Could climate change explain good spring job numbers?

David Drayen thinks out loud:

…experienced jobs-report watchers have noticed an odd trend over
the past several years, one that could temper optimism over the
positive indicators for February. Since the start of the recovery in
early 2010, the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] reports have shown solid growth numbers in the
winter and early spring, followed by a slowdown later in the year. A
look at the monthly numbers
reveals the pattern. Last year, the two months with the highest
increases came in January (311,000 jobs) and February (271,000). In
2011, the February and March numbers were high, cresting in April
(304,000) before coming back down to earth. The February 2013 numbers
follow a similar trajectory. Of the five highest recorded monthly jobs
numbers since 2010, three of them fall in a January or February, with
the others in November 2012 and April 2011. Economists like Jared
of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have taken notice of this trend, calling it an "anomalous up-and-down cycle."

isn't supposed to happen. In fact, the BLS tries hard to account for
seasonal factors. The jobs numbers you see every month do not actually
reflect the raw amount of hiring and firing in the economy, which is quite volatile
for a number of reasons (more on them in a moment). The BLS employs a
"seasonal adjustment" mechanism to smooth out these factors, and provide
a better representation of the underlying macroeconomic trends. This
helps policymakers understand what’s really happening in the economy, so
they can set policies accordingly. As the BLS indicates on its website,
"accurate seasonal adjustment is an important component in the
usefulness of these monthly data." But what if the BLS' seasonal
adjustment isn't working as well anymore, and the resulting numbers
consistently show relatively good winters for jobs, and subsequently
more tepid summers? There's one explanation for why this may be
happening that could surprise you: climate change.

It's too soon to know for sure, but it's not too soon to speculate:

Climate scientists have spent years warning of changes in the
seasons due to anthropogenic climate change. It may no longer be
accurate to refer to higher temperatures in January and February as
indicative of an "unusually mild" winter. This is gradually becoming the
new normal, with implications for agriculture and marine biology and a
whole host of environmental issues. 

A good "what if" story from the (genuinely) new and improved New Republic

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: