Friday, December 4, 2009

Stat of the Day: Weekly Hours Worked Up 0.2

As everybody scrambles to focus on the total jobs loss or the unemployment rate reported for November this morning, the real key number is the Average Weekly Hours. For November the number increase to 33.2 from 33.0 in October. This is a significant increase and according to reports a 0.1 hour increase is the equivalent to 400K jobs. Not only does it correlate to a ton of more hours worked it also signals that eventually more people will be hired as existing workers are utilized more. Still a lot of slack in the economy, but this is one of the better indications that the jobs market is indeed improving.

Overall, just about all the metrics in the jobs report were very bullish: job losses much lower then expected, revisions to previous months up 159K, and workweek increased the most in months.

  • The average workweek, which closely correlates with overall output and gives clues on when firms will start hiring, rose to 33.2 hours from 33 hours in October. That was the highest since February. Average hourly earnings inched up to $18.74 from $18.73.
  • The economy shed only 11,000 jobs in November, well below the 130,000 loss financial markets had braced for, while the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 10 percent from October's 10.2 percent, a government report on Friday showed.
  • The labor market improvement was broad based and 159,000 fewer jobs were lost in September and October than previously thought, according to the Labor Department data.

Canada actually showed strong jobs growth showing how even though the US is improving, its still trailing a lot of countries around the world including our neighbors to the North.
  • Canadian employment increased by a net of 79,100 jobs in November and the unemployment rate edged down to 8.5% from 8.6% in October, Statistics Canada said Friday.
  • The unemployment rate was expected to rise to 8.7%, according to the median estimate from a survey of economists by Dow Jones.
  • There were 16.87 million jobs in the Canadian economy in November, which is 321,000 jobs, or 1.9%, below the employment peak in October 2008.

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