Over the weekend, a retail analyst brought this up to us, and we wanted to throw the question out to you: is the lack of seasonal temp work screwing with the Bureau of labour Statistics’s unemployment data?
Note this line in the AP story about stock brokers competing for Christmas labour:
Competition is especially fierce for retail jobs, in part because the industry has cut 1 million jobs since January 2008, said Davis of the National Retail Federation. Many retailers, fearing another weak holiday season, are trying to manage with leaner staffs.
“Not only are there fewer positions, but more people are applying,” Davis said.
That helps explain why shoppers who phone customer service at online retailer Moosejaw Mountaineering get Scott Beebe, a trained engineer with two postgraduate degrees and eight years of experience in product development for General Motors.
In other words, employment typically swells during this time of year, and so when the BLS is making seasonal adjustments, their models might be assuming that swelling. But if it’s not actually happening this year — which is what our source thinks is the case — then the unemployment data may be understated.