Friday, is Jobs Day, and if the last few months are any guide, the Labor Department will report a new, pretty unremarkable estimate for November job growth. Economists expect the figure to be around 230,000, which would be squarely in line with most of 2014 thus far, with an unemployment rate unchanged at 5.8 percent, according to Bloomberg estimates.
In that sense, jobs day has grown sort of monotonous lately. But there's still a lot behind the headline numbers. The real story these days isn't the payrolls figure; it's other numbers buried in the report. One big one is wages. Hourly wage growth has been bumping along at around 2 percent for a while. When it finally starts to grow, that will be a sign that some of the slack has exited the labor market.
A longer-term trend to watch, however, is the huge roll part-time jobs now play in the economy. As I wrote in October, the number of Americans working multiple part-time jobs has climbed steadily since 2000. Not only that, but the number of Americans working part-time for economic reasons — that is, those who want to work full-time but can't find a full-time job or get the hours — remains elevated.
At the very least, it's trending down, but one thing to watch in the coming months and years is going to be how far it moves down. This might be a structural shift toward more part-time work, meaning it's not something a better economy can change, as the Wall Street Journal wrote last month.