As usual, at 8:30 edt this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Labor Department released its monthly Employment Situation.
The May results were ok, but not great.
The economy added 138,000 new jobs during the month, a reasonable number although one below recent reporting trends. In addition, results for March and April were revised down by a total of 66,000. Ouch!
Wage growth remains at an inflation-beating pace of +2.5% but continues to show none of the acceleration one might be hoping for, given that the unemployment rate has fallen another notch to 4.3%.
Let’s separate what’s going on from why it’s happening.
On the second question, I have inklings/prejudices but nothing that I’d care to act on. My guess/fear is that jobs are being created, but in lower tax-rate foreign jurisdictions (meaning just about anywhere other than the US), and that machines are substituting for domestic labor, thereby keeping wages low. If that were so, it would imply US employers believe President Trump won’t be able to advance his tax and infrastructure agenda.
But, really, who knows.
On the first, the signs are that after eight years, the US is finally at full employment again. This would imply what other indicators seem to be showing–that’s there’s no reason to bet that there’ll be any “pent-up,” cyclically unfulfilled demand showing itself in surprisingly strong future consumer spending.
If so, the stock market should move away from cyclical ideas to secular growth and structural change beneficiaries. In addition, overall annual upward movement in the broad indices should be limited to, at best, 1.5x the growth in nominal GDP.
The way I see things, this is the way Wall Street has been acting since early in 2017. So this ES report is not new news. Rather it’s confirmation of the direction the market has already recently taken.