Is the Payroll Employment Report Accurate?

It is a big week for economic data. There are many reports with the most attention on Friday’s Employment Situation data. We will also get auto sales, the ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing indexes, construction spending, and factory orders. Weekly jobless claims continue to attract great interest and should. The corporate earnings story hits a peak for the season.

Many have been reassured by the job growth in the payroll employment report. It is viewed as the most important by the investment and economic communities and has earned a status as the “official” read on employment. We should be asking:

Is the payroll employment report accurate in these tumultuous times?

The Story in One Chart

I always start my personal review of the week by looking at a great chart. This week I am featuring Jill Mislinski’s version. Her chart combines much of what interests us in one picture.

Once again, there was little change in fundamental values or news during the week.

The market gained 1.7% in what looks like a choppy week. Actually, the trading range was only 1.8%, much lower than recent weeks. This explains the lower VIX, which you can track in my weekly Indicator Snapshot updates (below).

The weekly sector chart shows the sources of the action.

The “recovery” trade is leveling off even more but remains in “improving” territory. Industrials, financials energy and materials are all part of that group. Defensive sectors like utilities, consumer, and health, continue to improve.