Friday, October 05, 2007

Employment crow for breakfast

My gloomy outlook for today's payroll figures was, to put it charitable, quite misplaced. The 110k jump in September and the upwardly revised August figures certainly demonstrate a surprising degree of resilience. Which, I might add, is welcome news.


My skepticism is not totally unfounded. Just take a look at the following graph, which charts residential construction employment and housing starts.

The relative strength of residential construction employment has been downright freakish considering that housing starts have pretty much fallen of a cliff. Yes, there are lags, but housing starts have fallen for a year and a half, while employment has fallen less than 5% from peak levels. Real estate sales and credit employment has held up just as well.

Something does not compute. In any case, Dr. Gloom himself, Nouriel Roubini, argues that the payroll figures hide some underlying weaknesses.