Employment, Trade

Education employment was mysteriously down big last month and up big this month, so best to average the two months, which would mean about 205,000 new jobs each month, which is about where it’s been.

However, in any case hours worded and average pay were both down, which means personal income and probably output is that much less, which is not good. Additionally, the downward revision in earnings for last month and the negative print this month tell me ‘the market’ is telling us there’s still substantial ‘slack’ in the ‘labor market’:

Employment Situation
The labor market is adding jobs at a very strong rate. Nonfarm payrolls rose 242,000 in February vs the Econoday consensus for 190,000 and a high estimate of only 217,000. Adding to the punch are upward revisions to the two prior months totaling 30,000.

A negative in the report is a 0.1 percent decline in average hourly earnings that follows, however, January’s outsized 0.5 percent gain. Year-on-year, average hourly earnings are down 3 tenths to 2.2 percent. Another negative is a dip in the workweek to 34.4 hours which also, however, follows strength in the prior month when it rose to 34.6 hours.

The unemployment rate remains low at 4.9 percent while the labor participation rate continues to rebound, up 2 tenths in the month to 62.9 percent and boosted by new entrants and re-entrants into the labor market. The U-6 unemployment rate, which is cited frequently by Janet Yellen, is down a full 2 tenths to 9.7 percent.

Payroll strength by industries includes a second straight strong month for retail, up 55,000, and another strong month for trade & transportation, up 53,000. Professional & business services rose 23,000 but temporary help services fell for a second straight month, down 10,000 following a 22,000 decline in January. Government added 12,000 to payrolls while construction, where spending is solid, rose 19,000. Mining and manufacturing contracted, down 19,000 and 16,000 respectively.

The earnings numbers are setbacks but do follow prior strength. Payroll gains are unquestionably impressive and today’s report will very likely revive at least the chance for a rate hike at this month’s FOMC.

This is why using a two month average makes sense this month:
The chart shows the rate of growth continues the deceleration that began just over a year ago when oil capex collapsed:
Still some serious ‘slack’ here:
Worse than expected and so not good for GDP forecasts, and with vehicle sales down from last year’s highs rising auto imports mean even weaker domestic car sales:

International Trade
January was a weak month for cross-border trade with exports down a steep 2.1 percent and imports down 1.3 percent, making for a wider-than-expected trade imbalance of $45.7 billion. Exports of capital goods were especially weak as were imports of capital goods, both pointing to weakness in global business investment. Exports of industrial supplies were also down as were exports of consumer goods and also food products. Imports of industrial supplies were also down as were imports of consumer goods. Imports of autos, however, continue to rise to underscore the ongoing strength in vehicle sales.

The goods gap widened to $63.7 billion from $62.6 billion and when excluding petroleum where the gap narrowed, the goods gap widened to $57.8 billion from $55.5 billion. The nation continues to run a strong surplus on services, at $18.0 billion for a small gain in the month.

The gap with China widened in the month to $28.9 billion for a $1 billion increase while the gap with Europe narrowed sharply, to $8.8 billion from $13.7 billion. The gap with Japan narrowed to $4.9 billion from $6.6 billion while the gap with Canada widened to $2.4 billion from $2.2 billion.

Today’s report will lower early estimates for first-quarter GDP and no less importantly is the latest indication that global traffic is stalling, which is not a plus for global policy efforts to raise inflation.

In past cycles these declines in trade were indicative of recessions:
Trade also went bad as oil capex collapsed: