"Better News on the Way"

Employers continue to hire cautiously according to this morning’s Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing a gain of 103,000 net new payroll jobs last month. The leisure and hospitality sector added 47,000 followed by education and health services with 44,000. The totals for October and November were revised up by 70,000. The unemployment rate, calculated from a different survey, plunged from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent, which certainly is good news except that it is volatile in normal times and particularly so around the holidays due to seasonal adjustment issues. Other employment indicators have been more bullish lately. ADP, which uses a different methodology, reported an increase of 297,000 private jobs in December while Challenger said that announced layoffs last month fell to an 11-year low. With holiday retail sales up a healthy 3.8 percent over last year, the best performance since 2006 according to ICSC, the economy is poised to gain momentum in 2011. Employment growth forecasts generally range from 1.5 to 3 million versus the 1.1 million jobs added last year. The unemployment rate will end the year around 9.0 percent, still unacceptably high but headed in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.

Best regards,