Bad Guy: "I thought you was dead?" Jacob McCandles (John Wayne): "Not hardly." That little exchange from one of my favorite films by the Duke, Big Jake, came to mind after I heard the new jobs numbers from the Labor Department. A solid 94,000 new jobs were created in November as average hourly earnings rose to $17.63, a 0.5 percent increase from the prior month—and the biggest monthly gain since June. Over the past 12 months, wages grew by 3.8 percent.
As Nigel Gault of Global Insight sums things up: "The jobs data is not flashing a recession warning." Nor were the recent ISM surveys of manufacturing and nonmanufacturing activity. And here is the kicker from John Ryding at Bear Stearns: "As an aside, we wonder if those economists who championed the household survey measure of employment as a sign that the economy is headed toward recession will draw attention to the strong 303,000 average increase in household employment [derived from talking to households rather than businesses] over the last three months." Is the economy dead? Not hardly.