TrimTabs Explains Why Today's "Very, Very Suspicious" NFP Number Is Really Down 2.9 Million In Past 2 Months

Tyler Durden's picture


We have examined the nuance of the euphoric jobs data this morning from every angle and by now there should be plenty of 'information' for investors to make their own minds up on its credibility. However, the avuncular CEO of TrimTabs, who despite channeling Lewis Black lately, likely knows this data a little better than the average Jim on the street having collected tax witholdings data for the past 14 years, is modestly apoplectic at the adjustments. In one of his more colorful episodes, and rightfully so, Charles Biderman notes that "Either there is something massively changed in the income tax collection world, or there is something very, very suspicious about today’s BLS hugely positive number," adding, "Actual jobs, not seasonally adjusted, are down 2.9 million over the past two months. It is only after seasonal adjustments – made at the sole discretion of the Bureau of Labor Statistics economists – that 2.9 million fewer jobs gets translated into 446,000 new seasonally adjusted jobs." A 3.3 million "adjustment" solely at the discretion of the BLS? And this from the agency that just admitted it was underestimating the so very critical labor participation rate over the past year? Finally, Biderman wonders whether the BLS is being pressured during an election year to paint an overly optimistic picture by President Obama’s administration in light of these 'real unadjusted job change' facts. Frankly, in light of recent discoveries about the other "impartial" organization, the CBO, we don't think there is any need to wonder at all.

TrimTabs believes the job growth picture lies somewhere in between TrimTabs estimate and the BLS’.  Looking forward to February and March, we will have a much cleaner picture of job growth as we move away from the effects of tax law changes, bonus season, and enormous seasonal adjustments.

A comparison of TrimTabs’ real-time withholding tax based employment results versus the BLS’ preliminary and revised results from January 2011 through January 2012 are summarized in the following table:


and from details from his blog (for the press corps to perhaps dig a little deeper):

Obviously I am quite suspicious of the numbers that I see in today’s BLS press release.  Remember most financial journalists and even stock market strategists do nothing more than rewrite government press releases. So do not expect very few others to question the good news.


For those of you who care, look at Table B-1, Total Nonfarm Employment in today’s BLS press release. Start with the non seasonally adjusted table that shows that in November 2011, there were 133.172 million actual jobs. Actual jobs dropped by 220,000 jobs in December and actual jobs dropped an additional 2.7 million in January. Only as a result of unknown seasonal adjustments, could the BLS report 243,000 new hires in January.


Yes, the labor market contracts during the winter and expands in the spring and summer.  Could this number be manipulated? Of course it could. Is it? I don’t know. Am I the only suspicious soul out here? Hope not. Certainly feels lonely right now.

Finally, and this is a repeat of what we said prior using SIFMA data (so originating at the US banksthemsleves), for the US unemployment to be declining, Federal tax withholdings have to be rising: there is no way around it! Instead, as the chart below shows, trailing quarterly collections have just turned negative.


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Fri, 02/03/2012 - 18:12 | 2125002 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

RP is apparently on Piers Morgan tonight for an in-depth interview.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:19 | 2124516 non_anon
non_anon's picture

the price of wool skyrockets!

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:20 | 2124520 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

The government doesn't lie. It never has.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 18:49 | 2125131 TuesdayBen
TuesdayBen's picture

and never will...

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:22 | 2124529 ejmoosa
ejmoosa's picture

2 1/2 new jobs added in each county and parish in the US per day.

Now that is change you can believe in.


Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:22 | 2124530 Threeggg
Threeggg's picture

Now we need to start working on that pesky little Baltic Dry number !

Next in line for a bullshitting ! Watch it start a strait line up starting today ! 

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:41 | 2124592 dwdollar
dwdollar's picture

They will probably buy some ships and convert them to prison barges. Our economy is looking more and more like the mercantile British economy of the 18th century. We might as well have the prison ships to.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:39 | 2124593 kito
kito's picture

the obama administration announced today that the united states is not located anywhere near the baltic sea, and therefore our country remains unaffected by the drop in the index................

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 21:19 | 2125593 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

Yeah... we're closer to 'Mediterranean Avenue'

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:23 | 2124533 Jlmadyson
Jlmadyson's picture

Oh yea,

3 million vaporized employment in the last two months. Let's see how low she can go next month.

Taking bets on 10 million plus by Nov.

Now wouldn't that be some MAGIC! VAPORIZED! BAM!


Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:23 | 2124535 non_anon
non_anon's picture

any reason why guv data reports on a friday and/or holiday?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:24 | 2124539 devo
devo's picture

Here's how to gauge real unemployment: walk around your town at 10am.

There's a lot of people out there.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:28 | 2124555 azzhatter
azzhatter's picture

I was just thinking that. I "work" from home and was looking out the window and see so many people 30-45 yrs old just walking around and it's mid day. 

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:36 | 2124587 devo
devo's picture

Yep. It's the same with inflation. Don't listen to CPI. Just calculate month to month cost increases that you see.

Not just food, either. I looked to buy a Canon lens off Amazon with my income tax was $1200 a few months ago; now it's $1399. You know what? Now I'm not buying. Probably buy some silver instead. Good job, the Bernank.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:51 | 2124641 groundedkiwi
groundedkiwi's picture

Are Canon lens an import?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:56 | 2124652 devo
devo's picture

I believe so. Canon is a Japanese company, so I assume the camera shops Amazon distributes with get them from Japan. But Canon has service centers (and possibly factories) in the U.S. I'm not sure if any lenses are produced here, though.

Sat, 02/04/2012 - 01:27 | 2126028 Blue Horshoe Lo...
Blue Horshoe Loves Annacott Steel's picture

& these bankers & politicians think a delationary spiral is bad.  As if that lens all of a sudden being $200 would be bad for an economy driven by consumption.  Some would say that would cause widespread pain.  But it's a lot better than the pain that inflation causes.  People don't riot over lower prices.  They go apeshit over hyperinflation.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:43 | 2124615 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

That and it seems like every day  see more and more people pushing carts and dumpster diving. Sometimes I see families doing it. It is really pretty pathetic. Then I have to hear this BLS bullshit and I want to scream ..." look around at your neighbors,dumb asses, you are being totally fucked"!

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:51 | 2124633 devo
devo's picture

Right. People spend too much time looking at government figures (and somehow believing them) and not enough time looking around their neighborhood. People just aren't perceptive, and they're easily swayed, which is why this charade can go on.

I saw a middle class white guy pull up to my apartment complex dumpster and jump in, pulling out wine bottles and aluminum cans. I told my girlfriend, "Things are officially bad--I've seen homeless doing this, but never a middle class guy (who drove up in a nice pickup truck)." Looked like the guy was just absolutely desperate. Still had some assets (e.g. the truck), but no better option for income than diving into the dumpster and pulling out wine bottles. Yet, the economy is growing, and it is great!

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:55 | 2124655 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I see it everywhere. I see it in my neighborhood where people used to take immaculate care of their house and yrads. Now they are letting things slide. I see it on the drive home with the crumbling roads and the garbage everywhere. It was nothing like this a few years ago. Now I am just watching everything deteriorate in front of my eyes. It is sickening.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:06 | 2124678 devo
devo's picture

Yes, agreed. I don't own a home and never have, so I don't notice those things as much as someone like you, but I do notice them somewhat when I take daily walks. Another thing I notice is hidden inflation. Perfect example is this year's Cadbury Easter Eggs (a guilty pleasure of mine): they're once again smaller than last years (which were smaller than the year before). Also, nothing you buy comes preassembled anymore. These types of "hidden inflation" don't show up in CPI. Heck, now that they've revised it again, I doubt anything will show up in CPI.

I think the best thing to do is hold the items up to people you know and show them the difference. They'll treat you like Fox Mulder unless they see it themselves.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:25 | 2124797 Temporalist
Temporalist's picture

Why don't you take pictures ans share them?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:47 | 2124871 devo
devo's picture

Because I can't afford the hyperinflated Canon lens. ;)

Just kidding. I just don't feel like taking photos of Cadbury Eggs, and I don't have last year's copy--they're long digested.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:27 | 2124549 Gamma735
Gamma735's picture

It is election year BS.  Par for the big government and big banks types.  Lie and deny until the building burns us all down to the ground.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:30 | 2124567 PaperBear
PaperBear's picture

Gold/silver getting whacked today is very, very suspicious. Is it option expiration by any chance ?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:39 | 2124594 Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh's picture

With the employment picture "brightening" there will be no more need to print money...until we need to issue another cool trillion once the debt limit is breached again.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:50 | 2124636 dwdollar
dwdollar's picture

Will that be in May or June?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:53 | 2124645 devo
devo's picture

Who cares, it's going much higher.

The guy above is probably right that unemployment figures create that illusion. It's also had a nice month long run, so maybe it's just profit taking. I doubt it'll drop below 1700. Little pullback and a run up. ZIRP until 2014=3500 gold, so don't fret it.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:45 | 2124573 skepticCarl
skepticCarl's picture

Deleted, hopefully



Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:33 | 2124575 Eric L. Prentis
Eric L. Prentis's picture

Charles Biderman, I’m with you.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 21:45 | 2125655 Randall Cabot
Randall Cabot's picture

Biderman is basing his case on the withholding taxes up until the end of December but Adler in another ZH article shows the graph right through January and taxes clearly spike in that month until the last week:

"The real time Federal Withholding Tax daily data for January, which I dutifully cover each week in the Treasury updates, showed a massive surge beginning in late December." Adler surmises that there could have been a large amount of money in bonuses and sales commissions paid out in that time leading the BLS to interpret this as being from an increase in employment rather than from higher pay for some, and seasonally adjusted the jobs number incorrectly.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:35 | 2124586 whisperin
whisperin's picture

Why doesn't someone have real time data on how many social security payroll accounts received employer deposits for the month? Is that too much to ask of the SSA to report that figure monthly?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:49 | 2124634 pods
pods's picture

That might be too accurate.  What they want is a model.  A model which they can change at any time.


Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:52 | 2124640 dwdollar
dwdollar's picture

And for the win! Best comment today. Give this man a prize!

Sat, 02/04/2012 - 01:20 | 2126020 Blue Horshoe Lo...
Blue Horshoe Loves Annacott Steel's picture

Every guy would like a model they can change @ anytime.  Then U can be like Tom Brady or Leonardo DiCappicola.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:53 | 2124643 Herkimer Jerkimer
Herkimer Jerkimer's picture

I hear they have these new fangled things called Kompooters. They're like really fast secretaries and can gather up all the files and num'mers!


If banks can gather up all the stuff from the day and have it done for the next day, wouldn't you think the govy could do that too?



Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:00 | 2124665 dwdollar
dwdollar's picture

The government can track you in real time. Yet when it comes to collecting data which may damage its reputation, it resorts to techniques from the 18th century. Funny how that works.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:36 | 2124590 Tic tock
Tic tock's picture

NFP aside, our little group is wondering who could've bought the other 8% long-dated treasurys'

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:40 | 2124599 JPM Hater001
JPM Hater001's picture

I like the guy.  But when he says it's lonley right now thats because you are the only person not living the hyper-euphoria that the rest of Saulsalito is.

What was that great restaraunt that used to be up behind a hotel-you took a little elevator then climbe like 1000 steps...that had excellent chops and a great view.

Sat, 02/04/2012 - 01:18 | 2126016 Blue Horshoe Lo...
Blue Horshoe Loves Annacott Steel's picture

Howard Johnson's?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:41 | 2124606 Shizzmoney
Shizzmoney's picture

Great economy numbers today, right?

Ask these people how the fuckin' economy is doing for them:

Bad Jobs in Goods Movement," a series of interviews conducted with warehouse workers in Will County, Illinois, by Warehouse Workers for Justice, found that most warehouse workers are temp workers that are paid wages which barely keep them above the poverty lines, and they receive no benefits.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:42 | 2124609 indianajohns04
indianajohns04's picture

what was the adjustment last year.....anyone?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:59 | 2124672 nolla
nolla's picture

Well, the adjustment was about the same last year, I took a quick look at that table B-1 and it was adjusted upwards from 128 (m) to 130 (m). This year it was from 130 to 132.


So, do your own DD, but to me it seems like this particular adjustment was done properly. No conspiracy here, folks.


I don't say that this means all is clear, since these are backward looking, historical numbers and I'm interested in the (probable) future events. Anyhow, don't trade only based only "conspiracy" - could cost U some money.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:01 | 2124680 nolla
Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:06 | 2124707 onebir
onebir's picture

Snap ;-)

Did you manage to get full runs of the SA & NSA data? I can't get the "one screen" data selector to work:


Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:14 | 2124736 nolla
nolla's picture

Yes, scroll down to the bottom and retrive historical data, just clik from payrolls both SA and NSA and you'll get 2 perfect tables.... at least I got.

And from there you can compare for example January adjustments and they are about 2m for every year. And for example, not too much for Dec series.

scroll here:

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 18:02 | 2124959 indianajohns04
indianajohns04's picture

Yeah i figured......still bought Some TVIX tho .......thank you so much

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 17:03 | 2124691 onebir
onebir's picture

Jan 11 adjustment*: +2129k

Jan 12 adjustment: +2146k

*NFP SA - NFP NSA data here:

The seasonality may be changing (more internet shopping = more seasonal hiring of couriers in Dec, maybe changes in the timing of sales etc) but no obvious manipulation of the Jan seasonal adjustment...

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 18:44 | 2125116 walküre
walküre's picture

but hiring in December 2010 was much more believeable than hiring in December 2011.

unless Europe's LTRO had an instant direct counter balance effectiveness on unwinding massive layoffs in the US and restarting a hiring process?

what else? WTF?

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:42 | 2124611 tahoebumsmith
tahoebumsmith's picture

The BLS is just one of the Captain's mates. Don't worry folks, we only have an electricial problem. Go back to your rooms until further notice...

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