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6 June 2017 ISM Non-manufacturing Jobs Up Sharply. Summer Payrolls to Surge? (Publication Centre)

The 6.4-point rebound in the May ISM non-manufacturing employment index, to a very high 57.8, supports our view that summer payroll growth will be strong. On the face of it, the survey is consistent with job gains in excess of 300K, as our first chart shows, but that's very unlikely to happen.

5 December 2017 ISM Non-manufacturing Set for Clear Correction. Don't Worry (Publication Centre)

Last week's strong ISM manufacturing survey for November likely will be followed by robust data for the non-manufacturing sector today, but the headline index, like its industrial counterpart, likely will dip a bit.

03 Mar. 2016 ISM Non-manufacturing Set to Rebound, Lagging Core Sales (Publication Centre)

The headline ISM non-manufacturing index is not, in our view, a leading indicator of anything much. The survey covers a broad array of non manufacturing activity, including mining, healthcare, and financial services, but most of the time it tends to follow the track of real core retail sales, as our first chart shows.

5 May. 2016 ISM Non-manufacturing Jobs Up, But are Prior Declines a Threat? (Publication Centre)

Markets and the commentariat seemed not to like the April ADP employment report yesterday but we are completely indifferent. We set out in detail in yesterday's Monitor the case for expecting a below consensus ADP reading--in short, the model used to generate the number includes lagging official data, some of which were hugely depressed by the early Easter--so it does not change our 200K forecast for tomorrow's official number.

6 April 2017 ADP Likely Overstates Payrolls, ISM Non-manufacturing Understates (Publication Centre)

We don't directly plug the ADP employment data into our model for the official payroll number. ADP's estimate is derived itself from a model which incorporates lagged official payroll data, because payrolls tend to mean-revert, as well as macroeconomic variables including oil prices, industrial production and jobless claims -- and actual employment data from firms which use ADP's payroll processing services.

6 July. 2016 ISM Non-manufacturing Jobs Should Rebound, but How Far? (Publication Centre)

The shock of the weak May payroll report means that the June numbers this week will come under even greater scrutiny than usual. We are not optimistic that a substantial rebound is coming immediately. The headline number will be better than in May, because the 35K May drag from the Verizon strike will reverse.

6 June. 2016 Payrolls Will Rebound Over the Summer - Fed to Hike in September (Publication Centre)

We chose last week to ignore the payroll warning signal from the ISM non-manufacturing employment index, which rolled over in January and February, because the danger seemed to have passed. The ISM is not always a reliable indicator--the drop in the index in early 2014 was not replicated in the official data, but the plunge in early 2015 was--and usually it operates with a very short lag, just a month or two.

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?

6 Oct. 2015 Will the Industrial Slowdown Drag Down the Rest of the Economy? (Publication Centre)

The elevated September ISM non-manufacturing index reported yesterday--it dipped to 56.9 but remains very high by historical standards--again served to underscore the depth of the bifurcation in the economy. The services sector, boosted by the collapse in gasoline prices and the strong dollar, is massively outperforming the woebegone manufacturing sector.

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.

1 March 2018 China PMIs Trend Down but the February Dip is an Overshoot (Publication Centre)

China's PMIs surprised the consensus forecasts to the downside for February. The manufacturing PMI dropped to 50.3 in February from 51.3 in January, while the non-manufacturing PMI fell to 54.4 from 55.3 in January.

5 June 2018 ISM Non-manufacturing Set to Rebound, Watch Employment (Publication Centre)

The headline May ISM non-manufacturing index today likely will mirror, at least in part, the increase in the manufacturing survey, reported Friday.

5 Oct. 2015 Why are Payroll Gains Slowing When Employers Want to Hire? (Publication Centre)

It is possible that the broad-based softness of September payrolls captures a knee-jerk reaction on the part of employers, choosing to wait-and-see what happens to demand in the wake of stock market correction. But that can't be the explanation for the mere 136K August gain, because the survey was conducted before the market rolled over. Even harder to explain is the hefty downward revision to August payrolls, after years of upward revisions. All is not yet lost for August--the last time the first revision to the month was downwards, -3K in 2010, the second revision was +56K--but we aren't wildly optimistic.

5 Nov. 2015 Yellen Signals December Action, Data Permitting (Publication Centre)

Fed Chair Yellen yesterday reinforced the impression that the bar to Fed action in December, in terms of the next couple of employment reports, is now quite low: "If we were to move, say in December, it would be based on an expectation, which I believe is justified, [our italics] that with an improving labor market and transitory factors fading, that inflation will move up to 2%." The economy is now "performing well... Domestic spending has been growing at a solid pace" making a December hike a "live possibility." New York Fed president Bill Dudley, speaking later, said he "fully" agrees with Dr. Yellen's position, but "let's see what the data show."

5 October 2017 ADP Confirms that Hurricanes hit Payrolls (Publication Centre)

The ADP employment report for September showed private payrolls rose by 135K, trivially better than we expected.

6 August 2018 China's PMIs Point to a Loss of Momentum in Q3 (Publication Centre)

China's PMIs point to softening activity in Q3. The Caixin services PMI fell to 52.8 in July, from 53.9 in June.

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.

5 March 2018 Whatever the Problem is, Tariffs aren't the Answer (Publication Centre)

The apparently imminent imposition of 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% on aluminum does not per se constitute a serious macroeconomic shock.

5 June 2017 May Payrolls Hit by the Calendar, Expect a Rebound, and a Fed Hike (Publication Centre)

We don't believe that payrolls rose only 138K in May. History strongly suggests that when the May payroll survey is conducted relatively early in the month, payroll growth falls short of the prior trend.

5 Feb. 2015 December Trade Data Likely to Signal Upward Q4 GDP Revision (Publication Centre)

Today's December international trade numbers could easily signal a substantial upward revision to fourth quarter GDP growth. When the GDP data were compiled, the December trade numbers were not available so the BEA had to make assumptions for the missing numbers, as usual.

4 October 2018 ADP Likely Overstates September Payrolls (Publication Centre)

The ADP employment report suggests that the hit to payrolls from Hurricane Florence was smaller than we feared, so we're revising up our forecast for the official number tomorrow to 150K, from 100K.

4 October 2017 ADP to Show Slower Job Gains Last Month, but will Overstate BLS Data (Publication Centre)

Today brings the first glimpse of the post-hurricane employment picture, in the form of the September ADP report.

5 December. 2016 Labor Market Tightening Continues (Publication Centre)

We're pretty sure that the unemployment rate didn't drop by 0.3 percentage points in November. We're pretty sure hourly earnings didn't fall by 0.1%. And we're pretty sure payrolls didn't rise by 178K. All the employment data are unreliable month-to-month, with the wages numbers particularly susceptible to technical quirks.

6 December 2017 ADP to Report Strong November Jobs, but will Overstate Official Data (Publication Centre)

The ADP measure of private employment hugely overstated the official measure of payrolls in September, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, but then slightly understated the October number.

7 April 2017 Mixed Signals for March Payrolls, but 200K Seems a Fair Bet (Publication Centre)

Everything but the weather points to a strong headline payroll number for March. Our composite leading payroll indicator has signalled robust job growth since last fall, and the message for March is very clear.

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

7 September 2018 Brace for Soft Looking August Payroll and Hourly Earnings Data (Publication Centre)

In the wake of yesterday's ADP report, which showed private payrolls rising by only 163K, we have pulled down our forecast for today's official number to 170K.

8 December. 2016 Will the Fed Move up the Dotplot in Anticipation of Fiscal Easing? (Publication Centre)

We're hearing a good deal of speculation about the dotplot after next week's FOMC meeting, with investors wondering whether the median dot will rise in anticipation of the increased inflation threat posed by substantial fiscal loosening under the new administration. We suspect not, though for the record we think that higher rate forecasts could easily be justified simply by the tightening of the labor market even before any stimulus is implemented.

8 March 2017 Could a Bad Payroll Report for February Really Stop the Fed? (Publication Centre)

With the FOMC decision now just seven days away, the forcefulness of recent Fed speakers has led many analysts to argue that only a spectacularly bad payroll report, or an external shock, can prevent a rate hike next week. External shocks are unpredictable, by definition, and we think the chance of a startlingly terrible employment report is low, though substantial sampling error does occasionally throw the numbers off-track.

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.

7 July. 2016 June ADP Set to be Constrained by Weak May Payroll Data (Publication Centre)

We have argued frequently that the ADP employment report is not a reliable advance payroll indicator--see our Monitor of May 4, for example-- so for now we'll just note that it is generated by a regression model which includes a host of nonpayroll data and the official jobs numbers from the previous month. It is not based solely on reports from employers who use ADP for payroll processing, despite ADP's best efforts to insinuate that it is.

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.

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.

6 June 2018. Productivity Growth is Improving, Ignore the Lackluster Q1 Numbers (Publication Centre)

Revisions to the first quarter productivity numbers, due today, likely will be trivial, given the minimal 0.1 percentage point downward revision to GDP growth reported last week.

6 March 2018 Inventories Rebounding in Q1 (Publication Centre)

The wide spread in first quarter GDP growth "trackers"--which at this point are more model and assumption than actual data--is indicative of the uncertainty surrounding the international trade and inventory components.

6 May. 2016 Payrolls Likely On Trend - Watch Out for a Rebound in Wages (Publication Centre)

Barring some sort of out-of-the-blue shock, we are much more interested in the hourly earnings data today than the headline payroll number. The key question is the extent to which wages rebound after being depressed by a persistent calendar quirk in both February and March.

6 July 2017 Downside Risk for June ADP Jobs, but Official Data Will be Stronger (Publication Centre)

Today's June ADP employment report likely will undershoot the 183K consensus, but we then expect the official payroll number tomorrow to surprise to the upside.

3 Sept. 2015 Trade Deficit Likely Dropped in July, but Q3 Picture Still Unclear (Publication Centre)

The July trade deficit likely fell significantly further than the consensus forecast for a dip to $42.2B from $43.8B in June, despite the sharp drop in the ISM manufacturing export orders index. Our optimism is not just wishful thinking on our p art; our forecast is based on the BEA's new advance trade report. These data passed unnoticed in the markets and the media. The July report, released August 28, wasn't even listed on Bloomberg's U.S. calendar, which does manage to find space for such useless indicators as the Challenger job cut survey and Kansas City Fed manufacturing index. Baffling.

16 June. 2016 Don't Fret Over One Jobs Report, Says Yellen, Doing Exactly That (Publication Centre)

If the Fed really believed its own rhetoric--"Inflation is expected... to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of past declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further"--it would have raised rates yesterday, given the very long lags between policy action and the response from the real economy.

24 Mar. 2016 In the March Employment Report, Wages are Wild (Publication Centre)

This is the final Monitor before we head out for our spring break, so we have added a page in order to make room to preview the employment report due next Friday, April 4. We expect a solid but unspectacular 175K increase in payrolls, slowing from February's unsustainable 242K, but still robust.

4 May. 2016 Will the March Easter Depress the April ADP Employment Number? (Publication Centre)

The official payroll numbers seem not to be consistently affected by seasonal adjustment problems when Easter falls in March, probably because the earliest possible date for the holiday, the 23rd, comes long after the payroll data are captured. The BLS data cover the week of the 12th.

3 August 2018 Strong Job Growth Likely Continued in June Wage Gains Still Modest (Publication Centre)

We look for a 210K increase in July payrolls. That would be consistent with the message from an array of private sector surveys, as well as the recent trend.

14 June. 2016 May Sales Will Be Less Impressive than April's but Good Enough (Publication Centre)

April's impressive-looking retail sales numbers--the headline jumped 1.3%, with non-auto sales up 0.8%--were boosted by two entirely separate factors, one of which will play no p art in May and one which will offer very modest support. The key lift in April came from the very early Easter, which confounded the seasonal adjustments, as it usually does.

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.

04 Feb. 2016 Are Jobless Claims Starting to Rise? If so, Where Will They Stop? (Publication Centre)

The pace of layoffs might be picking up. Our first chart looks pretty convincing, but it's much too soon to know for sure. The claims data from mid-December through late January are subject to serious seasonal adjustment problems, partly because Christmas falls on a different day of the week each year and partly because the exact timing of post-holiday layoffs varies from year-to-year.

06 Jan. 2016 ADP Likely to Report Slower December Job Gains - Ignore it (Publication Centre)

None of today's four monthly economic reports will tell us much new about the outlook, and one of them--ADP employment--will tell us more about the past, but that won't stop markets obsessing over it. We have set out the problems with the ADP number in numerous previous Monitors, but, briefly, the key point is that it is generated from regression models which are heavily influenced by the previous month's official payroll numbers and other lagging data like industrial production, personal incomes, retail and trade sales, and even GDP growth. It is not based solely on the employment data taken from companies which use ADP for payroll processing, and it tends to lag the official numbers.

07 May. 2015 How Far Will Yields Rise When the Activity Data Turn Higher? (Publication Centre)

Along with just about every other commentator and market participant, we have been wondering in recent months how longer Treasuries would react to the Fed starting to raise rates at the same time the ECB and BoJ are pumping new money into their economies via QE.

10 September 2018 The Payroll Blip is Over, Expect Further Labor Market Tightening (Publication Centre)

Normal service appears to have resumed in August, with payrolls rising by 201K, very close to the 196K average over the previous year.

3 Dec. 2015 Yellen Throws Down the Gauntlet, But Gently, Leaving Get-Outs (Publication Centre)

Short of saying "We're going to hike rates in two weeks' time", Dr. Yellen's view of the immediate economic and policy outlook, set out in her speech yesterday, could hardly have been clearer. Yes, she threw in the usual caveats: "...we take account of both the upside and downside risks around our projections when judging the appropriate stance of monetary policy", and saying the FOMC will have to evaluate the data due ahead of this month's meeting, but her underlying message was straightforward.

25 Feb. 2016 Huge Upside Risk for Durable Orders as Aircraft Sales Rebound (Publication Centre)

Today's headline durable goods orders number for January is likely to blast through the consensus forecast, +2.7%. We expect a 6.5% jump, comfortably reversing December's 5.0% drop.

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 Mar. 2015 Mean Reversion Makes ADP Look Like a Leading Indicator - It's Not (Publication Centre)

Mean-reversion is a wonderful thing; it's what gives the ADP employment report the wholly unjustified appearance of being a useful leading indicator of payroll growth. Over time, the best single forecast of payroll gains or losses in any particular month is whatever happened last month.

4 May 2017 Fed on Hold Today After Mixed Data, but a June Hike Still Looks Likely (Publication Centre)

The Fed surprised no-one yesterday, leaving rates on hold, saying nothing new about the balance sheet, and making no substantive changes to its view on the economy. The statement was tweaked slightly, making it clear that policymakers are skeptical of the reported slowdown in GDP growth to just 0.7% in Q1: "The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory".

4 April 2018 Japan's Tankan Points to Building Inflationary Pressure (Publication Centre)

The Tankan survey--published on Monday--points to still buoyant sentiment, a further tightening of the labour market, and building inflation pressures.

4 Feb. 2015 ADP Should Beat Consensus, but it's not a Reliable Indicator (Publication Centre)

The least-bad way to forecast the ADP employment number is to look at the official private payroll number for the previous month. ADP's methodology generates employment numbers from a model incorporating lagged data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as information from companies which use ADP for payroll processing.

3 May 2017 Fed on Hold Today After Mixed Data, but a June Hike Still Looks Likely (Publication Centre)

The Fed likely will do nothing today, both in terms of interest rates and substantive changes to the statement. We'd be very surprised to hear anything new on the Fed's plans for its balance sheet.

3 November. 2016 Rates Will Rise in December, If Events Don't Intervene (Publication Centre)

The Fed left rates on hold yesterday, as expected, repeating its long-held core view that inflation will rise to 2% in the medium-term, requiring gradual increases in the fed funds rate.

3 October 2018 September ADP Employment Likely Subdued, thanks to Florence (Publication Centre)

We're fully expecting to see a hit to September payrolls from Hurricane Florence, which struck during the employment survey week.

3 March 2017 Yellen and Fischer Won't Push Back Against a March Rate Hike Today (Publication Centre)

Speeches by Chair Yellen and Vice-Chair Fischer give the two most important Fed officials the perfect platform today to signal to markets whether rates will rise this month.

6 Apr. 2016 Is Non-Manufacturing Activity Past Its Cyclical Peak in the Eurozone? (Publication Centre)

The final Eurozone PMIs indicate that the cyclical recovery continued in Q1, but downside risks are rising. The composite index rose marginally to 53.0 in March, from 53.1 in February, below the initial estimate 53.7. Over the quarter as a whole, though, the index fell to 53.2 from 54.1 in Q4, indicating that economic momentum moderated in the first quarter.

WALL STREET JOURNAL - ISM Services Report Alleviates Market's Economic Anxiety (Media Centre)

Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest ISM Non-Manufacturing data release

20 Feb. 2015 Data Surprises Don't Tell Us Much About the Economy (Publication Centre)

At the headline level, much of the recent U.S. macro dataflow has been disappointing. January retail sales, industrial production, housing starts, and both ISM surveys--manufacturing and non-manufacturing-- undershot consensus, following a sharp and unexpected drop in December durable goods orders.

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.

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.

NEW YORK TIMES - Survey Indicates Slower Growth in Services Sector (Media Centre)

Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on ISM Non-Manufacturing

5 July 2018 ADP Likely to Report Another Solid Gain in Payrolls (Publication Centre)

Payroll growth rebounded to 223K in May, after two sub-200K readings, and we're expecting today's June ADP report to signal that labor demand remains strong.

Consistently Right

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