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6 February 2017 Soft January Hourly Earnings Will Prove Short-Lived (Publication Centre)

Markets over-reacted to the much smaller-than-expected 0.1% increase in January hourly earnings, in our view. We don't have a full explanation for the shortfall against our 0.5% forecast, but that doesn't make it wise to throw out the baby with the bathwater, making the de facto assumption that wage growth now won't accelerate in the future.

6 July 2018 June Payroll Growth Likely Slowed, a Bit, Hourly Earnings are a Wild Card (Publication Centre)

The ADP private sector employment number was a bit weaker than we expected in May, and the undershoot relative to our forecast has pulled down our model's estimate for today's official number

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.

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.

22 July. 2016 July Payrolls Won't Excite Markets, but Hourly Earnings Should (Publication Centre)

This is the final Monitor before we hit the beach for two weeks, so want to highlight some of the key data and event risks while we're out. First, we're expecting little more from the FOMC statement than an acknowledgment that the labor market data improved in June. After the May jobs report, the FOMC remarked that "...the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed".

9 May 2018 Faster Productivity Growth and Higher Inflation will Lift Wage Gains (Publication Centre)

We just can't get away from the deeply vexed question of wages; specifically, why the rate of growth of nominal hourly earnings has risen only to just over 2.5%, even though the historical relationship between wage gains and the tightness of the labor market points to increases of 4%-plus.

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.

23 October 2017 Wage Inflation Still Subdued, but a Decisive Turning Point is Coming (Publication Centre)

In the absence of any significant data releases today, we want to take a closer look at the outlook for wage growth, and the implications of an acceleration in hourly earnings for inflation.

21 November. 2016 The Inflation Threat from Wages is Rising (Publication Centre)

Last week, the Atlanta Fed updated its median hourly earnings series with new October data, showing wage growth accelerating to an eight-year high of 3.9%. That's a full percentage point higher than the increase in this measure of wages in the year to October 2015, and it follows a spring and summer during which wage growth appeared to be topping-out at just under 3½%.

10 October 2017 New Lows for Unemployment will Stiffen Fed Hawks' Resolve (Publication Centre)

Neither the 33K drop in September payrolls nor the 0.5% jump in hourly earnings tells us anything about the underlying state of the labor market.

13 Jan. 2016 How Fast Can the Fed Allow Wages to Rise? (Publication Centre)

The leading wage indicators in the December NFIB survey, released in full yesterday--some of the labor market components appears a few days in advance, ahead of the official payroll report--all point to a substantial acceleration over the next six-to-nine months. Our first two charts show the NFIB jobs-hard-to-fill number and expected compensation numbers, respectively, compared to the rate of growth of hourly earnings. The message is extremely clear.

27 Apr. 2015 Accelerating high-wage job growth to lift hourly earnings? (Publication Centre)

We have argued for some time that the hourly earnings data, which take no account of changes in the mix of employment by industry or occupation, have been depressed over the past year by the relatively rapid growth of low-paid jobs.

2 September. 2016 Downside Risk for Hourly Earnings - Two Calendar Quirks Coincide (Publication Centre)

The key market risk in the August employment report is the hourly earnings number. The consensus forecast is for a 0.2% month-to-month increase, in line with the underlying trend, but the balance of risks is firmly to the downside.

3 November 2017 Expecting Rocketing Payrolls, AHE and Unemployment to Disappoint? (Publication Centre)

We expect a 350K print for October payrolls today. The ADP report was stronger than we expected, suggesting that the post-hurricane rebound will recover more of the ground lost in September than we initially expected.

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.

26 September 2018 The Fed Must Keep Hiking as the Labor Market Keeps Tightening (Publication Centre)

It would be astonishing if the Fed doesn't raise rates today, and Chair Powell is not in the astonishment business; they will hike by 25bp.

30 May 2017 Why Don't Markets Take the Fed's Interest Rate Forecasts Seriously? (Publication Centre)

Markets expect the Fed will fail to follow through on its current intention to raise rates twice more this year and three times next year. Part of this skepticism reflects recent experience.

5 October 2018 Jobs Likely Weaker than ADP but Still Solid (Publication Centre)

In the wake of the ADP report released Wednesday, we moved up our payroll forecast to 150K from 100K, but we've now taken a closer look at the post-Florence path of jobless claims.

5 July. 2016 Can We be Sure The Labor Market is Tight Enough to Boost Wage Gains? (Publication Centre)

We have argued consistently for some time that the next year will bring a clear acceleration in U.S. wage growth, because the unemployment rate has fallen below the Nairu and a host of business survey indicators point to clear upward wage pressures. Nominal wage growth has been constrained, in our view, by the unexpected decline in core inflation from 2012 through early 2015, which boosted real wage growth and, hence, eased the pressure from employees for bigger nominal raises.

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.

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.

5 May 2017 Payrolls Should Rebound to More than 200K, Wage Gains up too? (Publication Centre)

If the underlying trend in payroll growth is about 200K, then a weather-depressed 98K reading needs to be followed by a rebound of about 300K in order fully to reverse the hit. But the consensus for today's April number is only 190K, and our forecast is 225K.

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.

4 June 2018 The Labor Market Continues to Tighten, No end in Sight (Publication Centre)

The May employment report was somewhat overshadowed by the furor over the president's tweet, at 7.15AM, hinting--more than hinting--that the numbers would be good.

6 September. 2016 Payrolls Will Revive, but not Immediately, Ignore "So" AHE (Publication Centre)

Over the past six months, payroll growth has averaged exactly 150K. Over the previous six months, the average increase was 230K. And in the six months to August 2015--a fairer comparison, because the fourth quarter numbers enjoy very favorable seasonals, flattering the data--payroll growth averaged 197K.

9 April 2018 March Payrolls Don't Signal a Shift in the Trend, Expect 200K-plus in April (Publication Centre)

March payrolls were constrained by both the impact of colder and snowier weather than usual in the survey week, and a correction in the construction and retail components, which were unsustainably strong in February.

8 July. 2016 June Payrolls Should be Better than May, but no Return to Trend Yet (Publication Centre)

We have had a modest rethink of our June payroll forecast and have nudged up our number to 150K, still below the 180K consensus. Our forecast has changed because we have re-estimated some of our models, not because of the 172K increase in the ADP measure of private payrolls. ADP is a model-based estimate, not a reliable survey indicator.

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.

9 March 2018 Payrolls Likely Strong Again, All Eyes on Unemployment and Wages (Publication Centre)

We'd be quite surprised if the headline payroll number today turned out to be far from the consensus, 205K, or our forecast, 225K.

9 October 2018 September Payrolls Hit by Florence (Publication Centre)

The dip in payroll growth in September was due to Hurricane Florence. We expect a clear rebound in payrolls in October; our tentative forecast is 250K.

9 October 2018 Risks to the Consensus for August GDP Lie to the Upside (Publication Centre)

We expect August's GDP figures, released on Wednesday, to show that month-to-month growth slowed to 0.1%, from 0.3% in July.

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

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.

2 June 2017 May Payrolls Likely Solid, but Calendar Quirk will hit Wage Data (Publication Centre)

The 253K increase in May private payrolls reported by ADP yesterday was some a bit stronger than our 225K forecast. Plugging the difference between these numbers into our payroll model generates our 210K forecast for today's official number.

6 October 2017 September Payrolls Hit by the Hurricanes, but Earnings set to Pop (Publication Centre)

We would be quite surprised if today's official payroll number exceeded the 135K ADP reading; a clear undershoot is much more likely.

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.

7 December 2017 Job Gains Easily Strong Enough to Push Unemployment Down Further (Publication Centre)

We were a bit disappointed by the November ADP employment report, though a 190K reading in the 102nd month of a cyclical expansion is hardly a disaster.

7 July 2017 Upside Risk for Payroll. Despite Soft ADP. Robust AHE a Decent Bet too (Publication Centre)

ADP's reported 158K increase in private payrolls was very close to our model-based estimate, so it doesn't change our 220K forecast for todays official payroll number, well above the 177K consensus.

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?

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.

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.

10 April 2017 Falling Unemployment Matters More than the Weather-hit Jobs Number (Publication Centre)

The BLS offered no estimate of the impact on payrolls of the snowstorm which hit the Northeast during the March survey week, but it appears to have been substantial. All the leading indicators pointed to a solid 200K-plus reading, more than double the official initial estimate, 98K.

1 June 2018 Payrolls Likely Constrained by Trade- War Talk, AHE Hit by the Calendar? (Publication Centre)

We're expecting a 180K increase in today's May headline payroll number, a bit below the underlying trend--200K or so--for the second straight month.

2 February 2018 January Job Gains Likely Solid, Calendar Effects to Subdue AHE? (Publication Centre)

The case for expecting a robust January jobs number is strong, but it is not without risks.

11 May 2018 Core Inflation is Still Set To Rise, April's Softness won't be Repeated (Publication Centre)

The undershoot in the April core CPI wasn't a huge surprise to us; the downside risk we set out in yesterday's Monitor duly materialized, with used car prices dropping by a hefty 1.6% month-to-month, subtracting 0.05% from the core index.

10 March 2017 February Payrolls Look set for Strength, Seasonals Permitting (Publication Centre)

We're expecting a hefty increase in February payrolls today, but even a surprise weak number likely wouldn't prevent a rate hike next week. The trends in all the private sector employment surveys are strong and improving, and jobless claims have dropped to new lows too, though we think that's probably less important than it appears.

18 April 2018 Wage Growth Still isn't Building Momentum, so why Rush to Hike? (Publication Centre)

ebruary's labour market data failed to make a resounding case for the MPC to raise interest rates in May, prompting markets to reduce the probability attached to a hike next month to 85%, from nearly 90% before the data were released.

13 February 2018 Unit Labor Costs are Key to Inflation Outlook (Publication Centre)

Jim Bullard, the St. Louis Fed president, said last week that Phillips Curve effects in the U.S. are "weak", and that nominal wage growth is not a good predictor of future inflation.

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.

12 February 2018 The Next Round of Data Likely Will Dampen Inflation Fears, For a Time (Publication Centre)

It's hard to know what will stop the correction in the stock market, but we're pretty sure that robust economic data--growth, prices and/or wages--over the next few weeks would make things worse.

16 February 2018 Healthcare Costs Drove up January's Core PPI (Publication Centre)

Having panicked at the January hourly earnings numbers, markets now seem to have decided that higher inflation might not be such a bad thing after all, and stocks rallied after both Wednesday's core CPI overshoot and yesterday's repeat performance in the PPI.

19 Oct. 2015 Real Wage Gains Signal the True Tightness of the Labor Market (Publication Centre)

Everyone is familiar by now with the conundrum in the labor market: How come wage gains have barely increased over the past few years even as the unemployment rate has fallen to very low levels, and business surveys scream that employers can't find the people they want? To give just one visual example of the scale of the apparent anomaly, our first chart shows the yawning gap between the headline unemployment rate and the rate of growth of hourly earnings, compared to previous cycles.

2 May. 2016 ECI Core Wages Tell the Story Hidden by Calendar Quirks in AHE (Publication Centre)

For most of the decade since the whole-economy average hourly earnings numbers were first published, the year-over-year rate of increase has run faster than the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries, excluding incentive-paid occupations. But in the first quarter of this year, the ECI measure rose 2.5% year-over-year, the fastest increase in six years, while hourly earnings rose 2.3%. That difference might not sound like much, but it matters a good deal when put into context.

14 July. 2016 Faster Pay Gains for Job-Switchers Forcing Employers to Pay More (Publication Centre)

The details of the substantial pay raises being offered to some 18K JP Morgan employees over the next three years are much less important than the signal sent by the company's response to the tightening labor market. In an economy with 144M people on payrolls, hefty raises for JP Morgan employees won't move the needle in the hourly earnings data.

10 Mar. 2016 Calendar Distortions Plague the Hours Data, Not Just Wages (Publication Centre)

We've had some correspondence questioning our view on the "weakness" of February hourly earnings, which we firmly believe were depressed by a persistent calendar quirk. Almost nine times in 10 over the past decade, when the 15th of the month has fallen after the week of the 12th--the payroll survey week--the monthly gain in wages has undershot the prior trend.

23 February 2018 Earnings Set to Beat Consensus this Year (Publication Centre)

The knee-jerk reaction of the stock market to the unexpectedly high hourly earnings growth number for January was predicated on two connected ideas.

07 Mar. 2016 Wage Pressures are Building - Fed Inaction Will Hurt, Later (Publication Centre)

Whatever you do, don't fret over the apparent loss of momentum in the wages numbers; it's a classic statistical head fake, as we pointed out in Friday's Monitor, before the report. When the 15th of the month--payday for people paid semi monthly-- falls after the employment survey week, the BLS fails properly to capture their income, and hourly earnings are under-reported.

11 Jan. 2016 Payroll Growth Will Slow in Q1, But Wages Will Accelerate (Publication Centre)

Payroll growth will slow in the first few months of next year, but wages will accelerate. This might seem counter-intuitive after the ballistic December jobs number coupled with sluggish-looking hourly earnings, but the devil, as always, is in the details. On the face of it, the trend in payroll growth is accelerating at a startling pace, captured in our first chart. But we very much doubt this reflects a real shift in the underlying pace of employment growth, for two reasons. First, payroll growth in recent years has tended to accelerate in the fourth quarter, even when indicators of both labor demand and the pace of layoffs--the two sides of the payroll equation--have been flat, as in Q4.

7 Dec. 2015 After the First Hike, Next Week, Wage Gains Will Set the Pace (Publication Centre)

We're guessing Fed Chair Yellen would have preferred to have another acceleration in hourly earnings and a dip in the unemployment rate along side the hefty 211K leap in November payrolls, but no matter. At its October meeting, the Fed wanted to see "some further improvement in the labor market", and by any reasonable standard a 509K total increase in payrolls in two months fits the bill.

9 Nov. 2015 Fed Set to Hike in December, and then Faster than Markets Expect (Publication Centre)

At a stroke, the October payroll report returned the short-term trend in payroll growth to the range in place since 2011, pushed the unemployment rate into the lower part of the Fed's Nairu range, and lifted the year-over-year rate of growth of hourly earnings to a six-year high. The FOMC has never quantitatively defined what it means by "some further improvement in the labor market", its condition for increasing rates, but if the October report does not qualify, it's hard to know what might fit the bill. We expect a 25bp increase in December.

01 May. 2015 Fed doves on the defensive as wages break to the upside (Publication Centre)

The 0.7% first quarter increase in the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries raised the year-over-year rate to 2.8%, the highest since late 2008 and significantly stronger than the 2.1% increase in hourly earnings in the year to March.

7 June. 2016 Atlanta Fed Wage Tracker Hits Seven-Year High - Does it Matter? (Publication Centre)

The headline hourly earnings data for May were dull, showing the year-over-year rate unchanged at 2.5%. That's up from 2.1% in the year to May 2015, but it's not an alarming rate of increase. But the Atlanta Fed's median hourly earnings data, which track the wages of individuals from year-to-year, show wages up 3.4% year-over-year, the fastest rate of increase since February 2009.

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.

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.

5 February 2018 January's Wage Acceleration is not Definitive, but it's a Clear Warning (Publication Centre)

To be clear, the 2.9% year-over-year increase in headline hourly earnings in January does not restore the prior relationship between the rate of growth of nominal wages and measures of labor market tightness.

4 Apr. 2016 While We Were Out... (Publication Centre)

The March employment report didn't tell us what we really want to know. The underlying trend in wage growth remains obscured by the calendar quirk which depresses reported hourly earnings when the 15th of the month--pay day for people paid semi-monthly -- falls after the payroll survey week.

Consistently Right

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