201804.13
4
8

There Aren’t Two Labor Markets

Allusions to a labor shortage continue to be ubiquitous. Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published yet another such story under the headline Iowa’s Employment Problem: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough People. Ostensibly about the experiences of companies trying to hire in the one state, the implication was clear enough. If Iowa, IOWA, has…

201804.06
4
6

Payroll Time

Never get hung up on one payroll report, good or bad. The Establishment Survey series, seasonally-adjusted and statistically smoothed as much as humanly possible, is still incredibly noisy. It didn’t used to be this way, which is an important clue that “something” has changed. The lack of consistency in the monthly measurement is as the…

201803.09 5

The Return of The Perfect Payrolls

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…

201802.02
7
1

Where’s The Inflation? Average Weekly Earnings Flat, Focus on 200k Instead Which Isn’t Even A Good Number

The unemployment rate, I’m sorry to report, didn’t tumble all the way to zero. Pity. It did stay at 4.1% for the fourth straight month. Because of that, wage pressures should be exploding right now. That seems to be the verdict in markets this morning, a rumble of inflation shot right through everything at the…

201801.10
3
2

Which One Really Belonged On Yellen’s Dashboard?

The latest JOLTS survey from the BLS suggests nothing much has changed from that particular view of the labor market. The level of estimated Job Openings (JO) while down slightly over the last few months remains exceedingly high. By contrast, the rate of monthly Hires (HI) continues to be subdued, if at the high end…

201801.05
3
3

The Reluctant Labor Force Is Reluctant For A Reason (and it’s not booming growth)

In 2017, the BLS estimates that just 861k Americans were added to the official labor force, the denominator, of course, for the unemployment rate. That’s out of an increase of 1.4 million in the Civilian Non-Institutional Population, the overall prospective pool of workers. Both of those rises were about half the rate experienced in 2016….

201801.05
2
4

Payrolls Hit The Trifecta of Awful

Last year was an objectively bad year for American workers. The latest payroll figures from the BLS for December 2017 fill out what was an awful picture. According to its Establishment Survey, the data that’s taken as the definitive source on the US labor market, total payrolls expanded by 2.055 million in 2017. That annual…

201712.08 2

Defining The Economy Through Payrolls

The year 2000 was a transition year in a lot of ways. Though Y2K amounted to mild mass hysteria, people did have to get used to writing the date with 20 in front of the year rather than 19. It was a new millennium (depending on your view of Year 0) that seemed to have…

201711.03
Off
1

Four Point One

The payroll report for October 2017 was still affected by the summer storms in Texas and Florida. That was expected. The Establishment Survey estimates for August and September were revised higher, the latter from a -33k to +18k. Most economists were expecting a huge gain in October to snapback from that hurricane number, but the…

201709.07
1
3

Enough With The Labor Shortage Already, It Doesn’t/Can’t Exist

Can we finally put to rest all notions that the US economy is at full employment and doing well, and therefore wage inflation is right around the corner? I suspect not. This dance has been ongoing for years now, continuing through what was nearly a recession, so there is little reason to believe that economists…