'Tis the Season

A blog about business and economics.
June 4 2012 10:59 AM

'Tis the Season


Actual employment in the United States is highly seasonal, so one thing the Bureau of Labor Statistics does is apply a statistical formula to adjust employment data to smooth out seasonal trends. Over long terms, the seasonally adjusted data is clearly the superior indicator. Compare the nice smooth curves of the past 20 years' worth of seasonally adjusted jobs data to the spiky unadjusted data and you'll see why. But if you're interested in short-term issues, it may for some purposes be better to pay attention to what's actually happening rather than to the statistically formulae.

As you can see above, the strong January jobs numbers didn't mean that there was lots of net hiring in January. January is, instead, always the worst month of the year for employment. What happened in January 2012 is that the rate of job losses, though extremely high, was unusually small for a January. Conversely, the "terrible" May data we just got actually involved a large net increase in employment. It was a bad month relative to the historical average May just as our January was a good month relative to the average January. But the shift in the state of the economy between January and May was very small compared with the underlying seasonal drivers of employment. 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.