As has been the case seemingly forever, trying to attain some visibility into the nation’s employment situation these days is like trying to take a picture with the new iPhone 5. While that exercise can be marred by a funny purple haze, the view of the labor market at the moment is marred by a thick film of mud. Conflicting data points abound, with gloomy economists predicting growth of about only 120,000 jobs in September and optimistic TrimTabs predicting job growth of 210,000 jobs. ADP reported this week that 162,000 private-sector jobs were added last month, while the Conference Board reported that online labor demand rose 128,600. Consumer confidence is rising, at least according to the Consumer Confidence Index, and the Institute for Supply management reports that the manufacturing index is climbing. And yet, just this morning, the Department of labor reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose last week.
And like a horrible NFL replacement ref, even the referee in this matter (the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the BLS) can’t seem to get the calls right. The BLS has revised every monthly data point twice this year and just recently made a not-insignificant upward revision of an additional gain of 386,000 jobs to its data through Q1 of this year. To say the least, no one can be perfectly certain where the labor market is right now or where it’s headed. And with the continued weakness in the economy and the election fast approaching, there has never been more attention paid to the jobs picture.
Unfortunately, LinkUp’s jobs data for the September and the prior few months not only throws more mud onto the lens, the data also points to a significantly gloomier jobs forecast in the months ahead. In September, new job postings on corporate websites throughout the country fell 13% to 379,328, while total job listings fell 3% to 986,448.
Completely unique to the industry, LinkUp’s job search engine indexes jobs that are only found on company websites throughout the U.S. LinkUp’s index currently lists over 1.2 million jobs indexed from over 22,000 companies. As a result of this unique approach to job listings, LinkUp’s search engine and the resulting data set are completely free of the pollution that plagues other sources such as old listings, duplicate listings, lead-gen bait, work-at-home-scams, fraudulent job posts, and jobs posted by 3rd-party intermediaries.
Equally as disturbing as the aggregate numbers in September, every state except Wisconsin reported a decline in new job listings on company websites, and 44 states reported a decline in total job listings on company websites.
The data is even more grim looking at jobs by category. New job listings by category declined 32%, with all 31 categories tracked by LinkUp showing declines. Total jobs by category fell 11%, with 27 of 31 categories showing declines.
Based on September’s jobs data, combined with our data since July, we are issuing our 60-day job forecast showing job growth of only 75,000 jobs in September, 175,000 jobs gained in October, and back down to only 75,000 jobs in November.
Tomorrow’s horrible jobs numbers are the result of what we saw in July on LinkUp’s job search engine – a blended 1.8% decline in new and total job openings on corporate websites. Assuming a 60-day lag between a job opening appearing on LinkUp and that opening translating into an actual hire, July’s activity doesn’t bode well for tomorrow’s BLS report. (In February, the lag between job postings and actual hires jumped from 30 days to 60 days as more and more companies lengthened their hiring process). Likewise, we saw a 9.4% increase in a 50/50 blend of new and total job openings on LinkUp in August which points to better job growth in October. And finally, September’s horrific numbers would indicate an extremely weak jobs report for November.
So while my crystal ball may not be any better than anyone else’s at the moment, I’d take the under on almost any wager these days about upcoming jobs numbers. Of course, if there are replacement refs on the field, all bets are off.