Reports Offer Optimism For Hiring, Lower Job Losses

ADP Employment reportForeshadowing what may be the best jobs report since the recession began two years ago, the ADP National Employment Report out this morning says 84,000 private industry jobs were lost in December.

Pair that with The Conference Board’s robust help-wanted report, also out today, and the potential runs high for a nearly flat employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this Friday. Flat is good when you consider that in December 2008 the economy lost 681,000 jobs.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the government will report a loss of 10,000 jobs in December; 11,000 were lost in November, according to the BLS, which is likely to revise that initial estimate when it releases the December report. The 10 percent unemployment rate is expected to rise to 10.1 percent.

ADP, a payroll processor and business outsourcer, says the 84,000 private sector job decline was the smallest since March 2008. The losses were spread among small, medium, and large employers, though the latter group shed 34,000 jobs versus 25,000 for each of the other two groups.

“Employment losses are now rapidly diminishing and, if recent trends continue, private employment will begin rising within the next few months,” says Joel Prakken, Chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC. The company partners with ADP to produce the monthly report.

COnference BoardMeanwhile, The Conference Board said that help-wanted ads took a jump in December, when 3,642,000 were listed online. That’s an increase of 255,000 posted jobs over November and the largest monthly rise since November 2005.

The increase in online listings is part of a trend that began in the spring. It’s especially noteworthy that December listings were up so substantially, since historically the month is a slow one for hiring.

“Employers’ modest increase in demand for labor in the second half of 2009 is a nice way to end what has been a very challenging year,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. “The gap between the number of unemployed and the number of advertised vacancies is still very high, but the recent six months indicate that things are slowly moving in the right direction. The gap between the number of unemployed and the number of advertised vacancies is about 12 million, with 4.5 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy.”

The ADP and the BLS reports support the trend. Both have been showing ever-smaller job losses for months, though the numbers each reports are usually significantly different.

ADP compiles its numbers from actual payroll data. The report measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month. Government jobs are not included.

The BLS report is based on surveys completed by sampled businesses and households. The Establishment Survey is the business survey and is the one most watched. That’s where the monthly job counts come from. The survey of households produces the monthly unemployment rate. In the BLS data, government and private industry are both included.

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