One reason economists are frequently surprise is they have a tendency to extrapolate every economic uptick perpetually into the future yet they seldom do the same for negative news.
I have no idea why this is so, but history certainly suggests that it is so.
Last month, economists were giddy over retail hiring but I commented several times that I did not think it was sustainable. Today Calculated Risk has a very nice chart that shows that to be the case.
It's easier to see what is happening if you unstack the chart. I did not go back to the actual data but I did move the bars around.
Holiday Season Hiring Unstacked
Looked this way, last months seasonal hiring was not that great. I discussed this on November 15, in In Search of 1.1 Million Jobs Claimed by Obama; Where the Hell are They?