Background: This article discusses the Employment Situation Report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, January 9, 2015. The most recent report can be found here.

Figure 1.1: Unemployment Rates for 2013 and 2014 (Seasonally Adjusted)

(Source: The graph was constructed in R using the data available at https://www.quandl.com/FRED/UNRATE-Civilian-Unemployment-Rate )

Figure 1.1 shows that unemployment rates for 2014 are lower than 2013. Notice that the unemployment rates for 2013 and 2014 are higher in the first quarter when compared to the last quarter indicating a negative gradient. The above figure also shows seasonality – during the holiday season (forth quarter) there are more (temporary) jobs and unemployment rate is low and during the first quarter, there are fewer temporary jobs.

The average weekly hours for November and December (2014) are both 34.6 hours. This is less than 40 hours indicating a weak economy. However, the average weekly hours for December, 2014 is 0.3 hours more than that in 2013. This indicates that people employed worked slightly longer in December of 2014 than in 2013; and employment seekers had a better time finding jobs in the last quarter of 2014 then 2013 (see Figure 1.1 above).

Figure 1.2 Diffusion Index for 2013 and 2014

(Source: The graph was constructed in R using the data available at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/empsit_01092015.htm )

Figure 1.2 summarizes the attitude of the private and the manifesting sector, when it comes to employing workers in the next few months. For the last quarter of 2014, the diffusion index for the private and the manufacturing sector is more than 50, indicating employers plan on hiring more employees. November and December of 2014 indicates private sectors intention of hiring is stronger than that of manufacturing. In December of 2014, the private sectors plan of hiring are 6.4 percent higher than that in December of 2013, whereas manufacturing relatively remained the same.