A businessman was interviewing job applicants for the position of manager of a large division. He quickly devised a test for choosing the most suitable candidate. He simply asked each applicant this question, “What is two plus two?”
The first interviewee was a journalist. His answer was, “22.”
The second was a social worker. She said, “I don’t know the answer, but I’m very glad that we had the opportunity to discuss it.”
The third applicant was an engineer. He pulled out a slide rule and answered, “somewhere between 3.999 and 4.001.”
Next came an attorney. He stated, “In the case of Jenkins vs. the Department of the Treasury, two plus two was proven to be four.”
Finally, the businessman interviewed an accountant. When he asked him what two plus two was, the accountant got up from his chair, went over to the door, closed it, returned, and sat down. Leaning across the desk, he said in a low voice, “How much do you want it to be?” He got the job.
After seeing the blockbuster BLS jobs report from last week, where it was reported that 353,000 jobs were created in January, many are asking who is doing the accounting for the BLS!? The report was in complete contrast to the ADP report, which only showed 107,000 jobs created, and was more than double what was forecasted for the BLS for January. I received many comments from people who were as surprised as I was with the amount of new jobs, especially when the news is flooded with layoffs on a daily basis.
For some background: ADP handles payroll for approximately a fifth of all employees working for a private employer in the U.S. For its monthly ADP jobs report, it collects anonymized data from the payroll services it provides to over 25 million U.S. workers. It is fair to say this represents a reasonably accurate picture of the current state of employment. In contrast, the BLS, a unit of the United States Department of Labor, which collects and disseminates key data for the government about labor and wages, does not have first-hand data about employment.
Unlike the ADP, the BLS allows itself the “flexibility” of adjustments to its employment data. For the BLS, January is always heavily adjusted as new benchmarks, seasonal adjustments, and population controls play a significant role. The raw job figure showed there were actually 2.635M jobs lost in January, but they seasonally adjusted it higher by 2.988M, which resulted in a hefty gain of 353,000 jobs. The media was abuzz with the beautiful jobs data.
Without the adjustments, the jobs report was otherwise a bust. Average weekly hours worked declined again, falling to the lowest level since 2010, excluding the pandemic. This is noteworthy as employees are getting paid more per hour but working fewer hours, so their total “take home” income is down. For context, the 30 minutes less per week is comparable to 2.4M job losses. It’s just another way that businesses are cutting costs without making headline news.
As I said, 2024 will be an important year for jobs and geography. People will begin thinking about moving—they will reevaluate their careers and where they could be living or should be living, given all that is happening nationally and geopolitically. I welcome these conversations and know that I have a lot to offer regarding housing, real estate, career evaluations and a possible move to Israel.
Shoutout and birthday wishes to Ariel Altaras, Chaim Blau, Jason Blumstein, Ari Fuchs, Yitz Glass, Shoval Gur-Aryeh, Rabbi Dov Hochbaum, Daniel Hoffman, Eliana Kaminer, Bruce Kessler, Eli Lasky, Miriam Schwartz, Chaviva Weinblut, Shanna Wolf, and Shira Yablok with a special birthday shout-out to Shimmy Stein.
Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is a highly regarded Real Estate & Finance Executive, Writer, Speaker, Coach, and Advisor. He is President and Chief Lending Officer of Approved Funding, a privately held national mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over twenty years of industry experience, holding numerous licenses and accreditations, including certified mortgage underwriter, licensed real estate agent, residential review appraiser, and accredited investor, to name a few. Shmuel has successfully navigated through many changing markets and business landscapes, making his market insights and experience well-coveted within the real estate industry. He can be reached via email at [email protected].