Thursday, August 03, 2006

Scary Monster

The Monster Employment Index (which tracks online help wanted advertising) came out today, and it’s not pretty (not one of those cuddly Sesame Street monsters). The index dropped from 171 to 165 between June and July. According to the report, there was “similar seasonal retraction observed in July 2005 and July 2004,” but the similarity was clearly only in the direction and not in the size. In July 2004, the index dropped by 1 point; in July 2005, by 2 points; in July 2006, by 6 points. In fact this was, by a margin of 2 points, the biggest one month drop in the 33-month history of the index. It’s also the first year that the index was lower (by 2 points) in July than it was in May.

In and of itself, this observation wouldn’t be particularly worrisome, since the index has had a nice run up and perhaps deserves a rest, but I was hoping for some good news about online advertising, to offset the distinctly bad news we’ve had about print advertising. The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Index dropped from 39 to 33 between February and May and remained at 33 in June. (The July index won’t be released until the end of this month.) The Monster index rose from 157 to 171 over that same period, which was a hopeful sign for those who want to believe that the US is not headed into a recession.

But with Monster back at 165, the situation is looking ugly. The net 8 point increase between February and July compares with 12 point increases for the same period in each of 2004 and 2005. Government data suggest that a substantial net increase in job openings is normal between February and July, but even if we ignore seasonal factors and credit the full 8 points, this doesn’t begin to make up for the drop in print advertising. This is a 5% increase in online advertising vs. a 15% drop in print advertising, while print advertising still has about 70% market share. You do the math.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

knzn sweet heart,

Do you think these bad numbers is a factor when Fed decides to pause next week ?

Do they actually look at these data ? are these official govt figures ?

Thu Aug 03, 03:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger knzn said...

They are not statistics produced by the government, but the Fed probably pays some attention (not enough, in my opinion). In any case, I think these and other weak economic data will likely be outweighed by bad inflation data, given that the economic indicators are not yet unanimous.

Thu Aug 03, 09:00:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

knzn darling:

Could it be due to the prospect of a higher min wage? Why take on workers now if theyre wage is gonna shoot up. Better to hold off, rather than fire them come whenever, eh.
Of course, its this kind of dynamic that wouldnt be captured in some ex post study like Card/Krueger.

"But with Monster back at 165, the situation is looking ugly."

Well, is a monster meant to look anything otherwise, goddammit.

Relax, knzn. If we didnt have recessions, we wouldnt have to employment people like you to analyze them, would we. So, there!

Fri Aug 04, 12:39:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

knzn, that was my comment above.
Oh, reallly liked your comments on delong at thomas site, by the way. You oughta make them a post here.

Fri Aug 04, 12:42:00 AM EDT  
Blogger knzn said...

Could it be due to the prospect of a higher min wage? Why take on workers now if theyre wage is gonna shoot up. Better to hold off, rather than fire them come whenever, eh.

Good point. In 1994, the Help Wanted Index shot up the month after Hilllarycare (with the proposed employer mandate) died in Congress.

Although the Monster report specifically pointed to management occupations as a category that dropped. That wouldn’t fit with the minimum wage story, but that may just be a one-month thing, because management occupations were up the previous month. But I suspect that minimum wage jobs are not very likely to be advertised on the Internet or in newspapers in the first place.

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