The Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) reported that the U.S. regained 9.3 million jobs since May. In reporting on those results, the business media characterizes the jobs market as "better than expected." Given that no one expected 22 million jobs to be lost, why should we use expectations as a meaningful gauge?
Although it is encouraging to see improvement in employment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, investors would be wise to avoid rose-colored lenses just yet. Despite the job gains, the U.S. still has about 12 million fewer people employed today as compared with February before the pandemic shutdowns hit the economy. Additionally, though down from over 15%, the unemployment rate remains extremely high.
Correctly Assessing Labor Markets
Having written in the past about the importance of linguistic precision, reports on the labor market should be rephrased. Technically, recent data is better than economists' expectations, but the situation is better characterized as "ugly but improving."