Did American Employers Look Through October’s Political Battle?

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The United States labor market got a piece of good news Wednesday morning in the form of payroll processor ADP’s National Employment Report. November was not only the strongest month for job growth in 2013, but the report also showed that employers added workers to their payrolls at the most robust pace in a year. Surpassing economists expectations, private-sector employment in the United States grew by 215,000 jobs last month. Combined with the Department of Labor’s October Employment Situation Report — which revealed total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 204,000 — ADP’s data provided evidence that job growth is picking up.

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, whose firm helps compile payroll processor ADP’s National Employment Report, commented after the data was released that the labor market remained surprisingly resilient to the government shutdown and brinkmanship over the treasury debt limit. Similarly, Societe Generale economist Brian Jones told Bloomberg that, “Not only is the job market healthy, but it’s improving going into year-end.” The story growing out of the government’s official numbers and ADP’s private payroll data is one of improvement and growth, descriptors employed by prominent economists analyzing current labor market conditions.

However, the way Americans describe their experiences in the labor market is not quite as optimistic. Although, given the strict parameters of Gallup’s job creation survey and the different perspective on the labor market it provides, respondents’ answers are no reason for concern. Rather, the results show far less evidence of growth and improvement than do the hard numbers because it is a specific one-month analysis, while economists are fitting recent data into a longer-term narrative. The November reading of Gallup’s Job Creation Index indicated that job growth remains flat with October. That is not a surprising outcome, given October’s 204,000 job gain and November’s 215,000 job gain, even though comparing ADP’s numbers with government data is not the most accurate of computations.

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