Talk about destroying a narrative. On Friday, the Labor Department reported 312,000 new jobs in December, with an additional 58,000 from upward revisions to prior months. Recession talk got crushed.
The Pouting Pundits of Pessimism claim jobs are a lagging indicator, but the pace of payroll growth starts declining well before a recession starts. In the twelve months ending in June 1989 nonfarm payrolls increased a robust 225,000 per month. In the next twelve months payrolls rose a softer 153,000 per month and then a recession officially started in July 1990.
A similar pattern happened before the next two recessions, as well. In the twelve months ending in February 2000, payrolls rose 250,000 per month before decelerating to 137,000 per month in the next twelve months. A recession started in March 2001.
In the twelve months ending in November 2006, payrolls rose 173,000 per month and then slipped to 101,000 per month in the following twelve months. After the financial crisis started, the National Bureau of Economic Research dated the start of the Great Recession to December 2007.
By contrast, nonfarm payrolls are up an average of 220,000 in the past twelve months versus a gain of 182,000 per month in the twelve months before that. On a quarterly basis, from Q2-2017 to Q4-2018, job growth has been 473,000, 553,00, 556,000, 632,000, 634,000, 623,000 and 670,000. In other words, no sign of the kind of slowdown in job creation that normally precedes a recession; instead, job creation appears to be accelerating.