Increasing warmth, literally instead of figuratively, was reflected in the jobs report for last month, which was the balmiest February since 1954. That heavily skewed the seasonally adjusted numbers enough for David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff’s chief economist and strategist, to question them in a report titled “Fake Data?”
So far from the norm was the mercury last month—an average of 41.2 degrees Fahrenheit versus the normal 34.5 degrees—that he advised clients to “treat all the February data with a huge grain of salt (obviously not the salt used to melt snow off the driveway, since there isn’t any).”
The seasonal adjustments are supposed to compensate for the usual deep freeze of February. After applying the fudge factor, construction jobs supposedly jumped by 58,000—triple the norm of the past year, and in a sector that’s slowing, Rosenberg adds. At the same time, only 184,000 folks couldn’t make it to work because of bad weather—half the February norm of 365,000. If a more normal number of workers were stuck home for bad weather during the survey week, the headline payrolls gain would be a tepid 55,000.