Monday, December 10, 2018

Scenes from the November Jobs Report

 - by New Deal democrat

Here are a few noteworthy highlights from Friday's employment report.

1. Temporary help continues positive.

As I wrote a week ago, temporary employment (blue in the graphs below) leads overall employment (red). So it is good news that it continued to grow in November:

Somewhat more ambiguously, the rate of growth has waned a little in the past few months. But is isn't really on a downward trajectory at this point:

Just based on this metric (there are of course lots of others that can be used), employment growth in the general range of 160,000 to 190,000 a month, at least on a 3 month average, looks likely in the immediate future.

2. Wage growth continues to accelerate.

This is the second month in a row that nominal average hourly wages grew at better than a 3% YoY rate for nonsupervisory workers (blue in the graph below). In real terms, YoY wage growth also looks set to continue to increase (red). This is because of the decline in oil prices:

Note that we won't get the inflation report for November until Wednesday. Note also that almost all of the good news in real wage growth in the last 15 years has been due to temporary declines in the price of gas. Finally, note that we still haven't approached the 4% nominal YoY growth we got in the previous economic expansion.

3. Signs of fraying around the edges #1: Not in Labor Force, but Want a Job Now.

This is the number of people who haven't looked for a job at all recently, but say they would like a job. This has trended upward in the last 8 months:

Not a red flag at this point, but probably a yellow one, as in, "pay increased attention."

4. Signs of fraying around the edges #2: part time for economic reasons.

While the U3 unemployment rate held steady last month, the U6 underemployment rate rose by 0.2%. This is primarily due to an increase in the number of people who are involuntarily employed part time:

It is not well known that while the unemployment and underemployment rates are lagging indicators coming out of a recession, they are leading indicators going in. Since they tend to follow the initial jobless claim numbers with a one or two month lag, and those have risen by over 10% since September, it's not a surprise that at least the U6 number rose.

Again, this isn't a red flag, and initial jobless claims will give us a signal first. But it does serve to confirm the recent weakness in initial jobless claims, and confirm that we should "pay increased attention."