2011 will go down as the year that the monthly nonfarm payroll report was officially renamed the "all-important jobs number." But despite all the hype, traders almost always forgot about this huge piece of economic data about two minutes after the opening bell.
7. Jobs Number Jive -- published July 15, 2011
President Harry Truman famously asked for a "one-handed economist" when his advisers gave him contrasting opinions. Frankly, after last week's June jobs data debacle, we would settle for a Wall Street economist with just one brain. The U.S. economy only added 18,000 jobs in June after gaining 25,000 jobs in May, according to last Friday's Labor Department report. Wall Street's consensus estimate was 105,000, according to Bloomberg. The private sector officially added 57,000 payrolls for the month, missing projected additions of 132,000. The unemployment rate was also disappointing, rising to 9.2%, even though economists pegged it to hold steady at 9.1%. Um, excuse us for asking, but as they say in cyberspace...WTF? We understand last Thursday's better than expected ADP employment report showed payrolls adding 157,000 positions, up from 36,000 the prior month. And we know the recent batch of economic data has been encouraging. But to miss the headline number by a factor of five is just ridiculous. And we won't even talk about Wall Street's much higher "whisper" number because it makes us want to shout at the top of our lungs: HOW DO THESE WHIFFERS KEEP THEIR HIGH PAYING JOBS WHEN EVERYBODY ELSE IN AMERICA IS LOSING THEIRS? Whew. Sorry, but we had to get that off our chest. Anyway, here's the reality as we see it. About 20% of Wall Street's dismal scientists, aka economists, jacked up their forecasts by about 25,000 or more jobs after last Thursday's scorching ADP report, according to a note by Citigroup ( C) strategist Steve Englander. That means a whole lot of lemmings were worried about being left behind if Friday's number was a huge upside surprise, which it clearly wasn't. Citigroup, by the way, predicted a headline number of 100,000. The golden boys at Goldman Sachs ( GS) clocked in at 125,000. Deutsche Bank was dead wrong at 175,000. Just to name a few of the brainiacs who blew it. We could go on, but we would need at least an eight-handed economist to count them all.