A few years back, one of my clients got audited by the Labor Department. The Feds weren’t chasing down some Enron-like debacle, they just wanted data on job codes and payrates. The auditor they sent in, a Field Economist, was a nice enough guy but showed about as much passion about gathering accurate data as I do for spending the afternoon at Chuckie Cheese. We patched some data together for him, and if his diskette survived the trip home the data may have made it into some government study that no one reads or cares about.
Today, the Labor Department released another report on jobs with the ‘startling’ revelation that only 78,000 jobs were gained in April. Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone care about this stuff? The stock market didn’t seem to, it yawned to an open mostly unchanged. Is 78,000 really that bad of a number? Seems like a lot of jobs to me.
In any case, I can out-forecast the Labor Department in my spare time. With just a tiny bit of linear algebra and some data from a cross-section of temporary staffing companies (stuff like year-to-year sales trends may be combined with some measure of open job requisitions and pay rate changes) and I can tell you what the job market will be like in the next quarter. For example, I can tell you that contrary to Labor Department reports, we were on a pronounced down tick in the US during March and April. The indicators from May were slightly up, so I wouldn’t use the ‘R’ word just yet.
Since no one uses the Labor Department reports anyway, I say we just do away with the agency and use the money to pay down the deficit.