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Great Intentions Gone Awry: ADP Non-Farm Payroll


A monkey with an abacus could have done a better job, but finding good monkeys must be getting tougher and tougher.


Albert Einstein once said that "great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds." I believe that to be true, but I would add that no matter how great the concept, it's how you migrate from idea to product that determines whether you end up with a winner or a loser. I'd like to throw out three examples of ideas that looked great on paper but are still trapped in some sort of product purgatory:

Acupuncture Insoles

Now, who wouldn't be all over acupuncture insoles? Here's a concept that improves circulation, boosts energy, eases pain and improves health. Did you know that our feet have more than 7,000 nerve endings? This was a can't-miss product! And on top of that, I'll bet you didn't know that the insoles can also be worn flat-side-up for added comfort. (Meaning, what's the point in buying them?)

The Segway

These human transporters are self-balancing and rechargeable, and you look like a winner riding around town on one. (That's not a compliment!) On top of that, who among us doesn't need less of this tedious walking and more standing and riding?

People love Segways almost as much as free beer and they just can't wait to step aside and let riders zip by as they trudge, shoulder-to-shoulder, to and from work (I can't even type that with a straight face!). Yup, this never had a chance as a can't-miss product, given how health-conscious Americans have become, especially those with an extra $5,000 taking up space in their bank accounts!

The ADP Non-Farm Payroll Fiasco

Now for the granddaddy of all great ideas that just hasn't worked out, the ADP Employer Services' non-farm payroll prediction: We mentioned last week how ADP and Macroeconomic Advisers pool their resources and base their prediction on payroll data covering 225,000 companies.

Because this estimate covers 1-in-6 workers in the U.S.
, you might think that these guys would indeed have built a better mousetrap. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, had this supposed powerhouse duo set out to miss (rather than track or predict) the non-farm payroll, they really could not have done a better job.

The Labor Department recently announced that the
economy added 121,000 jobs in June, versus ADP's projection of 368,000. A monkey with an abacus could have done a better job, but finding good monkeys must be getting tougher and tougher. Just ask the guys over at ADP/Macroeconomic Advisers!
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