Finally Some US Data, and it’s Payrolls?

By Jeffrey Snider

It’s been awhile since we’ve had any data on the US economy. With the federal government having been shut down, especially the Census Bureau, the figures have gone dark. The current short-term government reopening will lead to an eventual rush of estimates, perhaps a few series that will be updated two months at a time.

In lieu of all that, the dataset that breaks the silence is the payroll report. Hooray. When we last left it the US economy was booming big, at least according to the BLS headline. The release was a perfect smash, the Establishment Survey coming in at +312k and with flawless timing to help soothe rather dire market sentiment after a traumatic December.

The new data for January 2019, released today, includes the standard annual benchmark update. There wasn’t much change in either direction from the revisions, save December’s number. Just like that it’s gone, vanished. That extremely helpful +312k has been replaced by +222k instead.

Continue reading Finally Some US Data, and it’s Payrolls?

The Return of The Perfect Payrolls

By Jeffrey Snider

Over the past two days, Chinese exports exploded, US payrolls bested 300k, and China’s CPI recorded the hottest inflation in 5 years. Globally synchronized growth? It’s times like these where remembering how nothing goes in a straight line helps settle and ground interpretations. In thinking that way already, you are never surprised when there are good even perfect data reports on occasion the way policymakers are always surprised with “unexpected” bad ones. We are in a global upturn, after all.

The question, as always, is whether these things represent a meaningful shift. The inflation/boom scenario is one where the economy doesn’t just meander at low level positives but accelerates forcefully into an inarguable growth period – something we haven’t seen anywhere for more than a decade.

It might be tempting to view this recent positive report cluster in that way, but, again, we’ve seen these before. It’s not just one month that is required to suggest what everyone is looking for. These have been over the past few years rather easily explained by outliers (China exports), noise (payrolls), and statistical difficulties (China CPI). We will know things are truly picking up when the bad months are what become attention grabbing for their infrequency.

Continue reading The Return of The Perfect Payrolls

Jobs Friday! 313K Jobs Added [Higher Than Expected]

By Anthony B. Sanders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their report for February. In a nutshell, 313k jobs were added, Labor Force Participation increased to 63%, but  YoY average hourly earnings fell to 2.6%.

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Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 313,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Employment rose in construction, retail trade, professional and business services,
manufacturing, financial activities, and mining.

Household Survey Data

In February, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the fifth consecutive month,
and the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.7 million.
(See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Blacks declined to 6.9
percent in February, while the jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult
women (3.8 percent), teenagers (14.4 percent), Whites (3.7 percent), Asians (2.9
percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2,
and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million in February and accounted for 20.7 percent of the unemployed.

Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 369,000. (See table A-12.)

The civilian labor force rose by 806,000 in February. The labor force participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage point over the month to 63.0 percent but changed little over the year. (See table A-1.)

In February, total employment, as measured by the household survey, rose by 785,000.

Continue reading Jobs Friday! 313K Jobs Added [Higher Than Expected]