What is a Jobs Report and What Does it Mean for You?

Jolene Pilgrim
20 Aug 2018

If you’re an astute reader of the Simply Hired blog or a consumer of mainstream news media, you’ve probably heard the term “Job’s Report” bandied about.  If you ever thought the phrase was uttered with something close to holy reverence, it probably wasn’t your imagination or a bout of hallucination caused by last night’s bad sushi dinner.  

In economic circles, the job report is a bell weather for, well, pretty much everything.  From industry growth to consumer spending, the jobs report can be reliably used to forecast performance on both a macro and micro level across all states and territories.  What, then, exactly is the jobs report and what causes it to have such a magical ability to predict the future? Sit back, dear reader, as we delve into the what’s, how’s and why’s of the mystical stats that collectively are the U.S. Jobs Report.

What is the U.S. Jobs Report?

To get to the basics, the U.S. Jobs report is a, well, report, that is prepared by the U.S. government.  To be exact, this handy snapshot of economic help is compiled by the fine people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Towards the end of every month, BLS employees call up actual companies, big and small, and take a survey of hiring moves and shakeups.  The surveyors ask for stats such as the number of new hires, average salary, number of part-time versus full-time employees and more.

Next, this useful data is combined with the number of new unemployment and other public assistance benefit claims submitted to the Federal government and analyzed.  BLS super nerdy types crunch the numbers and compare the data to the previous months’ statistics. A little shake here, a little stir there and poof, the U.S. Jobs Report is created.  This data is released never fail on the first Friday of the month after which it is scrutinized by bankers, companies, government institutions and internet armchair warriors for important takeaways.  

Why the Impact on Markets

You may be thinking to yourself “Okay, the whole preparation and data gathering makes sense, but how can a historical report impact future economic decisions?”  Excellent question! The health of the U.S. jobs market has an effect on economies both large and small. Major corporations may use the jobs report to decide to increase or decrease their purchase of consumer goods during the next month.  

The jobs report is also used by the Federal Reserve to set interest rates to help ward off inflation and recession.  Slick-haired wall street banker types use the figures to buy, sell, and trade in specific stocks or markets, betting on the numbers being an indication that there’s a buck to be made in investment.  This cycle continues on a monthly basis until, well, forever, as a never-ending cycle of prediction, reaction, and gamesmanship.

Jobs Report Impact on Job Seekers

So the use by financial types and businesses may make sense, but why should individual job-seekers care about what brokers and bankers are up to?  Well, young (or not so young) grasshopper, let’s chat impact on your career. For starters, strong jobs report numbers fuel a booming economy which in turn further fuels the spiral of hiring.  A trend of strong jobs reports numbers means a higher of the raw number of jobs will probably be needed over the coming months.

High job report numbers also mean that there are fewer job seekers on the market.  Supply and demand isn’t just a concept to be applied to the latest avocado shortage at your local market.  When there are more people employed, companies will often have to look longer, harder, and pay a greater premium for top quality talent.  A higher unemployment rate has the opposite effect, leading to a glut in the market and giving employers the ability to be pickier with candidates and stingier with compensation.  While it can take a series of months for would be job-hunters to see the trickle-down impact, the jobs report numbers do indeed have a noticeable impact on your individual employment prospects.

Knowing is Half the Battle

While there is plenty of additional details and minutia we could share, our word count (and your attention span) is happier if we stop with our high-level review.  So the next time you see a fancy Simply Hired blog post delving into the U.S. Jobs Report numbers, feel free to click through. You may gain useful info that could impact your next job search or the ability to negotiate a raise or other perks from your current employer.  At the very least you’ll have some fun water cooler knowledge to break up that daily drudgery. Now get back to work before your boss makes you the next “fired” statistic to be included on the monthly survey calls!

Jolene Pilgrim