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9 November 2017 Claims Data Look Great, but Payrolls are Driven More by Shifts in Hiring (Publication Centre)

We were pretty sure that the underlying trend in jobless claims had bottomed, in the high 230s, before the hurricanes began to distort the data in early September.

3 February 2017 Upside Risk For Payrolls and Hourly Earnings in January Data Today (Publication Centre)

Our payroll model relies heavily on lagged indicators of the pace of hiring, most of which have improved in recent months after a sustained, though modest, softening which began last spring. That's why we expected an above-consensus reading from ADP on Wednesday and from the BLS today.

4 Nov. 2015 ADP Tells Us Payrolls Mean- Revert, but That's Not News (Publication Centre)

The underlying trend in payroll growth ought to be running at 250K-plus, based on an array of indicators of the pace of both hiring and firing. The past few months' numbers have fallen far short of this pace, though, for reasons which are not yet clear. We are inclined to blame a shortage of suitably qualified staff, not least because that appears to be the message from the NFIB survey, which shows that the proportion of small businesses with unfilled positions is now close to the highs seen in previous cycles. If we're right, payroll growth won't return to the 254K average recorded in 2014 until the next cyclical upturn, but quite what to expect instead is anyone's guess.

9 Dec. 2014 - NFIB Says Wage Pressure is Rising: ECI Data Seem to Agree (Publication Centre)

We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the NFIB survey's hiring intentions number is the best guide to the trend in payroll growth a few months ahead. But today's November NFIB report will bring no new information on job growth because the key labor market elements of the survey have already been released.

ABC NEWS - US Job Openings Jump to 14-Year High, Sign of Strong Hiring (Media Centre)

The rapid hiring that made 2014 a stellar year for job gains is showing no sign of slowing down.

3 September 2018 China's PMIs Point to Tariff Pain, and Only Minimal PPI Inflation Slowdown (Publication Centre)

China's official PMIs were little changed in August, with the manufacturing gauge up trivially to 51.3, from 51.2 in July and the non-manufacturing gauge up to 54.2, from 54.0.

30 April 2018 The BoJ is Getting Cold Feet on its 2% Inflation Target (Publication Centre)

The BoJ kept policy unchanged last week, but made a significant change to its communication, dropping its previous explicit statement on the timing for hitting the inflation target.

31 May 2018 Italy isn't Headed for Euro Exit, but Markets Need Clarity to Calm Fears (Publication Centre)

Our Chief Eurozone Economist, Claus Vistesen, is covering the Italian situation in detail in his daily Monitor but it's worth summarizing the key points for U.S. investors here.

4 May 2018 April Payrolls Likely Were Solid, but is Trouble Brewing for late Spring? (Publication Centre)

April payroll growth likely will be reported at close to 200K. Overall, the survey evidence points to a stronger performance, but they don't take account of weather effects, and April was a bit colder and snowier than usual. We're not expecting a big weather hit, but some impact seems a reasonable bet.

4 January 2018 ADP Likely Will Show a Solid Gain in December Private Employment (Publication Centre)

Today's ADP employment report for December ought to show private payrolls continue to rise at a very solid pace

3 April 2019 ADP set to Signal Mean Reversion in Payrolls After Wild Months (Publication Centre)

We see no reason to think that the recent volatility in payrolls--the 311K leap in January, followed by the 20K February gain--will continue.

25 October 2018 The Bank of Japan Turns its Attention to Real Estate Risks (Publication Centre)

The Bank of Japan's biannual Financial System Report was published earlier this week.

14 March 2019 Korea's Labour Market Data Throw Another Curveball (Publication Centre)

Korea's unemployment rate tumbled to 3.7% in February, after the leap to 4.4% in January.

13 June 2017 NFIB Headline Likely to Decay, but Capex and Jobs Readings are Strong (Publication Centre)

Under normal circumstances, we can predict movements in the headline NFIB index from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released a day ahead of the official employment report, and, hence, about 10 days before the full NFIB survey appears.

13 April 2018 Stock Price Hit May Hurt Consumers' Sentiment (Publication Centre)

Whatever happened to consumers' sentiment in March, the level of University of Michigan's index will be very high, relative to its long-term average.

14 September 2016 Labour Market Report Likely to be Soft all Round (Publication Centre)

Today's figures likely will bring the first real signs that the Brexit vote has had an adverse impact on the labour market. The employment balances of the key private-sector surveys weakened sharply in July, and recovered only partially in August. In addition, the three-month average level of job vacancies fell by 7K between April and July.

2 December. 2016 Friendly Seasonals Set to Push Payrolls Back Above 200K? (Publication Centre)

Our payroll model, which incorporates survey data as well as the error term from our ADP forecast, points to a hefty 225K increase in November employment. We have tweaked the forecast to the upside because of the tendency in recent years for the fourth quarter numbers to be stronger than the prior trend, as our first chart shows.

22 October 2018 China's Q3 GDP Growth was Much Weaker than the Headline Rates (Publication Centre)

China's real GDP growth officially slowed to 6.5% year-over-year in Q3, from 6.7% in Q2.

21 September 2018 Recent Momentum in Retail Sales won't be Sustained (Publication Centre)

August's retail sales figures create a misleading impression that consumers can be relied upon to pull the economy through the next six months of heightened Brexit uncertainty unscathed.

5 April 2019 Payrolls Probably Failed to Return Fully to Trend in March (Publication Centre)

We set out in detail yesterday, here, why we think the official payroll number today will be better than the 129K ADP reading; we look for 160K.

6 August 2018 Don't Worry About July's Payroll Numbers, Trend is Still 200K-plus (Publication Centre)

We are not worried, at all, by the slowdown in headline payroll growth to 157K in July from an upwardly-revised 248K in June.

8 January 2018 The Labor Market is Still Tightening, Don't Fret over December Payrolls (Publication Centre)

We aren't perturbed by the undershoot in December payrolls, relative both to the October and November numbers and all the leading indicators.

8 February 2018 Higher-Paid People Drove up January Wages, but Data are Noisy (Publication Centre)

Given the light flow of data this week we want to go back for a closer look at the market-shattering January hourly earnings data.

8 December 2017 Robust Jobs Data Will Emphasize the Labor Market's Tightness (Publication Centre)

We expect to see a 180K increase in November payrolls

9 February 2017 Is the Jump in Wholesale Inventories Sustainable? (Publication Centre)

Total real inventories rose at a $48.7B annualized rate in the fourth quarter, contributing 1.0 percentage points to headline GDP growth. Wholesale durable goods accounted for $34B of the aggregate increase, following startling 1.0% month-to-month nominal increases in both November and December. The November jump was lead by a 3.2% leap in the auto sector, but inventories rose sharply across a broad and diverse range of other durables, including lumber, professional equipment, electricals and miscellaneous.

9 January 2018 Small Business Owners are Happy, so Why are Capex Plans Soft? (Publication Centre)

We already know that the month-to-month movements in the key labor market components of the December NFIB small business survey were mixed; the data were released last week, ahead the official employment report, as usual.

9 June. 2016 The Inventory Rundown isn't Over, but the Intensity Will Soon Diminish (Publication Centre)

The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector last year was the biggest single drag on the manufacturing sector, by far. The strong dollar hurt too, as did the slowdown in growth in China, but most companies don't export anything. Capex has fallen in proportion to the drop in oil prices, so our first chart strongly suggests that the bottom of the cycle is now very near.

9 July 2018 No Tariff Hit in the Payroll Numbers Yet, but Some Surveys are Wobbling (Publication Centre)

The recent softening in the ISM employment indexes failed to make itself felt in the June payroll numbers, which sailed on serenely even as tariff-induced chaos intensified at the industry and company level.

8 Dec. 2015 Productivity Growth Still too Weak to Prevent Inflation Rebound (Publication Centre)

By any yardstick, U.K. productivity growth has been terrible in recent years. Output per hour exceeded its pre-recession peak only in the second quarter of 2015, and it has grown at an average annual rate of just 0.6% this decade. U.S. productivity growth has been equally dismal since 2010. But the U.K.'s performance is more worrying, because the productivity slump during the recession suggested scope for a period of catch-up. In the U.S., by contrast, productivity surged during the recession as firms cut headcount sharply.

7 Oct. 2015 Are Payrolls Slowing Because There's No-one Left to Hire? (Publication Centre)

In the absence of market-moving data today, we want to take a closer look at the labor market, and, specifically, the idea that payroll growth is slowing because firms cannot find staff they consider suitably qualified for the jobs available. Every indicator of labor demand, with the sole exception of manufacturing-specific surveys, is consistent with very rapid payroll growth, well in excess of 200K per month.

7 August 2018 Why are the JOLTS Job Openings Numbers so Strong (Publication Centre)

According to the official data presented in the JOLTS report, the number of job openings across the U.S. rose gently from 2011-to 13, rocketed in 2014, trended upwards much more slowly from 2015-to-17, and then, finally, unexpectedly jumped to record highs in the spring of this year.

11 September 2018 Business Owners Bullish, but Where's the Capex (Publication Centre)

If you had only the NFIB survey of small businesses as your guide to the state of the business sector, you'd be blissfully unaware that the economic commentariat right now is obsessed with the potential hit from the trade tariffs, actual and threatened.

5 July 2019 Payrolls Set to Rebound, but not Boom, Wage Gains Back on Track? (Publication Centre)

We expect to see a 160K increase in June payrolls today, though uncertainty over the extent of the rebound after June's modest 75K increase means that all payroll forecasts should be viewed with even more skepticism than usual.

7 February 2018 Fed Officials Likely to Signal that the Plan is to Stick to the Plan (Publication Centre)

No fewer than four FOMC members will speak today, ranging from the very dovish to the pretty hawkish.

7 June 2018 Japanese Firms Have Hiked Pay to Retain Workers (Publication Centre)

Japan's average year-over-year wage growth slowed sharply in May, but this mainly was a correction of the April spike.

7 March 2018 ADP Set to Report Strong Payrolls in February, 200K Seems a Good Bet (Publication Centre)

All the signs are that ADP will today report a solid increase in February private payrolls; our forecast is 200K, but if you twist our arms we'd probably say the mild weather last month across most of the country points to a bit of upside risk.

7 June 2019 Job Gains Likely Slowed Sharply in May, but will Recover (Publication Centre)

In the wake of Wednesday's ADP report, showing a mere 27K increase in private payrolls, we cut our payroll forecast to 100K.

5 January 2018 Robust December Jobs, Strong AHE and a New Low for Unemployment? (Publication Centre)

In the wake of yesterday's ADP report, which showed private payrolls up 250K in December, we have revised our forecast for today's official headline number up to 240K from 210K.

11 December 2017 200K-plus Payroll Gains Set to Continue, Wage Gains Will Rise (Publication Centre)

First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.

1 February 2019 Expect Respectable January Payrolls Labor Demand is Still Very Strong (Publication Centre)

We have few doubts that labor demand remained strong in January, but the chance of a repeat of December's 312K payroll gain is slim.

11 July 2017 Small Businesses are Still Optimistic, but a Correction is Due (Publication Centre)

Before last November's election, movements in the headline NFIB index of activity and sentiment among small businesses could be predicted quite reliably from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released in advance of the main survey.

1 November 2017 Will the Fed Upgrade its View on Growth Today? (Publication Centre)

The Fed will do nothing today, but the FOMC's statement will re-affirm the intention to continue its "gradual" tightening.

1 February 2017 Expect a Slightly More Hawkish FOMC Tone, to Keep March Alive (Publication Centre)

We're expecting the FOMC to vote unanimously not raise rates today, but we do expect a modestly hawkish tilt in the statement. Specifically, we're expecting an acknowledgment of the upturn in business investment reported in the Q4 GDP data, and of the increase in market-based measures of inflation expectations, given that 10-year TIPS breakevens are now above 2% for the first time since September 2014.

10 April 2018 Falling Stock Prices Threaten NFIB Headlines, Labor Data Strong (Publication Centre)

It's probably too soon to expect to see a meaningful reaction in the NFIB small business survey to the drop in stock prices, but it likely is coming, and a hit in today's March report can't be ruled out entirely.

10 Mar. 2016 Wage Growth Poised to Revive, Regardless of Immigration (Publication Centre)

Amid the intensifying debate about the pros and cons of E.U. membership, higher immigration from the rest of Europe often is blamed for the disappointing weakness of wage growth over the last couple of years. But we see little evidence to support that hypothesis.

8 June 2017 Hiring Plans Signal 200K-plus Summer Payroll Gains (Publication Centre)

Our core view on the May payroll number remains that the single most likely cause of the unexpectedly modest increase is a seasonal adjustment error, triggered when the survey is conducted early in the month.

13 September. 2016 Will the NFIB Survey Point to Stronger Non-mining Capex? (Publication Centre)

The key labor market numbers from today's August NFIB survey of small businesses have already been released--they appear a day or two before the employment report--but they will be reported as though they are news. The headline hiring intentions reading dipped to nine from 12, leaving it near the bottom of the range of the past couple of years.

13 June. 2016 Further Thoughts on May Jobs, and Why June Won't be Great (Publication Centre)

We are still annoyed, for want of a better word, by the May payroll numbers. Specifically, we're annoyed that we got it wrong, and we want to know why. Our initial thoughts centered on the idea that the plunge in the stock market in the first six weeks of the year hit business confidence and triggered a pause in hiring decisions, later reflected in the payroll numbers.

18 Feb. 2016 How to Read the Jobless Claims Numbers, Wherever They Go (Publication Centre)

The question of what's really happening to the pace of layoffs is still unanswered, despite the apparent upturn over the past couple of months. The weekly jobless claims numbers are only just emerging from the fog of the usual holiday season chaos. The pattern of pre-holiday hiring and post-holiday layoffs is broadly the same each year, but Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a different day each year, making seasonal adjustment difficult.

19 August. 2016 The Consumer Bubble Will Pop Around the Year-End (Publication Centre)

It would be a serious mistake to conclude from July's retail sales figures that consumers' spending will be immune to the fallout of the Brexit vote. Households have yet to endure the hiring freeze and pay squeeze indicated by surveys of employers, or the price surge signalled by sterling's sharp depreciation. The real test for consumers' spending lies ahead.

13 April 2017 Slowing Labour Income Growth Highlights Consumers' Woes (Publication Centre)

Yesterday's labour market data showed that growth in households' income has slowed significantly in recent months. Firms are both hiring cautiously and restraining wage increases, due to heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook and rising raw material and non-wage labour costs. Consumers' spending, therefore, will support GDP growth to a far smaller extent this year than last.

2 July. 2015 Strong Jobs Numbers a Decent Bet, but Reasons for Caution too (Publication Centre)

Most of the indicators we follow point to another very strong payroll report today; we look for a 260K gain, matching May's performance. The best single leading indicator, the NFIB small business hiring intentions number, points to a massive 320K leap in private payrolls, as our first chart shows.

1 September 2017 Expect Strong August Payrolls, but Calendar Distortions will hit Wages (Publication Centre)

Leading indicators all point to a solid August payroll number. Survey-based measures of the pace of hiring signal a 200K-plus increase, and jobless claims--a proxy for the pace of gross layoffs--are at a record low as a share of the workforce.

09 Feb. 2016 NFIB Survey Components are More Important than the Headline (Publication Centre)

The headline number in today's NFIB survey of small businesses probably will look soft. The index is sensitive to the swings in the stock market and we'd be surprised to see no response to the volatility of recent weeks. We also know already that the hiring intentions number dropped by four points, reversing December's gain, because the key labor market numbers are released in advance, the day before the official payroll report.

08 Jan. 2016 Expect Robust Jobs Data, but Downside Risk for Wages (Publication Centre)

The underlying trend in payroll growth is running at about 225K-to-250K, perhaps more, and the leading indicators we follow suggest that's a reasonable starting point for our December forecast. The trend in jobless claims is extraordinarily low and stable--the week-to-week volatility is eye-catching, especially over the holidays, but unimportant--and indicators of hiring remain robust. The unusually warm weather in the eastern half of the country between the November and December survey weeks also likely will give payrolls a small nudge upwards, with construction likely the key beneficiary, as in November.

21 September 2016 Still Little Scope for Optimism on Business Investment (Publication Centre)

If the economy is to enter recession, falling business investment probably will have to be the main driver. Growth in consumer spending likely will slow sharply over the next year as firms become more cautious about hiring new workers and inflation begins to exceed wage growth again.

10 Mar. 2015 Can the Uptick in New Home Sales be Sustained? (Publication Centre)

The key labor market numbers from today's February NFIB report on small businesses--hiring intentions and the proportion of firms with unfilled job openings--were released last week, as usual, ahead of the official jobs report.

10 Nov. 2015 Focus on Older Workers in Jobs Report Misses the Bigger Picture (Publication Centre)

Investors and market observers of a relatively bearish persuasion argued over the weekend that the details of the October employment report were less encouraging than the headline, principally because the household survey showed that all the job growth, net, was among older workers, defined as people aged 55-plus. This, they argue, suggests that most of the increased demand for labor was concentrated in low-paid service sector jobs, where older workers are concentrated, perhaps reflecting retail hiring ahead of the holidays. Such a wave of hiring is unlikely to be repeated over the next few months, so payroll growth won't be sustained at its October pace.

12 Nov. 2015 NFIB Points to Rising Capex, and Modest Increases in Core Inflation (Publication Centre)

To the extent that markets bother with the NFIB survey at all, most of the attention falls on the labor market numbers. But these data--hiring, compensation, jobs hard-to-fill--haven't changed much in recent months, and in any event most of them are released the week before the main survey, which appeared yesterday. The message from the labor data is unambiguous: Hiring remains very strong, employers are finding it very difficult to fill open positions, and compensation costs are accelerating.

5 January 2017 Payroll Indicators are Rebounding (Publication Centre)

Most of the leading indicators of payroll growth have rebounded in recent months, with the exception of the Help Wanted Online. Our first chart shows that the NFIB's measure of hiring intentions and the ISM non-manufacturing employment index have returned to their cycle highs, while the manufacturing employment index has risen substantially from its late 2015 low. The Help Wanted Online remains very weak, but it might have been depressed by increased prices for job postings on Craigslist.

8 August. 2016 Wage Gains Set to Slide in August, Delaying the Fed Until December (Publication Centre)

We were happy to see the 255K gain in July payrolls, but we remain nervous about the sustainability of such strong numbers. The jump in employment was very large relative to some of the key survey-based indicators of the pace of hiring, even after allowing for the 29K favorable swing in the birth/ death model, compared to a year ago, and the 27K jump in state and local government education jobs, likely due to seasonal adjustment problems

8 August 2017 Watch the NFIB Survey for Clues to Job Growth, Capex and Inflation (Publication Centre)

The NFIB survey of small businesses today will show that July hiring intentions jumped by four points to +19, the highest level since November 2006. The NFIB survey has been running since 1973, and the hiring intentions index has never been sustained above 20.

8 Dec. 2015 Small Firms Are Struggling to Recruit, and Price are Nudging Up (Publication Centre)

The release of the NFIB survey at 6.00AM eastern time this morning--really, they need a new PR advisor--doubtless will bring a flurry of headlines about rising wage pressures, with the expected compensation index rising by a startling three points to a new post-crash high. But this is not news, nor is the high, stable level of hiring intentions; these key labor market numbers were released last week in the NFIB Jobs Report, which appears the day before the official employment report. The data are simply extracted from the main NFIB survey.

ASIAN DATA WRAP 15 May 2019 (Publication Centre)

Our caution over China's March industrial production spike was justified. Chinese retail sales growth hits lows. Chinese FAI growth suggests private sector policy loosening isn't working. Japan's M2 growth upturn is a welcome break, but needs to be sustained. Korean unemployment jumps in April, showing the limits of the government's hiring spree.

07 October. 2016 Payrolls Likely Unexciting Last Month, But Wages Should Rebound (Publication Centre)

Private sector payroll growth has averaged 190K over the past year, but the six-month average has slowed to 150K. The downshift is consistent with the weakening in survey-based measures of hiring intentions, which began to soften at the turn of the year.

22 Oct. 2015 Claims Signal Payroll Data are Flawed, or Labor Pool Has Run Dry (Publication Centre)

The headline payroll number each month is the difference between the flow of gross hirings and the flow of gross firings. The JOLTS report provides both numbers, with a lag, but we can track the firing side of the equation via the jobless claims numbers. Claims are volatile week-to-week, thanks to the impossibility of ironing out every seasonal fluctuation in such short-term data, but the underlying trend is an accurate measure. The claims data are based on an actual count of all the people making claims, not a sample survey like most other data. That means you'll never be blindsided by outrageous revisions, turning the story upside-down.

7 January 2019 Job Growth will Slow in Q1, but it Won't Collapse, AHE is Accelerating (Publication Centre)

If our composite index of businesses' hiring plans could speak, it would say: "Told you payrolls were going to go nuts at the end of the year."

4 Dec. 2015 November Labor Data Will Support Yellen's Case for Hiking (Publication Centre)

We're expecting to see November payrolls up by about 200K this morning, but our forecast takes into account the likelihood that the initial reading will be revised up. In the five years through 2014, the first estimate of November payrolls was revised up by an average of 73K by the time o f the third estimate. Our forecast for today, therefore, is consistent with our view that the underlying trend in payrolls is 250K-plus. That's the message of the very low level of jobless claims, and the strength of all surveys of hiring, with the exception of the depressed ISM manufacturing employment index. Manufacturing accounts for only 9% of payrolls, though, so this just doesn't matter.

6 Nov. 2015 Payroll Uncertainty (Even) Greater than Usual in October (Publication Centre)

Any model of payrolls based on the usual indicators--jobless claims, ISM hiring, NFIB hiring, and other sundry surveys--right now points to payroll growth at 250K or better. Indeed, the ISM non-manufacturing report on Wednesday is consistent with payroll growth closer to 400K, and the lagged NFIB hiring intentions number points to 300K. Yet the consensus forecast for today's October report is just 182K. Why so timid?

5 June. 2015 Payroll consensus looks low, but watch out for the birth death model (Publication Centre)

All the fundamentals point to a very strong payroll number for May. The NFIB hiring in tentions index, the best single leading indicator of payrolls five months ahead, signalled back in December that May employment would rise by about 300K. The NFIB actual net hiring number, released yesterday, is a bit less bullish, implying 250K, but the extraordinarily low level of jobless claims, shown in our first chart, points to 300K. Finally, the ISM non-manufacturing employment index suggests we should be looking for payrolls to rise by about 260K. Our estimate is 280K.

6 Feb. 2015 Payroll Growth Trending at 250K-plus - Expect Strength Today (Publication Centre)

The odds favor a robust January payroll report today. The key leading indicator--the NIFB hiring intentions index from five months ago--points to a 275K increase, while the coincident NFIB actual employment change index suggests 260K.

6 July. 2015 Labor Market is Still Tightening, Despite June Payroll Miss (Publication Centre)

First, a deep breath: June payrolls, with a margin of error of +/-107K, missed the consensus by 10K. Adding in the -60K revisions and the miss is still statistically insignificant. The story, therefore, is that there is no story. Even relative to our more bullish forecast, the miss was just 37K. Nothing bad happened in June. But we hav e to acknowledge that payroll growth has now undershot the pace implied by the NFIB's hiring intentions number--lagged by five months--in each of the past four months. In June, the survey pointed to a 320K jump in private employment, overshooting the actual print by nearly 100K.

MARKETWATCH - So many jobs, so little growth. What gives? (Media Centre)

Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. hiring

NEW YORK TIMES - U.S. Economy Added 271,000 Jobs in October - Unemployment Rate at 5% (Media Centre)

Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on today's Payroll report

Consistently Right

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