Santa’s Elves Just Got Fired

Remember the “good” jobs report last week? As Dean Baker explained, many of the new jobs were actually the “couriers” who delivered your holiday presents.

The sharp drop in the unemployment rate over the last four months (from 9.1 percent to 8.5 percent) is not consistent with the job growth reported in the establishment survey. The survey reported 200,000 jobs in December; however, this figure is skewed by the 42,200 job gain reported for couriers. There was a similar gain in this category reported for last December, which was completely reversed the next month. Clearly this is a problem of seasonal adjustment, not an issue of real job growth. Pulling out these jobs, the economy created 158,000 jobs in December, in line with expectations.

Pulling out the courier jobs, growth has averaged 145,000 per month over the last four months. This is somewhat better than the 90,000-100,000 a month needed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force, but certainly not rapid enough to explain a 0.6 percentage point drop in unemployment. At this pace, we would not get back to pre-recession levels of unemployment until 2027. [my emphasis]

Now Baker’s predicted reversal in those jobs has started to appear, with initial jobless claims up 24,000 this week.

More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, raising the possibility that a greater-than-usual increase in temporary holiday hiring boosted December payrolls.

Jobless claims climbed by 24,000 to 399,000 in the week ended Jan. 7, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 375,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls rose, while those receiving extended payments decreased.

Hiring by package delivery companies and retailers during the holidays to meet demand for gifts may now be giving way to an increase in dismissals.

These words–”couriers” and “package delivery companies”–are very cold. What we’re really talking about are Santa’s Elves, the wondrous people who make your holidays magical, particularly given how they help you avoid crowded malls by allowing you to shop online. In all the cartoon Christmas specials, those elves spend the off-season making more toys for the next Christmas. Not so our “modern” economy. Now, we benefit from their services, enjoy our holidays, and then <<BAM!!>> the Elves are on the street again, looking for work.

Merry Christmas!

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6 Responses to Santa’s Elves Just Got Fired

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz Bill Belichick: "I am not a sorcerer or some kind of conjurer, I'm just a coach". Don't believe him. He's the Mona Lisa Vito of Football.
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bmaz @AnthonyMKreis Love to see the District court send a couple of US Marshals over to arrest the prick on a contempt charge.
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emptywheel @joshgerstein Yeah, one guy looked like he could be South Asian, plus the Asian. @illLeagleNews @mattapuzzo
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emptywheel In last ¶ Obama quoted as claiming he has found quiet pressure effective on Saudi human rights. By what measure? http://t.co/zfEx8e3Ftx
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emptywheel Surely it pains Clapper that NGA will win the fuckup of the month award this month. He'll prolly let some other scandal drop to avoid it.
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emptywheel And there's a little picture in Clapper's office of IC employee who wins that month's biggest fuckup, like Employee of Month at Burger King
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emptywheel I honestly think the intel agencies have a secret monthly pool for which agency can be the biggest fuckup that month. #FuckUpOfTheMonthAward
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emptywheel Anyone have insight on why you'd make drilling off East Coast available when 1) record low prices 2) increasingly bad Atlantic storms?
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emptywheel @mattblaze No, doesn't work, bc CIA will spy on anyone they want with impunity. Lesson is to get DiFi to oppose, make her experience it
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emptywheel @mattblaze She's also opposed to domestic drones. Also because she's got firsthand experience. And the lesson is ...
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emptywheel @theurbansherpa Of course, it's probably case that because those threats wore off nothing can convince me to clean my room now. No.Thing.
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emptywheel @theurbansherpa Wouldn't have caused you that pain if it weren't for his birthday, which deserves tribute, I think. Also, my room's a mess.
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