I have seen the futures move around a Friday morning jobs report in my day (pre-market equity prices), but I have never seen 300 points tick up on the Dow in one second. Such was the case this morning on the jobs print, which, rather than reflecting 8 million jobs lost, showed 2.5 million jobs gained. Rather than the 20 percent Depression-era unemployment number many were predicting, the unemployment rate actually declined, to a still-ghastly 13.3 percent.
There is plenty to say about this from an economic standpoint: The biggest takeaway is that the ~2.7 million people who self-identified last month as “temporarily laid-off” appeared to be right, and the dozens upon dozens of economists, experts, and analysts who sympathetically patted them on the head last month, saying, “There, there, it will be okay” while assuring us those folks were all sitting ducks in a post-COVID economy where no one would ever go out to eat again were, well, wrong. Really, really wrong. I am down on myself after not better predicting it in real time this week as I ate out at restaurants every single night, every one of which was packed, every restaurant filled with the familiar faces of waiters and waitresses I have seen for years.
But I digress.
The real story of this jobs number goes beyond something we thought would be bad being pretty darn good. It sets the stage for the next six months of post-COVID-era data. Surely there will be some disappointments along the way. Not every data point will outperform expectations, let alone smoke the skeptics like this one did. But critics, pessimists, perma-bears, and most of all, Democrats, have to be wondering: After three months of getting the health picture wrong, are we in for another season of getting all the economic data wrong?