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By Jason Stipp | 11-30-2011 12:00 AM

Job Market Getting Traction?

Recent positive data in employment is more than an anomaly, say Morningstar's Bob Johnson and Vishnu Lekraj.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar. The ADP employment report on Wednesday showed what appears to be an acceleration in the job market.

What's behind those numbers, and what should we expect for Friday's government employment report?

Here with me to offer their insights is Morningstar's analyst Vishnu Lekraj and Bob Johnson, director of economic analysis.

Thanks for joining me, guys.

Vishnu Lekraj: Thanks.

Bob Johnson: Great to be here.

Stipp: So, Vishnu, the ADP report showed 206,000 private sector jobs were added in the last month. This was above analysts' expectations. They also revised higher the prior month. So it appears like we're getting some traction and acceleration in jobs. Is that really the case or is this some kind of an anomaly?

Lekraj: No, I think there has been a pattern. If you look at other reports in conjunction with this one, and if you combine this with what the employment services' folks reported last quarter--all this makes sense, and the positive momentum is not necessarily an anomaly. It is a trend.

Stipp: So, Bob, I know, sometimes we'll see a month that looks really bad and then we'll see a month after it that looks really good. And you kind of have to smooth those two figures out. Are you seeing, when you're looking at longer-term trends, that we're seeing fundamental strength here or are we just bobbing up and down and we're not really making much progress overall?

Johnson: Well, I think we're making a little progress. I mean I think we're growing employment between 1.6% and 1.7% every month compared to the same month prior year. I think that's the right way to look at the data. I think that this report will probably just bring us up along that same trend line yet again.

Stipp: Okay. Vishnu, this is the holiday season. We heard a lot about the Black Friday shopping that happened. So, retail is obviously going to be in focus here. How important is retail to these numbers that we're seeing right now, and what are some of the trends there?

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