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Sandy Slows Down Private-Sector Jobs for November

Source: WSJ

Posted on 05 Dec 2012 by Neilson

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Jobs slow downPrivate-sector hiring slowed in November, in part because of superstorm Sandy, according to a report released Wednesday.

Private-sector jobs in the U.S. increased 118,000 last month, according to a national employment report calculated by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc. and forecasting firm Moody's Analytics. The October job gain was revised slightly to 157,000 from the 158,000 reported a month ago.

Many businesses in the Northeast are still struggling with the damage caused by Sandy, which made landfall on Oct. 29.

"Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 jobs from payrolls," said the report.

According to ADP, companies employing between one and 49 workers increased jobs by 19,000 in November. Medium-size businesses, with payrolls of 50 to 499 workers, hired 33,000 new employees. Large companies, businesses with 500 or more employees, added 66,000 positions.

Service-sector jobs increased by 114,000 last month, but factory jobs lost 16,000 slots.

Starting with the October report, ADP made major changes to its payroll survey. ADP says the new methodology is geared toward capturing where the widely watched nonfarm-payrolls count will be revised to, not necessarily the initial reading of jobs as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of almost every month.

The ADP survey tallies only private-sector jobs. The BLS's nonfarm-payroll data, to be released Friday, include government workers.

Economists surveyed expect that total nonfarm payrolls increased by 80,000 in November as the net job gain was held down by losses in areas hit by Sandy.

Last month's jobless rate is projected to hold at 7.9%.

Because the revised ADP methodology is new and because of the unknown impact from Sandy, most economists are unlikely to change their estimates for Friday's jobs number.

ADP, of Roseland, N.J., offers payroll-processing, human-resource and benefit-administration services to about 600,000 clients world-wide. Economics firm Moody's Analytics is a subsidiary of Moody's Corp.

A stronger view of November payrolls was also released Wednesday.

TrimTabs Investment Research said the total U.S. economy added 202,000 new jobs last month. The report said rebuilding from Sandy may be lifting employment.

TrimTabs's employment estimates are based on an analysis of daily income tax deposits to the U.S. Treasury from all salaried U.S. employees.

Meanwhile, U.S. factory orders increased in October despite a slowdown in demand for civilian aircraft and defense equipment.

Orders for manufactured goods increased 0.8% to $477.58 billion, the third increase in four months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a 0.1% decline.

The gains were led by a 4.6% increase in machinery orders and a 1.1% advance in nondurable goods, products such as food and petroleum.

Excluding transportation, factory orders rose 1.3% for the month.

Civilian aircraft orders slowed by 5.6% to $13.80 billion in October, but the figure was still considerably higher than August, when orders totaled $533 million.

Overall durable-goods orders-items meant to last at least three years-were up 0.5%, compared with last week's preliminary reading of an unchanged figure from September.

A key measure of business investment-orders for nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft-advanced 2.9%, which is the best gain since February.

The report indicates the manufacturing sector is improving despite uncertainty over domestic policy and the global economy.

Orders for defense capital goods dropped 7.4% in October after rising 37.4% the previous month. Excluding defense, total factory orders were up 0.8%. Unfilled orders, a sign of future demand, rose 0.3% in October. Factory inventories increased 0.1%, and shipments were up by 0.4%.

Separately, the productivity of U.S. workers improved more than initially estimated in the third quarter, consistent with recent upwardly revised economic-growth readings for the period.

Nonfarm business productivity, which is the output per hour of all workers, increased at a 2.9% annual rate from July through September, the Labor Department said. That compares with an initially reported gain of 1.9%.

It was the best quarterly gain in two years.

Unit labor costs, the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity, declined 1.9% in the quarter, a downward revision from a 0.1% decrease first reported.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast that productivity would rise 2.8% in the quarter and labor costs would fall by 1.0%.

The productivity improvement was better than initial reports because stronger output gains outpaced an increasing amount of hours worked.

Overall nonfarm business output rose 4.2% in the third quarter, compared with a previously reported 3.2% gain. Hours worked increased 1.3%, the same as the prior reading.

The improvement in output is consistent with other growth measures. The nation's gross domestic product advanced at an annual rate of 2.7% during July through September, the Commerce Department said last week. The revised figure was up from the previously reported 2.0% gain and was the best three-month increase since the final quarter of 2011.