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Economy adds 200,000 jobs in January

Wages recorded the biggest monthly jump since 2009

There was good news in January for people with jobs and those trying to find one.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the economy added 200,000 jobs last month while average hourly earnings rose a robust 2.9 percent, the biggest jump since the Great Recession. The nation's unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent.

"Wage increases may finally be accelerating," economist Joel Naroff, of Naroff Economic Advisors, told ConsumerAffairs. "Payroll gains in the 190,000 range, which we averaged for the past three months, are more than enough to put further downward pressure on the unemployment rate and labor availability and force firms to finally start making decisions on whether they are going to actually pay workers more or keep their newfound tax gains for equity owners and management.”

The entire report was better than expected. The jobs number was higher than consensus forecasts, while almost no one foresaw the dramatic leap in wages.

It's an abrupt departure from the last few years. Even as the economy recovered and the labor market tightened, employers seemed reluctant to hand out pay raises. However, a number of major employers began 2018 with announcements of employee bonuses due to the new corporate tax rate.

Perhaps also helping to boost wages, 18 states have higher minimum wage laws that took effect January 1.

Broad-based strength

When it comes to jobs, nearly all sectors showed strength in January. There were 36,000 new construction jobs while factories and other manufacturers added 15,000 workers.

The service sector showed the biggest increase, adding 139,000 employees. In spite of the normal January layoffs of seasonal employees, the retail sector added 15,000 jobs.

Even though the unemployment rate remains near historic lows, it doesn't mean everyone is working. The monthly employment report does not count those who have given up on finding a job.

The BLS report shows the labor force was little changed last month, with a participation rate of only 62.7 percent for the fourth straight month.

The number of people working part-time, but who want full-time employment, was essentially unchanged at five million.

There was good news in January for people with jobs and those trying to find one.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the economy added 200,000...

A strong September showing for retail sales

Business was brisk at gas stations

Consumers loosened up their purse strings in September and did some shopping.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales surged 1.6 percent last month, totaling $483.9 billion. That put sales 4.4 percent higher than they were in September 2016.

Sales at gas stations soared 5.8 percent from August and were up 11.4 percent from September 2016. Also showing strong month-over-month gains were motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.6 percent), as well as building materials, garden equipment, and supplies dealers (+2.1 percent).

Declines in sales were registered by electronics & appliance stores (-1.1 percent), department stores (-0.4 percent), and health & personal care stores (-0.4 percent).

The rough weather during the month played a role in the increase, according to National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

“Hurricane impacts were very clear, with a strong boost for building materials going a long way to offset downturns elsewhere," he said.

"Results were mixed among several business lines but the bottom line was a good increase over August and strong growth from a year ago. While the hurricanes played a major role in the data, they did not fundamentally affect the upward path of the economy.”

The complete report is on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers loosened up their purse strings in September and did some shopping.The Commerce Department reports retail sales surged 1.6 percent last month...

Job openings dip in August

Some individual industries did show healthy increases, though

There were fewer job openings on the last business day of August than there were a month earlier.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 6.082 million positions up for grabs versus an upwardly revised 6.140 million in July.

Still, the job openings rate held steady at 4.0 percent. There was little change in the number of job openings for total private and for government.

While there were increases in health care and social assistance (+71,000) and durable goods manufacturing (+31,000). Declines were registered in other services (-95,000), educational services (-51,000), and nondurable goods manufacturing (-48,000).

The number of job openings increased in the Midwest region.

Hires

There were 5.430 million hires during August, a drop of 91,000 from the month before, dropping the hires rate to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent.

There was little change in hiring for all industries, both in the private and government sectors.by total private and for government. Hires were down in the Northeast region.

Separations

Total separations -- which includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations (and is also referred to as a turnover) -- were lower for the month.

The 5.228 million total separations was down by 134,000 from the July level for a total separations rate of 3.6 percent. There was little change in private and government separations.

Within that total, there were 3.124 million quits, 1.729 million layoffs & discharges, and 376,000 other separations, which include retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

Net employment change

Net employment change is the product of the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires is higher, employment rises. On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines.

In the 12 months ending in August, hires totaled 63.8 million and separations totaled 61.7 million, for a net employment gain of 2.1 million.

The full report is available on the BLS website.

Jobless claims

In a separate report, the government reports Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria continued to affect the collection of initial unemployment claims last week.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), 243,000 people filed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits in the week ending October 7, down 15,000 from the previous week's level, which was revised down by 2,000.

What many economists consider a more accurate gauge of the labor market -- the four-week moving average -- fell by 9,500. The previous week's number was revised down by 1,250.

The complete report is on the DOL website.

There were fewer job openings on the last business day of August than there were a month earlier.The Bureau of Labor...

U.S loses jobs in September

It's the first decline in 7 years

A sharp drop in employment at restaurants and bars contributed to an overall loss of jobs in September.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 33,000 jobs disappeared last month, the first monthly job loss since 2010. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent from the August reading of 4.4 percent.

The BLS said the loss of 105,000 jobs at food services and drinking places, as well as below-trend growth in some other industries, was likely due to the severe damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The unemployment rates for adult men (3.9 percent) and Blacks (7.0 percent) declined in September, while the jobless rates for adult women (3.9 percent), teenagers (12.9 percent), Whites (3.7 percent), Asians (3.7 percent), and Hispanics (5.1 percent) showed little change.

The employment-population ratio rose 0.3 percent to 60.4 percent in September and is up 0.6 percent over the past 12 months.

The labor force participation rate rose 0.2 percent to 63.1 percent, but it has shown little movement over the year.

Where the jobs are

In addition to the steep employment decline in food services and drinking places, job losses were reported in commercial banking (-3,000) and manufacturing (-1,000).

Jobs were added in health care (+23,000), transportation and warehousing (+22,000), professional and business services (+13,000), and financial activities (+10,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information, and government, showed little change.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 12 cents in September to $26.55. Over the past 12 months, hourly earnings have increased by 74 cents, or 2.9 percent.

Total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up from +156,000 to +169,000, while July was revised down from +189,000 to +138,000.

After revisions, job gains have averaged 91,000 over the past 3 months.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

A sharp drop in employment at restaurants and bars contributed to an overall loss of jobs in September.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 33,...

September sees big year-over year drop in job cuts

Once again, retail was the biggest job-slasher

Fewer people found themselves getting pink slips in September.

According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S.-based employers announced they were eliminating 32,346 jobs in September -- down 4.4 percent from the month before and a year-over-year decline of 27 percent.

“Job cuts have remained low since the second half of last year,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “As companies grapple with potential deregulation and changes to health care costs in a tight labor market, employers are holding on to their existing workforces while many positions requiring skilled labor go unfilled."

The September announcement brings the third quarter total to 94,478 -- 6.2 percent lower than the previous three months and down 22.5 percent from the third quarter of 2016.

It also puts the third quarter total at its lowest level since the same period last year and marks the lowest third quarter total since the third quarter of 1996.

So far this year, 321,478 job cuts have been announced -- a drop of 26.2 percent from the first 9 months of 2016.

Retail on the front line

The retail sector is the top job cutter, with 71,057 so far this year and 3,461 in September alone. That's up 36.8 percent from September 2016.

However, while retail leads in announced job cuts, it's also the top sector for hiring announcements, with plans to add over 500,000 new jobs -- both seasonal and permanent.

The service sector has seen 24,977 payroll positions go away so far this year, up a whopping 193 percent from same period last year. Health care companies came in third with 24,761 terminations.

“The fourth quarter is typically when we see the highest number of job cuts, as companies determine their needs for the next fiscal year,” said Challenger. “With cuts down from last year in most industries, people should remain optimistic about job prospects.”

Jobless claims

There was a big drop in the filings of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits during the final week of September.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial claims in the week ending September 30 totaled 260,000, down 12,000 from the previous week.

The four-week moving average, which provides what some economists believe is a more accurate picture of the labor market, came in at 268,250, a drop of 9,500 from a week earlier.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Fewer people found themselves getting pink slips in September.According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Chr...

Continued growth in September for the economy's services sector

Activity is at its highest level in 17 years

The U.S. services sector has continued a steady month-by-month growth, reaching its highest numbers in more than a decade.

The latest report from the Institute for Supply Management shows the Non-Manufacturing Index rose 4.5 percentage points in September to 59.8, the highest reading since August 2005.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion; below 50 means contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index grew for the 98th consecutive month, with an increase of 3.8 percentage points.

The New Orders Index came in at 63 percent, up 5.9 percentage points, while the Employment Index inched ahead 0.6 percentage points to 56.8 percent.

The Prices Index shot up 8.4 percentage points to 66.3 percent, the highest reading since February 2012 and the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

How they performed

The following 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in September:

  1. Retail Trade;
  2. Other Services;
  3. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  4. Information;
  5. Utilities;
  6. Transportation & Warehousing;
  7. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  8. Wholesale Trade;
  9. Construction;
  10. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  11. Finance & Insurance;
  12. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  13. Public Administration;
  14. Educational Services; and
  15. Accommodation & Food Services.

Just two industries -- Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Mining -- reported contracting.

The U.S. services sector has continued a steady month-by-month growth, reaching its highest numbers in more than a decade.The latest report from the In...

Job growth slows in September

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma account for some of the slowdown

The increase in private sector employment slowed considerably in September from the robust pace of August.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, just 135,000 jobs were created last month.

August saw the addition of 237,000 payroll positions.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to ADP Research Institute President Ahu Yildirmaz, “significantly impacted smaller retailers. In addition, the continued slow down we have seen in small business hiring could be due to a lack of competitive compensation to attract skilled talent.”

Indeed, small businesses, which are often in the forefront of job creation, saw the loss of 7,000 positions in September. Large businesses were responsible for the bulk of last month's additions (+79,000 jobs), followed by medium-sized firms (+63,000).

Jobs by industry

As is generally the case, most of the hiring was done in the services sector, where there were 88,000 new jobs.

The strength was found in professional/business services (+51,000), professional/technical services (+40,000), and education/health services (+29,000), which offset losses in trade/transportation/utilities (-18,000) and Information (-11,000).

The goods-producing sector cranked out 48,000 new jobs, led by construction (+29,000), manufacturing (+18,000), and natural resources/mining (+1,000).

Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said while Harvey and Irma hurt the job market in September, things look stable for the future. “Looking through the storms, the job market remains sturdy and strong," he said.

The increase in private sector employment slowed considerably in September from the robust pace of August.According to the ADP National Employment Repo...

Manufacturing sector expansion continues in September

Seventeen of 18 industries reported growth

The overall U.S. economy grew for the 100th consecutive month, thanks to increased economic activity in the manufacturing sector through September.

According to the Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report On Business, the September Purchasing Managers Index climbed two percentage points from August to 60.8 percent.

A reading above 50 percent indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests shrinking.

Specifically, New Orders jumped 4.3 percentage points for a total of 64.6 percent, the Production Index climbed 1.2 percent and came in at 62.2 percent.

The Employment Index inched up 0.4 percent to 60.3 percent, the Supplier Deliveries Index hit 64.4 percent, soaring 7.3 percentage points, while the Inventories Index dipped three percentage points to 52.5 percent.

The Prices Index posted a 9.5 percentage point advance to 71.5 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 19th consecutive month.

This latest report reflects expanding business conditions, with new orders, production, employment, order backlogs and export orders all growing.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, one industry -- Furniture & Related Products -- reported contraction. However, the following 17 expanded:

  • Textile Mills
  • Machinery
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Products
  • Transportation Equipment
  • Plastics & Rubber Products
  • Paper Products
  • Wood Products
  • Computer & Electronic Products
  • Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products
  • Chemical Products
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Miscellaneous Manufacturing
  • Petroleum & Coal Products
  • Apparel, Leather & Allied Products
  • Printing & Related Support Activities
  • Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components
  • Primary Metals
The overall U.S. economy grew for the 100th consecutive month, thanks to increased economic activity in the manufacturing sector through September.Acco...

Economic growth rate tops three percent

First-time jobless claims rose sharply last week

The nation's economy continued to chug along in the second quarter of 2017, showing increases in gross domestic product (GDP) but also in unemployment claims for hurricane-affected areas.

In its third and final look at how things are going, the Labor Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reports real GDP expanded at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the April to June period.

The "second" estimate, which came out in August, kept the number more or less the same, putting the increase at 3.0 percent due to bigger private inventory than previously believed.

Corporate profits rose by $14.4 billion in the second quarter after falling by $46.2 billion in the first quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations jumped $59.1 billion, offsetting the decline of $33.8 billion suffered by domestic financial corporations.

The complete report is on the BEA website.

Unemployment claims

Unfortunately, destruction wrought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma continues to have an impact on the weekly tally of first-time filings for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial applications surged by 12,000 in the week ending September 23 to a seasonally adjusted total of 272,000.

This is a large jump from the previous week's increase of 1,000 new applications.

The four-week moving average, considered by many economists to be a more accurate reflection of the labor market, was 277,750 -- up 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised average and the highest level since February 6, 2016.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's economy continued to chug along in the second quarter of 2017, showing increases in gross domestic product (GDP) but also in unemployment clai...

Toys 'R' Us to hire thousands for the Christmas shopping season

Chapter 11 won't affect the company's holiday plans

Toys “R” Us won’t let a little thing like bankruptcy get in the way of Christmas.

The toy retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 protection earlier this week, has announced it's still accepting applications for holiday positions at stores and distribution centers across the country.

Interestingly, the world's largest retailer, Walmart, is not hiring holiday help.

“We are offering the extra hours available this time of year to our current associates rather than hiring thousands of seasonal workers,” said executive vice president and CEO Judith McKenna.

She points out that the company took the same approach last year and got “great feedback” from customers and employees alike.

Available positions

As it beefs up its workforce, Toys “R” Us is adding a new position: Toy Demonstrator. The job appears to be perfect for big kids at heart, as it involves unboxing, playing with toys, and allowing kids and shoppers opportunities to test them out.

Available holiday positions include: :

  • Cashier

  • Sales associate

  • Stock associate

  • Toy demonstrator (available in select stores nationwide)

  • Order fulfillment associate

  • Distribution center warehouse associate (daytime and overnight positions available)

Perks and potential

Toys “R” Us says it's offering incentives and competitive compensation packages for all hires in each local market, such as flex hours and varied shifts.

Additionally, seasonal hires can take advantage of employee discounts and shopping events for their own holiday gift giving.

The company says there also will be some opportunities for employment beyond the holidays as it has moved thousands of its holiday workforce to fill permanent roles.

Where the jobs are

Markets with the largest seasonal hiring needs include:

  • New York, N.Y. – more than 3,800

  • Los Angeles, Calif. – more than 2,400

  • Groveport, Ohio – more than 2,400 (DHL Supply Chain Fulfillment Center)

  • Philadelphia, Pa. – more than 1,400

  • Chicago, Ill. – more than 1,100

  • Boston, Mass. – more than 950

In addition to its stores and distribution centers, the Toys “R” Us customer service partner -- Acticall Sitel Group -- is hiring over 900 dedicated seasonal Work@Home agents at its Virtual Call Centers in 25 states across the country.

Not only does Work@Home eliminate a commute and provide convenience and flexibility with schedules, it also allows parents and caregivers more time with family.

What to do

To apply for positions at Toys “R” Us stores and distribution centers, interested candidates can visit Toysrusinc.com/HolidayJobs. The application is mobile-friendly and requires less than five minutes to complete.

To apply for positions in Acticall Sitel Group call centers, interested candidates can visit Sitel.com/careers/work-home.

DHL Supply Chain in Groveport, Ohio, which provides online fulfillment for Toys “R” Us throughout the holiday season, is hiring over 2,400 seasonal employees to help service online orders for Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com.

Available positions throughout the season include general labor, clerical, and forklift operators. To apply,  interested candidates can visit dhlsupplychainjobs.com or text “TOYS2017” to 31996 for job information.

To apply for available daytime and overnight positions in Acticall Sitel Group call centers, interested candidates can visit Sitel.com/careers/work-home.

Toys“R”Us won’t let a little thing like bankruptcy get in the way of Christmas.The toy retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 protection earlier this wee...

Another gain for The Conference Board Leading Economic Index

The August increase is the 12th monthly gain in a row

Economic growth appears to be on course to continue for the rest of the year.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI), seen by many analysts as a fairly reliable indicator of economic activity, rose 0.4 percent in August.

The increase follows advances of 0.3 percent in July and 0.6 percent in June.

“The August gain is consistent with continuing growth in the U.S. economy for the second half of the year, which may even see a moderate pick up,” said Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman. “While the economic impact of recent hurricanes is not fully reflected in the leading indicators yet, the underlying trends suggest that the current solid pace of growth should continue in the near term.”

The LEI is a composite average of several individual leading indicators constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component. It smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten LEI components include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing

  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance

  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials

  • ISM Index of New Orders

  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders

  • Building permits, new private housing units

  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks

  • Leading Credit Index

  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds

  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Economic growth appears to be on course to continue for the rest of the year.The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI), seen by man...

Retail sales dip in August

It's the first decline in three months

After posting two decent advances in a row, retail sales moved lower in August.

Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales last month totaled $474.8 billion, down 0.2% from July, but a gain of 3.2% from the same period a year earlier.

Major contributors to the August decline were motor vehicle & parts dealers (-1.6%), nonstore retailers (-1.1%), clothing & clothing accessories (-1.0%), and electronics & appliance stores (-0.7%).

Among businesses posting sales gains last month were gas stations (+2.5%), miscellaneous store retailers (+1.4%), furniture & home furnishings stores (+0.4%) and grocery stores (+0.3%).

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

After posting two decent advances in a row, retail sales moved lower in August.Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales last month totale...

Job openings edge upward in July

More hiring added to the employment gains seen in the past year

Consumers looking for a job in July found there were more positions available than there were a month earlier.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), there were 6.170 million openings in July, versus the 6.116 million found in June.

The slight increase put the job openings rate at 4.0% as the number of openings was little changed for total private and down by 58,000 for government.

Industries looking for workers included other services (+111,000), transportation, warehousing, & utilities (+70,000), and educational services (+26,000).

There were fewer postings in health care and social assistance (-72,000), state and local government -- excluding education -- (-46,000), and federal government (-21,000).

The number of job openings was little changed in the regions.

Hires

Just over 5.05 million workers were hired during the month, pushing the hires rate up 0.1% from June to 3.8%. The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, with federal government hires rising by 9,000.

Little change was reported for all other industries and for all four geographic regions.

Separations

There were 5.332 million separations during July, compared with 5.309 million the month before, for a total separations rate of 3.6% -- the same as in June.

Included were 3.164 million quits, 1.783 million layoffs & discharges and 384,000 other separations -- things like retirement, death, disability and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

The number of total separations -- which includes quits, layoffs, & discharges and other separations -- was little changed in all four regions.

Net change in employment

Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires is higher, employment rises. On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines.

Over the 12 months ending in July, hires totaled 63.6 million and separations totaled 61.5 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.1 million. 

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Consumers looking for a job in July found there were more positions available than there were a month earlier.According to the Department of Labor (DOL...

Impact of Hurricane Harvey sends jobless claims surging

The services sector continues to grow

Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas last week, helping produce an upward spiral in first-time jobless claims.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial applications for state unemployment benefits shot up 62,000 in the week ending September 2 to a seasonally asjusted total of 298,000.

That's the highest level since April 18, 2015.

The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate hauge of the labor market, jumped by 13,500 to 250,250 from the previous week.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Non-manufacturing economy on the rise

August was another month of growth of economic activity in the non-manufacturing - or services – sector for a total of 92 months in a row.

The nation’s purchasing and supply executives, in the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, say the non-manufacturing index (NMI) was up 1.4% last month registering 55.3%.

A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below that suggests contraction.

Looking inside the NMI, the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index came in at 57.5%, up 1.6% from July, reflecting growth for the 97th consecutive month, at a faster rate in August.

The New Orders Index rose 2% to 57.1%, the Employment Index increased 2.6% to 56.2%, and the Prices Index increased added 2.2% for a reading of 57.9%, indicating prices increased in August for the third consecutive month.

Industry performance

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in August were:

  1. Retail Trade;
  2. Information;
  3. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  4. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  5. Other Services;
  6. Wholesale Trade;
  7. Utilities;
  8. Mining;
  9. Educational Services;
  10. Accommodation & Food Services;
  11. Finance & Insurance;
  12. Public Administration;
  13. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  14. Construction; and
  15. Health Care & Social Assistance. 

Two industries reported contraction:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; and
  2. Transportation & Warehousing.
Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas last week, helping produce an upward spiral in first-time jobless claims.The D...

An August speedup in manufacturing

Fourteen of 18 industries reported expansion

There was further expansion of economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy in August.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports its PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) came in at 58.8% -- up 2.5% from the July reading.

A reading above 50 indicates growth while anything below that shows contraction.

The overall economy grew for the 99th consecutive month.

Within the PMI, the New Orders dipped 0.1% to 60.3 %, the Production Index was up 0.4% to 61% and the Employment Index shot up 4.7% to 59.9%.

The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 57.1% an advance of 1.7%, while the Inventories Index registered jumped 5.5% to 55.5%.

The Prices Index held steady at 62%, indicating higher raw materials’ prices for the 18th straight month.

Industry performance

Fourteen of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in August:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  3. Machinery;
  4. Transportation Equipment;
  5. Fabricated Metal Products;
  6. Computer & Electronic Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  9. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  10. Chemical Products;
  11. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  12. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  13. Printing amp Related Support Activities; and
  14. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The three industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Primary Metals; and
  3. Furniture & Related Products.
There was further expansion of economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy in August.The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports...

Job creation tapers off in August

The unemployment rate ticked higher

A bit of a slowdown in the number of new jobs created by the economy.

According to the Labor Department (DOL), total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 156,000 last month, while the jobless rate inched up from 4.3% to 4.4%. The unemployment rate has been either 4.3 or 4.4% since April.

There was no discernible effect on employment and unemployment from Hurricane Harvey as the data were collected earlier in the month.

As it issued its August report, the government made some downward revisions in its figures for the last couple of months.

The employment change for June was revised down from +231,000 to +210,000, and the change for July was lowered to +189,000 from +209,000. As a result, employment gains in June and July combined were 41,000 less than previously reported.

Who's on the job

The unemployment rates for adult men (4.1%), adult women (4.0%), teenagers (13.%), Whites (3.9%), Blacks (7.7%), Asians (4.0%) and Hispanics (5.2%) showed little or no change in August.

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.9% and has shown little movement on net over the past year. The employment-population ratio -- 60.1% -- was little changed over the month and thus far this year.

Who's hiring and who's not

Job gains last month were seen in manufacturing (+36,000), construction (+28,000), professional and technical services (+22,000), health care (+20,000) and mining ((+7,000).

Other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

So far this year, employment growth has averaged 176,000 per month; the average monthly gain in 2016 was 187,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls inched up 3 cents last month to $26.39, after rising by 9 cents in July. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have gone up 65 cents, or 2.5%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

A bit of a slowdown in the number of new jobs created by the economy.According to the Labor Department (DOL), total nonfarm payroll employment increase...

Personal incomes and spending climb in July

First-time jobless claims edged a bit higher

Consumers found a bit more in their paychecks in July.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal income rose 0.4%, or $65.6 billion last month, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes are taken out -- was up $39.6 billion, or 0.3%.

The increase in personal income was due largely to higher wages and salaries, and personal income receipts on assets.

Spending and saving

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, was up 0.3%, or $44.7 billion, with outlays for goods -- primarily furnishings and durable household items -- up $18.7 billion.

Spending for services -- mostly food services and accommodations -- rose $11.8 billion.

Personal saving totaled $510.2 billion in July, with the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- at 3.5%, down 0.3% from June.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Jobless claims

A slight uptick last week in initial jobless claims.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled 236,000 in the week ending August 26 -- up 1,000 from the previous week's level which revised by 1,000.

The 4-week moving average, which because of it's lower level of volatility is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, fell by 1,259 to 236,750. The previous week's average was revised up by 250.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) Stuart Miles - FotoliaConsumers found a bit more in their paychecks in July.According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), persona...

An August surge in job cuts

The retail sector is in a quandary

After falling in July to the lowest total since late 2016, the number of job cuts has snapped back.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports employers across the country announced plans to trim their payrolls by 33,825 in August -- a surge of 19.4% from the previous month and 5% higher than August of last year.

Until August, cutbacks had fallen every month since March, for a total of 289,132 terminations -- down 26.1% from the first eight months of 2016.

A mixed tale in retail

“Although we have seen high layoffs in retail with store closings and some companies filing for bankruptcy, there has also been increased hiring in new areas of the sector as retailers build out their e-commerce platforms,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “Shipping and technology jobs are expanding and going unfilled. We are seeing a labor market in which skilled technical and logistics/supply chain talent is in high demand.”

Retail continues to lead all sectors this year, with 67,596 announced cuts -- 3,607 of them in August. Retail job cuts are up 51.4% this year than through the same point in 2016.

"Retail is pivoting, and with the holiday rush just around the corner, a big jump in seasonal jobs is imminent,” Challenger noted, adding “An increasing number of these jobs will involve new technologies and be more customer-centric, as brick-and-mortar retailers seek to create experiences that consumers cannot find online.”

The construction industry announced the highest number of pink slips in August, with 4,332, followed by the financial sector (-3,414), for an eight-month total of 10,799. The services industry announced 3,039 cuts in August, bringing its total for the year to 21,061.

After falling in July to the lowest total since late 2016, the number of job cuts has snapped back.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christma...

Job creation powers ahead in August

The construction and manufacturing sectors made big contributions

August was another good month for job creation.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research Institute, in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, private sector employment increased by 237,000 jobs.

The report, which is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, shows that while the services sector was the major contributor, there was strong activity by goods producers.

“The job market continues to power forward,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Job creation is strong across nearly all industries, company sizes.”

Where the jobs are

Within the goods-producing sector, which created 33,000 new jobs, construction accounted for 18,000 positions, while there were 16,000 hires by manufacturers. Natural resources/mining lost 1,000 jobs.

Of the 204,000 new payroll positions in the services sector, 56,000 came in trade/transportation/utilities, followed by leisure/hospitality (+51,000), education/health services(+45,000), health care/social assistance (+42,000) and professional/business services (+39,000). Information lost 3,000 jobs.

Large businesses, with 115,000 hires, accounted for the bulk of the new jobs, followed by medium-sized firms (+74,000) and small concerns (+48,000).

“The goods-producing sector saw the best performance in months with solid increases in both construction and manufacturing," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Additionally, the trade industry pulled ahead to lead job gains across all industries, adding the most jobs it has seen since the end of 2016.”

August was another good month for job creation.According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research Institute, in collaboratio...

A head of steam for the nation's economy

A second look shows things got a lot better in the second quarter

Government analysts have taken their second of three readings on how the U.S. economy was doing in the second quarter and the results are encouraging.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.0% rather than the 2.6% reported in the advance look.

By way of comparison, the economy grew at a 1.2% annual rate percent in the first three months of the year.

This latest estimate is based on more complete source data than were available earlier. Increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- and in nonresidential fixed investment were larger than previously estimated. They were partly offset by a larger decrease in state and local government spending.

What made the difference

The second-quarter increase in real came from contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, and private inventory investment. Offsetting those gains in part were declines in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased

The acceleration in real GDP I came from upturns in private inventory investment and federal government spending and a pickup in PCE that were partly offset by downturns in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending and a slowdown in exports.

GDP inflation

The price index for gross domestic purchases rose 0.8 percent in the April – June quarter, compared with an increase of 2.6 percent in the first quarter. The PCE price index inched ahead 0.3%, versus an increase of 2.2%. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the “core” PCE price index was up 0.9%; it jumped 1.8% in the first quarter.

Corporate profits rose $26.8 billion in the second quarter after falling $46.2 billion in the first quarter.

The complete report may be found on the BEA website.

Government analysts have taken their second of three readings on how the U.S. economy was doing in the second quarter and the results are encouraging.A...

Another positive performance for the economic crystal ball

Initial jobless claims were down sharply last week

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI), seen by economists as a forecaster for the performance of the nation's economy, rose in July for the eleventh month in a row.

The LEI was up 0.3% in July to 128.3 following gains of 0.6% in June and 0.3% in May.

The improvement, according to Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Atman Ozymandias, suggests “the U.S. economy may experience further improvements in economic activity in the second half of the year.”

“The large negative contribution from housing permits, a reversal from June,” he noted, “was more than offset by gains in the financial indicators, new orders and sentiment.”

The LEI, a composite average of several individual leading indicators, is constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The Lei’s components include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, non defense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

The number of people filing applications for first-time state unemployment benefits was down sharply last week.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were down by 12,000 in the week ending August 12, to a seasonally adjusted 232,000.

What many economists consider a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to a lower level of volatility-- the 4-week moving average -- came in at 240,500, a drop of 500 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Photo (c) tashatuvango - FotoliaThe Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI), seen by economists as a forecaster for the performance of the na...

Retail sales rise in July for second straight month

The June report was revised to show a gain rather than a decline

It's now two increases in a row for retail sales.

The Commerce Department reports sales in July, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, came to $478.9 billion -- up 0.6% from June and a surge of 4.2% from the same month a year earlier.

And, as it released its July figures, the government revised its June report to show an advance of 0.3% instead of the 0.2% drop initially reported.

July's increase was led by a sales gain of 1.8% by miscellaneous store retailers, followed by non-store retailers (+1.3%), motor vehicle & parts dealers (+1.2%), building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (+1.2%), and food and beverages stores (+0.4%).

Sales declines were seen at electronics & appliance stores (-0.5%), gas stations (-0.4%) and clothing & clothing accessories stores (-0.2%).

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

It's now two increases in a row for retail sales.The Commerce Department reports sales in July, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading...

Job openings on the rise in June

Employment is up slightly over the past 12 months

There was a sizable increase in the number of job openings in June.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show there were 6.163 million vacancies at the end of the month, up 461,000 from May's upwardly revised estimate of 5.702 million. That raised the job openings rate to 4.0% from 3.8% a month earlier.

The number of job openings increased for both the private (+417,000) and government (+44,000) sectors. Industries with the largest increases were professional & business services (+179,000), health care & social assistance (+125,000), and construction (+62,000). Other services reported a decline of 62,000. The number of job openings increased in the Midwest and West regions.

Hires

There were 5.356 million hires in June, 103,000 fewer than the month before for a hires rate of 3.7% -- roughly the same as May. The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government as hires fell by 29,000 in educational services and showed little change in all other industries. Hires declined in the Northeast.

Separations

Total separations, which includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations and is referred to as “turnover,” totaled 5.224 -- down by just 21,000 from the previous month. That kept the total separations rate at 3.6%. Total separations was little changed for total private industry and government, dipping by 19,000 in state and local government, excluding education. The number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

Net employment change

Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires is higher, employment rises. On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines.

Over the 12 months ending in June, hires totaled 63.4 million and separations totaled 61.1 million for a net employment gain of 2.3 million.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

There was a sizable increase in the number of job openings in June.Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show there were 6.163 million vac...

A big jump in July employment

The jobless rate inched down a notch last month

The nation's job-creation machinery got cranking in July.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 209,000 new nonfarm payroll positions created last month, with the unemployment rate ticking down from 4.4% to 4.3%.

As it released the July figures, the government revised its May estimate of new jobs down from +152,000 to +145,000, and its June calculation up from +222,000 to +231,000. That works out to a net gain of 2,000 jobs in May and June from what was reported previously.

For the year thus far, employment growth has averaged 184,000 per month.

Who's on the job

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.0%), adult women (4.0%), teenagers (13.2%), Whites (3.8%), Blacks (7.4%), Asians (3.8%), and Hispanics (5.1%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed -- those out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was little changed at 1.8 million in July and accounted for 25.9% of the unemployed.

The labor force participation rate (62.9%) showed little change in July and has been fairly steady over the past year. The employment-population ratio (60.2%) was also little changed in July but is up by 0.4% year-over-year.

Where the jobs are

Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 53,000 in July, while professional and business services added 49,000 jobs. Health care employment increased by 39,000, while mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation & warehousing, information, financial activities, and government showed little change.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents in July to $26.36 and are up 65 cents, or 2.5%, over the year.

The complete report may be found on the BLS website.

The nation's job-creation machinery got cranking in July.The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 209,000 new nonfarm...

Services sector growth rate slows in July

Initial jobless claims fell for a fourth consecutive week

Although the rate of growth was slower, the services, or non-manufacturing sector expanded in July for the 91st straight month.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports its Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) slipped 3.5% last month for a reading of 53.9%. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below that suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index came in at 55.1%, a loss of 5.4%; the Employment Index dipped 2.2% to 53.6%; and the Prices Index jumped 3.6% to 55.7%, indicating prices increased in July for the second month in a row.

Performance by industry

The following 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July: 

  1. Accommodation & Food Services;
  2. Information;
  3. Educational Services;
  4. Other Services;
  5. Utilities;
  6. Public Administration;
  7. Wholesale Trade;
  8. Retail Trade;
  9. Mining;
  10. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  11. Construction;
  12. Transportation & Warehousing;
  13. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  14. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  15. Finance & Insurance.

Just two industries reported contraction:

  1. Management of Companies & Support Services; and
  2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that initial jobless claims are down for a fourth consecutive week.

The number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled 240,000 in the week ending July 29, a drop of 5,000 the previous week, in which the figure was revised up by 1,000. This marks the 126th straight week that the initial claims level has been below 300,000.

The four-week moving average fell by 2,500 to 241,750. This measure of claims is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market than due to its relative lack of volatility.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Although the rate of growth was slower, the services, or non-manufacturing sector expanded in July for the 91st straight mo...

Job cuts in July fall to lowest level since late last year

Hiring, meanwhile was on the rise

Employers in the U.S. announced plans to eliminate 28,307 jobs in July -- the lowest monthly total since last November, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

At the same time, there were more than 88,000 hiring announcements made, the third-highest hiring month of the year and the highest July total on record.

The job-cut total is down 9% from June and 37.6% below the same month a year ago. For the year so far, employers have announced plans to trim their payrolls by 255,307. That's down 28.9% from the first seven months of 2016.

“Job cuts have slowed significantly as we reach mid-year,”said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “This month’s total was the lowest July total since 23,238 cuts were recorded in July 1995.”

In fact, monthly job cut totals have fallen under 30,000 only three times in the last ten years -- all of which occurred in the last three years.

Retail on the line

The retail sector continues to lead all areas this year with 63,989 announced cuts -- 3,862 of them in July. Retail job cuts are up 46.7% year-over-year.

The second-highest number of job cuts in July -- 3,634 -- came from health care products and services for a total of 21,554 so far this year.

“While retailers are cutting the most jobs this year, those companies are also announcing the most hiring,” said Challenger. “These jobs are not the typical retail job, as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping.”

He said new retail jobs could be going to places like fulfillment and distribution centers, which increasingly need talent, as well as to workers with the tech skills necessary to interact with and manage the automation that’s revolutionizing the industry. Retailers are reponsible for 245,616 of the 556,493 new jobs that have been announced so far this year.

“While we have yet to see the large-scale layoffs of previous years, especially as oil and tech rebound,” Challenger concluded, “the specter of a downturn is on the horizon and could spell massive cuts as we head into the fourth quarter and into next year.”

Employers in the U.S. announced plans to eliminate 28,307 jobs in July -- the lowest monthly total since last November, according to outplacement consultan...

Jobs creation slips in July

However, the June estimate was higher than first reported

Another 178,000 private sector jobs were created in July, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

While that's a decline of 13,000 from the June total, it should be noted that the previous month's estimate of 158,000 was revised upward by 33,000.

The report, produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

"Job gains continued to be strong in the month of July," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "However, as the labor market tightens employers may find it more difficult to recruit qualified workers."

Where the jobs are

Medium-sized businesses (50-499 employees) formed the backbone of the gains, creating 83,000 payroll positions. Small businesses cranked out 50,000 new jobs followed by large firms at 45,000.

The vast majority of new jobs -- 174000 -- were in the services sector, led by professional/business services (+65,000), education/health services (+43,000), administrative/support services (+42,000) and health care/social assistance (+41,000).

The goods-producing sector contributed a scant 4,000 payroll positions, with construction adding 6,000 and natural resources/mining 3,000. Manufacturing lost 4,000 jobs.

“The American job machine continues to operate in high gear,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Job gains are broad-based across industries and company sizes, with only manufacturers reducing their payrolls. At this pace of job growth, unemployment will continue to quickly decline.”

Another 178,000 private sector jobs were created in July, according to the ADP National Employment Report.While that's a decline of 13,000 from the Jun...

Manufacturing economy shows slow growth in July

Prices were increasing at a faster rate

It's now eleven straight months of growth for the manufacturing sector of the economy.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the July Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in at 56.3% -- down 1.5 % from June.

A reading above 50 indicates growth while anything below that shows contraction.

At the same time, the overall economy grew for the 98th consecutive month.

Contributing to the slowdown in the PMI, the New Orders Index dipped 3.1% to 60.4%, the Production Index was down 1.8% to 60.6%, and the Employment Index came in at 55.2% -- down 2% from June.

Also lower was the Supplier Deliveries Index at 55.4%, down 1.6%.

Among the gainers were the Inventories Index, up 1.0% for a reading of 50%, and the Prices Index, which shot up 7.0% to 62.0% for its 17th monthly gain in a row.

By industry

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 15 reported growth:

  1. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  2. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  3. Wood Products;
  4. Fabricated Metal Products;
  5. Machinery;
  6. Chemical Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  9. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  10. Computer & Electronic Products;
  11. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  12. Furniture & Related Products;
  13. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  14. Primary Metals; and
  15. Transportation Equipment.

The three industries reporting contraction in July were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Textile Mills; and
  3. Petroleum & Coal Products.
It's now eleven straight months of growth for the manufacturing sector of the economy.According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the July...

Personal incomes drop in June as spending rises

Health care costs pushed outlays higher

Spending by consumers in June rose while their incomes dipped slightly.

Figures released by the Commerce Department show personal incomes during the month fell by just under 0.1%, or $3.5 billion, with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what you have left after taxes -- down $4.2 billion, or less than 0.1%.

The decline came as a result of decreases in personal dividend income and personal interest income. Those were partially offset by an increase in employee compensation.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, inched up 0.1%, or $8.1 billion.

The spending increase primarily reflected a $10.0 billion increase in outlays for health care that was partially offset by a decline of $4.4 billion in spending for nondurable goods and a decline of $2.3 billion in spending for durable goods. Gasoline was the leading contributor to the decline in spending for goods.

Personal saving totaled $546.4 billion in June, with the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- at 3.8%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Spending by consumers in June rose while their incomes dipped slightly.Figures released by the Commerce Department show personal incomes during the mon...

U.S. economy shifts gears

Output in the second-quarter was stronger than it was three months earlier

An advance look at how the economy was doing in the second quarter of 2017 indicates things were going better than they were in the January – March period.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- grew at an annual rate of 2.6%, considerably better than the downwardly revised 1.2% rate chalked up in the first quarter.

Keep in mind that this set of figures is subject to revision and that another estimate is due out at the end of August.

The improved numbers for the April – June quarter were due primarily to a pickup in consumer spending and higher outlays by the federal government.

The complete GDP report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

A big jump has been reported in the number of people signing up for first-time state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims shot up by 1,000 in the week ending July 22 to a seasonally 244,000. The previous week's estimate was revised up by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to its relative lack of volatility, was unchanged from a week earlier at 244,000.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

An advance look at how the economy was doing in the second quarter of 2017 indicates things were going better than they...

Jobless claims plunge

The outlook for economic growth continues to be positive

There was a huge drop last week in the number of people filing initial applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department reports seasonally adjusted first-time claims totaled 233,000 in the week ended July 15 a drop of 15,000 from the previous week's revised, which was revised upward by 1,000.

The less volatile 4-week moving average, considered a more accurate barometer of the labor market, fell by 2,250 from a week earlier, was 243,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Leading Indicators

Another encouraging reading from a key indicator of how the economy is likely to be performing in the months ahead.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumped 0.6% in June following an advance of 0.2% in May and a 0.2% increase in April.

It's the LEI's tenth consecutive monthly gain.

"The U.S. LEI rose sharply in June, pointing to continued growth in the U.S. economy and perhaps even a moderate improvement in GDP growth in the second half of the year," said Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim. "The broad-based gain in the U.S. LEI was led by a large contribution from housing permits, which improved after several months of weakness."

The LEI, a composite average of several individual leading indicators, is constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The LEI's components include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers' new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Photo (c) designer491 - FotoliaThere was a huge drop last week in the number of people filing initial applications for state unemployment benefits....

Boom time for teen summer hiring

Over a million young people found work in June

Things have really turned around in the teen summer job market.

An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that 1,023,000 workers aged 16-to-19 landed jobs last month.

Employment among that age group was revised down in May to just 75,000, down by more than half from the 156,000 job gains in May 2016, and the lowest summer-month total since May 2011.

The surge in June is up 48% from a year earlier when nearly 700,000 jobs were added, and 126% higher than May's gains. In fact, its is the highest June total since 2007.

“June typically averages the most job gains of the summer months, with well over 700,000 jobs added on average since 2006,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, adding that “these are some of the strongest numbers we’ve seen since the recovery.”

Looking ahead

If July numbers maintain an average pace of over 400,000 jobs added, this could be the best year for teen summer employment in a decade.

“While May gains were lower than average this year, June’s more than offset that pace,” said Challenger. “It seems the recent decline of brick-and-mortar retail locations has not subdued hiring among teens.”

Challenger has tracked over 5,000 announced closures of retail locations since January 2017.

While June’s teen participation rate ticked up to 42.4%, the highest monthly rate since 2009 when 45.9% teens were working, it isn't even close to the 70s, 80s, and 90s when more than 50% of teens held jobs.

Things have really turned around in the teen summer job market.An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & C...

Retail sales post second straight decline in June

Slumping sales at gas stations was a big factor

Retail sales fell for a second straight month in June following three consecutive increases.

The Commerce Department reports sales last month totaled a seasonally adjusted $473.5 billion down 0.2% from May, which revised to reflect a dip of 0.1% instead of the 0.3% initially reported.

Decliners and gainers

The biggest drag came from gas stations, where sales were down 1.3%, along with department stores (-0.7%), restaurants & bars and sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores -- both down 0.6%, and grocery stores (-0.5%).

Among the few businesses posting gains were building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (+0.5%) and nonstore retailers (+0.4%).

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales fell for a second straight month in June following three consecutive increases.The Commerce Department reports sales last month totaled a...

Job openings on the decline in May

However, the month saw a net increase in employment

There were fewer job openings at the end of May than there were the month before.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs up for grabs had dropped to 5.7 million on the last business day of May, from 6.044 million in April. That put the job openings rate at 3.7%.

Openings for the private sector employment fell by 283,000 and were little changed for government. Increases came in retail trade (+72,000) and educational services (+17,000). A number of suffered declines including in construction (-46,000) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-45,000). The number of job openings decreased in the Midwest.

Hires

The number of hires jumped by 429,000 to 5.5 million for a rate of 3.7%. Hires increased for the private sector (+423,000) but was little changed for government. There were increases in professional and business services (+121,000), other services (+78,000), and educational services (+25,000), with the number of hires increasing in the South.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover.

The number of total separations shot up by 251,000 to 5.3 million in May, with the total separations rate rising from 3.4% in April to 3.6%. While there was little change for government, total separations were up by 245,000, led by in retail trade (+73,000) but falling in the federal government (-8,000). The number of total separations rose in the South.

Net employment change

Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires is higher, employment rises. On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines.

Over the 12 months ending in May, hires totaled 63.2 million and separations totaled 60.9 million. The result is a net employment gain of 2.4 million.

The totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

There were fewer job openings at the end of May than there were the month before.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs...

A June pickup in job creation

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked higher

June turned out to be a better month for those looking for work than May was.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the economy created 222,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate inched up to 4.4% from May's 4.3%.

As it reported its figures for June, the government revised its April estimate higher to 207,000 from the 174,000 initially reported, and its May figure from 138,000 to 152,000. That put the gains for the two months at 47,000 more than previously reported.

Both the labor force participation (62.8%) and employment-population ratio (60.1%) showed little change in June and have held fairly steady so far this year.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men and adult women (both at 4.0%), teenagers (13.3%), Whites (3.8%), Blacks (7.1%), Asians (3.6%), and Hispanics (4.8%) showed little or no change last month.

The employment gains in June were led by health care (+37,000 jobs), social assistance (+23,000), financial activities (+17,000), and mining (+8,000).

Other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by four cents in June to $26.25. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 63 cents, or 2.5%.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

June turned out to be a better month for those looking for work than May was.The Labor Department (DOL) reports the economy created 222,000 jobs last m...

A booming services sector

Just one non-manufacturing industry failed to report growth in June

June marked the 90th consecutive month of growth in the services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the U.S. economy.

According to the nation's purchasing and supply executives, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index came in at 57.4% last month -- up 0.5% from May representing continued growth at a slightly faster rate.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector; below that suggests contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index inched up 0.1% to 60.8%, the New Orders Index was up 2.8% to 60.5%, while the Employment Index dropped 2% to 55.8% and the Prices Index increased 2.9% to 52.1%, indicating a price increase following May's decline.

How they did

The 16 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in June were:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  2. Wholesale Trade;
  3. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  4. Accommodation & Food Services;
  5. Public Administration;
  6. Transportation & Warehousing;
  7. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  8. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  9. Mining;
  10. Information;
  11. Utilities;
  12. Educational Services;
  13. Construction;
  14. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  15. Retail Trade; and
  16. Finance & Insurance.

Only one industry -- Other Services -- reported contraction.

June marked the 90th consecutive month of growth in the services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the U.S. economy.According to the nation's purchasing...

June job creation down sharply from May's level

It was a dismal month for the goods-producing sector

There was a sharp tailing off in job creation in June following a robust performance month earlier.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, employment in the private sector rose by just 158,00 jobs.

In contrast, the economy cranked out 253,000 payroll positions in May.

“Despite a slight moderation in the month of June, the labor market remains strong,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president of the ADP Research Institute. “For the month of June, jobs were primarily created in the service-providing sector.”

Indeed, there were no new jobs overall in the goods-producing sector. Natural resources and mining suffered a loss of 4,000 positions, while construction lost 2,000 jobs. That neutralized manufacturing's addition of 6,000 workers.

Services providers, on the other hand, created 158,000 jobs led by Professional/business services (+69,000), administrative/support services (+43,000) and health care/social assistance (+33,000).

Most of the new jobs came in medium-sized businesses with 50-499 employees (+91,000). Large businesses contributed 50,000 jobs followed by small firms with 17,000 new hires.

“The job market continues to power forward,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Abstracting from the monthly ups and downs, job growth remains a stalwart between 150,000 and 200,000. At this pace, which is double the rate of labor force growth, the tight labor market will continue getting tighter."

There was a sharp tailing off in job creation in June following a robust performance month earlier.According to the ADP National Employment Report, whi...

June job cuts at lowest monthly total of the year

It's all because of the tight labor market

Employers are hanging on to their workers.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports bosses announced plans to trim their payrolls by just 31,105 jobs in June. That's the lowest monthly total of the year, down 6% from May and 19.3% lower June 2016.

“In a tight labor market, it’s no surprise companies are holding on to their existing workforces,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “Companies are also waiting to see how proposed regulations from the Trump administration may impact business going forward.”

A slowdown in job cuts

The job-cutting pace is is down significantly from first half of last year. Through the first six months of this year, employers sacked 227,000 workers, down 28% from the first half of 2016.

Terminations in the second quarter totaled 100,799 -- a 20% drop from the first three months of the year and 24% lower than the same second quarter of 2016.

The six-month tally

Companies in the technology industry -- computer, electronics, and telecommunications -- have announced 23,813 workforce reductions so far this year, down 52.5% from the first half of 2016.

Retailers have announced 60,127 job cuts through June, 42% more than during the first half of 2016, and the highest first-half total since 2009.

During that year, the sector cut 98,807 jobs -- the highest annual total since 2003.

Jobless claims

Separately, the Labor Department (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 in the week ending July 1 to 248,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

The 4-week moving average, considered a more accurate picture of the labor market due to its relatively low level of volatility, came in at 243,000, up 750 from the previous week's unrevised average.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Employers are hanging on to their workers.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports bosses announced plans to trim their payrolls b...

Continued growth in the manufacturing sector

Fifteen of 18 industries reported expansion in June

June was a good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management reports its Purchasing Managers Index jumped 2.9% last month for a reading of 57.8%, marking the tenth straight month of expansion. 

A reading above 50 indicates growth while anything below that suggests contraction.

At the same time, the overall economy grew for the 97th consecutive month.

A closer look at the report shows the New Orders was up 4% to 63.5%, while the Production Index came in at 62.4%, an advance of 5.3% from May.

The Employment Index was up 3.7% to 57.2% and the Supplier Deliveries index added 3.9% for a reading of 57%.

Declines were found in the Inventories Index, which fell 2.5% to 49%, and the Prices Index, which registered 55% -- down 5.5%, indicating higher raw materials’ prices for the 16th consecutive month, but at a slower rate of increase in June compared with May.

The overall picture generally reflects expanding business conditions; with new orders, production, employment, backlog and exports all growing in June compared with May, with supplier deliveries and inventories struggling to keep up with the production pace.

Industry performance

The following 15 of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in June:

  1. Furniture & Related Products;
  2. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Machinery;
  5. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  6. Chemical Products;
  7. Transportation Equipment;
  8. Computer & Electronic Products;
  9. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  10. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  11. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  12. Fabricated Metal Products;
  13. Wood Products;
  14. Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and
  15. Petroleum & Coal Products.

The three industries reporting contraction last month were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Textile Mills; and
  3. Primary Metals.

June was a good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy.The Institute for Supply Management reports its Purchasing Managers Index jumped 2.9%...

Personal incomes and spending rise slightly in May

Savings posted a gain as well

Increases in personal dividend income and salaries sent overall personal incomes rising by $67.1 billion or 0.4% in May according to figures released by the Commerce Department.

Disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes are taken out -- jumped 0.5% or $71.7 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), meanwhile, inched up 0.1% or $7.3 billion, due largely to spending for services -- specifically electricity and gas.

Personal saving came to $791.0 billion in last month, up $62.2 billion from April's revised total of $728.8 billion. That pushed the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- to 5.5% from 5.1% the month before.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Increases in personal dividend income and salaries sent overall personal incomes rising by $67.1 billion or 0.4% in May according to figures released by th...

Economic growth a bit slower in the first quarter

But it's not as bad as reported earlier

Growth in the economy hasn't slowed as much as initially believed.

In it third look at how the economy was doing in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- grew at an annual rate of 1.4%.

The estimate released a month ago showed a rate of 1.2%. By way of comparison, GDP expanded at a 2.1% rate in the final three months of 2016.

The latest estimate, based on more complete source data than were available earlier, shows stronger growth in personal consumption expenditures -- consumer spending -- and exports. Still, the general picture of economic growth is little changed.

Corporate profits during the three-month period plunged $48.4 billion following a $11.2 billion increase in the fourth quarter.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

From the Labor Department (DOL), word that more people were applying for first-time state unemployment benefits last week.

Initial jobless claims in the week ending June 24, totaled a seasonally adjusted 244,000 -- up 2,000 from the week before, which was revised upward by 1,000.

The 4-week moving average, on the other hand, fell by 2,750 to 242,250. This reading is seen by many economists as a better gauge of the labor market due to its relative lack of volatility.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) z amir - FotoliacomGrowth in the economy hasn't slowed as much as initially believed.In it third look at how the economy was doing in t...

Nine gains in a row for the Leading Economic Index

The outlook appears bright for continued growth in the economy

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted its ninth increase in as many months during May. 

The index, which many economists consider a pretty good indicator of what the economy will do in the next few months, rose 0.3% following advances of 0.2% and 0.3% in April and  March, respectively. 

The increase, said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board, suggests the economy “is likely to remain on, or perhaps even moderately above, its long-term trend of about 2% growth for the remainder of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board.  

He pointed out the improvement was widespread among the majority of the leading indicators except for housing permits -- which declined again. In addition, the average workweek in manufacturing has recently shown no sign of improvement. 

The LEI is a closely watched forecaster of economic activity -- a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components. 

The LEi contains the following ten components:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions
The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted its ninth increase in as many months during May. The index, which many economists consider a...

Retail sales slip in May

Jobless claims were on the downside last week

Retail sales fell in May -- their first decline in three months.

The Commerce Department reports sales for the month totaled $473.8 billion, down 0.3% from April, but a gain of 3.8% from the same period a year ago.

Declines in sales were posted by electronics and appliance stores (-2.8%), gas stations (-2.4%), and autos (-0.2%).

Among the gainers were nonstore retailers (+0.8%) and clothing & clothing accessories stores (+0.3%).

The full report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits fell last week.

Initial jobless claims continued their decline in the week ending June 10, falling 8,000 to a seasonally total of 237,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

What economists see as a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to its lack of volatility -- the four-week moving average -- rose by 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average to 243,000.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Retail sales fell in May -- their first decline in three months.The Commerce Department reports sales for the month totale...

Job openings on the rise in April

However, hires moved lower

Job openings rose to a record high in April, while both the number of hires and separations was lower.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 6.044 million openings on the final day of the month, up 259,000 from the upwardly revised 5.783 million the month before for a job openings rate of 4.0%.

The number of job openings in the private sector was up by 220,000, while government openings rose by 39,000. The accommodation and food services industry saw an openings-increase of 118,000, while durable goods manufacturing saw a loss of 30,000. The number of job openings increased in the Midwest and Northeast regions.

Hires

Hires fell by 253,000 in April to 5.051 million from 5.304 million in March, with the hires rate dropping to 3.5% from 3.6%. Total private sector hiring was down 257,000, and was little changed for government. Decreases were registered in health care and social assistance (-68,000) and real estate and rental and leasing (-23,000). Hires were down in the West region.

Separations

Total separations, which include quits (usually voluntary separations initiated by the employee), layoffs and discharges, and other separations, are referred to as turnover.

The number of total separations slipped by 225,000 to 4.973 million (-225,000) for a separations rate of 3.4%. Total separations were down by 239,000 in the private sector, led by retail trade (-100,000), while little changed for government, with the number of total separations remaining steady in all four regions.

Net employment changed

A change in net employment results from the relationship between hires and separations. When there are more hires that separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.

On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in April, hires totaled 62.9 million and separations totaled 60.7 million, for a net employment gain of 2.2 million.

These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Job openings rose to a record high in April, while both the number of hires and separations was lower.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports ther...

Non-manufacturing economy grows in May -- but at a slower pace

Seventeen industries in the services sector reported expansion

The non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the U.S. economy grew for an 89th consecutive month in May.

However, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports the Non-Manufacturing Index expanded at a slower rate last month -- 56.9%, down 0.6% from the April reading.

Fifty is the line that separates expansion from contraction.

The report from the nation’s purchasing and supply executives also shows the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index was down 1.7% to 60.7%, but still expanded for the 94th consecutive month.

The New Orders also came in lower than in the preceding month -- 57.7%, down 5.5%, while the Employment Index rose 6.4% to 57.8%. 

The Prices Index plunged 8.4% from April to 49.2%, meaning that prices fell in May after 13 consecutive monthly increases.

Analysts say that while the services sector’s growth rate slowed last month, the sector continues to reflect strength, buoyed by the strong rate of growth in the Employment Index.

Industry performance

The following 17 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in May:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  2. Construction;
  3. Accommodation & Food Services;
  4. Utilities;
  5. Arts, Entertainment &; Recreation;
  6. Wholesale Trade;
  7. Mining;
  8. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  9. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  10. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  11. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  12. Retail Trade;
  13. Finance & Insurance;
  14. Public Administration;
  15. Transportation & Warehousing;
  16. Information; and
  17. Other Services.

Educational Services was the only industry reporting contraction last month.

The non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the U.S. economy grew for an 89th consecutive month in May.However, the Institute for Supply Management (...

A big drop-off in May job creation

In addition, the two prior months were revised lower

The nation's job creation machinery appears to be in something of a slump.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment increased by just 138,000 in May, coming in well below the consensus estimate of economists at Briefing.com for 185,000 new positions.

In addition, the government downwardly revised the figures it issued for the two preceding months.

Employment additions for March were revised down from +79,000 to +50,000, and the change for April was changed to +174,000 instead of the +211,000 initially reported,. That means there were 66,000 fewer new jobs in March and April.

Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 121,000 per month.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dipped to 4.3% from April's 4.4% for a decline of 0.5% since January.

The gainers

Professional and business services (+38,000) and restaurants and bars (+30,000) led May's increase in payrolls. Also adding workers were health care (+24,000) and mining (+7,000).

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

Who's on the job

A check of the major worker groups shows the unemployment rate for Whites edged down to 3.7% in May. The jobless rates for Blacks (7.5%), Asians (3.6%), and Hispanics (5.2%), along with adult men (3.8%), adult women (4.0%), and teenagers (14.3%), showed little or no change.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.7%, down 0.2% from April, but has shown no clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio edged down to 60.0%.

Average hourly earnings for all employees rose 4 cents last month to $26.22. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 63 cents, or 2.5%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's job creation machinery appears to be in something of a slump.The Labor Department (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment increased...

Job cuts on the decline in May

Another increase in weekly jobless claims

Photo (c) kikkerdirk - Fotolia

Workforce reductions announced by US-based employers fell in May, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray and Christmas, with planned job cuts totaling 33,092.

Cuts last month were down 9% from April when there were 36,602 terminations, but 9% higher than the same month a year ago when 30,157 workers were let go.

So far this year, employers have announced a total of 195,895 job cuts -- down 29% from the 275,218 job cuts that occurred through May 2016.

Retail jobs at risk

Retailers continued to announce the most job cuts this year with 55,910 -- 5,777 of them in May.

A lot of that is due to changing consumer behavior in grocery shopping.

“Grocery stores are no longer immune from online shopping.” Challenger pointed out. “Meal delivery services and Amazon are competing with traditional grocers, and Amazon announced it is opening its first ever brick-and mortar store in Seattle. Amazon Go, which mixes online technology and the in-store experience, is something to keep an eye on since it may potentially change the grocery store shopping experience considerably.”

The health care/products industry announced 3,054 job cuts during in May, 55% more than a year earlier. So far in 2017, there have been 14,323 cuts the in health care/products industry.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week for the second week in a row.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims rose 13,000 in the week ending May 27 to a seasonally total of 248,000. In addition, the previous week's level was revised up to show a gain of 2,000.

Still, initial claims have been blow the 300,000 level now for 117 straight weeks.

The four-week moving average, considered to more accurately reflect the state of the job market, came in at 238,000 -- up of 2,500 from the previous week's average, which was revised up by 250.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) kikkerdirk - FotoliaWorkforce reductions announced by US-based employers fell in May, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray an...

Economy's manufacturing sector continues to grow

Raw materials prices continued to rise in May, but at a slower rate

May marked another month of growth for economic activity in the manufacturing sector and the 96th consecutive month of expansion for the overall economy.

According to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing report on business, the May Purchasing Management Index was up 0.1% last month to 54.9%.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector, while a anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index rose 2% to 59.5%, while the Production Index, with a reading of 57.1%, dipped 1.5%.

The Employment Index was up 1.5% to 53.5%, and the Inventories Index inched up 0.5% to 51.5%.

With a decline of 8% to 60.5%, the Prices Index shows higher raw materials prices for the 15th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in April.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following15 reported growth in May:

  1. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  4. Machinery;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  7. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  8. Paper Products;
  9. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  10. Computer & Electronic Products;
  11. Transportation Equipment;
  12. Chemical Products;
  13. Fabricated Metal Products;
  14. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  15. Printing & Related Support Activities.

Two industries reported contraction in May:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; and
  2. Textile Mills.

All in all, the report generally reflects stable to growing business conditions, while the slowing of pricing pressure should have a positive impact on profits and buying policies.

May marked another month of growth for economic activity in the manufacturing sector and the 96th consecutive month of expansion for the overall economy....

A robust May jobs report

One analyst thinks a labor shortage may be the next big concern

Job creation picked up some momentum in May following a so-so report the month before.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, last month saw employment increase by 253,000 jobs.

In contrast, there were just 174,000 new jobs in April -- a downward revision from the 177,000 initially reported.

"Job growth is rip-roaring,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The current pace of job growth is nearly three times the rate necessary to absorb growth in the labor force. Increasingly, businesses' number one challenge will be a shortage of labor."

Size and sector performance

Medium businesses, those employing 50 and 499 workers, were responsible for most of the new jobs (+113,000), following by small businesses (+83,000) and large businesses (+57,000)

As is generally the case, the services sector provided the bulk of the new jobs -- 205,000. Leading industries were professional/business services (+88,000), trade/transportation/utilities (+58,000) and education/health services (+54,000).

Leisure/hospitality, meanwhile lost 11,000 jobs and information saw employment shrink by 8,000 positions.

The goods-producing sector cranked out 48,000 jobs, thanks largely to Construction (+37,000) and manufacturing (+8,000).

"May proved to be a very strong month for job growth," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Professional and business services had the strongest monthly increase since 2014. This may be an indicator of broader strength in the workforce since these services are relied on by many industries."

Job creation picked up some momentum in May following a so-so report the month before.According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the...

A May surge in job cuts

A workforce reduction at Ford was a huge factor

This report has been withdrawn pending a revision.
Photo (c) kikkerdirk - FotoliaThere was a sharp increase in job cuts announced by US-based employers in May due largely to a big reduction in the wor...

Incomes and spending on the rise in April

The savings rate, however, took a hit

You had a little more money in your pocket during April.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal income rose by $58.4 billion, or 0.4%, last month with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes are deducted -- also up 0.4%, or $56.5 billion.

The advance in personal income was due mostly to increasing private wages and salaries.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, jumped $53.2 billion or 0.4%, led by increases in outlays for recreational goods and vehicles & gasoline.

The PCE price index -- an inflation measure tied to spending -- rose 0.2%, while the “core” PCE price index, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, also was up 0.2%.

Personal saving in April totaled $759.1 billion in April, which dropped the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- to 5.3% from 5.9% the month before.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

You had a little more money in your pocket during April.The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal income rose by $58.4 billion, or 0.4%, last mo...

Economic growth picks up -- a little bit

The second of three GDP estimates shows a smidge of improvement

The government’s second look at the state of the economy during the first quarter is a little better than the first -- but not by much. 

The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annual rate of 1.2%. The advance look a month earlier pegged growth at a 0.7% rate. In the previous three months, real GDP increased 2.1 percent.

This latest estimate is based on more complete source data. Nonetheless, the general picture of economic growth remains the same.  

The difference in the number comes from increases in nonresidential fixed investment and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- that were larger and a decrease in state and local government spending was smaller than previously estimated.

The PCE price index, an inflation gauge tied to GDP, rose 2.4%, compared with an increase of 2.0%. The “core rate,” which excludes the volatile food and energy category, was up 2.1% versus a 1.3% advance.


Corporate profits

Corporate profits took a hit in this second estimate of economic performance. Profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital consumption adjustment plunged $40.3 billion in the first quarter, after rising $11.2 billion in the fourth quarter. 

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The government’s second look at the state of the economy during the first quarter is a little better than the first -- but not by much. The Commerce De...

Leading Economic post sixth consecutive gain

Another drop in the filing of jobless claims

The latest reading of The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) suggesting the economy will continue to grow -- maybe at an even faster clip.

According to the board, the LEI was up 0.3% in April to 126.9. The advance, the sixth straight, follows a gain of 0.3% in March and a 0.5 percent increase in February.

Ataman Ozyildirim, The Conference Board's director of Business Cycles and Growth Research, says the recent trend in the LEI, which was led by the positive outlook of consumers and financial markets, “continues to point to a growing economy, perhaps even a cyclical pickup.”

He calls the first quarter’s weak GDP growth “a temporary hiccup as the economy returns to its long-term trend of about 2%.”

While the majority of leading indicators have been contributing positively in recent months, housing permits followed by average workweek in manufacturing have been the sources of weakness among the U.S. LEI components.

The LEI, a closely watched forecaster of economic activity, is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The LEI contains the following 10 components:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM® Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index™
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

The filing of initial jobless claims continues to trend downward.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 232,000 in the week ending May 13 -- down 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

The 4-week moving average, considered by economists to give a more accurate picture of the labor market fell 2,750 during the same week to 240,750.

The complete report is on the DOL website.

The latest reading of The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) suggesting the economy will continue to grow -- maybe at an even faster clip....

Retail sales post second monthly gain in a row

A revision for March shows and increase, not a decline

Retail sales got a nice bump last month.

The Commerce Department reports a solid gain by nonstore retailers pushed overall sales to $474.9 billion in April, up 0.4% from the month before and 4.5% above the same month a year earlier.

In addition, the government Revised its report on March sales to show a gain of 0.1% instead of its earlier estimate of a 0,2% decline.

The 1.4% advance enjoyed by nonstore retailers led the way followed by electronics & appliance stores (+1.3%), building material and garden equipment supplies dealers (+1.2%) and auto dealers (+0.8%).

Declines in sales of 0.5% were experienced by furniture & home furnishings stores, clothing & clothing accessories stores and general merchandise stores, while grocery stores sales slumped 0.4%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales got a nice bump last month.The Commerce Department reports a solid gain by nonstore retailers pushed overall sales to $474.9 billion in Ap...

Job openings hold steady in March

Hires and separations showed little change as well

There was little change seen in the number of job openings in March with about 5.7 million vacancies.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports hires and separations -- at 5.3 million and 5.1 million, respectively -- also held steady.

Job openings

The 5.7 million job openings in March translates to a job openings rate of 3.8%, with little change in the private sector and a slight increase for government.

Openings increased in professional and business services (+126,000), other services (+55,000), and state and local government education (+27,000). Declines were seen in educational services (-43,000) and mining & logging (-8,000).

The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

Hires

With 5.3 million hires, the rate was 3.6%, with little change in both the private sector and government. There were increases in health care & social assistance (+49,000), but declines in mining & logging (-8,000), and was little change in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover.

The March total separations rate was 3.5%, with little change for the private sector a a decline for government (-38,000). There was an increase in total separations in health care & social assistance (+67,000) and educational services (+29,000), but a drop in state and local government education (-39,000). Regionally, the number of total separations was little changed.

Net employment change

A change in net employment results from the relationship between hires and separations. When there are more hires that separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.

On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in March, there were 62.9 million hires, while separations totaled 60.5 million. That works out to a net employment gain of 2.3 million.

The totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

There was little change seen in the number of job openings in March with about 5.7 million vacancies.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports...

An April pick-up in job creation

Hourly earnings were up as well

Job gains in areas including leisure & hospitality, health care & social assistance, and financial activities helped brighten the nation's employment picture in April.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 last month, while the jobless rate inched down to 4.4% from 4.5% in March.

As it released its April report, DOL revised the change in February employment to a gain of 232,000 from 219,000 and the change for March from a gain of 98,000 to 79,000. That put employment gains in February and March 6,000 lower than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 174,000.

Where the jobs are

The leisure & hospitality sector added 55,000 jobs, followed by gains in health care & social assistance (+37,000), financial activities (+19,000) and mining (+9,000). in April, with most of the increase in support activities for mining (+7,000).

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation & warehousing, information, and government, showed little change over the month.

Who's got a job

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men declined to 4.0%, the jobless rates for adult women (4.1%), teens (14.7%), Whites (3.8%), Blacks (7.9%), Asians (3.2%) and Hispanics (5.2%) showed little change.

The labor force participation rate dipped 0.1% in April to 62.9% and has been fairly steady over the past year. The employment-population ratio at 60.2% also was little changed over the month but is up 0.5% since December.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents in April to $26.19. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5% or 65 cents.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Job gains in areas including leisure & hospitality, health care & social assistance, and financial activities helped brighten the nation's employment pictu...

April job cuts down sharply from March

Once again, the retail sector was the biggest terminator

Fewer jobs appear to be disappearing these days.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports U.S.-based employers announced they were cutting their workforces by 36,602, That's down 15% from March and 43% lower than a year earlier.

In fact, a total of 162,803 job cuts have been announced through the first four months of this year -- a 35% drop from the same period a year ago and the lowest January-April total since 2014.

Retail industry hardest hit

The retail sector of the economy terminated 11,669 workers last month, the highest total among all industries. So far this year, 50,133 retail positions have gone away up 36% from the first four months of 2016.

“Although restructuring in the retail sector continues to shed jobs,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, “we aren’t seeing the wide scale layoffs in other sectors, like energy or tech.”

Computer firms announced 840 job cuts during the month, a drop of 95% from April 2016., and the energy sector, which at this point last year had shed 67,660 jobs, has announced 8,725 to date -- an 87% decrease. Just 459 jobs were lost in the energy sector last month.

Challenger believes the economy is in a holding pattern. “The government jobs report saw lower-than-expected job creation in March with 98,000 jobs added,” he noted, “and consumer spending has been sluggish in the first quarter. Companies may be waiting for the outcome of President Trump’s tax reform before making any major decisions.” 

Fewer jobs appear to be disappearing these days.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports U.S.-based employers announced they were...

Services sector builds up steam

Sixteen industries reported growth in April

There doesn't seem to be any stopping of the services sector of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in April for the 88th consecutive month with the Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) up 2.3% from March to 57.5%.

Fifty is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index rose to 62.4% from 58.9% in March, reflecting growth for the 93rd consecutive month, at a faster rate. The New Orders Index jumped 4.3% to 63.2 percent,, while the Employment Index inched down 0.2% to 51.4%, but was still growing.

The Prices Index was up 4.1% for a reading of 57.6%, indicating prices increased for the 13th consecutive month -- at a faster rate in April.

How they did

  1. Sixteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth in April: Wholesale Trade;
  2. Utilities;
  3. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  4. Mining;
  5. Retail Trade;
  6. Construction;
  7. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  8. Information;
  9. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  10. Public Administration;
  11. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  12. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  13. Other Services;
  14. Finance & Insurance;
  15. Accommodation & Food Services; and
  16. Transportation & Warehousing.

The only industry to report contraction in April was Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

Jobless claims

A big drop in the number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 during the week ending April 29 to a seasonally adjusted i238,000. The previous week's level was unrevised.

The 4-week moving average, seen because of its lack of volatility as a more accurate gauge of the labor market, rose by 750 from the previoys week's unrevised level to 243,000.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Photo (c) z amir - FotoliaThere doesn't seem to be any stopping of the services sector of the economy.The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) r...

Job creation slows in April

Medium-sized businesses provided the oomph

April saw a noticeable slowdown in the creation of private sector jobs.

The ADP National Employment Report shows that employers hired 177,000 workers last month, following a strong March, which saw creation of a downwardly revised 255,000 payroll positions.

April's gain was the smallest since last October when there were just 62,000 new jobs.

The slowdown in job growth is attributed to a pullback in construction and retail jobs, according to Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi.

“The softness in construction is continued payback from outsized growth during the mild winter,” he said. “Brick-and-mortar retailers cut jobs in response to withering competition from online merchants.”

Who was hiring

Medium businesses -- those with 50-499 employees -- were responsible for most of the hiring, adding 78,000 jobs. That sector was followed by small businesses (+61,000) and large businesses (+38,000)

As is usually the case, most of the new jobs -- 165,000 -- were created in service-providing industries -- with professional/business services adding 72,000 positions, followed by administrative/support services (+53,000), education/health services (+41,000), leisure/hospitality (+ 35,000), and health care/social assistance (+22,000).

Goods-producing firms added 12,000 payroll positions, with 11,000 hires in manufacturing and 3,000 in natural resources/mining. Construction lost 2,000 jobs.

"Despite a dip in job creation, the growth is more than strong enough to accommodate the growing population as the labor market nears full employment,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Looking across company sizes, midsized businesses showed persistent growth for the past six months.”

The ADP National Employment Report, which is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, is produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics. 

April saw a noticeable slowdown in the creation of private sector jobs.The ADP National Employment Report shows that employers hired 177,000 workers la...

Another month of growth for the manufacturing sector

However, the rate of expansion slowed a bit

The manufacturing sector expanded in April, as the overall economy grew for the 95th month in a row, according to the nation’s supply executives

The Manufacturing ISM Report On Business from the Institute for Supply Management shows the April Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell 2.4% from the previous month to 54.8%.

A reading above 50 signifies growth, while a reading below that indicates contraction.

The New Orders Index fell 7% to 57.5%, while the Production Index was up 1.0% to 58.6%. The Employment Index tumbled 6.9% to 52%, with inventories of raw materials rising 2.0% to 51.0%.

The Prices Index came in at 68.5% for a loss of 2%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 14th straight month, but at a slower rate of increase than was posted in March.

Industry performance

Sixteen of 18 manufacturing industries reported last month:

  1. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  4. Furniture & Related Products;
  5. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  6. Fabricated Metal Products;
  7. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Paper Products;
  10. Chemical Products;
  11. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  12. Primary Metals;
  13. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  14. Computer & Electronic Products;
  15. Petroleum &Coal Products; and
  16. Transportation Equipment.

The only industry reporting contraction was Apparel, Leather & Allied Products.

The manufacturing sector expanded in April, as the overall economy grew for the 95th month in a row, according to the nation’s supply executivesThe Man...

Personal incomes inch higher in March

The spending side of the equation barely budged

Consumers had more money in their pockets in March -- but not a lot more.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income rose 0.2%, or $40.0 billion in March with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left over after taxes are deducted -- also up 0.2%.

The increase came largely from advances in things like Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid benefits, nonfarm proprietors’ income, and employee paychecks.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) were nearly flat, totaling $5.7 billion or less than 0.1%. What increase there was was more than accounted for by an rise in spending for services -- mostly household utilities. That was partially offset by a drop in spending for durable goods -- motor vehicles and parts.

Personal saving came to $849.1 billion in March for a personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- of 5.9, up 0.3% from the February rate.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Consumers had more money in their pockets in March -- but not a lot more.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income rose 0.2%, or $4...

Economic growth slows in 2017's first three months

A dip in consumer spending fueled the slowdown

It's not a particularly encouraging picture.

Growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an anemic annual rate 0.7% in the first quarter after expanding 2.1% in the final quarter of last year.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the deceleration was due to a slowdown in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, and downturns in private inventory investment and in state and local government spending.

Those were partly offset by a pickup in exports and increases in both nonresidential and residential fixed investment.

It should be kept in mind that this is just the first of three estimates of GDP and that the data are incomplete or subject to further revision.

GDP inflation

The PCE price index rose 2.4% in the first quarter, versus an increase of 2.0%. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index (core) was up 2.0%, after rising 1.3% in the previous quarter.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

It's not a particularly encouraging picture.Growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an anemic annual rate 0.7% in the first quarter after e...

How you can turn that internship into a job offer

We have some does and don'ts for scoring

It's a jungle out there.

An improving economy coupled with hard-to-find talent have driven the number and quality of internship applications higher.

Add to that labor shortages, competition among undergraduates a change change in the work given to interns and you wind up with the growing importance of internships when it comes to finding a job after graduation.

“Internships are more important than ever, but not all internship programs are created equal,” according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Vice President Andrew Challenger. “Many employers do not have any type of strategy when it comes to utilizing and educating their interns. In these situations both the employer and the intern lose. It is critical that young people entering an internship program take a proactive approach to managing and maximizing their experience.”

While statistics about the number of internship positions held each year are difficult to come by, some estimates put the total between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000.

Currently listed on internships.com are more than 190,086 available positions from 120,288 companies located in 9,288 cities across all 50 states.

Internships translate to real jobs

Regardless of how many people participate in internships, the importance of these opportunities to career development should not be overlooked. A 2013 survey of graduates by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 63.1% of those who participated in paid internships received at least one job offer.

Another NACE survey revealed that 95% of employers said candidate experience is a factor in hiring decisions, and nearly half wanted that experience to come from internships or co-op programs.

“Obviously, the internship should appear on the resume and mentioned in the cover letter, but first-time job seekers should also create a complete LinkedIn profile,” said Challenger. “Interns should network within the organization and obtain recommendations from those with which they work directly.” 

“Interns should not just network for recommendations, of course. Networking within the organization can also produce job leads or even an actual job offer,” added Challenger. 

What to do

Be open to anything. Don't be set on interning for companies in your field; open up to many different companies across industries. It's important not to be picky with superficial aspects such as brand recognition. Interning for small to medium-sized companies can give you a chance to take on meaningful work and make a significant impact.

Network, network, network. Ask for informational meetings or coffee with employees that work in the companies or departments that interest you. You can also reach out to employees through LinkedIn or Twitter. If your relationship grows, they may pass your name along to HR or a hiring manager.

Treat your internship as a real job. Think of your internship as a trial period or extended interview for obtaining the position you want.

Be on time and meet deadlines. Keep a positive attitude and show that you are eager to learn and succeed by seeking out feedback to improve your performance and develop new skills.

Take initiative and exceed expectations. Don't be afraid to voice your own ideas, offer solutions and ask questions. Show interest in attending meetings and seek out extra work and new projects. When you go above and beyond the minimum, you demonstrate your commitment level and gain the attention of management.

Follow the company dress code. While you want to stand out from the pack, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself for the wrong reasons. By dressing professionally you reinforce the impression that you can adapt to and fit in with the company’s culture.

Keep track of your contributions and accomplishments. A tangible record of your achievements with the company is a helpful tool in convincing a manager why you should be hired full time.

Ask about available entry-level positions. Let your employer know that you want a job with that particular organization. Ask about what positions are available and express your interest in them. An employer will be more likely to consider you for a position if she knows you're interested in it.

Stay in contact. If you don’t get hired for a position immediately after your internship ends, stay in touch. Check-in with your contacts and provide updates on your progress. It'll help to keep you in the forefront for the employer’s mind when a position opens.

Jobless claims

Speaking of jobs, the Labor Department (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits headed high in the week ending April 22, rising 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000. The week's level was revised down by 1,000.

The 4-week moving, generally considered to give a more accurate view of the labor market because of its relative lack of volatility, came in at 242,250 -- down 500 from the previous week.

The full report is available on the DOL website. 

It's a jungle out there.An improving economy coupled with hard-to-find talent have driven the number and quality of internship applications higher....

Leading Economic Index suggests growth to continue through 2017

Initial jobless claims are on the rise

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) was higher in March for a fifth consecutive month.

The rise of 0.4% follows advances of 0.5% and 0.6% in February and January, respectively. Additionally, the index wrapped up 2016 with a gain of 0.6% in December and a 0.2% increase for November

“The March increase and upward trend in the U.S. LEI point to continued economic growth in 2017, with perhaps an acceleration later in the year if consumer spending and investment pick up,” said Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim. “The gains among the leading indicators were very widespread, with new orders in manufacturing and the interest rate spread more than offsetting declines in the labor market components in March.”

The LEI, a closely watched forecaster of economic activity, is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

A give-back in the jobless claims last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 in the week ending April 15 to a seasonally adjusted total of 244,000.

Initial claims fell by exactly the same amount a week earlier.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly average and considered a better reading of the labor market, came in at 243,000 -- down 4,250 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) was higher in March for a fifth consecutive month.T...

Retail sales disappoint in March

Falling auto sales played a role

Not much joy in the retail sector in March.

Not only did it revise the February retail sales figure from a 0.1% gain to show a 0.3% decline, but the Commerce Department also reported sales in March were down 0.2% -- totaling $470.8 billion.

Even with that decline, though, sales were 5.2% above the same period the year before.

Ups and downs

Much of the March weakness can be traced to a decline of 1.2% in auto sales. If that category is eliminated, sales were flat. Also contributing to the decline were lower sales at building material and garden equipment & supplies dealers (-1.5%), gas stations (-1.0%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-0.8%), and restaurants & bars (-0.6%).

What little strength there was came from gains at electronics & appliance stores (+2.6%), miscellaneous store retailers (+1.8%), clothing and clothing accessories (+1.0%), nonstore retailers (+0.6%), food and beverage stores (+0.5%), and general merchandise stores (+0.3%).

The full report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Not much joy in the retail sector in March.Not only did it revise the February retail sales figure from a 0.1% gain to show a 0.3% decline, but the Com...

February sees a slight increase in job openings

Hires and separations showed little change

The number of job openings rose slightly in February -- from 5.625 million a month earlier to 5.743 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Increases in openings were seen in a number of industries. Health care and social assistance led the way with 73,000 openings, followed by accommodation and food services (+66,000) and finance and insurance (+47,000).

Openings were down by 63,000 in both real estate and rental & leasing, along with a decline in mining and logging (-7,000). Job openings increased in the Northeast region.

Hires

There was little or no change in the number of hires (5.3 million), with the hires rate at 3.6%. What increase there was came in retail trade (+74,000) and mining and logging (+9,000). Federal government hiring was down in February by 13,000, and the number of overall hires was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations, which includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover, totaled 5.1 million -- about the same as January. The total separations rate in February was 3.5%.

Total separations decreased in health care and social assistance (-54,000), educational services (-22,000), and federal government (-6,000), but the number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

Net employment change

Net employment change is the result of the relationship between hires and separations. When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.

On the other hand, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in February, hires totaled 63.0 million and separations totaled 60.6 million, for a net employment gain of 2.4 million.

The complete report may be found on the BLS website.

The number of job openings rose slightly in February -- from 5.625 million a month earlier to 5.743 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (B...

March job creation comes up short

The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in nearly a decade.

A loss of positions in the retail sector helped keep March job creation well below expectations.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employment edged up by 98,000 last month -- well short of the 180,000 jobs projected by economists at Briefing.com.

The economy had created 219,000 jobs in February and 216,000 in January.

At the same time, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% from 4.7% in February, the lowest level since may 2007.

Gainers and losers 

Employment in professional and business services was up by 56,000 last month -- about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Other fields adding employees include mining (+11,000), health care (+14,000), financial activities (+9,000), and construction (+6,000).

Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March, while employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality and government, showed little or no change.

Who's working

The number of people out of a job in March fell by 326,000 to 7.2 million. 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (4.0%), Whites (3.9%), and Hispanics (5.1%) declined in March. The jobless rates for adult men (4.3%), teenagers (13.7%), Blacks (8.0%), and Asians (3.3%) showed little or no change.

The labor force participation held steady at 63.0% in March, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.1%, changed little. The employment-population ratio has edged up over the year, while the labor force participation rate has shown no clear trend.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by a nickel in March to $26.14, following a 7-cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have are up 68 cents, or 2.7%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

A loss of positions in the retail sector helped keep March job creation well below expectations.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employment edged...

Job cuts rise, jobless claims fall

The retail sector was March's biggest job cutter

The flurry of pink slips intensified a bit in March.

According to the tally by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas announced job cuts by US-based employers rose 17% from the February total to 43,310.

While the month-over-month change is higher, March cuts are down 2% from the same month last year -- the third consecutive month of lower job cuts than the corresponding month a year earlier.

For the first quarter of the year, employers have cut 126,201 jobs -- 38% more than in the final three months of 2016, but down 30% from the same period last year.

A healing energy sector

“Cuts in the energy sector, which started en masse in mid-2014, were still occurring in the first quarter of 2016;” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, but adds that “the energy industry is no longer bleeding jobs, which is partly why job cut announcements have trended down.”

Through the first quarter of the year, the energy sector has announced 7,880 job cuts, down 84% from the first three months of 2016. Since January 2014, the energy sector has announced 224,265 cuts -- 107,714 of them in 2016.

Retail is the job cut leader so far this year, with 38,464 announced terminations, 4,084 occurring last month. While retailers have cut over 53,000 jobs in the last seven months, the industry has announced over 121,000 new jobs so far this year.

“Retail is typically an industry in flux, but we’ve seen long established companies close stores and cut workers,” said Challenger. “The industry, though, is creating openings just as quickly as they are cutting.”

First quarter retail cuts are up 19% from the same period last year.

Even as companies continue to cut jobs, hiring announcements continue to break records. Challenger tracking shows that in the first quarter, companies announced 289,272 new positions -- the bulk of them in the retail sector.

Home Depot hired 80,000 new seasonal workers in March. Last quarter’s total is the highest first quarter total on record, and the highest quarterly total except for third quarter totals when holiday hiring plans are typically announced.

Jobless claims

The week ending April 1 saw a sold drop in the fining of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports there were a seasonally adjusted 234,000 initial jobless claims, down 25,000 from the previous week's level was revised up by 1,000.

The less volatile 4-week moving fell 4,500 from the previous week to 250,000.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Photo (c) kikkerdirk - FotoliaThe flurry of pink slips intensified a bit in March.According to the tally by outplacement consultancy Challeng...

March job growth stronger than February's

Last month's gains were broad-based

The economy continued to crank out jobs in March at a rate that has economists smiling.

The ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, shows private sector employment increased by 263,000 jobs.

Small businesses were the biggest contributor with the creation of 118,000 payroll positions, followed by medium-sized firms (+100,000 jobs) and large businesses (+45,000).

"The U.S. labor market finished the first quarter on a strong note," said ADP Research Institute Vice President Ahu Yildirmaz. "Consumer dependent industries including healthcare, leisure and hospitality, and trade had strong growth during the month."

The bulk of the new employment came in the services-providing sector, where 181,000 people found work. The heaviest job creation came in Professional/business services, with 57,000 new jobs.

In the goods-producing, there were 82,000 new payroll positions, led by construction (+49,000) and manufacturing (+30,000).

"Job growth is off to a strong start in 2017,” according to Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The gains are broad based but most notable in the goods producing side of the economy including construction, manufacturing and mining."

The economy continued to crank out jobs in March at a rate that has economists smiling.The ADP National Employment Report, produced by the ADP Research...

A slowdown in the services growth rate

Fifteen industries reported expansion in March

March turned out to be another good month for the non-manufacturing sector of the economy as it grew for the 87th consecutive month.

According to the Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) came in at 55.2%. While that's down 2.4% from the previous month, the NMI remained above 50 -- the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index dropped 4.7% to 58.9%, the New Orders Index was off 2.3% to 58.9% and the Employment Index fell 3.6% to 51.6%.

The Prices Index was down 4.2% to 53.5%, showing that prices increase, although at a slower rate for the 12th consecutive month, at a slower rate in March.

Industry by industry

Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth:

  1. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  2. Utilities;
  3. Wholesale Trade;
  4. Mining;
  5. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  6. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  7. Accommodation & Food Services;
  8. Retail Trade;
  9. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  10. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  11. Transportation & Warehousing;
  12. Construction;
  13. Finance & Insurance;
  14. Other Services; and
  15. Public Administration.

The three industries reporting contraction in March were:

  1. Information;
  2. Educational Services; and
  3. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.

March turned out to be another good month for the non-manufacturing sector of the economy as it grew for the 87th consecutive month.According to the No...

The teen job-search could get a little tricky this summer

We have some tips for snagging a job

Industries that usually hire teen workers appear to be scaling back this year even though the economy continues to show signs of strength.

What that means for job-hunters, according to an outlook released Tuesday by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, is that opportunities for teens might appear in unusual places or later in the summer when retailers have had a chance to better gauge consumer demand.

“Retail -- including long-standing clothing and accessories stores -- are pivoting to online sales and continue to cut in-store workers,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Teenagers will still have many opportunities, but they will not necessarily be in traditional retail stores.”

Rough going for retailers

Retailers have cut over 34,000 jobs in the first two months of the year, according to Challenger tracking. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), meanwhile, tracked 26,000 job losses in general merchandise stores; sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores; and electronics and appliance stores in February.

“If retailers do decide to beef up hiring, it will likely be later in the summer for back-to-school season leading up to the winter holiday shopping season,” Challenger noted. “In the meantime, teens who want summer employment should look in non-traditional areas and tap into older, employed contacts to seek out possible positions.”

A strong 2016

Last summer saw the strongest teen employment since 2013, when 1,335,000 teens found jobs. Employment among teens increased by 1,339,000 between May and July in 2016 -- 15.4% more than through the same period in 2015, when 1,160,000 16- to 19-year-olds were added to the employment rolls.

Last year’s total was helped by heavier-than-usual teen employment gains in July. A total of 492,000 would-be workers found jobs in July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data released by the BLS. The July teen job gains were 33% higher than the previous July’s 369,000, and up 25% from the 392,900 July job gains averaged over the previous 10 years.

The strong summer hiring brought last year’s total employment among 16- to 19-year-olds to 6,040,000 -- the highest number of employed teens since August 2008.

Currently, 4,657,000 16 to 19 year-olds are employed, an increase of 49,000 workers from the previous February. If last summer’s trend continues, that number could jump to over 6 million by August.

“Even with the recent gains, though, teen employment is a shadow of its former self,” Challenger pointed out. “The latest figures are well below the employment levels of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it was common to see 7.0 million to 8.5 million teenagers employed at the peak of the summer job surge. In 1978, more than 10 million teenaged Baby Boomers were working in July.”

What to do

Challenger offered the following suggestions to make the job search more productive:

  • Search where others are not. Outdoor jobs involving heavy labor or behind-the-scenes jobs are often not as sought-after by teen job seekers.
  • Look for odd jobs at odd hours. ­Offer to work evening and night shifts and to fill in for vacationing employees. As a job-search strategy, conduct a search for these types of positions during the hours they operate.
  • Become a door-to-door salesman when selling your skills. ­Do what good salesmen do -- start on one block and go from business to business, door to door. Don’t simply ask for an application. Take the time to introduce yourself and build some rapport with the hiring manager.
  • Call friends and relatives. Parents and other relatives are often the best source for information on job leads. However, don’t forget to stay in touch with friends and other classmates, especially those who have been able to find jobs.
  • Be a job-search ninja. Wait outside the store or offices of a prospective employer to attempt to intercept a hiring manager upon his or her arrival.
  • Dress for the part. Even if you are applying to work on a road crew, show up to all interviews in nice clothes. You want the interviewer to focus on you and your skills, not on your ripped jeans and paint-splattered t-shirt.
  • Don’t hesitate to revisit employers. The types of businesses seeking seasonal employees typically have higher-than-average turnover. An employer that did not hire you a couple of months ago might need more workers now.

Industries that usually hire teen workers appear to be scaling back this year even though the economy continues to show signs of strength.What that mea...

Manufacturing economy grows in March -- but at a slower rate

Seventeen of 18 industries reported expansion

March was another good month for U.S. manufacturing, although not as good as February.

According to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, economic activity in the manufacturing sector as gauged by the Purchasing Managers Index(PMI) registered 57.2% last month, down 0.5% from the February reading.

A reading above 50 signifies growth, while a reading below that indicates contraction.

Also during March, the overall economy grew for the 94th consecutive month.

A closer look

The New Orders Index dipped 0.6% last month to 64.5% and the Production Index came in at 57.6%, a drop of 5.3%. At the same time, the Employment Index jumped 4.7% to 8.9%.

Inventories of raw materials were down 2.5% to 49%, while the Prices Index rose 2.5% to 70.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 13th consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 17 reported growth in March:

  1. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Furniture & Related Products;
  4. Textile Mills;
  5. Machinery;
  6. Primary Metals;
  7. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  8. Wood Products;
  9. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  10. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  11. Paper Products;
  12. Transportation Equipment;
  13. Chemical Products;
  14. Computer & Electronic Products;
  15. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  16. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  17. Petroleum & Coal Products.

No industry reported contraction in March from February.

March was another good month for U.S. manufacturing, although not as good as February.According to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, economic a...

Personal income and spending on the rise in February

Consumers tucked more away in their savings accounts

Both personal incomes and spending rose in February -- the former more than the latter.

The Commerce Department reports incomes climbed $57.7 billion, or 0.4%, last month following a $63 billion gain in January. Disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes are extracted -- was up 0.3%, or $44.6 billion.

The incomes increase was due largely to advances in wages and salaries and rental income of persons.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- inched up 0.1%, or $7.4 billion. When adjusted for inflation, it was actually down 0.1%.

The PCE price index rose just 0.1% and was up 0.2% when the volatile food and energy categories were stripped out; the PCE price index increased 0.2%.

The decrease in inflation-adjusted spending reflected cutbacks in spending that were partially offset by an increase in spending for nondurable goods.

Personal saving in February totaled $808.0 billion – up $4.3 billion from January, for a rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- of 5.6%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Both personal incomes and spending rose in February -- the former more than the latter.The Commerce Department reports incomes climbed $57.7 billion, o...

U.S. economy continues growing at a so-so rate

Initial jobless claims were lower last week

The final tally of economic performance for the past year is in and the results are not encouraging.

The Commerce Department reports that for all of 2016, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 1.9% the previous year.

Many economists consider between 2-3% to be the “ideal” annual GDP growth rate.

For the final quarter of last year, GDP expanded at an annual rate of 2.1%, up a tad from the 1.9% reported in the second look at the numbers. In the third quarter of 2016, real GDP increased 3.5%.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, an inflation gauge tied to GDP, rose 2.0%. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.3%.

Corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital consumption adjustment rose $11.2 billion in the fourth quarter, following a surge of $117.8 billion in the third quarter.

For all of 2016, profits were down $2.3 billion, compared with a plunge of $64.0 billion in 2015.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

The number of people applying for state unemployment benefits for the first time was lower last week.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial jobless claims for the week ending March 25 totaled a seasonally adjusted 258,000, down 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered by economists to be a better reflection of the labor market, rose 7,750 during the same week to 254,250.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) z amir - FotoliaThe final tally of economic performance for the past year is in and the results are not encouraging.The Commerce Depart...

Leading economic indicators on a roll

February's gain was the sixth in a row

There's a good chance that the nation's economy will continue to chug along in the months ahead.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.6% to 126.2.

“After six consecutive monthly gains, the U.S. LEI is at its highest level in over a decade,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “Widespread gains across a majority of the leading indicators points to an improving economic outlook for 2017, although GDP growth is likely to remain moderate,” he added, pointing out that “only housing permits contributed negatively to the LEI in February, reversing gains over the previous two months.”

The LEI, a closely watched forecast of economic activity, is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  • ISM Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits, new private housing units
  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index
  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions
There's a good chance that the nation's economy will continue to chug along in the months ahead.The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index...

Job openings edge higher January

Hiring was also up a bit

Job openings edged up slightly during January, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

On the final business day of the month, there were 5.626 million job openings, compared with 5.539 million in December, for a job openings rate of 3.7%.

The number of job openings was up a bit for the private sector -- from 5.065 million to 5.173 million, with most of them in professional and business services, and down for government -- to 452,000 from 474,000.

Hires

Hires during the month went from 5.303 million in December to 5.440 million, with a hires rate of 3.7%. There were 5.104 million private sector hires and 336,000 for government. Other services (+54,000) and finance & insurance (+41,000) led hiring in the private sector. The number of hires was little changed in all four geographic regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. There were 5.258 million total separations in January, versus 5.084 in December. The total separations rate was 3.6%. The number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

Net employment change

Over the 12 months ending in January, hires totaled 63.1 million and separations totaled 60.7 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.4 million.

This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

Job openings edged up slightly during January, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).On the final business day of the month, t...

Retail sales inch upward in February

Sales were generally soft across the board

Retail sales turned in an anemic performance in February, totaling $474.0 billion -- an increase of 0.1% from a month earlier but up 5.7% from a year earlier.

The Commerce Department report shows there were few, if any, stellar showings last month. Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers led the way with a sales advance of 1.8%, followed by nonstore retailers (+1.2%), health & personal care stores (+0.7'%), and furniture and home furnishing stores (+0.7'%).

On the losing end were electronics & appliance stores, where sales plunged 2.8%. Department store sales fell 1.1%, miscellaneous store retailers were off 0.8%, and gas stations sales dipped 0.6%. Sales at auto dealerships were down 0.1%.

The full report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales turned in an anemic performance in February, totaling $474.0 billion -- an increase of 0.1% from a month earlier but up 5.7% from a year earli...

February brings solid employment gain

Construction and manufacturing were among the winners

Gains in construction, private educational services, and manufacturing helped push total nonfarm payroll employment up by 235,000 in February.

At the same time, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), the jobless rate ticked down a notch to 4.7%.

As it released its February figures, the government revised December's job creation down by 2,000 to +155,000; the change for January was revised up from +227,000 to +238,000. That means employment gains for those two months were 9,000 more than previously reported.

Construction, manufacturing employment on the rise

Construction employment increased last month (+58,000), along with private educational services (+29,000), manufacturing (+28,000), health care (+27,000), and mining (+8,000).

Retail trade employment fell (-26,000) with losses occurring in general merchandise stores, sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores, and electronics and appliance stores.

Who's working and who's not

The unemployment rate for whites fell to 4.1% in February, while rates for adult men (4.3%), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (15.0%), blacks (8.1%), Asians (3.4%), and Hispanics (5.6%) showed little or no change.

The labor force participation rate, at 63.0%, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0%, showed little change last month.

The average workweek for all employees held steady at 34.4 hours in February, while average hourly earnings rose by 6 cents to $26.09 following last month's increase of a nickel. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 71 cents, or 2.8%

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Gains in construction, private educational services, and manufacturing helped push total nonfarm payroll employment up by 235,000 in February.At the sa...

Job cuts down sharply in February

First-time jobless claims were on the rise last week

Although there may not be a connection, the shortest month of the year saw a big drop in job cut announcements.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports employers announced plans to trim their payrolls by 36,957 in February, down 19% from January.

So far this year, employers have announced 82,891 jobs -- a 40% decline from the 136,713 announced through February of last year.

Heavy hits in retail

Retail continues to lead all sectors in job cuts, with 11,889 terminations last month.

The largest in that sector came from JC Penney, which is closing 140 stores and cutting 5,500 jobs. Family Christian Stores is shuttering 240 stores in 36 states, eliminating 1,300 workers, and L.L. Bean is offering buyouts to over 900 staffers in an effort to cut its workforce by 10%.

“Retailers are experiencing a tremendous transformation from the traditional business model,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The cost of digitizing merchandise, moving sales to online, and downsizing physical stores will likely take a toll on employees in this field.”

Firing and hiring

However, at the same time retail is cutting jobs, the sector is on a hiring binge. Through February, Challenger has tracked over 33,000 hiring plans announced by retailers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports retail experienced the most job gains in January -- 46,000.

In fact, overall hiring announcements are at an all-time high. Challenger reports that in the first two months of the year, employers have announced plans to hire 162,266 workers -- the highest January-February hiring total on record.

Jobless claims

The number of initial applications for state unemployment was on the rise in the week ending March 4, with the BLS reporting an increase of 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 243,000.

This marks the 105th straight week that claims have been below 300,000 the longest stretch since 1970.

The four-week moving average came in at 236,500 -- up 2,250 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Although there may not be a connection, the shortest month of the year saw a big drop in job cut announcements.Outp...

Services sector continues to show strength

Initial jobless claims are at their lowest level since 1973

February was another good month for the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management reports the the NMI rose 1.1% last month to 57.6% -- the highest reading since October 2015, and the 86th consecutive month of growth.

A reading above 50% signals expansion, while anything below that suggests contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index jumped 3.3% to 63.6%, the highest reading since February 2011. The New Orders Index registered 61.2%, 2.6% higher than January and the highest reading since August 2015.

The Employment Index inched ahead 0.5% to 55.2%, and the Prices Index fell 1.3% to 57.7%, indicating that prices increased, but at a slower rate, for the 11th month in a row.

Industry performance

The 16 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in February were:

  1. Utilities;
  2. Mining;
  3. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  4. Other Services;
  5. Accommodation & Food Services;
  6. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  7. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  8. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  9. Finance & Insurance;
  10. Public Administration;
  11. Educational Services;
  12. Wholesale Trade;
  13. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  14. Retail Trade;
  15. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  16. Construction.

The two industries reporting contraction in February were:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and
  2. Information.

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that initial applications for state unemployment benefits fell by 19,000 in the week ending February 25 to a seasonally adjusted 223,000. That's the lowest level for initial claims since March 31, 1973.

The level for the previous week was revised lower by 2,000 to 242,000.

The four-week moving average was down 6,250 from the previous week to 234,250 -- the lowest level since April 14, 1973.

The previous week's average was revised down from 241,000 to 240,500.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

February was another good month for the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy.The Institute for Supply...

Economy's manufacturing growth picks up steam in February

Seventeen of 18 industries reported expansion

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy continued to chug along in February.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI), a key gauge of the sector's economic health, rose 1.7% to 57.7%. That marks the sixth straight month that the PMI has been above 50 -- the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

At the same time, the overall economy grew for the 93rd consecutive month.

A closer look at PMI components shows the New Orders Index jumped 4.7% for a reading of 65.1%, the Production Index registered 62.9%, up 1.5% from January, while the Employment Index fell 1.9% to 54.2%.

Inventories of raw materials came in at 51.5%, a gain of 3%, and the Prices Index dipped 1% to 68%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 12th consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 17 reported growth:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  3. Machinery;
  4. Computer & Electronic Products;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  7. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  8. Chemical Products;
  9. Paper Products;
  10. Fabricated Metal Products;
  11. Transportation Equipment;
  12. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  13. Wood Products;
  14. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  15. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  16. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  17. Miscellaneous Manufacturing.

Furniture & Related Products was the only industry to report contraction.

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy continued to chug along in February.According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing...

Another month of gains in personal income and spending

For all of 2016, outlays outpaced incomes

Both incomes and spending were higher in January, with consumers setting aside some of what they earned.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income rose $63.0 billion, or 0.4% last month, with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes -- increasing 0.3%, or $40.1 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, rose $22.2 billion, or 0.2%.

More money

The increase in personal income came from increases in wages and salaries and personal current transfer receipts, that were partially offset by an increase in contributions for government social insurance.

Personal saving totaled $795.7 billion in January, with the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- up 0.1% from December to 5.5%.

The 2016 tally

Personal income for all of last year rose 3.6%, compared with a 2015 increase of 4.4%. DPI jumped 3.9% -- 0.1% more than in 2015.

Consumer spending was up 3.8% last year after rising 3.5% the year before.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Both incomes and spending were higher in January, with consumers setting aside some of what they earned.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports p...

Fourth quarter economic growth continues its tepid pace

2016's GDP was down sharply from the preceding year

The Commerce Department's second look at fourth-quarter economic growth wasn't any more encouraging than its first estimate.

Thus, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.9% in the last three months of 2016, the same pace as was reported in the first look. GDP had shot up at an annual rate of 3.5% in last year's third quarter.

For all of 2016, real GDP increased 1.6% from the 2015 annual level, compared with an increase of 2.6% in 2015.

Not much change

With the second estimate, the general picture of economic growth in the fourth quarter remains the same. The increase in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was larger and increases in state and local government spending and in nonresidential fixed investment were smaller than previously estimated.

The price index for gross domestic purchases rose 1.9% in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.5% in the third quarter.

The PCE price index increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 1.5%. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index was up 1.2%, compared with a 1.7% rise in the previous quarter.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The Commerce Department's second look at fourth-quarter economic growth wasn't any more encouraging than its first estimate.Thus, real gross domestic p...

Retailers see better sales numbers for 2017

Jobless claims decline in early February

Sales in the retail sector, which excludes automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, are expected to approve in the year ahead.

The National Retail Federation predicts a sales gain of between 3.7% and 4.2% over 2016. Online and other non-store/online sales are expected to be up between 8% and 12%.

Consumers in the driver's seat

“The economy is on firm ground as we head into 2017 and is expected to build on the momentum we saw late last year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With jobs and income growing and debt relatively low, the fundamentals are in place and the consumer is in the driver’s seat.

But, he notes, this year is unlike any other. While consumers have strength they haven’t had in the past, they will remain hesitant to spend until they have more certainty about policy changes on taxes, trade, and other issues being debated in Congress.

“Lawmakers should take note,” Shay warned, “and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers.”

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz agrees that prospects for consumer spending are good, pointing out that more jobs and more income will result in more spending.

But he cautions that regardless of sentiment, “the pace of wage growth and job creation dictate spending. Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy.”

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), we have word that first-time applications for state jobless benefits were down by 12,000 in the week ending February 4 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000.

The four-week moving average came in at was 244,250 -- a drop of 3,750 from the previous week, and the lowest level since November 3, 1973, when it was 244,000.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Sales in the retail sector, which excludes automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, are expected to approve in the year ahead.The National Retail Fe...

Steady as she goes for job openings in December

The past year saw a net employment gain of 2.4 million

Not much change during December in the number of jobs available for the taking.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 5.5 million job openings on the last business day of December -- about the same as in November.

Hires and separations also showed little change at 5.3 million and 5.0 million, respectively.

Job openings

The 5.5 million job openings in December translates to a rate of 3.6%, with little change in the private sector and a drop of 75,000 for government. Openings increased in other services (+50,000) and federal government (+13,000), but fell in state and local government, excluding education (-85,000). The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

Hires

The hires rate was 3.6%, with little change in the private sector and down for government. Hires dipped in state and local government, excluding education (-33,000), and in mining and logging (-7,000). The number of hires was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. Separations totaled 5.0 million in December -- little changed from November -- for a rate of 3.4%. There was little change in the number of separations for the private sector, while government posted a loss of 37,000. Declines were registered in state and local government (-28,000), with the number of total separations little changed in all four regions.

Net employment change

Over the 12 months ending in December, hires totaled 62.5 million and separations totaled 60.1 million. That works out to a net employment gain of 2.4 million. The totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Not much change during December in the number of jobs available for the taking.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 5.5 million job...

Growth slows in services sector

Still, there's been expansion for 85 straight months

The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to grow last month, albeit at a slower rate than in December.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the non-manufacturing index (NMI) registered 56.5% -- down 0.1% from December.

It's now been 85 months that the NMI has been above 50, the line separating expansion from contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index dropped 0.6% to 60%, reflecting the 90th consecutive month of growth. The New Orders Index came in at 58.6%, down 2.1% from December.

The Employment Index, on the other hand, rose 2.0% to 54.7%, and the Prices Index shot up 2.9% to 59%, indicating ten consecutive months of increases and a speed-up from December.

Industry performance

The 12 non-manufacturing industries that reported growth in January are:

  1. Mining;
  2. Other Services;
  3. Utilities;
  4. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  5. Finance & Insurance;
  6. Public Administration;
  7. Accommodation & Food Services;
  8. Retail Trade;
  9. Construction;
  10. Wholesale Trade;
  11. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  12. Management of Companies & Support Services.

The following five industries reported contraction last month:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  2. Educational Services;
  3. Transportation & Warehousing;
  4. Information; and
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.
The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to grow last month, albeit at a slower rate than in December.According to the lates...

Gains in retail fuel January job creation

The unemployment rate ticked higher again

Job creation in January ramped up to its highest level since last September.

Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show employers added 227,000 nonfarm payroll positions even as the unemployment rate inched up to 4.8%.

Where the jobs are

The increase in employment came in retail trade (+46,000), construction (+36,000), financial activities (+32,000), and restaurants and bars (+30,000).

Other major industries, including mining and logging, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

In and out of work

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians (3.7%) increased in January, while the jobless rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (15.0%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.7%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed -- those out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was essentially unchanged at 1.9 million and accounted for 24.4% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 244,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents last month to $26.00 -- half the increase seen in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Job creation in January ramped up to its highest level since last September.Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show employers added 227,...

Another month of manufacturing sector growth

Twelve of 18 industries reported growth last month

January was another good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy and the economy in general, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

In the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, the Purchasing Management Index (PMI) registered 56% last month, up 1.5% from December and the fifth straight month above 50 -- the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

January also marked the 92nd consecutive month of growth in the overall economy.

The New Orders Index came in at 60.4%, up 0.1% from December; the Production Index added 2.0% to register 61.4%; and the Employment Index shot up 3.3% to 56.1%.

Raw materials inventories registered 48.5% -- up 1.5% -- and the Prices Index added 3.5% to 69%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 11th consecutive month.

The PMI, New Orders, and Production were all at their highest levels since November 2014.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 12 reported growth in January:

  1. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  2. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  3. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  4. Paper Products;
  5. Chemical Products;
  6. Transportation Equipment;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  10. Primary Metals;
  11. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  12. Computer & Electronic Products.

The five industries reporting contraction in January were:

  1. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Furniture & Related Products;
  4. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and
  5. Printing & Related Support Activities.
January was another good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy and the economy in general, according to the Institute for Supply Management (IS...

New year brings surge in job cuts

The number of terminations is the largest since last April

U.S. employers welcomed 2017 with a wave of corporate downsizing.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that the nation's bosses plan to cut their payrolls by 45,934 in January -- up 37% from December and the highest tally since last April when 64,141 workers were let go.

Pinks slips from retailers led the way

January's top four job cut announcements occurred in the retail sector, with Macy’s reporting plans to close 68 stores and fire 10,000 workers.

“Overall, it was a solid holiday shopping season,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, “but several retailers, including Macy’s, were unable to capitalize on stronger consumer confidence and spending.”

In all, retailers announced 22,491 planned cutbacks last month, accounting for 49% of all job cuts recorded during the month. The January total is virtually unchanged from the same month a year ago.

An energy sector rebound?

Meanwhile, the energy sector, which cut 20,103 jobs in January 2016, reported just 1,853 planned terminations to kick off 2017.

“Oil prices were already starting to rebound in the last half of 2016,” Challenger pointed out, adding that “with an administration that is expected to be very friendly to the oil, gas, and mining industries, many are forecasting a swift and sustained turnaround for these firms in 2017. The fact that January job cuts in the sector were 91 % lower than a year ago, certainly appears to support that outlook.”

Heavy workforce reductions were seen a year ago in the computer industry, where employers announced plans to shed 11,003 payroll positions. This year, however, job-cut plans announced by these firms totaled 2,211 -- an 80% decline.

“Job cuts will not be the leading story in the tech industry this year,” noted Challenger. “It is more likely to be labor shortages, particularly if the new administration continues to tighten the boarders to immigrants, many of whom come to America to work at leading tech companies.”

Jobless claims

The final week of last month saw a sizable decline in the number of initial jobless claims.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time filings for state unemployment benefits totaled 246,000 in the week ending January 28 -- down 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. At the same time, DOL reports the previous week's level was revised up by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, seen by some economists as a more accurate barometer of the labor market because of its relative lack of volatility, rose by 2,250 to 248,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

U.S. employers welcomed 2017 with a wave of corporate downsizing.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christ...

A surge of new jobs in January

Medium sized firms were in the forefront

After creating a disappointing 151,000 private sector jobs in December, the U.S. economy stepped it up a notch last month.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, nearly a quarter million new jobs -- 246,000 -- were created last month.

"The U.S. labor market is hitting on all cylinders and we saw small and midsized businesses perform exceptionally well," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.

Indeed, the report -- produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics -- shows medium-sided businesses led the way, adding 102,000 new payroll positions.

Large business contributed 83,000 jobs, followed by small firms at 61,000.

Employment at services-providing companies increased by 201,000, while goods-producing firms hired another 46,000 workers.

Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi calls the report a “strong start” for 2017, adding that even the energy sector -- with 6,000 new jobs -- is adding to payrolls again.

After creating a disappointing 151,000 private sector jobs in December, the U.S. economy stepped it up a notch last month.According to the ADP National...

U.S. economic growth slows in 2016

A tightening of consumer purse strings is a factor

There was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.

The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.6% in 2016 after growing 2.6% the year before.

The deceleration in growth reflected a downturn in private inventory investment, a slowdown in consumer spending (PCE), a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment, and decelerations in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending.

Those were offset by a slowdown in imports and speedups in federal government spending and exports.

Fourth quarter results

GDP in 2016's fourth quarter grew at a 1.9% annual clip following a third-quarter surge of 3.5%. It's worth keeping in mind that a "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released in late February. That second estimate may affect the 2016 GDP figure as well.

The slowdown in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected a downturn in exports, an acceleration in imports, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending, all of which were partly offset by an upturn in residential fixed investment, an acceleration in private inventory investment, an upturn in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

The PCE price index increased 2.2% in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.3%.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

There was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) inc...

Retail sales post December gain

Strong auto sales were a big factor

A sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.

The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $469.1 billion last month -- up 0.6% from November.

Ups and downs

The increase of 2.4% in auto sales led the December advance, followed by gas station (+2.0%), non-store retailers (+1.3%), and furniture and home furnishing stores (+0.5).

Sales fell at miscellaneous store retailers (-1.0%), restaurants and bars (-0.8%), department stores (-0.6%), and general merchandise stores (-0.5%) Sales at clothing & clothing accessories stores were unchanged. For all of 2016, sales were up up 3.3% from the year before.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

A sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $46...

Unemployment rate edges higher in December

Job creation during the month came in below expectations

The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the Briefing.com consensus estimate of 175,000.

According to figures released by the Labor Department (DOL), health care (+43,000) and social assistance (+20,000) accounted for a good chunk of last months employment gains. Advances were also seen in employment at food services and drinking places(+30,000), transportation and warehousing (+15,000) and financial activities (+13,000).

Other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information and government, registered little or no change in December.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (14.7%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.8%, Asians (2.6%), and Hispanics (5.9%) were fairly steady last month.

The labor force participation rate showed little change at 62.7% and unchanged for ll of 2016. The employment-population ratio was 59.7% for the third straight month in December and has registered little net change for the year as a whole.

Hours and wages

The average workweek was unchanged last month at 34.3 hours. But it edged up 0.1 hour in manufacturing to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees went up a dime in December to $26.00, after falling 2 cents a month earlier.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the...

Another month of growth for the services sector

A dozen industries reported expansion in December

The non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management's report on business, the non-manufacturing index registered 57.2% in December, the same as November.

Fifty percent is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index inched down 0.3% to 61.4%, but still was a reflection of growth for the 89th consecutive month. The New Orders Index rose 4.6% to 61.6%, while the Employment Index registered 53.8%, a loss of 4.4% from November.

The Prices Index was up 0.7% to 57.0%, indicating prices increased in December for the ninth consecutive month at a slightly faster rate.

How they did

The following 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in December:

  1. Mining;
  2. Retail Trade;
  3. Finance & Insurance;
  4. Information;
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  6. Construction;
  7. Other Services;
  8. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  9. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  10. Utilities;
  11. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  12. Accommodation & Food Services.

Three industries reported contraction:

  1. Public Administration;
  2. Wholesale Trade; and
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

The non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.According to the latest Non-Manufact...

ADP reports modest job gains for December

The initial jobless claims streak continued last week

The economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

The report, produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, shows the bulk of the new payroll positions were created by medium-sized business (+71,000) followed by large firms (+63,000) and small companies (+18,000).

“Job growth remains strong but is slowing,” noted Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The gap between employment growth in the service economy and losses on the goods side persists. Smaller companies are struggling to maintain payrolls while large companies are expanding at a healthy pace.”

The goods-producing sector actually lost jobs in December – 16,000 of them led by manufacturing with a loss of 9,000 payroll positions.

The services-providing added 169,000 jobs, thanks to areas including trade/transportation/utilities (+82,000), education/health services (+29,000), health care/social assistance (+26,000) and professional/business services (+24,000).

"As we exit 2016, it's interesting to note that the private sector generated an average of 174,000 jobs per month, down from 209,000 in 2015," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "And while job gains in December were slightly below our monthly average, the U.S. labor market has experienced unprecedented seven years of growth that has brought us to near full employment. As we enter 2017, the tightening labor market will likely slow the growth."

Jobless claims

The number of initial jobless claims filed last week remained below the 300,000 level for a 96th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1970.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports there were 235,000 initial applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 31 -- down 28,000 from the previous week.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at was 256,750 -- a drop of 5,750 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Photo (c) Stuart Miles - FotoliaThe economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Repo...

Job cuts shoot higher in December

Terminations during of all of 2016 came in on the low side

U.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

While that's up 25% from the previous month, it was well below the 43,910 job cuts averaged monthly throughout the year.

For all of 2016, employers announced they were removing 526,915 workers from their payrolls -- 12% fewer than in 2015 and below the 539,581 annual job cuts averaged since 2010.

Where the cuts came

The heaviest job cuts last year were in the energy sector, where 107,714 people found themselves out of work. Cuts also were up in the computer industry, which trimmed payrolls by 66,821 positions.

Rounding out the top five job-cutting industries of the year were retail (59,324), industrial goods (33,435), and financial (22,015).

“Last year appeared to be an adjustment year for many big tech firms,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Long-time hardware makers, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, are undergoing multi-year transformations that will ultimately shift their business away from hardware toward services. Others, including Microsoft, Dell and Intel, are shifting toward mobile while, at the same time, attempting to become more agile.”

Challenger also noted that it's hard to say how the tech sector will do under the incoming Trump administration. “Many rely on offshoring as well as the employment of foreign talent immigrating to the U.S.,” he pointed out, adding that “both of those business practices are likely to come under threat in the coming year. However, the new administration’s pro-business policies may ultimately favor these firms and many others. Only time will tell.” 

U.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger,...

Manufacturing expands in December

New orders, production and employment were on the rise

The overall economy, including activity in the manufacturing sector, expanded in December, according to the nation’s supply executives.

The Institute for Supply Management's Purchasing Management Index (PMI) rose 1.5% from November to register 54.7% last month.

A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

According to the report, the New Orders Index jumped 7.2% to 60.2%, the Production Index came in at 60.3%, up 4.3% from November, and the Employment Index inched up 0.8% to 53.1%.

Inventories of raw materials dipped 2.0% to 47.0%, while the Prices Index shot up 11.0% to 65.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 10th consecutive month.

The December readings for the PMI, New Orders, Production, and Employment Indexes were the highest of the year, while the overall economy expanded for the 91st consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth in December:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Primary Metals;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  6. Paper Products;
  7. Machinery;
  8. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Fabricated Metal Products;
  11. and Chemical Products.

Six industries reported contraction:

  1. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  4. Textile Mills;
  5. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  6. Transportation Equipment.
The overall economy, including activity in the manufacturing sector, expanded in December, according to the nation’s supply executives.The Institute fo...

Jobless claims hit 6-month high

Personal income and spending barely moved last month

A flurry of layoffs in the week ending December 17 pushed initial applications for state unemployment benefits to their highest level in six months.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports a seasonally-adjusted total of 275,000 people filed first-time jobless claims -- up 21,000 from the week before.

Even with that increase, claims have remained below the 300,000 level for 94 weeks in a row, the longest streak in more than 45 years.

The four-week moving average, seen by economists as a more accurate barometer of the labor market for its lack of volatility, rose 6,000 from the previous week to 263,750.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Personal income and spending

When it comes to personal income and spending, November was a somewhat stodgy month.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), incomes were up just $1.6 billion -- less than 0.1%, with disposable personal income (DPI), what's left after your taxes are taken out, falling less than 0.1% or $1.3 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, inched up 0.2% or $24.0 billion.

The November increase in personal income came from advances in personal interest income and rental income. Wages and salaries actually fell.

Spending for services accounted for most of the gain in the increase in real PCE.

Personal saving totaled $780.9 billion last month, and the personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income, was down 0.2% from October, to 5.5%.

The full report is available on the BEA website.

A flurry of layoffs in the week ending December 17 pushed initial applications for state unemployment benefits to thei...

U.S. economy shows continued improvement

The growth rate in the third quarter was the fastest in two years

It appears three is the charm when it comes to the nation's economy.

The Commerce Department reports its third and final look at how things were going in the third quarter shows real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- expanded at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter. That's the best clip in two years.

The government had previously reported a growth rate of 3.2% based on less source data than was available for this latest reading. GDP performed less robustly in the second quarter, growing at a rate of just 1.4%.

The third quarter increase in real GDP primarily reflects contributions from consumer spending, exports, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and federal government spending.

The acceleration in growth came from an upturn in private inventory investment, stronger exports, a smaller decline in state and local government spending, a turnaround in federal government spending, and a smaller dip in residential investment.

Inflation and profits

A price index tied to GDP was up 1.5% in the July—September period, compared with a 2.1% increase in the second quarter. Stripping out the volatile food and energy categories, the “core” PCE rose 1.7%, versus an advance of 1.8% in the previous three months.

Corporate profits reversed course in the third quarter, rising $117.8 billion after falling $12.5 billion in the second quarter.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

It appears three is the charm when it comes to the nation's economy.The Commerce Department reports its third and final look at how things were going i...

What makes a Millennial want to quit their job?

Feedback can boost job fulfillment, survey finds

A recent survey by Clutch found that Millennials are more likely than GenXers or Boomers to quit their job in the next six months and revealed that it’s a lack of feedback that often contributes to a Millennial's desire to leave.

Millennials need accurate, consistent, and immediate feedback from their managers, but only 23% of those surveyed said they get enough feedback. Receiving too little feedback can be detrimental to a Millennial’s job fulfillment.

"The more traditional models of providing feedback are less liked by millennials. They want more emphasis on instant feedback and the immediate connection to the work that they're doing," said Joe Carella, Assistant Dean for the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona.

Feedback correlates with fulfillment

Although only a small percentage of Millennials said they regularly receive informal, ad-hoc, or immediate feedback, it’s clear that those who do are happier and more fulfilled in their job because of it. Of those who received accurate and consistent feedback from their managers, 72% said they found their job fulfilling.

Still, 40% of Millennials do not consider themselves fulfilled at work. Clutch notes that this is nearly double the number of Gen-Xers and almost four times more than Baby Boomers: two groups that seem to find job fulfillment less contingent on feedback from managers.

These findings are important, especially as nearly one-third (32%) of Millennials surveyed said they’re planning to leave their job in the next six months. By contrast, only 11-12% of Gen-Xers and Boomers said they plan to quit.

To decrease the percentage of Millennial employees who are planning on quitting in the coming months, Clutch says companies can consider using updated feedback methods. Loyalty, feedback, and evaluation systems can help an unsatisfied Millennial employee feel more fulfilled.

Investing in diversity and inclusion

Companies looking to hold onto (or attract) Millennial employees may also want to focus on improving communications of diversity and inclusion (D&I) activities. New research from IPR and Weber Shandwick has revealed that 47% of Millennials consider the D&I of a workplace an important criterion in their job search.

The survey found that fewer than half of all employees (44%) agree that their employer does a good job communicating its D&I goals, programs, and initiatives. In addition to being a key factor in choosing where to work, Millennials see the business benefit of D&I.

Twenty-seven percent of Millennial employees said D&I “improves overall business performance," while only 18% and 20% of Gen Xers and Boomers, respectively, said the same.

A recent survey by Clutch found that Millennials are more likely than GenXers or Boomers to quit their job in the next six months and revealed that it’s a...

Survey finds more bosses will be giving bonuses this year

That little something extra can take many forms

Here's something to put a little ho-ho-ho in your holiday: A new survey from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds an improved economy and corporate profits will work their way down to the employee level.

In other words -- BONUSES.

The survey of roughly 100 human resources execs in November found 66% indicating that their companies will be awarding some type of year-end bonus/gift. That's 16% more than those who said the same last year.

And while 30% said there will be no year-end award of any type, that's down 14% from 2015.

“The economy has been steadily improving since the Great Recession ended in 2010. This last year was no exception,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “As it continues to improve, employers will have to rely increasingly on bonuses and other perks to hold onto valuable employees.”

There are bonuses and bonuses

Challenger points out that most workers don't enjoy the type of five- and six-figure bonuses lavished upon Wall Street bankers. “For the vast majority of workers, three and sometimes four figures are likely to be the standard,” he said, adding, “Some may not even get a cash award, but instead receive a gift card, gift basket or some other type of material object. Our survey shows that the structure of the bonus or gift varies widely.”

According to the survey, 15% of employers provide a non-monetary gift to all employees, such as a gift basket or extra vacation day. Another 11% plan to give employees a small monetary award of $100 or less.

At the same time, about 40% give larger monetary awards that vary year-to-year and worker-to-worker. These can be based on the overall performance of the company, the performance of the individual, or some combination of the two.

Why the increase?

A major factor fueling year-end bonuses is the fact that after-tax corporate profits steadily increased throughout the year, after falling to a 17-quarter low to close out 2015.

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show third-quarter profits of nearly $1.7 trillion -- were up 5.2% from the same period a year ago.

With profits on the rise, about 18% of survey respondents said their companies were upping the amount of year-end bonuses. Still, most employers (73%) plan to keep bonus levels unchanged from last year.

“Despite the lack of six-figure Wall Street-like bonuses,” Challenger said, “most employees still appreciate the year-end bonus. Mostly, they want to know that their hard work is recognized and appreciated.” 

Here's something to put a little ho-ho-ho in your holiday: A new survey from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds an improved econom...

Tepid retail sales in November

Auto sales were something of a drag last month

Retailers hoping that October's increase in retail sales was a harbinger for November have got to be disappointed.

The Commerce Department reports last month saw sales inch up a tiny 0.1% to $465.5 billion following the revised advance of 0.6% in October.

Still, sales in November were up 3.8% on a year-over-year basis.

Advancers and decliners

There were no real standouts when it came to sales gains during the month. Bar and grill establishments took the honors with a sales increase of 0.8%. Other gainers included furniture & home furnishing stores (+0.7%) and food & beverage stores (+0.4).

Among the month's losers were sporting goods, hobby, and book & music stores with a 1.0% sales decline, miscellaneous store retailers (-0.8%), and auto & other motor vehicle dealers (-0.5%).

Excluding the volatile auto sector, sales were up 0.2%

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Retailers hoping that October's increase in retail sales was a harbinger for November have got to be disappointed.The Commerce Department reports last...

A retail hiring bust in November

Hiring in the sector was at a six-year low

November was not -- to put it gently -- a good month for hiring by the retail sector.

An analysis of employment data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says employment in the sector was down 9.3% from a year ago, growing by just 371,500 jobs last month. That's the lowest November employment increase since 2010.

October was equally anemic with the addition of 150,300 retail positions, 23% lower than in October, 2015.

All told, retail job gains for October and November were down 14% from the same period the previous year, totaling 521,800.

The toll of online shopping

“As more and more shoppers move online, there is less need for extra workers in the brick and mortar stores,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Even on Black Friday, once notorious for early morning mob scenes at department stores, a growing number of Americans are staying home and finding great deals on the internet.”

In fact, Adobe Digital Insights reports online orders on Black Friday shot up nearly 22% -- to roughly $3.3 billion in sales.

Seasonal hiring may be in retail, but it is picking up elsewhere. That's particularly true for transportation and warehousing, where 96,200 workers were added in October and November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ain't over 'til it's over

“Holiday job seekers should not stop looking for opportunities, even though it is December,” Challenger noted. “They must cast a wider net to include employers outside of the retail sector. However, even retailers continue to add throughout the holidays as high turnover in the industry requires nearly-constant recruiting activities.”

Last December, retailers added 134,500 workers.

November was not -- to put it gently -- a good month for hiring by the retail sector.An analysis of employment data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gr...

Job market holds steady in October

The year-over-year gain in employment was about 2.5 million

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Openings were up in health care and social assistance, but down in professional and business services, federal government, and mining and logging. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

Hires

There wasn't much change in the number of hires in October -- 5.1 million -- about the same as the month before for a hires rate of 3.5%.

The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, with hires down by 26,000 in state and local government education and little change in all other industries. The number of hires also was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations and is referred to as turnover.

There were 4.9 million total separations in October, comprised of 3.0 million quits, 1.5 million layoffs and discharges other separations that was little changed from September.

Net employment change

Over the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 62.6 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, for a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Jobless claims

A big drop last week in the number of initial jobless claims.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 258,000 first-time applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 3, down 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 92 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average inched up 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average to 252,500.

The latter measurement is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to its lack of volatility.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau...

A pick-up in the economy's non-manufacturing sector

November's growth rate was a bit stronger than October's

The non-manufacturing sector of the economy rebounded in November after a slight cooling-off the month before.

The latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report On Business put the non-manufacturing index (NMI) at 57.2% last month -- 2.4% higher than in October.

This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector for the 82nd consecutive month and at a faster rate than in October. It's also a 12-month high and the highest reading since the 58.3 registered in October of 2015.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 61.7% -- 4% higher than October, reflecting growth for the 88th consecutive month and a faster rate in November.

The New Orders Index dipped 0.7% to 57%, and the Prices Index decreased 0.3% from October to 56.3%. Still, prices rose in November for the eighth consecutive month, but at a slightly slower rate.

The Employment Index increased 5.1% to 58.2%.

Individual industry performance

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in November were:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  2. Retail Trade;
  3. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  4. Transportation & Warehousing;
  5. Other Services;
  6. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  7. Construction;
  8. Finance & Insurance;
  9. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  10. Accommodation & Food Services;
  11. Information;
  12. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  13. Wholesale Trade; and
  14. Mining.

The two industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and
  2. Public Administration.
The non-manufacturing sector of the economy rebounded in November after a slight cooling-off the month before.The latest Non-Manufacturing Institute fo...

Unemployment rate drops to 9-year low

Job creation picked up steam in November

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in November, it's lowest level in nine years, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL). At the same time, 178,000 jobs were created with major gains in professional and business services and in health care.

The 0.3% decline in the unemployment rate came as the number of unemployed persons declined by 387,000 -- to 7.4 million.

On and off the job

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rate for adult men fell to 4.3% last month, while the rates for adult women (4.2%), teenagers (15.2%), Whites (4.2%), Blacks (8.1%), Asians (3.0%), and Hispanics (5.7%) showed little or no change.

The civilian labor force participation rate was little-changed in November at 62.7% as the employment-population ratio held at 59.7%. Both have been fairly steady in recent months.

Employment gains and losses

Employment in professional and business services rose by 63,000 in November, with accounting and bookkeeping services adding 18,000 jobs. Health care employment rose by 28,000 in November and construction had 19,000 hires.

Other major industries -- mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government -- saw little change in their workforce size over the month.

Dollars and cents

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell 3 cents to $25.89 following an increase of 11 cents in October. Over the year, earnings are up 2.5%.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged up 2 cents to $21.73.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in November, it's lowest level in nine years, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL). A...

A November pickup in the manufacturing sector

Eleven of 18 industries reported growth

The manufacturing sector grew in November at a faster clip than during the previous month as the overall economy grew for the 90th consecutive month.

According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, last month's Purchasing Management Index (PMI) stood at 53.2%, up 1.3% from October.

A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The nation’s supply executives also report the New Orders Index edged up 0.9% to 53%, the Production Index added 1.4% to register 56%, while the Employment Index slipped 0.6% to 52.3%.

Inventories of raw materials came in at 49%, an increase of 1.5%, and the Prices Index was unchanged at 54.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the ninth consecutive month.

Performance by industry

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 11 reported growth:

  1. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  2. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Computer & Electronic Products;
  5. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  6. Chemical Products;
  7. Fabricated Metal Products;
  8. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  9. Machinery;
  10. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  11. Primary Metals.

These six industries reported contraction:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  4. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  5. Transportation Equipment; and
  6. Furniture & Related Products.
The manufacturing sector grew in November at a faster clip than during the previous month as the overall economy grew for the 90th consecutive month. Ac...

Job cuts fall to lowest level of the year in November

Terminations in the retail sector led the way

U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut their payrolls by 26,936 workers in November, putting the pace of downsizing at the lowest level of the year.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says that puts job cuts 12% lower than they were in October and down 13% from the same month a year ago.

Last month’s total was the lowest of the year, falling below the previous low of 30,157, recorded in May. It was slightly higher than last December’s 23,622 job cuts, which was the lowest monthly total since June, 2000, when employers announced just 17,241 planned layoffs.

So far this year, employers have cut 493,288 jobs, a year-over-year decline of 5.5%.

Retail sector loses big

The heaviest job cutting came in the retail sector -- of which there are 4,850 announced terminations, most due to the bankruptcy of American Apparel, which could affect nearly 3,500 workers.

Those losses are more than offset, though, by the surge in holiday hiring. Challenger tracked 317,000 retail hiring announcements in September.

“These represent just a small fraction of the jobs being created, since most retailers, including the thousands of small, independent stores across the country, do not formally announce hiring intentions,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger.

Overall, retail job cuts are down 12% from a year ago with employers planning to cut 57,969 workers from their payrolls. Even with the decline, year-to-date retail job cuts rank third among all industries, behind computer and energy.

“Barring an unlikely December surge in downsizing, the year-end job cut total should remain well below the 598,510 layoffs announced last year,” Challenger said. “Even if the new administration creates some uncertainty among corporate forecasters, most employers are in a strong enough position to take a wait-and-see approach when planning for next year.” 

U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut their payrolls by 26,936 workers in November, putting the pace of downsizing at the lowest level of the year....

Personal income and spending post gains in October

First-time jobless claims last week were on the rise as well

Consumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in October, spent part of it, and saved the rest.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income increased $98.6 billion, or 0.6%, while disposable personal income -- what's left after taxes are paid -- also increased 0.6%, or $86.5 billion.

October's increase in personal income was due in large part to gains in employee compensation and personal interest income.

Spending and saving

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the value of goods and services, increased $38.1 billion, or 0.3%. That advance reflects increases in spending for durable and nondurable goods, which were mostly offset by a decrease in spending for services.

Personal outlays, which is the sum of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose $40.4 billion.

The PCE price index, a measure of inflation, increased 0.2%. When the volatile food and energy categories are excluded, what's known as the core PCE price index was up 0.1%.

Personal savings totaled $860.2 billion in October, while the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 6.0%, a gain of 0.3% from September.

The complete report is available on the BEA website

Jobless claims

Ninety-one weeks and counting.

That's how long the number of initial jobless claim filings have been below the 300,000 mark -- the longest streak since 1970.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that in the week ending November 26, there were a seasonally adjusted 268,000 first-time applications for state unemployment -- 17,000 more than during the previous week.

The four-week moving average, considered by economists to be a better gauge of the labor market because of its lack of volatility, was up just 500 from the previous week to 251,500.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Photo (c) laufer – FotoliaConsumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in October, spent part of it, and saved the rest.The Bureau...

Job creation rebounds in November

You can thank a surge in the services sector

More jobs in the goods-producing sector disappeared in November, but thanks to a big jump in the number of new positions in the services sector, it was a strong month for job creation.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 216,000 jobs from October to November.

Gainers and losers

Goods-producing firms took a huge hit during the month, losing 11,000 jobs. Manufacturing was the biggest contributor ( -10,000 jobs), along with Natural resources and mining (-4,000). Construction, however, added 2,000 payroll positions.

Those losses, though, were offset by creation of 228,000 jobs by service-providing companies. The gains were led by trade/transportation/utilities (+69,000), professional/business services (+68,000), and administrative/support services (+47,000). The information industry lost 10,000 workers.

"Businesses hired aggressively in November and there is little evidence that the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election dampened hiring,” said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. “In addition, because of the tightening labor market, retailers may be accelerating seasonal hiring to secure an adequate workforce to meet holiday demand, although total expected seasonal hiring may be no higher than last year's."

Large businesses were the biggest job creators, adding 90,000 new payroll positions -- most of them (76,000) by companies with more than 1,000 employees. That was closely followed by medium-sized businesses, which added 89,000 workers and small businesses with 37,000 hires.

"This growth was seen in primarily consumer-driven industries like retail and leisure and hospitality -- across all company sizes,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. “Overall, consumers are feeling confident and are driving the strong performance we currently see in the job market."

The report, produced in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, is derived from ADP's actual payroll data and measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

More jobs in the goods-producing sector disappeared in November, but thanks to a big jump in the number of new positions in the services sector, it was a s...

Improved economic performance for the third quarter

An uptick in consumer spending was a big factor

The government's second look at how the economy was doing in the third quarter is encouraging.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.2% in the July-to-September period.

That's somewhat better than the rate of 2.9% reported in the “advance” estimate -- and a lot better than the 1.4% we saw in the second quarter of the year.

And it marks the first time the GDP growth rate has been above 3% since the third quarter of 2014.

Even with the increase, analysts say the general picture of economic growth remains the same. The advance was due to stronger consumption expenditures -- consumer spending -- than previously estimated.

The second estimate acceleration reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in exports, a pickup in federal government spending, and smaller decreases in state and local government spending and residential fixed investment.

An inflation measure tied to GDP -- the PCE price index -- was up 1.4%, compared with the previous 2.0% increase. When the volatile food and energy categories are removed, the gain is 1.7% versus an increase of 1.8%.

The increase in GDP gave a nice boost to corporate profits, which rose $133.8 billion in the third quarter, after falling $12.5 billion in the second.

The complete report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

The government's second look at how the economy was doing in the third quarter is encouraging.According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic...

Seasonal jobs are still available

We have some tips to aid you in your job search

With Black Friday just a week away, you might think it's too late to look for a seasonal job. However, Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C;) says you'd be wrong.

While it's true that most retailers have completed their hiring of temporary workers, you shouldn't throw in the towel, just yet.

“It is never too late to find holiday jobs,” said CG&G; chief executive officer John A. Challenger. “There is a lot of churn in the sectors that typically hire seasonal workers and because employers are often hiring a lot workers in a short amount of time, there is a strong chance that many of those new workers will not pan out.”

The hiring continues

In its September forecast, the global outplacement firm predicted holiday hiring will remain flat from a year ago. Should that be on the money, about 740,000 seasonal workers will be added to retail payrolls in the final three months of the year.

The bulk of this hiring typically occurs in late October and early November, and is usually reflected in the government's December employment report.

“That being said, we continue to see hiring in late November and into early December,” said Challenger. “On average, retail employment has grown by an average of 145,000 over the last five years. It is important to remember that these figures don’t include seasonal job gains outside of the retail sector. Job seekers can also be looking for holiday jobs in hotels, restaurants, catering companies, and warehouse and shipping facilities.”

The primary reason to not give up on the holiday job search is that the sectors that have the strongest need for seasonal workers are also those that typically see the highest turnover.

A 2014 report from the Hay Group, a management consulting firm, indicated that the turnover rate in the retail industry averaged 66% for part-time hourly sales associates.

Last year in the hospitality industry -- another major employer of seasonal workers -- the turnover rate averaged 72%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“These high turnover rates, which are likely to be even higher among seasonal workers, mean that job seekers pursuing holiday employment should not hesitate to return to employers where they previously failed to get a job offer. The situation can change overnight,” said Challenger.

What to do

Challenger offers the following tips for holiday job-seekers:

  • Visit employers in person. It is tempting to conduct a job search from behind the computer screen. However, many retailers will not post their seasonal jobs online -- particularly smaller mom and pop stores.
  • Return to previous attempts. Don’t hesitate to go back to employers where you might have failed to get a job. Staffing needs may have changed or they may have lost one or more seasonal workers.
  • Think outside the (big) box. Retailers undoubtedly have the strongest need for seasonal workers, but don’t overlook entertainment venues, restaurants, caterers, and other businesses that are busy during the holidays. And, since more shoppers buy online, shipping companies like UPS and FedEx have enormous demand for seasonal workers.
  • Be flexible. The most challenging jobs to fill are those with overnight or early morning positions dedicated to receiving new shipments and restocking floors. If you're willing to work any hours thrown your way you'll have a leg up on the competition.
  • Start with places you shop/visit. If you're a frequent customer at a particular store or restaurant, start your job search there. Even if you don't have a “relationship” with the manager or staff, they are likely to recognize you as a regular, which may give you an advantage.
With Black Friday just a week away, you might think it's too late to look for a seasonal job. However, Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C;) says you'd be w...

Gas station traffic paces October advance in retail sales

In fact, the increase was fairly broad-based

Retailers enjoyed a good October following an even better September.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales last month were up 0.8%, or $465.9 billion, and were 4.3% above the same month a year earlier.

In addition, the government revised it's September estimate to show a gain of 1.0% instead of the 0.6% advance initially reported.

Winners and losers

Most businesses saw sales increases last month, including gas stations (+2.2%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (+1.3%), motor vehicle & parts dealers (+1.1%), and grocery stores (+0.7%).

Sales declines were suffered by furniture & home furnishing stores (-0.9%), department stores (-0.7%), and restaurants & bars (-0.7%).

Analysts at Briefing.com say the strong report indicates consumers are willing to spend more freely on discretionary items and that both the October and September numbers should help bolster fourth quarter GDP forecasts.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retailers enjoyed a good October following an even better September. The Commerce Department reports retail sales last month were up 0.8%, or $465.9 bil...

October retail hiring down from a year ago

However, other industries are adding workers

Ahhh...the best laid plans and all that.

Even though many major retailers said they planned on expanding their workforces this Christmas shopping season, October employment gains have plunged 21% from a year ago to 154,600.

An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that's the fewest job gains to kick off the holiday hiring season since 2012.

This year’s decline follows two consecutive years of record job gains in October. BLS data shows that retail employment grew by 194,800 in 2015, a record number of October job gains for the sector.

Not a harbinger

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger points out, however, that record October job gains in 2015 did not lead to record retail hiring throughout the holiday season. In fact, overall holiday hiring declined.

“The shrinking number of jobs added during the holiday season does not necessarily mean that the retail industry is shrinking," said Challenger. “As of October, there were 15,994,000 Americans employed in this sector. That is up from 15,759,000 a year ago and represents the highest October employment level ever recorded by the BLS.”

What's going on

A few trends could be contributing to the fall off in holiday hiring. Challenger said stronger hiring throughout the year and advances in retail technology may mean that stores do not have to hire as many extra workers during the busy holiday shopping season. In addition, he said, “increased online shopping could be shifting the holiday job gains away from retailers toward warehousing, fulfillment, and transportation operations.”

In fact, holiday hiring plans announced by the likes of Amazon.com, UPS, and FedEx have grown significantly over the last five years, according to Challenger. Meanwhile, hiring announcements from retailers have remained relatively flat or declined.

Ahhh...the best laid plans and all that.Even though many major retailers said they planned on expanding their workforces this Christmas shopping season...

Hiring slows in September amid static job opening situation

Net hiring over the past year is higher

Even though there was little change in the number of job openings during September, there were fewer people added to payrolls than in August.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the number of people who found work dipped to 5.1 million, while the number of job openings was fairly steady at 5.5 million.

With a hires rate of 3.5%, the number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, fell in arts, entertainment, and recreation, and showed little change in all other industries. Hiring was down in the Northeast region and steady in all other regions.

Separations

Total separations, or turnover, includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations.

September saw 4.9 million total separations, about the same as August, for a rate of 3.4%. The total was essentially unchanged for private and for government, but increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities. Separations decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-55,000), and the total number was little changed in all four regions.

The number of quits was little changed in September (3.1 million), and the quits rate was 2.1%. The number of quits was little changed for total private, and increased for government. The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.5 million in September, down 218,000 from August, with a rare dip to 1.0%. The number of layoffs and discharges decreased for total private and for government, and was down in the South.

The other separations category was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, government, and in all four regions.

Net change

For the year ending in September, hires totaled 62.7 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, for a net employment gain of 2.6 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Even though there was little change in the number of job openings during September, there were fewer people added to payrolls than in August.The Labor...

Pace of job creation continues to slow

The unemployment rate held steady

There were fewer new jobs in October than in September, with the overall pace of job creation continuing to decline.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 161,000 last month, with the unemployment rate holding at 4.9%.

As it released its October report, the government said the September job total was revised to show a gain of 191,000, rather than the 156,000 initially reported.

Even with that change, though, employment growth has averaged 181,000 per month so far this year, well below the average monthly increase of 229,000 in 2015.

For those who are working, there was some good news. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents to $25.92, on top of September's 8-cent increase. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.8%.

Where the jobs are

Businesses that were hiring in October included health care (+31,000 jobs), professional and business services (+43,000), and financial activities (+14,000).

There was little change in other major industries, including mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation & warehousing, information, leisure & hospitality, and government.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics dipped to 5.7% in October, while the rates for adult men (4.6%t), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (15.6%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (8.6%), and Asians (3.4%) showed little change.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7%, changed little last month and have shown little movement in recent months, although both are up over the year.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

There were fewer new jobs in October than in September, with the overall pace of job creation continuing to decline.The Department of Labor (DOL) repor...

Economy's services sector growth continues -- at a slower pace

Jobless claims were on the rise last week

The economy's non-manufacturing, or services, sector grew in October for the 81st consecutive month, but at a slower pace than in September.

The nation’s purchasing and supply executives, in the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business say the NMI registered 54.8% last month, down 2.3% from September reading of 57.1 percent.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion; below 50 means contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index fell 2.6% to 57.7%, reflecting growth for the 87th consecutive month; the New Orders Index came in at 57.7%, a loss of 2.3%; and the Employment Index was down 4.1% to 53.1%.

The Prices Index rose 2.6% to 56.6%, indicating prices were up in October for the seventh consecutive month.

There has been a slight cooling off in the non-manufacturing sector month-over- month, which would suggest that last month’s increases weren’t sustainable, according to Anthony Nieves, who heads the ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Industry performance

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in October were:

  1. Transportation & Warehousing;
  2. Construction;
  3. Other Services;
  4. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  5. Information;
  6. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  7. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  8. Wholesale Trade;
  9. Utilities;
  10. Finance & Insurance;
  11. Retail Trade;
  12. Accommodation & Food Services; and
  13. Health Care & Social Assistance.

The five industries reporting contraction in October were:

  1. Educational Services;
  2. Mining;
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  4. Public Administration; and
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.

Jobless claims

First-time filings for state unemployment benefits moved higher last week, although the Department of Labor (DOL) says there were no special factors responsible for the increase.

The seasonally adjusted initial claims level was 265,000, in the week ending October 29, up 7,000 from the previous week's unrevised level. Even with the increase, initial claims have been below 300,000 for 87 weeks in a row, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, which lacks volatility found in the weekly tally and is considered a more accurate reading of the labor market, rose 4,750 from a week earlier to 257,750.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

The economy's non-manufacturing, or services, sector grew in October for the 81st consecutive month, but at a slower pace tha...

Job cuts plunge to five-month low in October

It was another tough month for the computer industry

As Americans were preparing to elect a new president, job cut announcements by U-.S.-based employers fell to the second lowest level of the year.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports employers said they planned to reduce their workforces by 30,740 payroll positions in October -- down 31% from the month before and 39% lower than a year ago.

In addition to being the second lowest of the year, the October total was the lowest for that month since 1999.

“One might be inclined to speculate that the impending election might be causing employers to hold off on major workforce decisions,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “However, we did not see similar declines in other election years. Of course, October 2008 marked the start of the Great Recession, with job cuts soaring to nearly 113,000. This low monthly total is most likely due to the fact the economy is relatively healthy and that most employers don’t see those conditions changing in the next three to six months.”

A better economy

The strengthening economy has kept terminations down this year. To date, employers have announced 466,352 job cuts, 14% fewer than through the first ten months of 2015.

“Over the last few years, since the end of the Great Recession, the final two months of the year have seen some of the lowest job cut totals of the year,” said Challenger. “That was not always the case. From the late 1990s up until the latest recession, the fourth quarter was typically the heaviest in terms of job cuts.”

In fact, from 1998 through 2008, December job cuts averaged about 101,000. Over the last five years, they've averaged just 32,245. Last year, employers announced just 23,622 firings in December -- which was the lowest monthly total since 2000.

Tough month for computers

For the second time in three months, employers in the computer industry saw the heaviest job cuts with 4,792. So far this year, computer firms have announced 64,511 job cuts, second only to the energy sector, where they total 103,147.

Most of the computer losses came from newly formed HP Inc., which struggled to find its footing in a rapidly changing tech sector. The firm cut another 4,000 jobs last month, adding to the 30,000 that disappeared in 2015.

“When you look at the layoff data, alongside job creation statistics,” said Challenger, “it is hard to imagine that the election will come down to the economy. However, this has been one of the most unusual elections in history, so it is impossible to say what the deciding factor will be when people step into the voting booth on Tuesday.” 

As Americans were preparing to elect a new president, job cut announcements by U-.S.-based employers fell to the second lowest level of the year.Outpla...

Job growth slows in October

The goods-producing sector actually suffered a decline

Due partly to the loss of jobs in the goods-producing sector, the economy produced fewer private payroll positions in October than it did the month before.

According to the October ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, just 147,000 new jobs were created last month -- 7,000 fewer than in September.

"Job growth remains strong although the pace of growth appears to be slowing,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Behind the slowdown is businesses' difficulty filling open positions. However, there is some weakness in construction, education and mining."

Large businesses lead the way

In contrast to previous months, large businesses -- those employing more than 500 workers -- created the most jobs in October -- 64,000. Medium sized firms (50-499 employees) reported 48,000 hires and small businesses (1-49 positions) hired 34,000 workers.

The goods-producing sector lost 18,000 jobs, mostly in construction (-15,000), mining (-2,000), and manufacturing (-1000).

The service-providing category did the heavy lifting, creating 165,000 payroll positions. Those came in professional/business services (+69,000), financial activities (+18,000), trade/transportation/utilities (+17,000), and information (+3,000).

Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute, says job growth appears to be shifting from small to large companies due to the lessening impact the global economic environment had on large companies earlier in the year. "This is also true,” he added, “because large companies often have the resources to attract workers with better pay and benefit packages."

Due partly to the loss of jobs in the goods-producing sector, the economy produced fewer private payroll positions in October than it did the month before....

Manufacturing sector picks up steam in October

Ten of 18 industries reported growth last month

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy grew in October at a rate that was slightly faster than the preceding month, as the overall economy grew for the 89th consecutive month.

The latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business shows the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose 0.4% last month to register 51.9%.

A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index slipped 3.0%, but still came in at 52.1%, while the Production Index registered 54.6% -- up 1.8% from September.

The Employment Index jumped 3.2% to 52.9% and inventories of raw materials dipped 2% to 47.5%. Meanwhile, the Prices Index registered 54.5%, an increase of 1.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the eighth consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 reported growth in October:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  3. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  4. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  5. Computer & Electronic Products;
  6. Furniture & Related Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  9. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  10. Chemical Products.

Eight industries reported contraction in October:

  1. Wood Products; Apparel,
  2. Leather & Allied Products;
  3. Primary Metals;
  4. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  7. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  8. Machinery.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy grew in October at a rate that was slightly faster than the preceding month, as the overall ec...

September's consumer spending increase outpaces incomes gain

Durable goods accounted for the bulk of spending

Consumers enjoyed an increase of $46.7 billion, or 0.3%, in personal income in September.

The Commerce Department reports disposable personal income (DPI), what's left after the government takes its cut, rose $37.0 billion.

Last month's rise was due mainly to increases in compensation of employees and nonfarm proprietors’ income.

Spending on the increase

At the same time personal consumption expenditures (PCE), also called consumer spending, jumped 0.5% or $61.0 billion. The advance was largely the result of an increase in spending for durable goods -- things like cars, refrigerators, and computers.

The PCE price index, a measure of inflation, was up 0.2%, with the “core Rate,” which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, inching up 0.1%.

Personal saving totaled $797.8 billion last month – down $9.8 billion from August, although the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of DPI -- remained at 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers enjoyed an increase of $46.7 billion, or 0.3%, in personal income in September.The Commerce Department reports disposable personal income (DP...

Economic growth gets a bump in the third quarter

Consumer spending helped power the increase in GDP

The economy stepped it up in the third quarter of the year, according to the government's "advance" look at how things are going.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annual rate of 2.9% in the July-September period after growing just 1.4% in the second quarter.

It's important to note that the information used to calculate economic performance is incomplete and/or subject to further revision. An updated estimate will be released in late November.

Growth factors

The third quarter increase in real GDP reflects contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- exports, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment. Those were partly offset by declines in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration from the second quarter came from an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in exports, a smaller decrease in state and local government spending, and a turnaround in federal government spending. They were partly offset by a smaller increase in PCE, and a larger increase in imports.

Not much to cheer about

Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza isn't impressed. She points out that even with the 2.9% growth rate for the third quarter, "with such minimal growth across the first six months of the year, the average pace of activity for the year thus far remains a disappointing 1.7%."  

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The economy stepped it up in the third quarter of the year, according to the government's "advance" look at how things are going.According to the Comme...

Conference Board forecasts continued moderate economic growth

First-time jobless claims shot higher last week

The latest economic forecast from The Conference Board suggests continued moderate growth into 2017.

The Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) inched up 0.2% in September following a decline of the same magnitude the month before.

The increase “suggests that the economy should continue expanding at a moderate pace through early 2017.” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board.

Housing permits, unemployment insurance claims, and the interest rate spread were the main components lifting the index in September.

Overall, Ozyildirim pointed out, “the strengths among the leading indicators are outweighing modest weaknesses in stock prices and the average workweek.”

How it works

The LEI is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  1. Average weekly hours for manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  4. Institute for Supply Management Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders and nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits for new private housing units
  7. Stock prices of 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread and 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that initial jobless claims surged by 13,000 in the week ending October 15 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000.

Even with that increase, the claims level has been below 300,000 for the 85th consecutive week, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly headcount's volatility and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 251,750 -- up 2,250 from the previous week.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The latest economic forecast from The Conference Board suggests continued moderate growth into 2017.The Board's Lead...

Job creation slips as unemployment rate inches upward

There were fewer new jobs than analysts expected

September turned out to be something of a disappointment in terms of job creation.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employers added 156,000 private payroll positions last month after creating 167,000 jobs in August. The consensus forecast for September from Briefing.com was for 176,000 new jobs.

In addition, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.0% from the August reading of 4.9%. That translates to 7.9 million people who are out of work, a figure that has shown little movement over the past year.

A "so-so September jobs report," is the way Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza characterizes the latest employment news, adding that, "U.S. employment has noticeably lost -- not gained -- momentum since the December liftoff," which saw creation of around 250,000 jobs.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rate for Hispanics rose to 6.4% in September, while the rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (15.8%), Whites (4.4%), Blacks (8.3%), and Asians (3.9%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) was virtually unchanged at 2.0 million, accounting for about a quarter of the unemployed.

Both the labor force participation rate (62.9%) and the employment-population ratio (59.8%) were little-changed.

Where the jobs are

Professional & business services and health care were the job-creation leaders in September, adding 67,000 and 33,000 workers, respectively.

More jobs were also seen in food services and drinking places (+30,000) and retail trade.

Mining employment was unchanged in September along with construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose last month by six cents -- to $25.79, and over the year are up 2.6%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

September turned out to be something of a disappointment in terms of job creation.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employers added 156,000 private...

Growth in the economy's services sector kicks it up a notch

Fourteen of 18 industries reported expansion

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector increased at a strong pace during September.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports that the NMI, a gauge of activity in the services sector, came in at 57.1% last month -- up 5.7% from August, showing growth for the 80th consecutive month.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while below that suggests contraction.

The index measuring new orders was up 8.6% to 60%, the Employment Index rose 6.5% to 57.2%, and the Prices Index edged up 2.2% to 54%, the sixth increase in prices in as many months.

The nation's purchasing and supply executives, while mostly positive about business conditions and the overall economy, note that a degree of uncertainty does exist due to geopolitical conditions coupled with the upcoming presidential election.

How they performed

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in September were:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  2. Utilities;
  3. Retail Trade;
  4. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  5. Information;
  6. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  7. Transportation & Warehousing;
  8. Finance & Insurance;
  9. Construction;
  10. Other Services;
  11. Wholesale Trade;
  12. Public Administration;
  13. Accommodation & Food Services; and
  14. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.

Four industries reported contraction in September:

  1. Mining;
  2. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  3. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and
  4. Educational Services.

Jobless claims

The number of workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits has fallen below the 250,000 mark.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 249,000 in the week ending October 1, a drop of 5,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

The four-week moving average was 253,500, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week. That's the lowest level since December 8, 1973, and marks 83 straight weeks of claims below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1970. This measure is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market since it lacks the volatility found in the weekly tally. There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector increased at a strong pace during September.The Institute for Supply Ma...

Announced job cuts surge in September

The education sector led the increase

Employers across the U.S. announced plans to cut their workforces by 44,324 payroll positions in September -- up a whopping 38% from August.

Figures released by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas show that despite the spike in terminations, cuts were down 25% from September 2015.

So far this year, employers have announced a total of 435,612 planned job cuts, 12% fewer than for the first nine months of the previous year.

“Heavy job cutting in the energy sector defined the first half of the year,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “But, each quarter has seen the number of overall job cuts decline, as this sector stabilized and the economy continued to improve.”

Heavy education cuts

The education sector took the heaviest hit last month, as job cuts shot up 363% to 8,671. The bulk of the firings came from the collapse of for-profit college ITT Technical Institute, which led to 8,000 job losses.

The computer industry lost another 4,152 job cuts during the month, bringing the annual job-cut total for the sector to 59,719 -- second only to the energy sector, which has announced 98,733 terminations to date.

The retail sector, which announced 7,296 job cuts in September, ranks third in year-to-date job cuts with 51,939 through three quarters. However, those losses will be more than offset by seasonal hiring that has already seen nearly 230,000 new hires.

“It is not unusual to see a decreased job-cut activity in the third quarter, as many employers postpone major workforce decisions during the summer months,” Challenger noted, adding, “We could see a resurgence in cuts to close out the year. The fourth quarter is typically when companies make strategic moves to prepare for the coming year.”

Employers across the U.S. announced plans to cut their workforces by 44,324 payroll positions in September -- up a whopping 38% from August.Figures rel...

New jobs increase in September -- but at a slower pace

A tightening labor market gets the blame

Private sector employment eased a bit in September.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, the economy created 154,000 jobs from August to September.

There were 177,000 new jobs the month before.

"Job gains in September eased a bit when compared to the past 12-month average," said ADP Research Institute Vice President Ahu Yildirmaz. "We also observed softening this month in trade/transportation/utilities, possibly due to a continued tightening U.S. labor market and lackluster consumer spending."

Job creators

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 34,000 jobs in September, employment at companies with 50-499 employees rose by 56,000 jobs, and large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – hired 64,000 new workers.

Companies with 500-999 employees increased their payrolls by 8,000 and companies with more than 1,000 employees added 56,000 workers.

Employment at goods-producing firms was up by 3,000 jobs in September, following a loss of 9,000 in August. Within that sector, employment in the construction industry rose by 1,000 jobs, while manufacturing jobs were down 6,000.

Companies that provide services added 151,000 jobs in September, with professional/business services contributing 45,000. Employment in trade/transportation/utilities increased by 15,000 and financial activities hired another 11,000 workers.

"The current record of consecutive monthly job gains continued in September,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “With job openings at all-time highs and layoffs near all-time lows, the job market remains in full-swing. Job growth has moderated in recent months, but only because the economy is finally returning to full-employment."

Private sector employment eased a bit in September.According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with...

Economy's manufacturing sector rebounds in September

New orders grew, while inventories contracted

After contracting in August, the manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in September, contributing to the 88th consecutive month of growth for the overall economy.

In the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business, the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business say the September purchasing managers index (PMI) rose 2.1% from the previous reading of 51.5%.

A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index shot up 6.9% last month to 55.1%, while the Production Index came in at 52.8%, an advance of 3.2%.

The Employment Index inched 1.4% higher to register 49.7%, as inventories of raw materials registered 49.5% for a gain of 0.5%.

The Prices Index was unchanged at 53%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the seventh month in a row.

Welcome news

 Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza calls the report "a welcome step in the right direction," but points out that continued minimal growth both domestically and internationally will most likely limit domestic production from contributing much -- if anything -- to second-half growth.

"Nevertheless," she adds, "a better-than-expected report -- even one month -- helps alleviate fears of economic contraction and furthermore, bolsters the argument for the Fed to raise sooner than later." 

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, seven reported growth in September:

  1. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Textile Mills;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Computer & Electronic Products;
  6. Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and
  7. Paper Products.

The 11 industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  3. Wood Products;
  4. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Machinery;
  7. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  8. Primary Metals;
  9. Fabricated Metal Products;
  10. Chemical Products; and
  11. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components.
After contracting in August, the manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in September, contributing to the 88th consecutive month of growth for the ov...

Personal incomes rise in August, spending barely budges

The personal savings rate held steady

Consumers saw their incomes rise in August and held on to most of it.

The Commerce Department reports personal incomes edged up $39.3 billion, or 0.2%, last month, with disposable income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes -- also up 0.2%, or $31.9 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), on the other hand, rose just $6.2 billion -- less than 0.1%.

The increase in personal income in August primarily reflected pay raises, personal income receipts on assets, and government social benefits.

Personal outlays -- the total of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- rose $6.1 billion.

Personal saving rose $12.9 billion -- from July -- to $807.6 billion, with the the personal saving rate and personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income holding steady at 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers saw their incomes rise in August and held on to most of it.The Commerce Department reports personal incomes edged up $39.3 billion, or 0.2%,...

A little more oomph for the U.S. economy

Initial jobless claims inched higher last week

The third and final look at how the nation's economy was doing in the second quarter is a bit brighter than the earlier estimates.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- grew at an annual rate of 1.4%.

An earlier look at how the economy was performing put expansion at an annual rate of 1.1%. This latest estimate is based on more complete source data than was available at that time.

Still, the general picture of economic growth remains the same, with the most notable change being an increase in nonresidential fixed investment; the previous estimate had it declining.

Corporate profits, meanwhile, fell $12.5 billion in the April-June period after surging $66.0 billion in the first quarter.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits edged upward last week, but remained well below the 300,000 level for the 82nd consecutive week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial benefit applications were up by 3,000 in the week ending September 24 to a seasonally adjusted total of 254,000. As it released the latest numbers, the government revised last week's tally down by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, considered by many economists to give a more accurate assessment of the labor market, came in at 256,000, a decline of 2,250 from the previous week.

The full report is found on the DOL website.

The third and final look at how the nation's economy was doing in the second quarter is a bit brighter than the earlier estim...

Retail sales dip in August

First-time jobless claims inched higher

Retail sales dipped in August -- the first decline in five months.

According to the Commerce Department, sales were off 0.3% last month at $456.3 billion. As it released the report for last month, the government revised its July figures to show a sales gain of 0.1%. The previous months sales had been reported as showing virtually no change.

On a year-over-year basis, sales in August were up 1.9%.

The biggest positive influences came from food services & drinking places (+0.9%) and clothing & clothing accessories stores (+0.7%). Sales declines were posted by miscellaneous store retailers (-2.4%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-1.4%), building material, garden equipment & supplies dealers (-1.4%), and gas stations (-0.8%)

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Initial jobless claims

A small uptick last week in initial jobless claims.

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled 260,000 in the week ending September 10 -- an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

It's now 80 weeks in a row that the claims level has stayed below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, considered a better gauge of the labor market due to its relative lack of volatility, dipped by 500 to 260,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Retail sales dipped in August -- the first decline in five months.According to the Commerce Department, sales were off 0.3...

Holiday retail hiring projected to show little change this year

Other sectors of the economy may take up the slack

Employment experts aren't expecting much in the way of hiring in the retail sector for this year's Christmas shopping season.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts hiring by retailers will show little change from last year when seasonal employment in the sector increased by 738,800 during the final three months of the year. That was down 1.4% from 2014, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That doesn't mean nobody's hiring though.

“While seasonal retail jobs remain flat or shrink, there has been a marked increase in seasonal job gains in other sectors,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The sector with the biggest increase in holiday hiring in recent years has been transportation and warehousing, as more and more holiday shopping is done online.”

Transportation and warehousing hiring

Target has already announced plans to add 70,000 retail workers -- about the same as a year ago. But, it also said it'll be adding 7,500 people in its distribution facilities, which ship online orders and send products to stores.

Last year, transportation and warehousing employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 200,500 workers in November and December. A decade ago, the seasonal job gains measured just 42,400.

FedEx and UPS hired 150,000 extra holiday workers last year, and both are expected to add the same number this season.

Distribution and call center operator Radial reportedly plans to increase its global payrolls by 20,000 for the upcoming holiday season

Even more hiring

“Seasonal hiring is not limited to retail or retail-related industries,” said Challenger. "More and more Americans are giving friends and families experiences instead of material items. The increase in this type of gift-giving means that there are more seasonal employment opportunities at theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues.”

Last week, Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, announced that it will be hiring 300 seasonal workers for its annual holiday attraction, which features two million pounds of ice sculptures.

Employment experts aren't expecting much in the way of hiring in the retail sector for this year's Christmas shopping season.Outplacement consultancy C...

Employers' search for workers increases in July

Year-over-year employment gains totaled 2.5 million

Chances of finding a job in July were better than they were in June.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the number of job openings increased to 5.9 million during July -- a gain of 300,000 from the previous month for a job openings rate of 3.9%.

Private sector job openings rose by 243,000 in June, while government openings were little changed. Openings increased in professional and business services (+166,000) and durable goods manufacturing (+27,000) but fell by 63,000 in healthcare and social assistance. There was little change in the number of job openings in all four regions.

Hires

The number of hires was up slightly in July -- 5.2 million versus 5.1 million in June, with the hires rate at 3.6%. The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government. Hires did increase (+137,000) in professional and business services, but fell in other services (-77,000). The number of hires increased in the South.

Separations

Total separations, which includes quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations, is referred to as turnover.

There were 4.9 million total separations in July, with the rate at 3.4%. The number of total separations was essentially unchanged for total private, but edged down for government (-25,000). Total separations decreased (-29,000) in state and local government education. The number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

The number of quits edged up in July to 3.0 million, for a rate of 2.1%. Over the month, the number of quits was little changed for total private and decreased for government (-21,000). Quits decreased in state and local government education (-25,000). The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in July, about the same as in June. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1%. The number of layoffs and discharges was essentially unchanged over the month for total private and for government, as well as in all industries and in all four regions.

The number of other separations in July didn't change much, if at all, from June and also showed little change for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations decreased in other services (-12,000), educational services (-6,000), and state and local government education (-5,000). There was little change in other separations in all four regions.

Net change

During the 12 months ending in July, hires totaled 62.5 million and separations totaled 60.0 million, for a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Initial claims

The downward trend is continuing for the filing of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims totaled 259,000 for the week ending September 3, a drop of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level. Claims have now been below the 300,000 level for 79 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average was down 1,750 from last week to 261,250. Economists consider this headcount a more accurate barometer of the jobless market due to its relative lack of volatility.

The full report may be found on the DOL website

Chances of finding a job in July were better than they were in June.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the nu...

A growth slowdown in the economy's services sector

Eleven of 18 industries reported expansion

Even though the pace slowed, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 79th consecutive month.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the NMI registered 51.4% last month, down 4.1% from July.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while below that suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index dropped 8.9%, to 51.4%; the Employment Index registered 50.7%, off 0.7%; and the Prices Index slipped 0.1% to 51.8%, indicating that prices increased in August for the fifth consecutive month.

How they performed

The 11 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in August were:

  1. Utilities;
  2. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  3. Accommodation & Food Services;
  4. Finance & Insurance;
  5. Educational Services;
  6. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  7. Public Administration;
  8. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  9. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
  10. Information; and
  11. Construction.

The seven industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Mining;
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  4. Transportation & Warehousing;
  5. Wholesale Trade;
  6. Retail Trade; and
  7. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.
Even though the pace slowed, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 79th consecutive month.According to the latest No...

August jobs creation falls below expectations

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%

The economy created a disappointing 151,000 jobs in August, short of the 180,000 projected by economists at Briefing.com and well below the 275,000 reported in July.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the number of people out of work last month was 7.8 million, a number that has shown little movement over the past week.

Who's on the job and who's not

The unemployment rates for adult men and women (both 4.5%), teenagers (15.7%), Whites (4.4%) Blacks (8.1%), Asians (4.2%), and Hispanics (5.6%) showed little change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) held steady at 2.0 million, accounting for 26.1% of the unemployed.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7%, were unchanged last month.

Where the jobs are

Employment in food services and drinking places was up by 34,000, with the industry adding 312,000 jobs so far this year. Social assistance hired 22,000 people over the month, with most of them (+17,000) in individual and family services.

Professional and technical services added 20,000 jobs in August, while financial activities employment picked up 15,000 workers and health care employment rose by 14,000 jobs.

On the negative side, employment in mining fell by 4,000 positions and the industry has lost 223,000 jobs since peaking in September 2014. Other industries -- including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government -- showed little change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents -- to $25.73. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.4%.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The economy created a disappointing 151,000 jobs in August, short of the 180,000 projected by economists at Briefing.com and well below the 275,000 reporte...

A dip in manufacturing in August

The contraction follows five consecutive months of expansion

For the first time in six months, economic activity in the manufacturing sector has contracted.

The latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business shows the August Purchasing Managers Index PMI registered 49.4%, down 3.2% from July.

A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index dropped 7.8% to 49.1%; the Production Index came in at 49.6%, down 5.8% from July; and the Employment Index slipped 1.1% to 48.3%

Inventories of raw materials registered 49%, a decrease of 0.5%, and the Prices Index registered 53%, down 2% -- indicating higher raw materials prices for the sixth consecutive month.

How they fared

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, six reported growth in August:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  3. Computer & Electronic Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and
  6. Chemical Products.

The 11industries reporting contraction in August were:

  1. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  2. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  4. Furniture & Related Products;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Machinery;
  7. Textile Mills;
  8. Paper Products;
  9. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  10. Primary Metals; and
  11. Fabricated Metal Products.
For the first time in six months, economic activity in the manufacturing sector has contracted.The latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management...

Job cuts down sharply in August

Initial jobless claims ticked a bit higher last week

The number of people who found themselves out of a job was down significantly in August.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut their payrolls by 32,188 -- down 29% from July and the second lowest level of the year. It was also a drop of 22% from August 2015.

So far this year, companies have trimmed their payrolls by 391,288 jobs, 10% fewer than tor the same period last year.

Computer sector hit hard

The computer industry bore the brunt of the terminations last month with a loss of 6,103 jobs. Most of those were at Cisco Systems, which announced plans to slash its workforce by 5,500. While that's lower than the initially reported 14,000 cuts that were expected, it's still a sizable downsizing in an industry that has suffered a surge in job cuts over the last 18 months.

“Since January of last year, there has been a string of large scale job cuts from major players in the technology sector, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and, now, Cisco,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “The surge in cuts does not necessarily signal weakness in the sector, but it certainly signals a shift. In most cases, we are seeing these firms move from making hardware to providing services.”

Computer-firm job cuts are up 111% this year to 55,567 from 26,374 through the first seven months of 2015.

However, unlike most months, August energy cuts were not dominated by oil-focused firms. The majority came from solar firms, including SolarCity and SunPower.

August also saw heavy job cutting in the industrial goods sector and in entertainment & leisure, where employers announced 3,073 and 3,037 job cuts, respectively.

The bulk of the entertainment and leisure job cuts announced last month came from the closing of the Trump Taj Mahal casino and resort in Atlantic City, where 2,845 employees were put out of work.

Jobless claims

There was a slight upswing last week in the filing of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 2,000 in the week ending August 27 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000. It's now been 78 weeks that claims have been under the 300,000 mark -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, seen as a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it lacks the volatility of the weekly headcount, came in at 263,000, down 1,000 from the week before

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The number of people who found themselves out of a job was down significantly in August.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, G...

Decent job growth reported for August

The services sector continues to be the powerhouse

The private sector of the U.S. economy continued to add jobs, building in August on the previous month's advance.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, another 177,000 jobs were created from July to August -- 5,000 more than in July.

Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi predicts the U.S. economy will soon be at full employment.

"The American job machine continues to hum along,” he said. “Job creation remains strong, with most industries and companies of all sizes adding solidly to their payrolls.”

As is usually the case, the bulk of the new jobs (63,000) came in small businesses, those with 49 or fewer employees. Employment at companies with 50-499 employees rose by 44,000 jobs, while large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- increased by 70,000. Firms with 500-999 employees added 25,000 and mega-companies -- those with more than 1,000 employees -- added 46,000.

Goods and services employment

The goods-producing sector of the economy lost 6,000 jobs in August, after losing 5,000 in July. Two-thousand jobs disappeared from the construction, while job creation in manufacturing industries was flat, after gaining 5,000 in the previous month.

Service-providing employment, on the other hand, rose by 183,000, with professional/business services contributing 53,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities adding 26,000 jobs, and jobs in financial activities growing by 15,000.

"Job growth in August was stable and consistent with levels from previous months as consumer conditions improve," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Continued strong growth in service-providing jobs is offset by weakness in goods-producing areas."

The private sector of the U.S. economy continued to add jobs, building in August on the previous month's advance.According to the ADP National Employme...

Personal income and spending continue their rise in July

Consumers were also able to fatten their savings accounts

Following increases the previous month, both personal income and spending were higher in July.

Incomes jumped 0.4%, or $71.6 billion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after Uncle Sam takes his cut -- up $60.1 billion, or 0.4%.

The increase in personal income last month came largely from advances in wages and salaries and personal current transfer receipts.

Spending and saving head higher

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, rose 0.3% or $42.0 billion, reflecting increases in spending for new cars and services that were partially offset by a dip in spending for nondurable goods.

Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.1% in July.

Personal saving totaled $794.7 billion in July, pushing the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- up 0.3% from June to 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Following increases the previous month, both personal income and spending were higher in July.Incomes jumped 0.4%, or $71.6 billion, according to the B...

Second quarter economic growth remains sluggish

Corporate profits took a hit

The U.S. economy continued to plod along in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department's second look at real gross domestic product -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- put expansion at an annual rate of 1.1%. While that's down 0.1% from the “advance” estimate released last month, it is a bit of an improvement from the first-quarter growth rate of 0.8%.

This latest economic snapshot is based on more complete source data than were available earlier, the general picture of growth remains the same.

The changes

What growth there was came from contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, and exports. These were partly offset by drops in private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- increased

The PCE price index increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 0.3% in the first three months of the year. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.8%, versus an of 2.1% in the previous quarter.

Corporate profits

Profits from current production plunged $24.1 billion in the second quarter, after rising $66.0 billion in the first quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations rose $7.2 billion in the second quarter, while profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations fell $58.2 billion.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The U.S. economy continued to plod along in the second quarter.The Commerce Department's second look at real gross domestic product -- the value of the...

Leading indicators rise for second straight month

Initial jobless applications continued their downward trend

A key forecasting gauge of economic activity has good news for a second consecutive month.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.4% in July to 124.3, following an increase of 0.3% the month before.

Last month's advance by the LEI, said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board, suggests “moderate economic growth should continue through the end of 2016. There may even be some moderate upside growth potential if recent improvements in manufacturing and construction are sustained, and average consumer expectations don’t deteriorate further.”

The LEI is a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  • Average weekly hours for manufacturing
  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  • Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  • Institute for Supply Management Index of New Orders
  • Manufacturers' new orders and nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  • Building permits and new private housing units
  • Stock prices and 500 common stocks
  • Leading Credit Index™
  • Interest rate spread and 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

Another week of declines in first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial claims were down by 4,000 in the week ending August 13, to a seasonally adjusted 262,000. That marks 76 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, which many economists consider a more accurate barometer of the labor market, totaled 265,250 -- an increase of 2,500 from the previous week's unrevised average.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

A key forecasting gauge of economic activity has good news for a second consecutive month.The Conference Board repor...

Retail sales flat in July

Weakness was seen pretty much across the board

After posting three straight monthly advances, retail sales were flat during July.

Figures released by the Census Bureau show retail and food services sales last month totaled $457.7 billion -- virtually unchanged from the previous month, but 2.3% above the same month a year ago.

One of the few bright spots was the upward revision of the June sales figure to show an advance of 0.8% rather than the 0.6% gain initially reported.

Sales at gas stations (-2.7%) were a big factor in the failure of sales to advance last month. Other sales declines came in sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-2.2%), grocery stores (-0.9%), and department stores (-0.5%).

Among the few retailers that saw sales increases in July were nonstore retailers (+1.3%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+1.1%)

The complete July retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

After posting three straight monthly advances, retail sales were flat during July.Figures released by the Census Bureau show retail and food services s...

Employment posts year-over-year gain in June

Initial jobless claims continue to fall

There was a little more opportunity to find work in June than there was the month before.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 5.6 million job openings on the last business day of June versus 5.5 million in May. That put the job openings rate at 3.8%. Openings increased in durable goods manufacturing (+37,000) but fell in federal government (-15,000). By region, openings increased in the South.

Hires

The number of hires in June was essentially the same as May -- 5.1 million, for a hires rate was 3.6%. Total hiring in private industry and government was little changed, with the number of hires up in the Northeast.

Separations

Total separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover.

There were 4.9 million total separations in June, about the same as in May. The total separations rate in June was 3.4%, with the number of total separations essentially unchanged over the month for total private and government in all four regions.

The number of quits held steady in June at 2.9 million for a quits rate of 2.0%. The number of quits was little changed for total private, but rose by 18,000 for government. The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in June, essentially unchanged from May. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.1% as the number of layoffs and discharges held steady for total private and edged down for government (-19,000). The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month in all four regions.

Not much change during June in the number of other separations for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations was essentially unchanged over the month in all four regions.

Net employment change

For the 12 months ending in June, hires totaled 62.3 million and separations totaled 59.8 million, for a net employment gain of 2.5 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Jobless claims

The number of initial jobless claims edged lower last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there was a seasonally adjusted total of 266,000 first-time applications for state unemployment benefits in the week ending August 6, down 1,000 from the week before.

Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 75 consecutive weeks -- the longest streak in more than 45 years.

The four-week moving rose by 3,000 in the same week to a seasonally adjusted 262,750. This headcount is less volatile than the weekly tally and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

There was a little more opportunity to find work in June than there was the month before.According to the Bureau of Labor Statisti...

July a banner month for teen job-seekers

Nearly a half million young adults found work last month

The kids are on the job.

An analysis of government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds the number of teenagers finding summer jobs this year is up 15.4%, or 1.3 million, between May and July -- the highest level since 2013.

The summer total was helped by heavier-than-usual teen employment gains in July.

A total of 492,000 teens found jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), up 33% from a year ago and 25% higher than the 392,900 July job gains averaged over the previous ten years.

Strongest teen employment in years

Total employment among 16- to 19-year-olds stands at 6,040,000, the highest number of employed teens since August 2008, when 6,142,000 were working.

“This year saw the strongest teen employment market since 2013, when 1,355,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 19 found jobs,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “We may be seeing a turnaround in the teen job market as more and more cities approach full employment.”

Challenger pointed out that when the unemployment rate drops down into the 3-to-4% range, older and more experienced workers who might have been settling for employment in retail and food service are able to move into higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. This, he said, leaves opportunities for younger job seekers, adding that “the biggest challenge may be attracting teen job seekers.”

Teen employment has been declining since the 1970s. At its peak, in July 1978, more than 10 million teenagers were employed. Much of the decline appears to be by choice, as growing numbers participate in summer sports and education programs, volunteer, travel, or work in jobs that fall below the standard employment measures.

Employment enticements

“Employers may have to entice teens back into the traditional workforce with higher pay, more challenging work or, perhaps, the promise of tuition assistance,” suggested Challenger. Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Walmart are among the dozens of major food and retail businesses that offer scholarship applications for team members.

However, even with the promise of tuition assistance, it may be an uphill battle. According to unpublished, non-seasonally adjusted data from the BLS, of the 9.5 million 16- to 19-year-olds not in the labor force last month, more than 8.5 million, or roughly 90%, indicated that they don't want a job.

The kids are on the job.An analysis of government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds the number of teenagers finding summer j...

The nation's job machine cranks along

Along with a solid gain in July, employment numbers for June and May were revised higher

The U.S. economy turned out another 255,000 jobs in July, according to figures from the Department of Labor (DOL). Additionally, the June and May employment numbers were revised higher.

At the same time, the government says the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%, with the number of unemployed persons essentially unchanged at 7.8 million.

Employment gains last month were led by professional and business services (+70,000 jobs), leisure and hospitality (+45,000), health care (+43,000) and financial activities (+18,000). The mining industry lost 6,000 jobs last month and, since peaking in September 2014, has fallen by 220,000, or 26%.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, and information, showed little or no change.

Who's in and out of work

Unemployment rates in July were little changed for adult men (4.6%), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (15.6%), Whites, (4.3%), Blacks (8.4%), Asians (3.8%), and Hispanics (5.4%).

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was roughly unchanged over the month at 2.0 million, and accounted for 26.6% of the unemployed.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7%, were little-changed in July.

For those who were working, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payrolls increased by eight cents to $25.69. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.6%.

As it released the July employment report, the government revised its employment numbers for May from a gain of 11,000 jobs to 24,000, and the change for June to +292,000 from +287,000. That puts employment gains for both months at 18,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 190,000 per month.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The U.S. economy turned out another 255,000 jobs in July, according to figures from the Department of Labor (DOL). Additionally, the June and May employmen...

Growth in the economy's non-manufacturing sector slows

Prices continued their decline for a fourth month

The non-manufacturing sector of the economy grew in July for the 78th month in a row in July.

In the latest Non-Manufactring Instutute for Supply Management Report On Business, the nation’s purchasing and supply executives say the Non-Manufacturing Index dipped by 1.0% in July -- to 55.5%. That shows that while the sector continued to grow, the pace was a little slower

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while below that suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index was up 0.4% to 60.3%, while the Employment Index fell to 51.4% from its June reading of 52.7%.

The Prices Index fell for the fourth straight month -- dropping 3.6% to 51.9%.

Industry performance

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in July were:

  1. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  2. Educational Services;
  3. Accommodation & Food Services;
  4. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  5. Retail Trade;
  6. Utilities;
  7. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  8. Public Administration;
  9. Finance & Insurance;
  10. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  11. Transportation & Warehousing;
  12. Wholesale Trade;
  13. Construction;
  14. Information; and
  15. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.

The three industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; and
  3. Mining.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose again last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims came in at a seasonally adjusted 269,000 in the week ended July 30 -- up 3,000 following a surge of 10,000 the previous week. Even with that increase, the total number of claims remains below 300,000 for the 74th consecutive week, the longest streak since 1973

The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly headcount's volatility and is considered a more accurate job-market picture, rose 3,750 to 260,250.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The non-manufacturing sector of the economy grew in July for the 78th month in a row in July.In the latest Non-Manufact...

Pink slips flutter in greater numbers in July

The energy sector led the parade out the door

After falling to a five-month low in May, job cuts rose in July for a second straight month.

According to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, employers announced plans to trim their payrolls by 45,346 workers last month a jump of 19% from June. Terminations in June soared 28%, when they totaled to 30,157.

Even with the July increase, job cuts were 57 percent lower than same period a year ago, when they were at a four-year high of 105,696.

So far this year, employers have announced 359,100 job cuts, down 8.7% from the January-July 2015 time frame.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger points out that while there was a rise in July job cuts, the total was still lower the July average recorded since the end of the recession. “We did see a resurgence in energy-sector job cuts,” he noted, adding that, “this was somewhat unexpected in light of recent projections of increased oil prices and possible labor shortages in the industry."

Energy sector doldrums

Job cuts in the energy sector totaled 17,725 in July, a whopping 796% increase from June and the largest job-cut tally for the industry since April, when firms announced 18,759 firings. So far this year, energy firms have announced 94,936 job cuts – up 37% from this point in 2015.

Of the energy sector cuts announced this year, 83,412 have been blamed on oil prices. In all, low oil prices have claimed 195,415 jobs since mid-2014 -- mostly in the energy and industrial goods sectors.

“Even as some oil-industry firms continued to reduce their headcounts in July,” Challenger said; “a report appearing in industry publication OilPrice.com noted that the number of oil rigs rebounded in May and predicted that firms will have a difficult time ramping up operations if and when oil and gas prices go up.”

After the energy sector, the computer industry has seen the next highest number of job cut announcements this year -- 49,464 job cuts, including 9,875 in July. The year-to-date total is up 94% from the seven-month total in 2015.

After falling to a five-month low in May, job cuts rose in July for a second straight month.According to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Ch...

Employment on the rise in July

The gains came in the non-manufacturing sector

Although July was a better month for employment than June, the pace of new job creation continues at a less than robust pace.

According to the July ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 179,000 jobs from June to July -- 3,000 more jobs than were created in June.

The report, produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

"This month's employment number falls short of the 12-month average primarily because of slowing in small business hiring," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "As the labor market continues to tighten, small businesses may increasingly face challenges when it comes to offering wages that can compete with larger businesses."

Strength in services

Service-providing employment added 185,000 jobs last month, with professional/business services contributing 59,000. Trade/transportation/utilities increased by 27,000 jobs and financial activities added 11,000.

Goods-producing employment lost 6,000 jobs in July, following June losses of 28,000, with the construction industry down 6,000. Manufacturing rebounded, gaining 4,000 jobs after losing 15,000 a month earlier.

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 61,000 jobs in July, while employment at companies with 50-499 employees rose by 68,000. Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- hired 50,000 new workers; firms with 500-999 employees added 16,000, and companies with more than 1,000 employees put another 33,000 people on the payroll.

"This month's employment number falls short of the 12-month average primarily because of slowing in small business hiring," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "As the labor market continues to tighten, small businesses may increasingly face challenges when it comes to offering wages that can compete with larger businesses."

Although July was a better month for employment than June, the pace of new job creation continues at a less than robust pace.According to the July ADP ...

A fifth straight month of manufacturing growth

New orders and production expanded, while employment and inventories contracted

Another month of expansion -- the fifth in a row -- for the manufacturing sector of the economy.

At the same time, according to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Report On Business, the overall economy grew for the 86th consecutive month.

The July Purchasing Manager's Index registered 52.6% last month – down 0.6% from June. A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The Orders Index dipped 0.1% to 56.9%, while the Production Index rose 0.7% to 55.4%. On the negative side, the Employment Index came in at 49.4%, down 1.9%. Inventories of raw materials, while rising 1.0%, registered 49.5%.

The index charting prices fell 5.5% to 55%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the fifth consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 11 reported growth in July:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Wood Products;
  5. Furniture & Related Products;
  6. Chemical Products;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  10. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  11. Computer & Electronic Products.

The following seven industries reported contraction during the month:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  4. Machinery;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Transportation Equipment; and
  7. Paper Products.
Another month of expansion -- the fifth in a row -- for the manufacturing sector of the economy.At the same time, according to the Institute for Supply...

Economy continues to limp along

Growth in the second three months of the year picked up from the first-quarter

An advance look at how the economy was doing in the second quarter shows improvement over the first three months of the year -- but not much.

The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.2% after expanding at an anemic rate of 0.8% from January through March. This “advance” reading is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision. A second estimate will be released in about a month.

The second-quarter increase in real GDP in the second quarter is the result of growth in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, and exports. They were partly offset by declines in private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were lower.

The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter from the first comes from a pickup in PCE, an upturn in exports, and smaller drops in nonresidential fixed investment and in federal government spending. A larger decrease in private inventory investment, and downturns in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending, offset that acceleration.

GDP inflation, income and savings

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.0% in the second quarter, after edging 0.2% higher in the first three months of the year. The PCE price index increased 1.9%, compared with an increase of 0.3%. Excluding food and energy prices, the core PCE price index was up 1.7% versus an increase of 2.1% in the previous quarter.

Disposable personal income -- what you have left after taxes -- rose 3.1% in the second quarter, up 0.6% from the first quarter. Real disposable personal income (adjusted for inflation) rose 1.2%.

Personal saving totaled $763.1 billion in the second quarter for a personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- of 5.5%, compared with 6.1% in the first quarter.

The full report may be found on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

The number of people filing applications for first-time state unemployment benefits shot higher last week.

According to the Department of Labor, (DOL) initial jobless applications jumped by 14,000 in the week ending July 23 to a seasonally adjusted level of 266,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

Even with the increase, the initial claims level has been below 300,000 for a 73rd consecutive week, the longest streak in some 43 years.

The four-week moving, which lacks the weekly tally's volatility and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was down 1,000 to 256,500.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

An advance look at how the economy was doing in the second quarter shows improvement over the first three months of t...

Teen summer employment roars back

Hiring in June was the strongest in three years

Teens looking for work in June found it.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks employment, reports employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 691,000 last month -- up 13% an from last year and the biggest surge in teen job gains since 2014.

The fast food industry appears to be a major factor.

“Unlike traditional retailers, which appear to be closing locations as more people shop online, food establishments are expanding. The Sonic drive-in chain added 16 new locations in the quarter that ended May 31,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Moreover, there has been an explosion of new restaurants offering healthier alternatives to traditional fast food fare.”

The June surge followed weak hiring among teens in May, which saw the fewest employment gains for 16- to 19-year-olds (156,000) since 2011. However, summer hiring this year is now outpacing 2015.

Through the first two months of the three-month summer hiring period, employers have hired 847,000 teenagers, up 7.1% from a year ago, when teen job gains in May and June totaled 791,000.

Overall teen employment reached a non-seasonally adjusted 5,548,000 in June -- up 4.0% from a year ago, and the highest June employment level for this age group since 2009, when 5,608,000 teenagers were employed.

Teens looking for work in June found it.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks employment, reports employment among 16- to...

Leading Economic Index rebounds in June

The expansion was the second in three months

Following a slight (-0.2%) decline in May, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.3% in June. The index was up 0.5% in April.

“Improvements in initial claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and financial indicators were the primary drivers,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “While the LEI continues to point to moderating economic growth in the U.S. through the end of 2016, the expansion still appears resilient enough to weather volatility in financial markets and a moderating outlook in labor markets.”

The LEI is essentially a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component – primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the LEI include:

  1. Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods and materials
  4. ISM® Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits, new private housing units
  7. Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions
Following a slight (-0.2%) decline in May, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index® (LEI) rose 0.3% in June. The index was up 0.5% in April.“Impr...

Retail sales post third consecutive monthly advance

However, the May increase was revised downward

Increases in nearly every category pushed retail sales up 0.6% in June to $457.0 billion -- the third straight monthly increase -- and 2.7% above the same month a year ago.

At the same time, though, the Census Bureau revised its May figures to show an advance of 0.2% instead of the 0.5% initially reported.

Sales at building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers led last months advance, rising 3.9%. Also on the increase were sales at gas stations (+1.2%), nonstore retailers (+1.1%), and miscellaneous store retailers (+0.9%). Sales at auto and parts dealers inched up 0.1%.

Sales fell at clothing & clothing accessories stores (-1.0%) and restaurants (-0.3%)

The complete June retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

Increases in nearly every category pushed retail sales up 0.6% in June to $457.0 billion -- the third straight monthly increase -- and 2.7% above the same ...

Unemployment ticks higher in June

However, it was the strongest month for hiring since last October

The nation's jobless rate rose 0.2% in June to 4.9%, as another 347,000 people found themselves out of work, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL).

At the same time, the economy created another 287,000 jobs last month, mostly in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, and financial activities.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (4.5%) and Whites (4.4%) rose in June. The rates for adult men (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), Blacks (8.6%), Asians (3.5%), and Hispanics (5.8%) showed little or no change.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.7%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.6%, showed little change during the month.

The number of people out of work less than five weeks increased by 211,000 in June, following a decrease during the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) changed little in June at 2 million and accounted for 25.8% of the unemployed.

Job gains and losses

The biggest contributor to the increase in employment was leisure and hospitality (+59,000 jobs), followed by health care and social assistance (+58,000) and financial activities (+16,000).

Employment in mining continued to trend down in June (-6,000), with other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and government showing little or no change in June.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up two cents in June to $25.61, following a six-cent increase in May. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6%.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's jobless rate rose 0.2% in June to 4.9%, as another 347,000 people found themselves out of work, according to figures released by the Departmen...

ADP: U.S. job creation continues to slow

Average monthly job output has slowed this year

Another 172,000 people found work in the private sector during June, according to the ADP National Employment Report. However, that's down by about 1,000 from the May tally.

Small businesses continued to supply the bulk of the new positions as payrolls at firms with 49 or fewer employees increased by 95,000 -- a jump 0f 11,000 from May. Employment at companies with 50-499 employees increased by 52,000 jobs, compared with May's 60,000. The number of jobs at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- increased by 2,000 from the month before to 25,000. Companies with 500-999 employees added 21,000 and those with more than 1,000 employees hired 4,000 workers in June.

"Since the start of 2016, average monthly job creation has slightly dropped," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Lackluster global growth, low commodity prices, and an unfavorable exchange rate continue to weigh on U.S. companies, especially larger companies."

Goods and services empoyment

The goods-producing sector lost jobs -- 36,000 of them -- in June following a decline of 5,000 in May. Within that category, 5,000 construction industry jobs disappeared and there were 21,000 fewer people employed in manufacturing.

Employment in the service-providing category rose by 208,000 jobs last month on top of the May increase of 173,000. Professional/business services contributed 51,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 55,000, and financial activities added 2,000.

Despite the decline from May, Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi believes job growth revived last month from its spring slump. “Job growth remains healthy,” he said, “except in the energy and trade-sensitive manufacturing sectors. Large multinationals are struggling a bit, and Brexit won't help, but small- and mid-sized companies continue to add strongly to payrolls."

The ADP National Employment Report is produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics.

Another 172,000 people found work in the private sector during June, according to the ADP National Employment Report. However, that's down by about 1,000 f...

Job cuts on the rise in June

Still, terminations remain below the 12-month average

Pink slips were in the wind during June as employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 38,536 jobs.

While that's up 28% from May, when firings fell to a five-month low in June, it's still well below the 12-month average of 53,049 monthly job cuts. And according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks job cuts, it indicates a positive employment environment.

“Job cut announcements were up last month, but they increased from the lowest total of the year to the second lowest of the year,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The June total is 26% lower than the monthly job cuts averaged over the past year and 14% below the same month a year earlier.

A slowing pace

While the total of 313,754 planned job cuts so far this year is up 9% from the first six months of 2015, the pace of job cutting has slowed significantly since the beginning of the year. Job cuts in the second quarter were down 27% from the first quarter and 10% lower than the second quarter of 2015.

“It is not unusual to see a slowdown in job cuts during the summer months,” said Challenger. “Other factors are definitely contributing to the decline, the biggest one being the precipitous drop off in job cuts attributed to low oil prices.”

Firms in the energy and industrial goods sectors blamed oil prices for 50,053 announced job cuts in the first quarter. In the second quarter, oil-related job cuts were down 48%. In the energy sector alone, job cuts declined 42% in the second quarter.

More of the same

Challenger said we may continue to see low job cut totals throughout the remainder of 2016, as employers take a wait-and-see stance on workforce levels.

“Several uncertainties, including national elections, the recent Brexit, and global security and economic issues are giving employers pause when it comes to workforce decisions," he noted, adding “We are seeing it in layoff numbers, as well as the job creation numbers, which have been lackluster in recent months.”

Not every sector is holding off on job cuts. Terminations in the computer industry increased in the second quarter and total 39,589 through the first half of the year -- more than triple the number announced by these firms in the first six months of 2015.

Initial claims

Another big drop in the number of initial jobless claims last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the seasonally adjusted total of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits initial claims was 254,000 in the week ending July 2, down 16,000 from the previous week, when the level was revised upward by 2,000.

Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 70 weeks in a row, the longest stretch since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which many economists believe better reflects the labor market because it lacks volatility, was down 2,500 from a week earlier to 264,750.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Pink slips were in the wind during June as employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 38,536 jobs.While that's up...

Another solid month for the economy's services sector

Fifteen industries reported growth

Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of economy picked up steam in June.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the sector was up 3.6% from May to a reading of 56.5%, representing continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. It also marked the 77th consecutive month of expansion.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while below that suggests contraction.

The New Orders Index registered 59.9%, 5.7% points higher than the reading of 54.2% in May. The Employment Index grew 3% in June after contracting in May to 52.7%. The Prices Index dipped 0.1% from May to 55.5%, the third consecutive price increase.

Industry by industry

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in June were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  3. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  4. Retail Trade;
  5. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  6. Utilities;
  7. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  8. Accommodation & Food Services;
  9. Transportation & Warehousing;
  10. Wholesale Trade;
  11. Information;
  12. Public Administration;
  13. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  14. Construction; and
  15. Finance & Insurance.

The three industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Educational Services;
  2. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  3. Other Services.
Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of economy picked up steam in June.According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the sec...

The economy's manufacturing sector continues to grow

New orders were up, while prices were down

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy grew in June for the fourth time in as many months.

According to the Institute for Supply Management, the Purchasing Manager's Index was up 1.9% from the May reading to 53.2%. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

At the same time, the overall economy grew for the 85th consecutive month

The nuts and bolts

The New Orders Index came in at 57%, up 1.3% from May; the Production Index grew by 2.1% to 54.7%; and the Employment Index went from 49.2% in May to 50.4%.

The Prices Index, on the other hand, fell 3% to 60.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the fourth consecutive month.

Industry breakout

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 13 reported growth in the following order:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Fabricated Metal Products;
  6. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Chemical Products;
  11. Primary Metals;
  12. Machinery; and
  13. Nonmetallic Mineral Products.

Three industries reported contraction in June:

  1. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  2. Transportation Equipment; and
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products.
The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy grew in June for the fourth time in as many months.According to the Institute for Supply Management, the P...

Consumer spending rises in May, outpacing income gains

Jobless claims were on the rise last week

Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.

The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $53.5 billion, or 0.4%. Personal income, by the way, also rose -- $37.1 billion, or 0.2% -- and disposable personal income (DPI), what you have left after the government gets its cut, was up by $33.9 billion, or 0.2%.

Compensation, spending, and saving

Most of the income increase came from a rise of $14.7 billion in wages and salaries, well below $40.4 billion advance in April. Private wages and salaries were up $11.8 billion, while government wages and salaries inched up $2.9 billion.

Personal outlays, which is made up of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose just $57.0 billion in May, after a surge of $144.6 billion in April.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $730.6 billion last month, pushing the personal saving rate down 0.1% to 5.3%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.


After falling sharply in the preceding week, first time applications for state unemployment benefits jumped a bit in the week ending June 25.

Jobless claims

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

It's now 69 consecutive weeks that the initial claims level has been below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it lacks the weekly tally's volatility, was unchanged from the previous week at 266,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expendi...

First quarter economic growth revised higher

Still, it's a slowdown from the previous three months

The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.

The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going in the first quarter and determined that real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production -- expanded at an annual rate of 1.1%.

That's somewhat better than the 0.8% rate in the second estimate, but slower than the 1.4% rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

The increase in the first quarter comes from contributions from consumer spending, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and exports. Those were offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were lower.

The slowdown in real GDP from the fourth quarter reflected a deceleration in consumer spending, a larger drop in nonresidential fixed investment, and a downturn in federal government spending that were partly offset by advances in state and local government spending and exports and an acceleration in residential fixed investment.

GDP inflation

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 0.2% in the first quarter, half the increase seen in the fourth.

The core rate, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was up 1.4%, versus a 1.0% increase in the final quarter of last year.

Corporate profits

Profits from current production rose by $34.7 billion in the first quarter, after declining $159.6 billion in the fourth.

Taxes on corporate income increased $4.4 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $32.2 billion in the fourth.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going...

Teen summer employment gains on the decline

May saw a slow start to the traditional hiring season

Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to.

According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 156,000 in May -- a drop of 14% from last year.

Over the previous five years an average of 1,259,200 teens were added to the workforce between May 1 and July 31. While May typically experiences the smallest hiring gains of the three-month period, this was the slowest start to the summer hiring season since 2011, when just 71,000 teenagers found jobs in May.

“Low hiring in May does not necessarily portend an overall drop in summer hiring,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In 2007, just 62,000 teenagers found employment in May, but total job gains for the summer exceeded 1.6 million. However, the general trend in summer employment among teens has been downward and that trend has been going on since the late 1970s,” .

Challenger said numerous factors have contributed to the decline of teen employment. “Economic downturns certainly played a role in accelerating the trend,” he noted, adding, “it is hardly the only factor. Even the relatively high-flying 1990s saw the number of working teens fall.”

A worrisome trend

Since the 1970s, the number of manufacturing and other skilled blue-collar jobs have disappeared, along with other semi-skilled jobs that could be shipped overseas, such as call center jobs. Americans who might have gravitated toward these opportunities were pushed down the ladder into lower-skilled, lower-paying service jobs that were once dominated by teenagers.

“Teens were basically pushed out of the market,” said Challenger. “They continue to have opportunities in the classic summer job settings, such as summer camps, neighborhood pools, amusement parks, etc. However, the number of these jobs is not really growing. We don’t see a dozen new amusement parks or summer camps start up every year. Meanwhile, restaurants and retail outlets are still hiring teens, but not as many as in the past, because they simply don’t need as many workers to meet seasonal demand.”

Challenger said there is mounting evidence that teens are not pursuing traditional summer jobs like they used to. “Many are enrolled in summer educational programs. More are volunteering. And, others are pursuing money-making opportunities that fall below the radar of standard employment measures, such as unpaid internships or entrepreneurial ventures.”  

Teenagers are finding jobs this summer, but not as many as they used to. According to an analysis of the latest government data by outplacement firm Cha...

Retail sales up again in May

It's the second gain in a row

Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.

The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month totaling $455.6 billion. That's a gain of 2.4% from the same month a year ago.

May's month-over-month advance was led by sales at gas stations (+2.1%), nonstore retailers and sporting goods (+1.3%), hobby, book, & music stores (+1.3%), and food services and drinking places (+0.8%). On a year-over-year basis, sales soared at nonstore retailers (+12.2) and health & personal care stores (+8.3).

Last month's losers include building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, with a sales decline of 1.8% from April, and miscellaneous store retailers, where sales were down 1.2%.

The complete May retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month tot...

Job openings hold steady in April, as new hires edged lower

Initial jobless claims remained below 300,00 last week

There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job openings was fairly steady during the month at 5.8 million. At the same time, the number of hires edged down to 5.1 million while separations were little changed at 5.0 million.

Job openings

The job openings rate was 3.9% as the number of openings showed little change for total private and for government. Large increases occurred in wholesale trade (+65,000), transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+58,000), durable goods manufacturing (+46,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (+41,000). Openings in the professional and business services sector were down by 274,000. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions.

Hires

With a hires rate of 3.5%, the number of hires for total private and for government edged down 31,000. Hires were little changed in all industries in April and decreased in the Midwest region.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The category is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in April was 3.5%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government, and all industries experienced little change in total separations over the month.

Net change in employment

Over the 12 months ending in April, hires totaled 62.4 million and separations totaled 59.7 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.7 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The full report is available on the BLS website

Initial claims

Separately, the  Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time jobless claims came in below 300,000 last week for the 66th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1973.

In the week ending June 4, initial applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 264,000, down from the previous week's revised level of 268,000.

The four-week moving average, seen as a more active gauge of the labor market because it's not as volatile as the weekly compilation, fell 7,500 from the previous week's revised total -- to 269,500.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of jo...

Services sector growth continues, but at a slower pace

Fourteen non-manufacturing reported expansion in May

The non-manufacturing, or services sector of the economy continued to grow in May, although pace of expansion was slower.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) reports sector registered 52.9% last month -- down 2.8% from April. However, it was the 76th consecutive month of expansion.

A reading above 50 indicates an expansion, while below that suggests contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) dropped 3.7% to 55.1%, the New Orders Index registered 54.2% -- 5.7% lower than the month before. The employment Index was down 3.3% to 49.7%, indicating contraction after two consecutive months of growth.

The Prices Index jumped 2.2% to 55.6%, indicating an increase in prices for the second consecutive month.

Industry performance

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in May were:

  1. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  2. Accommodation & Food Services;
  3. Utilities;
  4. Wholesale Trade;
  5. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  6. Construction;
  7. Public Administration;
  8. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  9. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  10. Information;
  11. Finance & Insurance;
  12. Retail Trade;
  13. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  14. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.

Four industries reported contraction:

  1. Mining;
  2. Other Services;
  3. Educational Services; and
  4. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.
The non-manufacturing, or services sector of the economy continued to grow in May, although pace of expansion was slower.The Institute for Supply Manag...

An anemic employment picture in May

The economy created the lowest number of jobs in five years

On the surface, the report looks good when you consider that the unemployment rate dropped 0.3% last month to 4.7%.

However, the economy created just 38,000 jobs in May, and the Department of Labor (DOL) revised the April and March job creation level down by a combined 56,000 positions.

In addition, the civilian labor force participation rate fell by 0.2% in May and has declined by 0.4% over the past 2 months, offsetting gains in the first quarter. The employment-population ratio remained at 59.7%.

Employment gains and losses

What few new jobs that were created came in health care (+46,000) and technical services (+26,000). Losses were found in mining (-10,000), information (-34,000), and manufacturing (-18,000).

Another factor in the suppressed job creation total was the month-long strike by 34,000 Verizon workers.

Employment in construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government was little-changed.

Who’s working and who’s not

The unemployment rates for adult men (4.3%), adult women (4.2%), Whites (4.1%), and Hispanics (5.6%) declined in May. The rates for teenagers (16.0%), Blacks (8.2%), and Asians (4.1%) showed little or no change.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 468,000 -- to 6.4 million after showing little movement since November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by five cents to $25.59, following an increase of nine cents in April. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose three cents to $21.49.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

On the surface, the report looks good when you consider that the unemployment rate dropped 0.3% last month to 4.7%.However, the economy created just 38...

Job cuts fall to five-month low in May

The number of terminations was down 53% from April

U.S.-based employers pulled back sharply in trimming their workforces in May.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports announced job cuts totaled 30,157 last month -- down 53% from April and the lowest number of terminations since last December.

So far this year, employers have announced 275,218 job cuts -- up 13% compared to the first five months of 2015.

“May could be the start of a summer slowdown in the pace of job cutting as companies take a pause following the period of heavy downsizing that started the year,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In general, oil prices have improved somewhat since the beginning of the year, though they are still less than half of what they were at oil’s recent peak. However, the recent gains may be enough to at least temporarily slow job cuts in the sector.”

Energy absorbs the reductions

Monthly job cuts were led by the energy sector, though the May total was down significantly from previous months. Firms in the sector announced another 7,572 terminations in May -- 60% fewer than in April.

They have now announced 75,232 job cuts this year -- up 25% from January through April a year ago.

Most industries saw job cuts decline in May. Among the most significant was the computer industry, where they plunged 83% from April. Reductions also occurred in the financial sector (-68%), and retailing (-75%).

“Of course, not every summer brings a slowdown in job cuts,” said Challenger. “Last July saw announced layoffs soar to a four-year high of 105,696. However, last year’s spike was due primarily to massive troop and civilian cuts in the military. Being an election year, it is unlikely that we will see any major workforce changes at the federal level of the government.”  

U.S.-based employers pulled back sharply in trimming their workforces in May.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports announced jo...

ADP: Job creation slows in May

Energy companies and manufacturers actually lost jobs

While the economy managed to crank out new jobs in May, the pace of job creation continues to slow.

The ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, reports private sector employment increased by 173,000 jobs last month.

Some 214,000 jobs were created in February, followed by 194,000 in March and 156,000 in April. So while the May showing is a month-over-month improvement, it's well below the pace seen earlier in the year.

"Job creation appears to have slowed as we move further into 2016," said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Challenging global conditions affecting hiring at large companies and a tightening labor market for skilled workers are among the factors that may be contributing to the slowdown."

Where they're hiring

The report, which is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, shows employment by businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 76,000 jobs, compared with an upwardly revised 101,000 in April. Companies with 50-499 employees hired 63,000 workers in May -- 24,000 more than the month before.

Job creation rose by 9,000 from April at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- to 34,000, while companies with 500-999 employees added 11,000 and companies with over 1,000 employees added 24,000.

Employment at goods-producing companies dropped by 1,000 jobs in May after losing a 7,000 the month before. The construction industry added 13,000 jobs, while, manufacturing lost 3,000 jobs following a loss of 10,000 in April.

Service-providing companies added 175,000 jobs last month, while professional/business services contributed 43,000. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 28,000 jobs, and financial activities added 13,000.

"Job growth has moderated this spring as energy companies and manufacturers shed jobs,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Retailers are also more circumspect in their hiring. Despite the recent slowdown, job growth remains strong enough to reduce underemployment."

While the economy managed to crank out new jobs in May, the pace of job creation continues to slow.The ADP National Employment Report, which is produce...

Three in a row for manufacturing

Expansion comes amid continued economic growth

For the third time in as many months, the manufacturing sector of the economy was expanding in May.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which tracks the manufacturing sector, registered 53.1% last month -- up 0.5% from April. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

The overall economy, meanwhile, grew for the 84th consecutive month.

Within the PMI, The New Orders slipped 0.1% to 55.7% and the Production Index came in at 52.6%, a decline of 1.6%. The Employment Index was unchanged at 49.2%

Raw materials prices climbed for a third straight month with the Prices Index registering 63.5% -- an increase of 4.5% since April.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 12 reported growth:

  1. Wood Products;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  4. Fabricated Metal Products;
  5. Paper Products;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  7. Computer & Electronic Products;
  8. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  9. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  10. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  11. Machinery; and
  12. Primary Metals.

The six industries reporting contraction in May were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  3. Transportation Equipment;
  4. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  5. Chemical Products; and
  6. Furniture & Related Products.

Jobless claims

In a separate report, the Department of Labor (DOL) says initial applications for state unemployment benefits were down again last week.

Seasonally adjusted initial claims dropped by 1,000 in the week ending May 28 from the previous week to 267,000. That makes 65 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, seen by economists as a more accurate barometer of the labor market because it's not as volatile as the weekly compilation, was 276,750 -- down 1,750 from the previous week's unrevised average.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

For the third time in as many months, the manufacturing sector of the economy was expanding in May.The Institute for ...

U.S. economy picks up (a little) steam, but remains sluggish

Consumer spending was among the factors

A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 0.8%.

While that's a bit better than the 0.5% reported in the advance estimate released a month ago, it pales in comparison to the 1.4% growth rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

Consumer spending picks up

The increase in real GDP results from increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending.

Those advances were partly offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- decreased. 

The overall slowdown from the fourth quarter of last year reflects a larger decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending. Those were offset -- in part -- by an upturn in state and local government spending, and a speedup in residential fixed investment.

Inflation and corporate profits

The price index for gross domestic purchases -- GDP inflation -- increased 0.2% in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” GDP rate increased 1.4%, compared with a 1.0% advance in the final three months of last year.

Corporate profits were finally in the black. Following a plunge of $159.6 billion in the fourth quarter, they increased $6.5 billion in the first three months of this year.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)...

Economic indicators up for second time in three months

Initial jobless claims were on the decline

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) is picking up steam.

After holding steady in March and inching up just 0.1% in February, the LEI jumped 0.6% in April with all components except consumer expectations contributing to the rebound.

“Despite a slow start in 2016, labor market and financial indicators, and housing permits all point to a moderate growth trend continuing in 2016,”said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board

The LEI is basically a composite average of several individual indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten LEI components are:

  1. Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  4. ISM Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits, new private housing units
  7. Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

Initial jobless claims remained below 300,000 for a 63rd consecutive week in the week ending May 14, falling by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000. According to theDepartment of Labor (DOL), that's the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, considered by many economists to be a more accurate gauge of the labor market because it lacks the volatility of the weekly tally, was up was 7,500 -- to 275,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) is picking up steam.After holding steady in March and inching up...

Retail sales post solid gain in April

The advance was the strongest in a year

Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.

According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March and are 3.0% ahead of the same time a year ago. At the same time, the government revised its March report to show a sales drop of 0.3% rather than the 0.4% initially reported.

Eleven of 13 categories posted gains, with most of the strength coming in sales by auto and other motor vehicle dealers, which surged 3.5% followed by gas stations (+2.2%), nonstore retailers (+2.1%), and grocery stores (+1.1%).

The only category to post a decline was building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, whose sales dipped 1.0%

Sales at general merchandise stores were flat.

The complete April retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March a...

Job openings slip in February as hiring increases

The number of workers who left jobs was on the rise

The number of jobs up for grabs inched lower during February.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job openings at the end of the month, compared with 5.5 million the month before.

Hires, meanwhile, were up to 5.4 million from 5.0 million in January, and separations rose by 200,000 -- to 5.1 million.

Job openings

The job openings rate February was about the same as a month earlier -- 3.7%. Openings rose in educational services (+48,000) and federal government (+19,000), but fell in health care and social assistance (-147,000), finance and insurance (-54,000), and mining and logging (-8,000). The number of job openings was lower down in the Midwest region.

Hires

The addition of 297,000 hires in February was the highest level since November 2006, putting the hires rate at 3.8%. Hires increased for total private (+278,000) and were little changed for government.

Retail trade added 102,000 positions followed by accommodation and food services (+78,000), educational services (+44,000), and state and local government -- excluding education (+25,000). Hires declined in mining and logging (-9,000). Hires increased in the South.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in February was 3.5% with little change for total private and government.

Separations were up in accommodation and food services (+98,000), while arts, entertainment, and recreation edged lower (-31,000). The number of total separations was little changed over the month in all regions.

Employment net change

Over the 12 months ending in February, hires totaled 62.1 million and separations totaled 59.4 million, for a net employment gain of 2.7 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

The number of jobs up for grabs inched lower during February.Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job o...

Employment growth stumbles in April

The jobless rate held steady at 5.0%

Job growth in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven months during April.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment rose by just 160,000 last month, with the unemployment rate holding at 5.0%. In addition, the government revised the job gains in March and February downward by 7,000 and 12,000 respectively.

The slowdown in job growth came as the labor force participation rate fell to 62.8% and the employment-population ratio dropped to 59.7%. On the bright side, average hourly earnings rose by eight cents to $25.53, following an increase of six cents in March. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

Gainers and losers

Professional and business services added 65,000 jobs in April, followed by health care employment (+44,000) and financial activities (+20,000).

Mining employment declined again in April (-7,000) and, since reaching a peak in September 2014, has decreased by 191,000, with more than three-quarters of the loss in mining support activities.

There was little or no change in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics rose to 6.1%, while the rates for adult men (4.6%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (8.8%) and Asians (3.8%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) declined by 150,000 to 2.1 million, accounting for 25.7% of the unemployed.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Job growth in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven months during April.According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment ros...

The economy's services sector continues to expand

Thirteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth

The services sector of the economy expanded for the 75th consecutive month in April.

The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI), which is used to track the sector, registered 55.7% -- an increase of 1.2% from March. A reading above 50% indicates expansion; below 50% suggests contraction.

Within the NMI, the New Orders Index rose 3.2% to 59.9%, the Employment Index was up 2.7% to 53% and the Prices Index jumped 4.3% to 53.4%, the first increase in three months.

Industry performance

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in April were:

  1. Information;
  2. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  3. Accommodation & Food Services;
  4. Wholesale Trade;
  5. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  6. Utilities;
  7. Finance & Insurance;
  8. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  9. Construction;
  10. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  11. Public Administration;
  12. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  13. Retail Trade.

The four industries reporting contraction in April were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Mining;
  3. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  4. Educational Services.
The services sector of the economy expanded for the 75th consecutive month in April.The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Inde...

Job cuts top 65,000 in April

The energy sector is leading the advance

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.

According to the figures from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C), that's an increase of 35% over March and 5.8% higher than the total for April 2015.

In the first four months of this year, planned job cuts -- at 250,061 -- are up 24%from the same period in 2015 and the highest January-April total since 2009.

“We continue to see large scale layoffs in the energy sector, where low oil prices are driving down profits,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of CG&C. “However, we are also seeing heavy downsizing activity in other areas, such as computers and retail, where changing consumer trends are creating a lot of volatility.”

Energy and computer sectors hit hard

Another 19,759 jobs disappeared in the energy sector in April, bringing the year-to-date total to 72,660, up 26% from first four months of 2015.

Computer firms cut 16,923 positions -- the highest total among all industries. Approximately 12,000 of those were from chipmaker Intel, which is shifting away from the traditional desktop and laptop market and toward the mobile market. To date, computer firms have announced 33,925 job cuts, a whopping 262% above a year earlier.

“For all intents and purposes, the economy remains strong,” Challenger noted. “The nation’s payrolls have experienced 66 consecutive months of net job gains, a trend that is likely to continue with the new report out Friday.”

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week for a second straight week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 17,000 in the week ending April 30, to a seasonally adjusted 274,000. Still this was the 61st consecutive week of claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly headcount and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 2,000 -- to 258,000.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.According to the figures from outpla...

ADP: Job creation slows further in April

Weakness was spread across most sectors

While the nation's job-producing machinery is still running well, there's been something of a slowdown that continued into April.

The ADP National Employment Report finds private-sector employment increased by 156,000 jobs last month, following increases of 194,000 and 214,000 in March and February, respectively.

The report, produced by ADP in collaboration with Moody's Analytics is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

“Job growth noticeably slowed, with some weakness across most sectors,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. “One month does not make a trend,” he added, “but this bears close watching as the financial market turmoil earlier in the year may have done some damage to business hiring."

Sources of strength

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees produced the most jobs by far in April -- 93,000, about the same number as March. Employment at companies with 50-499 employees grew by 39,000 jobs; large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – had 24,000 new hires; companies with 500-999 employees added 15,000 payroll positions; and firms with over 1,000 employees created 9,000 new jobs.

Employment in goods-producing industries dropped by 11,000 jobs. The construction industry added 14,000 jobs, while manufacturing lost 13,000 jobs.

Service-providing companies cranked out 166,000 jobs last month, with professional/business services adding 27,000 employees. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 25,000 and financial activities added just 4,000 jobs.

"Despite the softest overall monthly jobs added in three years, small businesses remained an engine for job growth in April," said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Smaller businesses are less susceptible to global conditions, such as low commodity prices and the strong dollar, that may have caused larger businesses to ease up on hiring."

While the nation's job-producing machinery is still running well, there's been something of a slowdown that continued into April.The ADP National Emplo...

Manufacturing grows for the second straight month

The overall economy expanded for the 83rd consecutive month

The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 50.8%, down 1.0% from March. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

The two months of growth followed five consecutive months of contraction.

A closer look at the PMI shows the New Orders Index was down 2.5%, the Production Index dipped 1.1%, and inventories of raw materials were off 1.5%. The Employment Index, meanwhile, was up 1.1%, and the Prices Index surged 7.5%.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth last month:

  1. Wood Products;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Fabricated Metal Products;
  7. Chemical Products;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  11. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The four industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Transportation Equipment;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and
  4. Furniture & Related Products.
The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely. According to the Institute for Supply Manageme...

Economy creeps along in early 2016

Growth has slowed considerably

The economy was sputtering in the first three months of the year, slowing even further from the anemic performance in the final quarter of 2015.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- increased at an annual rate of 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016. GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.4% the previous three months.

This first-quarter “advance estimate” is based on sources that are incomplete or subject to further revision.

The first quarter growth rate was the result of contributions from consumer spending, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Those were partly offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, exports, and federal government spending. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- increased.

The slowdown in the rate of GDP growth came from a larger decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, a deceleration in consumer spending, a downturn in federal government spending, a rise in imports, and larger decreases in private inventory investment and in exports. Those declines were partly offset by an rise in state and local government spending and an acceleration in residential fixed investment.

GDP inflation and savings

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 0.3% in the January-March period, down 0.1% from the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” measure of GDP inflation was up 1.4%, versus a 1.0% advance in the prior three months.

Personal saving, which is disposable personal income less personal spending -- was $712.3 billion in the first quarter, compared with $678.3 billion in the fourth. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 5.2%, a gain of 0.2% from the final three months of last year.

The full report is available on the BEA website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were on the rise last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 9,000 in the week ending April 23 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 -- from 247,000 to 248,000.

This marks 60 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, fell 4,750 to 256,000 -- the lowest level since December 8, 1973.

The complete jobless claims report is found on the DOL website.

The economy was sputtering in the first three months of the year, slowing even further from the anemic performance in th...

Economic indicators rise for the first time this year

The economy is likely to continue growing -- but just barely

After posting three declines in a row, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) is showing signs of life.

The LEI, which is generally seen as a forecaster of economic activity three-to-six months into the future, rose 0.2% in March.. The skimpy 0.1% gain reported for February was revised to show a decline of 0.1%. The index was lower in January and December as well.

“With the March gain, the U.S. LEI’s six-month growth rate improved slightly but still points to slow, although not slowing, growth in the coming quarters,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board.

“Rebounding stock prices were offset by a decline in housing permits, but nonetheless there were widespread gains among the leading indicators. Financial conditions, as well as expected improvements in manufacturing, should support a modest growth environment in 2016.”

The LEI is basically a composite average of several individual indicators. It's constructed to summarize and reveal common turning point patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component -- primarily because it smooths out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten LEI components include:

  1. Average weekly hours, manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  4. Institute for Supply Management Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits, new private housing units
  7. Stock prices, 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions
After posting three declines in a row, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) is showing signs of life.The LEI, which is generally seen as...

Retail sales slip in March

Auto sales were down sharply

March turned out to be the third straight month in row for disappointing retail sales.

After falling 0.4% in January and not moving at all in February, sales were down 0.3% last month, according to figures released by the Commerce Department. Despite that decline, sales were 1.7% above the same period a year earlier.

The biggest drag came from a 2.1% drop in auto sales, followed by declines in sales by clothing and clothing accessory stores (-0.9%), food services and drinking places (-0.8%), and department stores (-0.6). Those declines were partially offset by gains with building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (+1.4%), health and personal care stores (+1.0%), and gas stations (+0.9%).

Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza says the March report does not bode well for the overall economy. "This morning’s confirmation of a third consecutive month of absent consumer activity," she said, "will no doubt prompt a further downward revision to first-quarter growth, potentially into negative territory.”

The full March retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

March turned out to be the third straight month in row for disappointing retail sales.After falling 0.4% in January and not moving at all in February, ...

Job openings slip in February

New hires during the month moved higher

There weren't as many job openings available in February as there were the month before.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports openings slipped by 100,000 during the month to 5.4 million, while hires jumped to 5.4 million from 5.0 million in January.

Job openings

The job openings rate held steady at 3.7%, but the number of openings was little changed for total private and for government. Openings increased in educational services and federal government, but fell in health care and social assistance, finance, and insurance. The number of job openings edged lower in the Midwest.

Hires

The number of hires increased to 5.4 million -- the highest level since November 2006 -- with the rate rising .3% to 3.8%. Hires rose for total private and was little changed for government, with increases in retail trade, accommodation and food services, educational services, and state and local government, excluding education. Declines were posted in mining and logging. Regionally, hires were on the rise in the South.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, with total separations referred to as turnover.

The total separations rate rose 0.1% in February to 3.5%, but the number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government. Total separations rose in accommodation and food services, but fell in arts, entertainment, and recreation. The number of total separations was little changed over the month in all regions.

Net change in employment

Total hires over the 12 months ending in February totaled 62.1 million and separations totaled 59.4 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.7 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

There weren't as many job openings available in February as there were the month before.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports openings slipped by 100,0...

The non-manufacturing economy continues to perk along

A dozen services industries reported expansion in March

Things are sailing along nicely in the non-manufacturing sector of the economy, with growth continuing in March for the 74th consecutive month.

The Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business shows the services sector grew 1.1% last month to 54.5%, representing a slightly faster rate of expansion. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion, while below that suggests contraction

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index was up 2%, for the 80th consecutive month of growth; the New Orders Index gained 1.2%, and the the Employment Index inched up 0.6% after falling in February.

The Prices Index was up 3.6% to 49.1%, indicating prices dipped in March for the fifth time in the last seven months.

Industry performance

The 12 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in March are:

  1. Educational Services;
  2. Information;
  3. Wholesale Trade;
  4. Finance & Insurance;
  5. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  6. Retail Trade;
  7. Mining;
  8. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  9. Accommodation & Food Services;
  10. Public Administration;
  11. Utilities; and
  12. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.

The two industries reporting contraction in March are:

  1. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and
  2. Transportation & Warehousing.
Things are sailing along nicely in the non-manufacturing sector of the economy, with growth continuing in March for the 74th consecutive month.The Non-...

Finally -- the manufacturing economy is growing again

March showed the first expansion in the sector in six months

It's been a long time coming, but the manufacturing sector of the economy is growing again.

According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was up 2.3% from February -- to 51.8%. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while under 50 suggests contraction.

The March increase was the first since August 2015. The overall economy, meanwhile, expanded for the 82nd consecutive month.

Within the sector, The New Orders Index posted a gain of 6.8%, production was up 2.5%, and the Prices Index soared 13%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the first time since October 2014.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 12 reported growth in March:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Machinery;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Chemical Products;
  10. Paper Products;
  11. Primary Metals; and
  12. Computer & Electronic Products.

The industries reporting contraction in March were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  4. Transportation Equipment; and
  5. Petroleum & Coal Products.
It's been a long time coming, but the manufacturing sector of the economy is growing again.According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply M...

Gains in retail and construction push March job creation higher

Still, the unemployment rate ticked higher

New hires in retail trade, construction and health care offset job losses in manufacturing and mining for a net gain of 215,000 jobs in March.

At the same time though, the Department of Labor (DOL) reports the unemployment rate inched up from February's 4.9% to 5.0%, for a total of 8.0 million people out of work.

Winners and losers

The biggest job gainer was the retail trade industry (+ 48,000) followed by construction (+ 37,000), health care (+37,000), and food services and drinking places (+25,000). Losses were recorded in manufacturing (- 29,000) and mining (-12,000). Since reaching a peak in September 2014, mining has lost 185,000 jobs.

Unemployment among the major worker groups showed little change with adult men (4.5%), adult women (4.6%), teenagers (15.9%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (9.0%), Asians (4.0%), and Hispanics (5.6%).

Among those who were out of work, roughly 2.2 million, or 27.6%, were jobless for 27 weeks or more. That number has shown little movement since last June. The labor force participation rate in March was 63.0% -- little changed from February, but up 0.6% since September.

Those who were working saw their average hourly earnings rise seven cents to $25.43 after dropping by two cents the month before. Average hourly earnings have risen 2.3% over the last year. The average workweek was unchanged in March at 34.4 hours.

The change in job gains for January was revised downward from +172,000 to +168,000, while February's was revised higher -- from +242,000 to +245,000. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 209,000 per month.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

New hires in retail trade, construction and health care offset job losses in manufacturing and mining for a net gain of 215,000 jobs in March.At the sa...

Pace of job-cutting falls in March

Much of the increase in cuts was in energy and retail

The number of people who found they no longer had their jobs fell in March from the mark set the month before.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that U.S.-based employers announced plans to trim payrolls by 48,207 in March -- the second month in a row that job cuts have declined. The March pace was 21.7% lower than the 61,599 terminations in February and the lowest monthly total since December.

“Job cuts have slowed since surging in the first two months of the year, but the pace is still well above that of 2015,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

First-quarter surge in cuts

Even with the decline, the March figure was up 31.7% from the same month a year ago, making it the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase.

Through the first three months of this year, employers have announced 184,920 job cuts, up 31.8% from the 140,241 cuts tracked the first quarter months of 2015, and 75.9% more than in the final quarter of 2015.

Twenty-seven percent of the first-quarter job cuts can be directly tied to falling oil prices, slightly higher than a year ago. While there were fewer oil-related job cuts a year ago, they represented a larger portion of total job cuts, accounting for 34% of first-quarter termination announcements.

It's not just the energy sector that is seeing heavier job cuts, though. The retail sector has also tallied significant gains in job cuts. To date, it has recorded the second highest number of job cuts, with 31,832 -- up 41% from the first three months of 2015.

Meanwhile, the 17,002 job cuts in the computer sector are 148% higher than a year ago.

“What these sectors share in common is that they are all going through transformational changes,” said Challenger. “We, as a nation, and really as a global community, are changing the way we produce and consume energy. We are also changing the way we buy goods and services. Technology is in a constant state of change, and, currently, we are shifting away from computing at our desks to computing on our phones and tablets."

But, while jobs are being lost in some areas, Challenger points out that they are being created in others, including renewable energy, online retailing, and mobile computing.

Initial jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose for a fourth consecutive week.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, initial claims rose 11,000 in the week ending March 26 to 276,000, but have remained below 300,000 for 56 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average inched up 3,500 to 263,250. Because it lacks the volatility of the weekly headcount, the moving average is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The complete report is available on the (DOL) website.

The number of people who found they no longer had their jobs fell in March from the mark set the month before.Outpl...

Economy adds another 200k private sector jobs in March

As usual, it was smaller companies that contributed the most

March was another good month for job creation, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

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