Written by Steven Hansen
ADP reported December 2013 non-farm private jobs growth at 238,000 – very strong growth.
- The market expected 185K to 203K (versus the 238K reported) – the data was well above expectations. These numbers are all seasonally adjusted:
- In Econintersect’s December 2013 economic forecast released in late November, we estimated non-farm payroll growth at 130,000.
- This month, ADP’s analysis is that small and medium sized business created over 2/3rds of the jobs;
- Manufacturing expanded;
- Most all the jobs growth came from the service sector;
- November report (last month), which reported job gains of 215,000 was revised to 229,000 jobs.
- The three month average of job gains improved again with eight months in a row of rolling average gains.
ADP had been the best real time indicator of jobs growth, and we are monitoring their current new methodology which began with their October 2012 report. Jobs growth ADP reports currently near the economic potential as measured by Econintersect’s Employment Index.
Per Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics:
The job market ended 2013 on a high note. Job growth meaningfully accelerated and is now over 200,000 per month. Job gains are broad-based across industries, most notably in construction and manufacturing. It appears that businesses are growing more confident and increasing their hiring.
Per Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP:
The U.S. private sector added 238,000 jobs in December, surpassing November as the strongest month for job growth in 2013. It’s encouraging news that hopefully bodes well for 2014.
Jobs growth of 150,000 or more is calculated by Econintersect to the minimum jobs growth to support population growth (see caveats below). The graph below shows ADP employment gains by month. A graph in the caveats section below compares ADP employment to BLS.
Employment is a rear view indicator, and looking at this ADP data – the overall trend for the year-over-year rate of growth has been flat since mid-2010. (red line in graph below). The year-over-year jobs growth has been in a tight range of 1.6% to 1.8% for the first half of 2013 – but this month year-over-year jobs growth was at 1.91% with a growth acceleration of 0.03%. [note that last months data was revised up or there would have been a larger acceleration.]
ADP Non-Farm Private Employment – Total (blue line) and Year-over-Year Change (red line)
Small and medium sized business historically create most of the new jobs (analysis here) when using the ADP data. A continuing take from the ADP data is that small and medium size business continue to be the employment driver. However, the BLS totally disagrees (see caveats below). The current ADP methodology is showing more jobs growth in big business (and therefore less in small business). Likely they are slowly correcting their data base.
Ratio of ADP Under 500 person Business Growth to Total Business Growth
The relative strength is in the service sector which has driven the jobs growth in 2012 and 2013.
The graph below breaks down employment growth by size of company.
ADP Non-Farm Private Jobs Growth Per Month – Under 50 employees (blue line), under 500 employees (red line), 500 and up employees (orange line)
This month small and medium sized business created most of the jobs.
Breakdown of Current and Previous Month’s Change in Employment Between Goods Producing (blue bars) and Service Jobs (red bars)
Finally, this is a breakdown by sector of contribution this month to employment.
Caveats on the Use of ADP Employment Data
Historically employment is the confirmation that real economic growth is occurring. As background, many economic factors impact jobs growth. How many jobs businesses create in any one month is not directly dependent on these economic factors, but on individual decisions. The impact of all the economic factors is averaged out over many months.
Here is the revised methodology beginning with the October 2012 data:
Working in close collaboration with Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and its experienced team of labor market researchers, the ADP Research InstituteSM has further enhanced the monthly ADP National Employment Report® in order to more closely align it with the final print of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers.
Beginning with its November 1, 2012 report, the ADP National Employment Report’s new methodology now utilizes ADP payroll data, U.S. BLS employment data, and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti Business Conditions Index.
In addition, the sample size of the ADP data set from which the newly enhanced ADP National Employment Report is derived has been expanded from 344,000 U.S. companies to 406,000, and from 21 million employees to 23 million, which accounts for more than 20 percent of all U.S. private sector employees. This larger data set is expected to help enable the ADP National Employment Report to more closely match the final print of the BLS numbers.
According to the new methodology, Moody’s Analytics’ monthly analysis for the ADP National Employment Report begins with processing ADP data according to the following steps:
- Classification by industry and size class based on the North American Industrial Classification system (NAICS)
- Creation of matched pairs for employment during the pay period including the 12th of the month
- Seasonal adjustment
- Removal of outliers
- Adjustments are made to match the industry and size distribution to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) industry and size data reported each March
- Regressions are run to predict the current month’s BLS number by industry
- These are then aggregated to derive the growth in total nonfarm private employment
- Industry, size and total growth rate estimates are then converted into differences.
Additional information about Moody’s Analytics’ methodology can be found at ADPEmploymentReport.com.
Basically this employment index is designed to mimic BLS private non-farm employment – which does not include government employment. The headline BLS Employment Report includes government employment.
Econintersect believes the simplistic sampling extrapolation technique of ADP yields a far better picture of the employment situation in real time than Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) methodology. Although the BLS employment numbers eventually are correct, their data gathering technique does not support the quick release schedule.
Because of the differences in methodology, many pundits ignore the ADP numbers. Although there can be a low correlation in a particular month, the different methodologies tend to balance out, and the correlations are excellent outside of the data turning points. We are now 22 months past the post recession turning point in employment. Based on current estimates, BLS non-farm private jobs growth in 2011 was 1,920,000 while ADP was 1,925,000. The difference is insignificant. The graph below shows ADP’s monthly change (blue line) versus BLS non-farm private change (red line).
ADP versus BLS – Monthly Jobs Growth Comparison
There is now a known disconnect between BLS and ADP on the breakdown of jobs growth between small, medium and large business – as the graphs below illustrate. Basically the BLS sees large business as the employment driver, while ADP sees small and medium size business as the employment driver. For full details please read: BLS Experiments With New Data Series: Now I Am Confused.
Comparing Jobs Growth Per Month – ADP vs BLS
There is the proverbial question on what is minimal jobs growth each month required to allow for new entrants to the market. Depending on mindset, this answer varies. According to Investopdia, the number is between 100,000 and 150,000. The Wall Street Journal is citing 125K. Mark Zandi said 150K. Econintersect is going with Mark Zandi’s number:
- If Econintersect used employment / population ratios to determine the number, the exact number seems to be between 140,000 and 160,000. The graph below uses the historical employment-population ratios to show jobs growth per month if the population was 300 million.
Historical Monthly Jobs Growth Comparison if Population was 300 Million
- If Econintersect uses employment – population ratios, the correct number would be the number where this ratio improved. Using the graph below, the ratio began to improve starting a little after mid-year. This corresponds to the period where the 12 month rolling average of job gains hit 150,000.
Employment to Population Ratio
Note: The ratio could be fine tuned by adjusting to the ratio of employment to working age population rather than the total population. However, this would not change the big picture that an increase of somewhere around 150,000 (+/-) is needed for the growing population numbers. We have estimated 140k – 160k. The number might possibly be within the range 125k – 175k. Econintersect cannot find reason to support the estimates below 125k.
The question of how changing demographics impact the employment numbers is at the margins of analysis. Econintersect will publish more on this fine tuning going forward, both in-house research and the work of others.
The following graph (not seasonally adjusted non-farm private payroll) shows that most of the employment growth are in the first half of the year, and there is little real growth of employment in the second half of the year. Therefore seasonal adjustment algorithms understate employment growth in the first half of the year, and overstate growth in the second half of the year.
Non-Seasonally Adjusted Employment – Private Sector