There’s been a lot of good economic news lately, the second year in a row that July uncharacteristically surged ahead. The “ISM Index” poll of manufacturers looked more positive than it has since 2008, even with a strong US Dollar. Initial claims for unemployment fell to 326k last week, another low since 2008. US GDP grew at 1.7% in 2Q13, not exactly great news but far better than expected (and accompanied upward revisions to previous quarters). The ADP employment report showed a net gain of 200k jobs, the rosiest figure of them all. Only 82k of those came from small businesses, with large companies gaining a new high of 60k jobs added – meaning that for the first time since 2008 big companies are in a hiring mood.
By the time you read this, the official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment report for July should have come out, and it should be roughly in line with the more smooth ADP figure. Now that we are really turning a corner, as Barataria expected in 2013, it’s time to take an in-depth look at what “employment” means and why there’s still so very far to go.