A Late Labor Day May Have Skewed August's Job Data

Why did both the workweek and average hourly earnings rise in August, while payroll jobs plunged? The probable cause, says Edward S. Hyman of International Strategy & Investment Group Inc., is that Labor Day fell so late this year. As a result, retail hiring for the fall season was delayed, a development that tends to push up the workweek and hourly earnings after seasonal adjustment. In 1987, notes Hyman, an identical late-Labor-Day pattern was followed by a declining workweek in September and no bounceback in jobs.