Private Nonfarm Payrolls in December

ADP at -123 thousand vs. expected +88 thousand.

Figure 1: Private nonfarm payroll employment actual from BLS (black), Bloomberg consensus for December as of 1/6/2021 (teal square), and from ADP (red). Source: BLS, ADP via FRED, Bloomberg accessed 1/6/2021, and author’s calculations.

While the Bloomberg consensus overestimated employment growth for November relative to ADP release, the Bloomberg consensus also overpredicted. One interesting difference regarding December is that the ADP implied job growth is actually negative.

In normal times, the ADP release is considered relatively uninformative (relative to previous BLS numbers). However, the adjusted R-squared for April-November 2020 of log first-difference of BLS series on ADP series is 0.997, and 0.873 for April 2002-December 2019. Hence, we might be attribute a little more weight than usual to the ADP release.

56 thoughts on “Private Nonfarm Payrolls in December

    1. JohnH

      Nice to see some realists out there. Unfortunately, under Obama, Democrats inability to produce, their unwillingness to arouse public opinion behind them, and their embrace of austerity and trade agreements all contributed to Trump 1.0.

      So what has really changed beyond the pretty speeches? They are in a far weaker position, so having raised unrealistic expectations, failing to deliver sets the stage for Trump 2.0.

        1. pgl

          Be aware JohnH blamed Obama for the Tea Party take over of Congress. And of course JohnH years ago was praising Cameron for his UK fiscal austerity. Yep – he is truly all over the map.

        2. Moses Herzog

          @ Menzie
          You know how insecure I am and need my pat on the head. Do I get a smiley face sticker (or a tiny gold star sticker??) for beating the consensus forecast?? Or do I have to crunch out an actual model with “R” open-source to get my smiley face sticker?? I suppose only making my forecast only a day before kills me getting my smiley face sticker.

        3. JohnH

          Menzie: it’s hard to give Democrats much credit for ARRA—Bush allowed stimulus to be passed in 2008 and Trump allowed the Cares Act. So ARRA was not the extraordinary achievement that Democratic zealots like to imagine.Both parties have supported stimulus when the situation was dire enough.

          ACA was Obama’s signature accomplishment, and pretty much his only s one, despite having a filibuster-proof majority for several moths in 2009, and an overwhelming majority for two years 2009-2010.

          So what can we expect from Democrats with bare majorities now when they did so little with a significant ones before?

          However, expectations have been raised, and failure to deliver will have consequences…

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            JohnH: I seldom write this, but JohnH – WTF? The ARRA was much larger than the Bush stimulus, and add in Cash-for-Clunkers etc. and you get a pretty vigorous response.

          2. pgl

            “Bush allowed stimulus to be passed in 2008 and Trump allowed the Cares Act. So ARRA was not the extraordinary achievement that Democratic zealots like to imagine. Both parties have supported stimulus when the situation was dire enough. ACA was Obama’s signature accomplishment, and pretty much his only s one, despite having a filibuster-proof majority for several moths in 2009, and an overwhelming majority for two years 2009-2010.”

            I guess your mommy feed you too much alphabet soup. If you think Bush43’s meager attempts at stimulus match ARRA – you need to take your shoes off so you can count past 10.

          3. pgl

            “JohnH: I seldom write this, but JohnH – WTF? The ARRA was much larger than the Bush stimulus, and add in Cash-for-Clunkers etc. and you get a pretty vigorous response.”

            Our host should be aware that you so manipulated UK data than your turned a 10% reduction in real wages into the best real wage increase ever. It is hard to tell whether you are a serial liar or just the most numerically challenged troll ever.

          4. baffling

            i will reiterate that Johnh is NOT the progressive he pretends to be on this blog. his goal is to goad democrats into extreme and untenable positions that will result in political damage in the future. i don’t think he is on the democratic side at all. he is simply daring you to take on an even more extreme position.

      1. pgl

        Results? I guess you forgot to read Kevin Drum’s earlier post which basically ridiculed your silliness.

      2. Barkley Rosser

        Yes, people will be rushing to vote for Trump after he encouraged and supported the storming of the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral college votes. Third party supporter you sees no difference between this and Joe Biden, who is simply awful for failing to inspire people to riot.

        1. pgl

          This was so bad that Liz Cheney joined with a Congressional Democrat to cheer when the National Guard was brought. The Republican Party is now split between the Trumpsters and the Romney-Cheney wing, which I suspect McConnell is joining. Not that I have much to say good about Cheney, McConnell, or Romney but getting Trump out of all this would be a very good thing.

          1. macroduck

            Powerful elites rely on existing institutions for their power. Mob action is inimical to institutional power. Trump has dabbled with he mob till now, and right-wing elites have played along because Trump’s mod could cut them off from direct access to political power. Today, Trump stopped dabbling. He invited a direct attack on an institution from which elites draw power.

            Trump has relied on bankruptcy, tax evasion, money laundering, political support from Russia, populism, racism…he feeds on existing institutions by violating their norms. His power is ultimately a threat to the power of existing elites. On this day, Republican leaders have repudiated Trump. Not before. Only when the threat to their own power was undeniable and immediate have many of them spoken out clearly in opposition to a lame duck president engaged in insurrection. Not before.

            Trump is still president and still has presidential powers. The 25th Amendment provides a remedy. If Pence and the cabinet declare Trump unfit, we may not know immediately. The prudent thing would be to inform the law enforcement and the military before informing the public, or Trump, so that there is no confusion among those answerable to power when power is transfered.

        2. JohnH

          Rosser: if being better than Trump is your standard, then you set the lowest possible bar. In fact, you could have written in Mr. Potato Head and realized that standard. What ever happened to the standard of fulfillment of campaign promises as the measure of success? Problem is, Democrats have been campaigning left and governing right for decades and allowed to get away with it, stiffing their base because they “have nowhere to go.”

          Some of us did go…more will follow.

          1. noneconomist

            Yeah, JohnH, that vote for Otto Schmidlap was certainly momentously important. You might one day be as successful as the Greenies who have elected—last I saw—9 candidates to various offices in 50 states and hundreds of local bodies over the past quarter century.

          2. Dr. Dysmalist


            You are the very personification of Murc’s Law: Only Democrats Have Agency. The thing is, Murc formulated their Law as an indictment of the excuses that Republicans consistently use to try to justify their own anti-democratic (note the lowercase ‘d’) actions by claiming basically that if Democrats had not [done some one little thing], Republicans would not have had to put a torch to our standards and norms of governing. It was how Republicans tried to deny responsibility for their own actions. The Law has been extended to include and indict leftier-than-thou types like you who blame only Democrats for not achieving some ideal policy, completely ignoring the fact that not only is there another political party with a great deal of power in our system, that opposition party has a lot of support in large regions of our country. That support will not evaporate with a more left-wing messaging program from Democrats; in fact, such a program is far more likely to increase and solidify support for the GOP.

            The blame-throwing on Democrats in both cases is transparently noncredible and ridiculous when it is GOP actions that prevented a good policy outcome. Those who took the actions are to blame, not those who opposed them, even if their opposition did not meet some mythological standard of excellence.

            In a prior comment thread to a different post, you threw blame on Clinton for something (I don’t remember now what it was), completely ignoring the fact of the Republican wave in the 1994 by-election, which inflicted us with Newt Gingrich and his Contract on America. Your criticism of Obama likewise ignores the fact that McConnell orchestrated systematic opposition to him and to other Democrats because our system enables such action. Don’t like it, too bad. That’s the system we have.

            Whether you like it or not, only one entity is large enough, and has the ability to gain enough power, to oppose the pro-authoritarian, protofascist Republican Party of today, and that is the Democratic Party. All leftier-than-thou types, including you, who voted third party in 2016, directly contributed to Donald Trump’s victory by diluting the opposition to him, and you damn near helped him win re-election in 2020. By not voting for the only credible opposition to him, you helped inflict him upon us, and you helped bring about everything that’s happened in the last four tragic years. The stink of Trump is upon and within you, forever.

            Whether you like it or not, in this country good policy advances incrementally. It takes time to achieve even good policies, let alone optimal policies. As an example, look at the ACA, which you delight in disparaging. During it’s passage, and during the time it took to implement it, it was very unpopular, thanks in large part to both wingnut propaganda and far-left sabotage. Is it perfect policy, no. Is it optimal policy, no. Is it better than what preceded it, yes. Now that it has been in effect, most Americans do not want it repealed. They want it improved, yes, but they have strongly opposed Republican efforts to repeal it. That means we have the opportunity to improve it, to work toward optimal policy. We would not have this opportunity if it had never passed. We would now be engaging in the debates that took place then. Having the same arguments, but ten years delayed, is not progress. It definitely is not progressive, and meantime millions of people would have been denied health insurance, and health care, for ten years. That outcome would not only be not progressive, it would be regressive.

            If you want good policies, you cannot enable bad policies. If you want optimal policies, you cannot oppose good policies.

            I remember that the famous manager of the Baltimore Orioles during their glory years, Earl Weaver, frequently said that the keys to victory were pitching, defense, and three-ring home runs. Pitching and defense made headlines, sometimes, but three-run homers always did. Left unsaid but implicit in Weaver’s formula was that two unsung players had to get on base with a nondescript walk or base hit, by getting hit by a pitch, or by reaching first base via a defensive error, before the defense could achieve three outs. Those basic plays did not make headlines, and we rarely heard of the plays that put two people on base before the homer, yet they were essential progress toward the game-winning play, the three-run homer.

            Learn to welcome, not sabotage, the singles, doubles, walks, HBPs, and reaching base via hustle on an error that enable, that set the table for, the headline-grabbing home run, for without them the success could not occur. And the players who got on base before the home run? Don’t disparage them for not winning the game single-handedly. They were a crucial part of the eventual success.

            And relatedly, if you want people to join your team, learn to be a team player. Not only is it true in sports, it’s true in politics and in policymaking.

          3. baffling

            “Some of us did go…more will follow.”
            Johnh, don’ t let the door hit you on the way out. dr. d summed up your position quite eloquently.

  1. Macroduck

    On May 9, 1970, President Richard Nixon joined anti-war protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. They were protesting his decision to expand the Vietnam War to Cambodia. Tjey had a difference of opinion. Thet talked for nearly two hours without the least hint of violence.

    Today, the U.S. president incited protesters to attack the U.S. Capitol.

    1. pgl

      Many members of Congress are so upset that they are pledging to wrap up the Electoral College process tonight by using the secure areas of the Capitol. Hopefully the Trump terrorists little stunt actually back fires.

    2. Moses Herzog

      Here is some interesting news:

      And here is an interesting still photo. I assume the three law officers holding guns were assuming the people on the other side of the door were armed:

      The man on the right is a U.S. Representative, I believe, last name Mullin. I hope Republicans like James Lankford sleep well tonight, after encouraging this violence.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I should have stated the man in the white shirt was Mullin. I meant to include that but somehow skipped that fact.

        There are some falsely trying to make Republican Markwayne Mullin out to be a “hero”. But he is one of the weasels who was encouraging the violence to start with, by encouraging false representations, and encouraging people to believe the popular vote and the electoral college “wasn’t real”. If you pour the lighter fluid on the front porch, and then put aflame the lighter fluid, you don’t get credit for “defending the family from the fire”. IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY

        And by the way, any journalists that attempt to make Markwayne Mullin a “hero” should F’ing rot in Hell.

    3. macroduck

      One last howl about the day’s events. Think about Trump’s long habit of doing outrageous things in order to dominate the headlines when headlines otherwise would have been unflattering for him. Today, the vote count in Georgia showed the effective Senate majority went to the Democrats and Trump is widely blamed for the Republican loss. Today, Joe Biden was about to be declared the winner of the presidential election. What did Trump do? He engaged in a stunt to draw headlines away from his twin embarrassments. The stunt was an insurrection which resulted in the death of a woman. To push his own humiliation out of the headlines. That’s how little he cares about the gravity of his actions.

      That’s who Donald Trump is. That’s who he has always been. And 74 million U.S. citizens voted for him. That’s who they are.

      The penalties for insurrection include a bar from public office (18 U.S. Code § 2383). Let’s hope the Justice Department does it’s duty.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Here’s one of the things (of about a zillion things) that gets me. When the orange abomination orders federal agents (many at the time of the event we didn’t even know what “agency” they were from, because similar to in Portland, they weren’t identified) to beat the crap out of Black Washington D.C. citizens, so he can play the 6 year old doing “show and tell” with the Holy Bible in front of a church, all of the lawmakers in DC shrug their shoulders. When their lives (lawmakers’ lives) are at risk because donald trump nails National Guard troops feet to the ground while the U.S. Capitol is being rampaged~~only THEN do Republican lawmakers think it’s distasteful and violent. Only when it directly effects Republican lawmakers’ safety does it become distasteful and violent.

        And here’s another question: We hear all these redneck white trash talking about the supposed “affection” for police when Black Americans (and others) protest police violence, but those same QAnon white trash have no problem in ignoring and flouting law enforcement placed at the U.S. Capitol. No problems threatening police lives THEN. Then all of the Republican, MAGA, and QAnon “respect” for law enforcement magically evaporates.

    4. macroduck

      I lied; one last howl.

      If Trump had not decided to attempt to end 233 years of democratic tradition in order to sooth his ego and avoid prison, today would be Stacy Abrams day. What a woman!

      1. Moses Herzog

        I have to confess I was slow in comprehending what Stacey Abrams has done for Georgia and this nation. We owe Stacey Abrams a permanent debt of gratitude for her blood sweat and tears getting Black Americans to register in their minds the importance of getting out to vote–that their vote means something and Black Americans vote wields power.

        1. baffling

          i have noted on this blog that texas was in play. and the votes showed we still have a ways to go. but that is ONLY because we do not have a stacey abrams in texas right now. texas can vote blue. but the voter suppression in the state is strong enough to keep it red on election day. i would argue that if texas had a stacey abrams over the past two years, it too would have gone for trump. election reform, beginning in texas, will ensure a democratic president for the next decade.

          1. Moses Herzog

            I remember when you said that, and I think I remember semi-supporting your thoughts there. When Anne Richards was Governor (A much sharper and more cerebral woman than Hillary BTW) there was a decent amount of folks who would vote Democrat in Texas. Of course you had LBJ also. It’s a heavy lift, but your point is a good one in that if Georgia can be flipped than Texas can be flipped as well. It often depends on how much sincere effort is made. I guess the question is “Where is ‘the Stacey Abrams of Texas’ ??” She must be out there somewhere. But as the old adage goes “Stacey Abramses don’t grow on trees”~~meaning they are a rare/prized bird.

  2. Dr. Dysmalist

    Well, this just proves that December was a terrible month with regard to the pandemic, certainly with regard to political shenanigans, and as a result, to the economy.

    I hope, and cautiously expect, that by the end of
    January we will see a marked reduction in both political turmoil and the post-holiday Covid spike. After that we can have some economic improvement, maybe?

  3. ltr

    January, 2021

    Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Health Data

    Total health care spending per person, 2019 *

    United States   ( 11,072)
    OCED average   ( 4,224)

    Germany   ( 6,646)

    Total health care spending as a share of GDP, 2019

    United States   ( 17.0)
    OCED average   ( 8.8)

    Germany   ( 11.7)

    Pharmaceutical expenditure per person, 2018 *

    United States   ( 1,229)
    OECD average   ( 586)

    Germany   ( 884)

    Practising physicians per 1,000 population, 2018

    United States   ( 2.6)
    OECD average   ( 3.5)

    Germany   ( 4.3)

    Practising nurses per 1,000 population, 2018

    United States   ( 11.9)
    OECD average   ( 8.8)

    Germany   ( 13.2)

    Hospital beds per 1,000 population, 2018

    United States   ( 2.9)
    OECD average   ( 4.5)

    Germany   ( 8.0)

    Physician consultations per person, 2018

    United States   ( 4.0)
    OECD average   ( 6.6)

    Germany   ( 9.9)

    Medical graduates per 100,000 population, 2018

    United States   ( 8.0)
    OECD average   ( 13.5)

    Germany   ( 11.5)

    * Data are expressed in US dollars adjusted for purchasing power parities (PPPs), which provide a means of comparing spending between countries on a common base. PPPs are the rates of currency conversion that equalise the cost of a given “basket” of goods and services in different countries.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ macroduck
      I was trying to do the math in my head, and if you take the consensus and the actual, I’m even slightly closer to the actual than the average of the consensus and the actual. Does that make sense?? I mean my number is closer to the actual number than the average of the actual and the consensus. Goldman Sachs still beat me by 32k, but hey, not horrible anyway.
      : )

      Probably only deserve half-credit on this one, because making it so late. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am kind of jolly about beating the consensus number. But also with no model crunching it’s hard not to admit some of that wasn’t just random luck. I was trying to get the best number I could though~~in my own schmuck way. Bottom line~~~ a lot of intelligent people were forecasting a positive number.

  4. ltr

    January 5, 2021



    Cases   ( 21,578,606)
    Deaths   ( 365,620)

    Deaths per million   ( 1,101)


    Cases   ( 1,814,565)
    Deaths   ( 36,510)

    Deaths per million   ( 435)

  5. joseph

    President Donald J. Trump regarding rioters at Capital: “We love you, you are special, go home in peace”

    We love you! You are special! What the hell.

    The president encouraging rioters to prevent certification of the presidential election. Isn’t that generally called a violent coup?

    1. pgl

      At the debates he did tell those Proud Boys to “stand by”. None of yesterday’s chaos should have come as a surprise.

    2. baffling

      if republicans were smart, they would get on board immediately with a quick house impeachment and senate conviction. this will remove trumps ability to run for federal office again, since he would be prohibited by law. changes the landscape for republicans in 2024.

  6. ltr

    March 28, 2020

    The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19
    Aggressive screening might have helped contain the coronavirus in the United States. But technical flaws, regulatory hurdles and lapses in leadership let it spread undetected for weeks.
    By Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough, Sheila Kaplan, Sheri Fink, Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland

    January 6, 2020

    U.S. Is Blind to Contagious New Virus Variant, Scientists Warn
    It’s not too late to curb the contagious variant’s spread in the U.S., experts say — but only with a national program for genetic sequencing.
    By Carl Zimmer

  7. ltr

    January 5, 2021



    Cases   ( 397,202)
    Deaths   ( 12,734)

    Deaths per million   ( 1,848)


    January 5, 2021


    New York

    Cases   ( 1,082,147)
    Deaths   ( 38,718)

    Deaths per million   ( 1,990)

  8. Not Trampis

    There are obviously some Yanks who fall for stupid and baseless conspiracy theories and want to up end democracy.
    and of course they are patriots.
    George Orwell is indeed a prophet

    1. macroduck

      Seventy percent of Republicans polled say the don’t think the elections were fair. Seventy-four million people vote for Trump. Ignoring quibbles over details –

      Some Yanks = 51.8 million

      1. Moses Herzog

        What is it with these Aussies telling us hurtful and painful truths??? We need to poke him about something. When was the last time Australia had the America’s Cup?? Why are New Zealanders heartier people than Aussies??

      2. baffling

        “Some Yanks = 51.8 million”
        before trump, i never realized we had so many people in america with mental health issues. but the proliferation of online money scams shows they must be everywhere. lots of americans are rather susceptible to even obvious con games.

        1. Moses Herzog

          It’s not hard to figure out why foreigners have zero respect for Americans. It’s worth noting~~~ANY system of government will fail when the education system of the nation is poor. Republicans have worked for the last 40 years straight to disembowel America’s public education system because they know when people are illiterate they are much easier to lead around by the nose. Hence you get the type of animal that sieged the U.S Capitol yesterday.

  9. ltr

    Latin American countries have recorded 4 of the 13 highest and 6 of the 24 highest number of coronavirus cases among all countries.  Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.

    Mexico, with more than 1.45 million cases recorded, has the 4th highest number of cases among Latin American countries and the 13th highest number of cases among all countries.  Peru, with more than 1 million cases, has the 5th highest number of cases among Latin American countries and the 18th highest number among all countries.  Mexico was the 4th among all countries to have recorded more than 100,000 and 125,000 coronavirus deaths.

    January 5, 2021

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    US   ( 1,101) *

    Brazil   ( 927)
    Argentina   ( 964)
    Colombia   ( 868)

    Mexico   ( 986)
    Peru   ( 1,141)
    Chile   ( 874)

    Ecuador   ( 793)
    Bolivia   ( 784)

    * Descending number of cases

  10. Moses Herzog

    This is not surprising news, but it’s pretty big news. Multiple journalists are reporting when donald trump was vociferously asked and encouraged multiple times to send in the National Guard to protect and defend the U.S. Capitol donald trump refused and rebuffed his aids’ pleas to protect the U.S. Capitol with National Guard troops. That is in essence leaving U.S. Senators and U.S. representatives open to a blood slaughter and abetting mass murder.

    1. Moses Herzog

      i’m still waiting for more news on this where donald trump was inhibiting the National Guard from doing its duty yesterday. It’s my feeling the Capitol police were undermanned and under-equipped for the events (not all of which their fault IMHO), they were probably assuming the entire time they would get a major “assist” from National Guard troops.

      It’s far from “award winning”, but I thought this write up from James Bennet (formerly an NYT editor) was pretty good.
      Especially when discussing how Capitol police reacted to “the proud boys” and assembled white trash vs how they react to BLM protesters. But, I still strongly believe it was donald trump disallowing the National Guard from doing what they are there to do was true problem that was 85% to blame for the Capitol’s physical “infiltration”.

      If anyone has any updates or info on the National Guard story PLEASE put it in this thread or in future Menzie post threads.

      Just read McConnell’s wife is leaving her position “because of the Capitol riot”. That’s “awfully courageous” of Chao after she’s sucked all the corrupt kickbacks and vendor schemes she can out of her agency and there’s a whole two weeks left in trump’s term. Maybe they can build a monument to her in Beijing. A lot of people have referred to McConnell as looking like a turtle. You know the old school Chinese name for a bastard??~~ “turtle egg”. It doesn’t get any more befitting than that kids.

  11. ltr

    January 5, 2021

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    Belgium   ( 1,700)
    Italy   ( 1,263)
    UK   ( 1,121)
    US   ( 1,101)

    Spain   ( 1,100)
    France   ( 1,014)
    Mexico   ( 986)
    Switzerland   ( 923)

    Sweden   ( 887)
    Luxembourg   ( 814)
    Portugal   ( 716)
    Austria   ( 715)

    Netherlands   ( 689)
    Greece   ( 486)
    Ireland   ( 460)
    Germany   ( 435)

    Canada   ( 428)
    Denmark   ( 245)
    India   ( 108)
    Finland   ( 104)

    Norway   ( 83)
    Australia   ( 35)
    Japan   ( 29)
    Korea   ( 20)

    New Zealand   ( 5)
    China   ( 3)

    1. Barkley Rosser

      I used to have a lot of respect for Doug Henwood, but he has gotten kind of off the wall in recent years.

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