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US jobs numbers plucked from 'thin air': Gartman

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 | 1:47 AM ET
It's 'absurd' to pay attention to jobs number: Gartman
Monday, 13 Jan 2014 | 1:00 AM ET
Dennis Gartman, founder, editor and publisher of the The Gartman Letter, says non-farm payroll numbers are "pulled from thin air" and have no consistency.

It's "absurd" to pay any attention to US nonfarm payrolls data, influential investor Dennis Gartman told CNBC on Monday, arguing that the numbers do not paint a true picture of the U.S. economy.

"For forty years, I have decried the reliance upon the non-farm payrolls number as anything other than a number pulled from thin air. The revisions have been higher or lower in absolute terms by 40-50,000 per month, and there's no consistency to it," Gartman, the founder of the closely-watched "Gartman Letter" told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box."

Data released on Friday showed that the U.S. economy created just 74,000 jobs in December, the lowest reading since January 2011 and well below estimates for the addition of 200,000 jobs. In November, 241,000 new jobs were added, according to a revised figure from the Fed on Friday (revised upwards by 38,000).

(Read more: Job growth weak, raising questions about Fed move)

But while most economists expected the unemployment rate to stay put at 7.0 percent, it actually dipped to 6.7 percent, the lowest level since 2008.

Gartman said he paid more attention to private sector job creation data released by the ADP Research Institute, a number he said was "derived from reality," which showed last week that companies added a better-than-expected 238,000 positions in December.

(Read more: Private job creation is 'off and running': ADP)

He said he didn't believe the numbers would affect the policy direction of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) which decided in December to reduce its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion a month on the back of improving economic data.

"I suspect the Fed will do their best to hold their breath and do nothing and make no change to their forward guidance. I think they really hope that one month will mean nothing and next month's payrolls numbers will be a rather sharp increase instead."

"We'll get wholesale revisions in one month and I wouldn't be surprised if we get massive revisions upward across the board for the last year or two," he said.

(Read more: Unemployment aid: What's at stake for the US economy)

The Federal Reserve has said in previous forward guidance that the threshold at which it would consider raising interest rates was an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent. Although December's report showed that the rate was nearing that figure, Gartman was not convinced that the Fed would announce any changes to its guidance. "It is not a number at which they must change [their policy on interest rates], it is a number that they said at which they may change, but I doubt they'll do anything."

The data showed that the labor force participation rate tumbled to 62.8 percent, its worst level since January 1978. Gartman said the younger generation were looking for jobs less and less.

"In the cohort of 15-25 year olds, the number keeps falling every single month and it has since 1994. When the youngsters are asked would they take a job even if they could find one, the answer now is overwhelmingly 'no.' Meanwhile, the [participation rate] among the 55-65 cohort keeps going up."

"The young don't want to work and the elders are continuing to work," Gartman said.

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