Many observers turned cartwheels over the news that the economy added 321,000 jobs in November, the biggest gain in almost three years.
But wait a minute, says Robert Johnson, director of economic analysis at Morningstar.
"I am not sure if that data reflects misplaced seasonal factors or newfound economic strength," he writes on Morningstar.com.
"Keep in mind that November has been one of the stronger employment growth months of the year, and seasonal factors may not have caught up with that phenomenon."
Seasonal adjustments have "wreaked havoc" on monthly jobs market recently, Johnson says. "For 2014, monthly job growth has ranged from 84,000 to 321,000 jobs added, despite a relatively stable economy."
Monthly job statistics have alternated between strong and weak, he writes. "The U.S. was overdue for a good report, with both September and October coming in well below estimates."
So what's the outlook for the future? "Unfortunately, tough seasonal issues and the normal reversion-to-mean pattern suggest that either December or January job growth could dip below 200,000 yet again."
Gains have totaled more than 200,000 for 10 straight months.
CNBC's Jeff Cox questions the payroll numbers, too. The 321,000 number came from a survey of businesses, but a survey of households showed a job gain of just 4,000 for November, he notes.
Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate was 62.8 percent, unchanged from October and barely above September's 36-year low of 62.7 percent. And 77,000 of the new jobs were part-time, while full-time jobs plunged 150,000.
"Taken in total, a peek beneath the hood of these numbers suggests a job market that still has a ways to go," Cox writes.
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