Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Total Payroll Change

A big H/T to Stagflationary Mark at Illusion of Prosperity, my newest thought-food emporium.

Mark illustrates the change history of total payroll in the U.S. and that made me want to do the same thing.  Here's a look at year over year percent change, monthly data, from FRED.

A few things jump out at me.

1)  We are approaching the top of a long term downward sloping trend channel.  That can't be good - unless we're about to break out and start a new trend.  Let me know ASAP if you have any reason to believe that is about to happen.

2)   During the 1950 to 1980 golden age, the peak-to-peak trend was level.

3)  Something changed (uh-oh) around 1980.  Here, I've placed the inflection point where the two trend lines meet, at April, 1978.  You may prefer the next peak at May, 1984.  Those are the only reasonable choices

Let's zero in on the recent years.

As we approach the trend line, the slope is faltering.  I wonder if we'll get there?

Here's a look at momentum, simple-mindedly conceived as month to month rate of change in this data.

There is is, slouching toward Zero.  Minimum was October, '08, Maximum was a year ago, February, '10.  Do you see any reason for optimism here?

No extra charge bonus (you always get your money's worth here): Civilian Employment/Population Ratio, also from FRED, and U6 Unemployment, as tracked at Portal 7.  More nutritious brain snacks, if you hunger for knowledge.

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