39,700.

      We'll find out later this year - but before the election.