Tuesday, March 22, 2011

January 2011 Employment Report: A Mixed Bag

I thought the January unemployment rate was likely to rise, as temporary jobs during the year end sales lapsed. Well, I was kinda right:


Unemployment creeped up by a full percentage point to cloe to 3.4%. Where I got it wrong was this seeming bad news was caused not by reduced employment, but a jump in the labour force:



That’s a pretty enormous jump in job seekers – newly minted graduates and SPM-leavers? That’s at best a partial explanation as the numbers are too high for that: each age cohort is only about a quarter of a million, whereas the increase in the labour force is something like half a million.

The unemployment rate would have surged by more, if the economy hadn’t very nearly added the same number of jobs (‘000):


I’m operating under the assumption that the proximity of CNY with the year end might have something to do with this, in which case both labour force numbers and jobs should both fall in February.

Technical Notes:

January 2011 Employment Report from the Department of Statistics (warning: pdf link)

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