NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The jobs market is not shifting into high gear, as some analysts suggest, and the disappointing December jobs report, standing alone, means nothing. The labor market continues to move along much as it has for the past two years. Hiring is too slow to really dent unemployment.
At the bottom you will see the monthly employment figures as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the monthly jobs gains and three-month moving average of those gains.
The December jobs gain of 74,000 was poor, but the October and November gains of 200,000 and 241,000, respectively, were strong. The December three-month average was 172,000, below the annual averages for both 2012 and 2013, which were 180,000 and 188,000, respectively.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December largely because the percentage of adults seeking employment (the adult participation rate) is at historically low levels. Anemic adult participation cannot be explained by an aging labor force, especially with so many seniors working part time to supplement disappointing returns on CDs and other retirement investments over the last decade. Were the participation rate the same today as when President Obama took office, unemployment would be about 10.8%.
Statements from some economists that the jobs market is improving or shifting into high gear do curry favor with the White House and its supporters in the media, but those are not substantiated by the data or sound economic analysis.
Low December jobs creation was an outlier as the White House and some analysts assert, but over and over again, good months for jobs creation have been followed by disappointing months. The hard reality is that monthly economic statistics are highly volatile -- regardless of what variable we are measuring -- and no significant upward trend in jobs creation yet can be discerned.