Hiring Bounced Back: July 1 – 5

The labor market rebounded in June. Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending July 5.  

#1Job creation recovered in June. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that nonfarm payrolls expanded by a seasonally adjusted 224,000 during the month, a sharp surge versus May’s 72,000 created jobs and just above April’s 216,000 payrolls jump. Private sector employers added 191,000 workers (up from an 83,000 gain in May), split between 154,000 in the service sector and 37,000 in the goods-producing sector. Industries adding the most jobs in June included professional/business services (+51,000), health care/social assistance (+50,500), transportation/warehousing (+23,900), and construction (+21,000). Average weekly private sector earnings of $959.76 represented a 2.8 percent increase over the past year.Yearly Wage Increases 070519

A separate survey of households has the unemployment rate inching up 1/10th of a percentage point to 3.7 percent (just above its multi-decade low) as 335,000 people entered the labor force during the month. The labor force participation rate grew by 1/10th of a percentage point to 62.9 percent—the same measure for adults aged 25 to 54 also added 1/10th of a percentage point to 82.2 percent. The median length of unemployment grew by a half week to 9.6 weeks while the number of part-time workers seeking a full-time opportunity essentially held steady at 4.347 million. The U-6 series, the broadest measure of labor underutilization published by BLS, eked out a 1/10th of a percentage point increase to 7.2 percent (just above its almost 19-year low achieved last month).

#2The U.S. trade deficit hit a 2019 high in May. The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis report that while exports grew by $4.2 billion to a seasonally adjusted $210.6 billion (-1.3 percent versus May 2018), imports surged by $8.5 billion to $266.2 billion (+3.3 percent versus May 2018). The resulting trade deficit of -$55.5 billion was up $4.3 billion from April and was a five-month high. The goods deficit blossomed by $4.4 billion to -$76.1 billion while the services surplus widened slightly (+$0.1 billion) to +$20.6 billion. The former resulted from imports of goods swelling $8.1 billion (including from imported automobiles, crude oil, capital goods, and semiconductors), overwhelming the $4.0 billion increase in exported goods (including capital goods, consumer goods, soybeans, and automobiles). The U.S. had its largest goods deficits with China, the European Union, Mexico, and Japan.

#3Factory orders dropped in May. New orders for manufactured goods decreased for the third time in four months with a 0.7 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted $493.6 billion, per the Census Bureau. Transportation goods orders shrank 4.6 percent, hurt by contracting orders for civilian (-28.2 percent) and defense (-15.5 percent) aircraft. Net of transportation orders inched up 0.1 percent, with increased orders for furniture (+3.3 percent), electrical equipment/appliances (+1.0 percent), machinery (+0.8 percent), computers/electronics (+0.7 percent), and primary metals (+0.1 percent). Declining were orders for fabricated metal products (-0.3 percent) and nondurables (-0.2 percent). Meanwhile, shipments grew 0.1 percent to $504.3 billion (its third gain in four months), with shipments unchanged for the month net of transportation goods. Unfilled orders declined 0.5 percent to $1.171 trillion (its third drop in four months) while inventories expanded for the eighth time in nine months with a 0.2 percent increase to $694.1 billion.

#4Purchasing managers suggest a slower pace of economic growth in June. The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI (the headline index from its Manufacturing Report on Business) slipped by 4/10ths of a point to 51.7. While this was the PMI’s lowest reading since October 2016, it also was the measure’s 34th straight month above a reading of 50.0 (the threshold between an expanding and contracting manufacturing sector). Three of five PMI components took a step back in June—new orders, inventories, and supplier deliveries—while the other two—production and employment— both advanced. Twelve of 18 tracked manufacturing industries reported growth, led by furniture, printing, and textiles. The press release noted that survey respondents “expressed concern about U.S.-China trade turbulence, potential Mexico trade actions and the global economy.”

The NMI, the headline index from ISM’s Nonmanufacturing Report on Business, declined by 1.8 points in June to a reading of 55.1. The NMI has been above the critical 50.0 threshold for an impressive 113 months, but this is the measure’s lowest reading since July 2017. Only one NMI component (supplier deliveries) grew during the month, while the other three declined (employment, business activity/production, and new orders). Sixteen of 18 tracked nonmanufacturing industries reported growth, led by real estate. The press release characterized survey respondents’ sentiment as “mixed,” as a “degree of uncertainty exists due to trade and tariffs.”

#5Construction spending decelerated in May. The Census Bureau places the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of construction put in place at $1.294 trillion, down 0.8 percent from April and 2.3 percent below the year-ago pace. Residential construction spending dropped 0.7 percent to an annualized $953.2 billion, 6.3 percent less than that of a year ago and its lowest reading since January 2017. Falling were spending on both private sector nonresidential (-0.9 percent) and residential (-0.6 percent) spending. Reversing recent trends, public sector construction spending also slowed, slumping 0.9 percent to an annualized $340.6 billion. Despite May’s decline, public construction spending remained 10.8 percent ahead of its year-ago pace.

Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:
Jobless Claims (week ending June 29, 2019, First-Time Claims, seasonally adjusted): 221,000 (-8,000 vs. previous week; -8,000 vs. the same week a year earlier). 4-week moving average: 222,250 (-0.1% vs. the same week a year earlier)

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Kevin’s current employer. No endorsements are implied.

Employers Tap on the Brakes (Again): June 3 – 7

Hiring lost its momentum in May. Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending June 7.

#1

Hiring slows way down in May. Nonfarm employers added a seasonally adjusted 75,000 workers during the month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this was the 104th consecutive month of job gains, it fell short of the additions in March and April of 153,000 and 224,000, respectively. Private sector employers added 90,000 jobs, split between 82,000 in the service sector and 8,000 in the goods-producing sector. Industries adding the most workers during May were professional/business services (+33,000), leisure/hospitality (+26,000), and health care/social assistance (+24,000). Manufacturers added a mere 3,000 workers (perhaps reflecting the impact of rising trade tensions) while retailers shed 7,600 jobs. Average weekly earnings grew by $2.06 during the month (and has risen 2.8 percent over the past year) to $957.35.

A separate survey of households keeps the unemployment rate at a post-recession low of 3.6 percent. The labor force expanded by 176,000 people, keeping the labor force participation rate at 62.8 percent. The labor force participation rate for adults aged 25 to 54 slipped by 1/10th of a percentage point to 82.1 percent (its smallest since last September). The median length of unemployment declined by 3/10ths of a week to 9.1 weeks (May 2018: 9.3 weeks). The number of people with a part-time job but seeking a full-time opportunity contracted by 299,000 to 4.355 million (May 2018: 4.920 million). The broadest measure of labor force underutilization (the “U-6” series) dropped by 2/10ths of a week to a new post-recession low of 7.1 percent (April 2018: 7.7 percent).

#2The trade deficit shrank (but trade activity slowed) in April. The Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis report that exports fell by $4.6 billion during the month to $206.8 billion (-1.0 percent versus April 2018) while import activity declined by $5.7 billion to $257.6 billion (+0.2 percent April 2018). The resulting budget deficit of -$50.8 billion was $1.1 billion smaller than that of March. The goods deficit narrowed by $1.0 billion to -$71.7 billion while the services surplus expanded by $0.1 billion to +$20.9 billion. The former was the result of sizable declines in imports of non-automotive capital goods, gem diamonds, and motor vehicles while goods exports were pulled down by declines exported aircraft, motor vehicles, and pharmaceutical preparations. 

#3New factory orders declined for the second time in three months in April. The Census Bureau tells us that new orders for manufactured goods slowed 0.8 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted $499.3 billion. Transportation goods orders fell 5.9 percent, hurt by sharp decreases in orders for civilian aircraft (-25.2 percent), defense aircraft (-2.4 percent), and motor vehicles (-1.7 percent). Net of transportation goods, new factory orders grew 0.3 percent. A proxy for business investment—civilian capital goods net of aircraft—fell 1.0 percent. Shipments fell for the first time in three months with a 0.5 percent decline to $504.1 billion, although they gained 0.2 percent net of transportation goods. Unfilled orders shrank a modest 0.1 percent to $1.179 trillion while inventories expanded 0.3 percent to $692.9 billion.

#4Purchasing managers report growth in manufacturing decelerated in May. The PMI, the headline index from the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Report on Business, lost 7/10ths of a point to a reading of 52.1. This was the PMI’s lowest reading since October 2016 but the measure has remained above a reading above of 50.0 (the threshold between a growing and contracting manufacturing sector) for 33 straight months. Three of the PMI’s five components declined (production, supplier deliveries, and inventories) while the other two increased (new orders and employment). Eleven of 18 manufacturing industries expanded during May, led by printing, furniture, and plastic/rubber products. The press release noted survey respondents had “expressed concern with the escalation in the U.S.-China trade standoff.”

Meanwhile, ISM’s measure of service sector activity—the NMI—added 1.4 points to a reading of 56.9. This was the 112th consecutive month in which the NMI was above a reading of 50.0. Three of four index components rose from their April readings: business activity/production, new orders, and employment. Only the measure for supplier deliveries pulled back during the month. Sixteen of 18 nonmanufacturing industries expanded in May, led by accommodation/food services, education, and management of companies/support services. Survey respondents also here had noted “concerns” about tariffs.

#5Construction spending held steady in April. The Census Bureau estimates the value of construction put in place during the month was at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of $1.299 billion, virtually unchanged from March and off 1.2 percent from the same month a year earlier. Private sector construction spending slumped 1.7 percent during April to a SAAR of $954.0 billion, 6.0 percent below its April 2018 mark. Private sector residential spending fell 0.6 percent while private sector nonresidential plummeted 2.9 percent. Public sector construction spending, on the other hand, jumped 4.8 percent to an annualized $338.0 billion. Public sector expenditures have risen 15.1 percent over the past year.

Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:
Jobless Claims (week ending June 1, 2019, First-Time Claims, seasonally adjusted): 218,000 (Unchanged vs. previous week; -2,000 vs. the same week a year earlier). 4-week moving average: 215,000 (-3.3% vs. the same week a year earlier).
Productivity (2019 Q1-revision, Nonfarm Business Labor Productivity): +3.4% vs. 2018Q4, +2.4% vs. 2018Q1.
Beige Book

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Kevin’s current employer. No endorsements are implied.

Core Prices Chill, Job Openings Grow: May 6 – 10

Core inflation was on spring break in April, except at the gas pump.  Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending May 10.

#1Core consumer inflation was restrained (again) in April. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis during the month, following a 0.4 percent bounce in March. Energy prices jumped 2.9 percent, led by a 5.7 percent surge in gasoline prices. Food CPI, however, slipped 0.1 percent (including a 0.5 percent drop in the prices for food consumed at home). Core CPI, which nets out energy and food, edged up 0.1 percent for the third consecutive month. Rising were prices for medical care commodities (+0.9 percent), shelter (+0.4 percent), medical care services (+0.2 percent), transportation services (+0.1 percent), and new vehicles (-0.1 percent). Prices slumped for used cars/trucks (-1.3 percent) and apparel (-0.8 percent). CPI has risen 2.0 percent over the past year while the core price measure has a 12-month comparable of +2.1 percent.

#2Wholesale prices also moderated. Final demand Producer Price Index (PPI) grew at a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent during April, down from the 0.6 percent burst a month earlier. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ core wholesale price measure, which removes the impact of energy, food and trade services, jumped 0.4 percent. Both the headline and core PPI measures have risen 2.2 percent over the past year. During April, wholesale energy prices rose 1.8 percent (PPI for gasoline surged 5.9 percent) while food PPI slipped 0.2 percent. Net of energy and food, PPI for core goods was unchanged for the month (the first time it failed to increase since last December).

#3 Job openings rebounded in March. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 7.488 million job openings on the final day of March (on a seasonally adjusted basis), up 346,000 from February, reversing January’s 483,000 contraction, up 8.6 percent from a year earlier, and well ahead of the 6.211 unemployed people during the month. Industries with large percentage year-to-year increases in job openings included construction (+53.8 percent), wholesale trade (+20.9 percent), professional/business services (+18.3 percent), and manufacturing (+11.7 percent). Hiring continued to lag, however, slipping by 35,000 jobs during the month to 5.660 million (up a measly 0.6 percent from a year earlier). Job separations fell by 142,000 to 5.434 million (essentially matching the March 2018 count). Voluntarily quits were 3.3 percent ahead of their year-ago pace (to 3.409 million) while layoffs slowed 4.0 percent over the same period to 1.700 million workers.

#4The trade deficit widened slightly in March. The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $0.7 billion to a seasonally adjusted -$50.0 billion as exports grew by $2.1 billion and imports expanded by $2.8 billion. Over the past year, exports have increased by 1.3 percent while imports have risen 2.1 percent. The goods deficit grew by $0.5 billion to -$72.4 billion while the services surplus narrowed by $0.2 billion to +$22.4 billion. The U.S. had its largest goods deficits with China, the European Union, and Mexico.

#5Consumer put away their credit cards in March. The Federal Reserve estimates consumer revolving credit balances shrank by $2.2 billion during the month to a seasonally adjusted $1.057 trillion. Over the past year, revolving credit balances have grown 3.2 percent. Non-revolving credit balances, which includes college and auto loans, increased by $12.4 billion during March (and 5.6 percent over the past year) to $2.995 trillion. In total, outstanding consumer credit balances (not including mortgages and other real estate backed loans) expanded by $10.3 billion during the month to $4.052 trillion, representing a 4.9 percent since March 2018.

Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:
Jobless Claims (week ending May 4, 2019, First-Time Claims, seasonally adjusted): 228,000 -2,000 vs. previous week; +17,000 vs. the same week a year earlier). 4-week moving average: 220,250 (+2.3% vs. the same week a year earlier).
Wholesale Trade (March 2019, Inventories of Merchant Wholesalers, seasonally adjusted): $669.8 billion (-0.1% vs. February 2019, +6.7% vs. March 2018).
Monthly Treasury Statement (First 7 Months of FY2019, Federal Government Budget Deficit): -$530.9 billion (+37.8% vs. First 7 Months of FY2018).
Senior Loan Officers Opinion Survey

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Kevin’s current employer. No endorsements are implied.