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The job market is showing surprising strength heading into the end of the year

The economy added 266,000 jobs in November

Hiring has exceeded expectations for another month, further diminishing concerns that a recession could be right around the corner.

The Labor Department reports the economy added 266,000 jobs in November, well ahead of the consensus estimate of 187,000. The unemployment rate fell back to 3.5 percent, the lowest level in a half-century.

Employment numbers for September and October were both revised higher. That added 41,000 jobs to the two-month total.

As in most recent months, the biggest job gains occurred in health care and in professional and technical services. Even manufacturing employment showed a nice gain, thanks to the end of the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike.

Wages still rising

Workers’ wages continued to tick higher last month. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by seven cents to $28.29. Wages have increased at a rate of 3.1 percent over the last 12 months.

With one more month to go in 2019, U.S. job growth has averaged 180,000 per month. Hiring has accelerated in the second half of the year at a time when some economists were warning of an economic slowdown caused by the trade war with China.

In November, people seeking jobs in health care had the most success. Health care added 45,000 jobs last month. Over the last 12 months, health care hiring has added 414,000 jobs. Hiring in professional and technical services increased by 31,000 in November. That’s up from the monthly average of 23,000 jobs created over the last 12 months.

Manufacturing plays catch-up

Manufacturing jobs surged by 54,000 jobs last month, but most of that was catch-up. Manufacturing employment plunged by 43,000 in October as many people were idled by strikes. With those strikes over, those workers returned to their jobs last month.

Leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, and financial services all continued their upward trend in employment last month.

Hiring among retailers was essentially flat in November, suggesting some retailers bucked the historical pattern of bringing on temporary help for the holidays.

Hiring has exceeded expectations for another month, further diminishing concerns that a recession could be right around the corner.The Labor Department...
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The economy showed surprising job creation strength in September

The unemployment rate dropped to a 50-year low

The economy added 136,000 jobs in September, flying in the face of recent data which suggests that the U.S. is sliding into a recession.

The Labor Department reports that the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in September, the lowest level in 50 years. August employment, which was below expectations when it was reported last month, was revised moderately higher.

All in all, the U.S. job market appears to be holding its own in the face of declining manufacturing and heightened concerns around trade issues that have raised the possibility of a recession in the months ahead. In September, at least, the jobs numbers weren’t showing it.

As usual, health care and professional and business services led the way in creating new jobs in September despite total private sector employment trending lower for the month. The numbers were offset by an increase in government hiring.

Here’s who’s hiring

The health care industry added 39,000 jobs last month, pretty much in line with its average monthly gain over the last 12 months. Most of the openings occurred at doctors’ offices and clinics.

Jobs in professional and business services increased by 34,000 in September, close to its monthly average of 35,000 so far this year. However, that’s down from the 47,000 monthly average throughout 2018.

The retail sector continues to lose jobs. Retail jobs decreased by 11,000 during the month, with apparel retailers leading the way. Since peaking in January 2017, retail trade has lost 197,000 jobs.

The government hired more people last month. Federal hiring for the 2020 Census contributed only 1,000 jobs, but total hiring was up by 22,000. The government has added 147,000 jobs over the past 12 months, mostly in local government.

There wasn’t much of an increase in workers’ pay last month. The government reports average hourly earnings came in at $28.09, a penny less than in August, which recorded a sharp gain over July.

For those who are unemployed, the number of people who lost jobs and people who completed temporary jobs fell by 304,000 to 2.6 million in September. The number of people joining the workforce for the first time rose by 103,000.

The economy added 136,000 jobs in September, flying in the face of recent data which suggests that the U.S. is sliding into a recession.The Labor Depar...
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Private payrolls increased by 195,000 last month

An ADP report runs counter to growing recession fears

Despite the recent media focus on recession concerns, U.S. businesses don’t appear to have slowed their hiring. At least, not yet.

The ADP Research Institute’s monthly private-sector employment report shows businesses added 195,000 jobs in August. The report is different from the Labor Department’s monthly employment report -- which comes out Friday -- because it is derived from ADP's actual payroll data.

According to the report, medium-sized businesses created the most jobs last month -- 77,000 -- followed by small businesses, which contributed 66,000. Large companies created only 2,000 jobs.

Once again, it was the service sector that drove job creation. Companies providing services added 184,000 jobs last month, with the bulk coming in health care, trade/transportation, and professional services. Manufacturing continued to retreat, however, producing only 8,000 new jobs. 

Rebound in jobs

"In August we saw a rebound in private-sector employment," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "This is the first time in the last 12 months that we have seen balanced  job growth across small, medium and large-sized companies." 

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, says the takeaway is good news for the overall economy. Despite worries that things may be slowing down, companies are holding firm to their payrolls.

“Hiring has moderated, but layoffs remain low,” Zandi said. “As long as this continues a recession will remain at bay."

But despite the hiring bump, Wall Street is concerned that a recession is in the cards. Analysts note that the “yield curve” has inverted twice in the last four weeks, meaning yields paid on long-term bonds are less than those paid on short term notes. 

Historically, an inverted yield curve signals a recession within the next two years.

Despite the recent media focus on recession concerns, U.S. businesses don’t appear to have slowed their hiring. At least, not yet.The ADP Research Inst...
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Job market remains strong despite recession worries

Consumers hunting for jobs are still finding plenty of positions available

A growing number of economists worry that a recession could be ahead, but the job market has yet to suggest it.

Last week’s July employment report shows that the economy produced 164,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate remains near a record low of 3.7 percent. As in previous months, there were sizable job gains in professional and technical services, health care, social assistance, and financial activities.

At the same time, wages also continue to slowly rise. In July, average hourly earnings rose by another eight cents to $27.98, an increase of 3.2 percent over the last 12 months. In its analysis The Conference Board suggests that the latest report means the hiring pace should continue for a while. 

“We should expect more of the same in the U.S. labor market: moderate employment growth, labor market tightening, intensifying recruiting and retention difficulties, and higher labor cost growth which will continue to draw more people into the labor force, the Board said in a statement. 

One significant consequence of the report, the organization says, is that further Federal Reserve rate cuts may be less likely.

Tech weakness

While the technology sector continued to produce jobs, an analysis by CompTIA, a technology industry association, shows the telecom industry lost 5,100 jobs last month. That reduced the net jobs gain for technology to 11,400.

"Despite the telecom losses and some softness in job posting data, it was a reasonably solid month for tech," said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA. "Digital transformation is an ongoing process, where the mix of investment, skills requirements and business alignment are never static."

Boost to housing

The impact of the report may also be felt outside the job market. Holden Lewis, NerdWallet’s home expert, says the strong jobs report, coupled with lower mortgage rates, could mean the lagging housing market is about to see more would-be buyers pour in.

“But many will be disappointed with what they find,” Lewis said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “More buyers often lead to more bidding wars for homes, and with mortgage rates remaining relatively steady since June, getting into a home won't be any easier now than a few months ago.”

A growing number of economists worry that a recession could be ahead, but the job market has yet to suggest it.Last week’s July employment report shows...
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Despite government shutdown, economy produced 304,000 jobs in January

But December’s strong job growth numbers were revised downward

January was another good month if you were looking for a job, as employers increased their payrolls by 304,000 positions, according to the monthly report from the Labor Department.

At the same time, the government revised December’s very strong hiring report sharply downward, from 312,000 jobs to 222,000. The unemployment rate edged up to 4 percent, mainly for technical reasons.

Unemployed people who reported they were temporarily laid off rose by 175,000, largely due to furloughed federal workers who were idled by the government shutdown for most of January.

“Our evaluation of the establishment survey data indicates that there were no discernible impacts of the partial federal government shutdown on the January estimates of employment, hours, or earnings,” said William Wiatrowski, acting commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Wiatrowski said the economy has produced an average of 240,000 new jobs over the last three months, even with December’s downward revision in new jobs.

Big increase in part-time workers

While the numbers suggest a still-strong job market, there was one troublesome statistic. There was a significant increase -- 500,000 -- in the number of people who are working part-time but are seeking full-time employment.

The leisure and hospitality industry did the most hiring in January, increasing the number of jobs by 74,000. Most of the hiring came at restaurants and bars. The health care industry added 42,000 jobs during the month. The biggest job gains occurred in ambulatory health services and hospitals.

The construction industry also ramped up to start the new year, adding 52,000 jobs. Specialty trade contractors were especially busy during the month, hiring for both commercial and residential projects.

Wages continued to slowly grow last month. Average hourly earnings for all non-farm employees rose three cents to $27.56 after rising 10 cents in December. Over the last 12 months, the Labor Department says workers have seen their pay rise an average of 85 cents an hour, a rate of 3.2 percent.

January was another good month if you were looking for a job, as employers increased their payrolls by 304,000 positions, according to the monthly report f...
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Job gains defy economic gloom and doom

A monthly payroll survey shows the economy created a surprising number of new jobs last month

Wall Street is reeling, manufacturing is slowing, and economists are beginning to whisper the “R” word (recession). But from all indications, consumers are doing just fine, at least for now.

Retail sales were markedly higher during the holiday shopping season as rising wages and low unemployment gave consumers a little more confidence to spend. And job growth may be expanding even further in 2019.

In its monthly payroll survey, ADP/Moody’s Analytics reports the economy produced a staggering 271,000 private sector jobs in December, significantly more than consensus forecasts. That suggests employers are feeling confident enough to expand payrolls and that people who have been out of work for a while are getting jobs.

The Labor Department is scheduled to release the government’s official employment report on Friday.

Smaller firms did the heavy lifting

According to ADP/Moody’s report, it was small and midsize businesses that produced the most jobs last month. Small business payrolls grew by 89,000 while midsize companies -- those with more than 50 but fewer than 500 employees -- added 129,000 positions. Large companies grew their workforces by 54,000.

“Businesses continue to add aggressively to their payrolls despite the stock market slump and the trade war. Favorable December weather also helped lift the job market,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “At the current pace of job growth, low unemployment will get even lower.”

That comes as desperately needed good news for the financial markets, which have been roiled by the impact of U.S. tariffs and the retaliatory tariffs imposed on the U.S. The battered stock market went into a steep nose dive today after Apple warned investors that it sees lower revenue and shrinking profit margins in the first quarter.

According to the December report, companies that provide services accounted for almost all of the job growth, adding 224,000 jobs. The business/professional sector expanded by 66,000 jobs while education/health services grew by 61,000.

Despite an earlier report showing a slowdown in manufacturing, factories created 12,000 jobs. The only sector to shrink was mining, which fell by 2,000 jobs.

Wall Street is reeling, manufacturing is slowing, and economists are beginning to whisper the “R” word (recession). But from all indications, consumers are...
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Workers are earning more in a tight labor market

Consumer confidence rose in October

Independent data released this week points to slightly higher wages for workers and a still-tight labor market for employers. And it all points to more confident consumers.

In its monthly National Employment Report, ADP said the economy produced 227,000 private sector jobs between September and October. The services sector did the most hiring, with the biggest expansion coming in trade, transportation, and utility companies.

"The job market bounced back strongly last month despite being hit by back-to-back hurricanes," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "Testimonial to the robust employment picture is the broad-based gains in jobs across industries. The only blemish is the struggles small businesses are having filling open job positions."

Pay is increasing

That may be one reason employers who can find qualified candidates have to pay them more. The Paychex IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch report for October again reflects a tight labor market, a slight dip in hiring, and an uptick in wages.

Hiring was down a modest 0.06 percent from last month. At the same time, the rate of hourly earnings growth in October was at 2.41 percent, rising for the second straight month. Analysts link the dip in hiring to a lack of available candidates to fill them.

"According to the latest Paychex Business Sentiment Report, business owners rank their ability to fill open positions with qualified candidates as a top challenge," said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. "With employment growth continuing to show moderate declines, we're seeing first-hand the impact of the tightening labor market on small businesses."

That's not so good for businesses that need more help, but it’s very good for consumers. The report shows consumers who live in the South enjoyed the strongest job growth, while those in the West saw their paychecks grow the most.

More confident consumers

Nationwide, consumer confidence rose in October, even as the stock market turned in its worst month of 2018. The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index reached 137.9 this month, up from 135.3 in September.

The Present Situation Index – based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions – turned in an even bigger gain, rising from 169.4 to 172.8.

The Expectations Index – based on consumers' short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions – increased from 112.5 last month to 114.6 this month.

Independent data released this week points to slightly higher wages for workers and a still-tight labor market for employers. And it all points to more con...
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Unemployment rate falls to 49-year low in September

The economy added 134,000 jobs last month

The economy added 134,000 new jobs in September as the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969.

The number of new jobs was below consensus estimates, which had been reined in because Hurricane Florence affected areas of the East Coast during the month. Even so, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the survey response rate within the affected areas was within the normal range.

“It is possible that payroll employment in some industries was affected by the hurricane; however, it is not possible to quantify the net effect on employment,” said William Waitrowski, Acting Commissioner of BLS.

Incomes were slightly higher

Average hourly income rose last month, but not quite as much as the month before. Wages increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent.

The number of people out of work but looking for a job fell by 240,000. The number of long-term unemployed – people out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was little changed at 1.4 million over the month. According to BLS, this group makes up 22.9 percent of the unemployed.

The most jobs added last month were in the professional and businesses services sector, which has been a leader all year. It added 54,000 jobs in September and has created 560,000 new jobs so far this year.

The health care sector also remained strong last month, increasing its payrolls by 26,000. Hospitals accounted for 12,000 of those new hires. So far the health care sector has hired 302,000 new employees.

Transportation and warehousing added 24,000 jobs while the construction industry added 23,000 workers. The hospitality, retail, financial, and government sectors showed little change from August to September.

Upward revisions

July and August employment numbers were revised significantly higher. BLS revised July's job total from 147,000 to 165,000. In August, the 201,000 jobs number was increased to 270,000 for a total of 87,000 additional jobs over the two month period.

While economists generally agree the September jobs report points to a healthy economy, it may take some pressure off bond rates, which have risen this week on concerns the economy is heating up.

The yield on the Treasury Department's 10-year bond, a key benchmark for mortgage rates, has risen to 3.225 percent. That's still low on a historical basis but is near a high point for the last decade.

The economy added 134,000 new jobs in September as the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969.The number of new jobs was be...
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There's never been a better time to look for a job

Government reports job openings are at a record high

If it seems you're seeing more Help Wanted ads these days, it's not your imagination. There has never been a better time to be looking for a job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job openings reached a new high of 6.9 million at the end of July. Economists say the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) suggests businesses are having difficulty finding the workers they need.

Until very recently, the tightening labor market hadn't resulted in bigger paycheck. But in August, the BLS reported average hourly incomes rose at a 12-month rate of 2.9, among the strongest since the financial crisis. At some point, wages will have to rise as employers compete for fewer workers.

Strongest outlook on record

Amid this tighter labor market, a new report from The Manpower Group shows U.S. Employers plan to add to their staffs in the next three months. It's the strongest average annual outlook in the last decade with more than 19 percent anticipating growth of their payrolls.

"August marked the 95th month in a row for job growth in the U.S. and we anticipate we'll hit 99 months by the end of the year as the fourth quarter outlook has more good news for American jobseekers and businesses," said Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America.

As the world observes the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis this week, Frankiewicz says the labor market is finally getting back to where it was before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and the economy nearly collapsed. While the economy is growing again, Frankiewicz says a lot of change has occurred in the last 10 years.

Big changes in the last decade

"Manufacturing is more advanced, retail has gone online, and employers in professional roles need a new combination of digital and soft skills,” she said. “These are not the low-skilled jobs of the past, they are highly skilled technical roles of the future. In this competitive labor market, there is no better time for employers to help people upskill and develop in their careers.”

According to The Manpower Group's fourth quarter outlook, jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector will grow at the fastest rate – 28 percent. Professional and business services will remain robust with a 25 percent growth rate with transportation and utilities close behind at 24 percent.

If it seems you're seeing more Help Wanted ads these days, it's not your imagination. There has never been a better time to be looking for a job.The Bu...
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Economy added 201,000 jobs in August

Workers' incomes finally showed some growth

The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August as the labor market remains tight. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests it's getting easier to find employment.

"The unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent in August, and the number of unemployed people, at 6.2 million, was little changed," said William Wiatrowski, Acting Commissioner Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Among the unemployed in August, 1.3 million had been searching for work for 27 weeks or longer. These long-term unemployed accounted for 21.5 percent of the total unemployed."

August's job gains were clustered in sectors that have been on a hiring spree all year. Professional and business services, health care, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and mining saw the largest payroll expansions.

Who's doing the hiring

Professional and business services added 53,000 jobs in August, bringing the 12-month total to 519,000. The health care sector added 33,000 jobs -- a 301,000 increase since August 2017.

Wholesale trade added 22,000 jobs while transportation and warehousing added 20,000. Factories actually slightly reduced jobs last month but manufacturing jobs are up 254,000 over the last 12 months.

Economist Joel Naroff, of Naroff Economic Advisors, notes there were downward revisions for June and July job creation, meaning the three month average is around 185,000. He expects that number to trend slightly lower in the months ahead.

"The big news is the wage number," Naroff told ConsumerAffairs. "We are finally seeing wage gains pick up and it will likely only get hotter. That makes the Fed’s actions more defensible and further rate hikes inevitable."

Entering the sweet spot for workers

Average hourly earnings for all private non-farm employees gained a dime from July to $27.16. But on an annual basis, earnings have grown by 77 cents an hour, a 12-month increase of 2.9 percent. That's the largest since 2009. But Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, would have liked to have seen an even stronger wage increase.

"At this point in previous expansions we've seen wages rising at a 3.5 percent or even above a 4 percent rate," Frick said. "However, given that jobs added are still above 200,000, showing many more Americans want to work, and wages have started to increase about the 2.7 percent level, we could be entering that sweet spot for workers that's typical at an expansion's peak."

The government's jobs numbers came in sharply higher than Thursday's release from ADP and Moody's Analytics. That report showed August's job growth at only 163,000, the weakest number since October.

The biggest drop off in new hiring was among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The strongest hiring was among mid-size firms.

The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August as the labor market remains tight. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests it's gettin...
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Economy adds 157,000 jobs in July

The unemployment rate in the U.S. has dropped to 3.9 percent

The economy added 157,000 jobs last month as the nation's unemployment rate dropped to a near-record low of 3.9 percent.

That was fewer jobs than the consensus estimate, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revised its June numbers, adding 30,000 new jobs to that month's total. Americans found the most jobs in the sectors of professional and business services, manufacturing, and in health care and social assistance.

William Wiatrowski, Acting BLS Commissioner, says those with jobs earned modestly more last month.

“Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by seven cents in July to $27.05,” Wiatrowski said in a statement. "Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 2.7 percent."

During the same period, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index rose slightly more -- 2.8 percent.

Fewer people classified as unemployed

The unemployment rate dropped largely because of a decrease in the number of people classified as "unemployed." The number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6.3 million. After being at a record low a few months ago, black unemployment rose to 6.6 percent.

The number of people working part time for economic reasons was basically the same in July as it was in June -- around 4.6 million. However, the number was down by 669,000 from July 2017.

The biggest job gains came in the business and professional services sector, which added 51,000 new jobs during the month. In the last 12 months, that sector has added more than a half million jobs.

Factories were hiring

People looking for jobs at factories had a better chance of being hired last month. Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in July, with most of the gain in factories producing durable goods. In the last 12 months, factories have added 327,000 jobs.

There was also healthy job creation in the health care and social services sector, which increased its payrolls by 34,000. Retail added only 7,000 -- a number dragged down by huge losses at hobby, toy, and game stores.

There was little change in July in mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government.

The economy added 157,000 jobs last month as the nation's unemployment rate dropped to a near-record low of 3.9 percent.That was fewer jobs than the co...
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Americans are quitting their jobs at fastest rate since 2001

Here’s what the trend means for job searchers

In May, Americans quit their jobs at the fastest rate in almost two decades. According to MarketWatch, the shift shows a growing confidence in the economy, as many people are choosing to leave one company for another.

Based on government statistics, 2.7 percent of employees in the private sector willingly left their jobs -- up from 2.5 percent -- while the quit rate is up to 2.4 percent -- up from 2.3 percent. Both of these numbers are the highest they’ve been since 2001.

Despite job openings dropping from 6.84 million to 6.64 million, the boom in the economy is most likely to be the driving force behind many Americans feeling comfortable enough to leave their jobs. Additionally, many people who leave their jobs by choice end up with better pay and better benefits in their new positions.

It’s also important to note that hirings were up in May, peaking at 5.75 million hires. That figure is up by 170,000 people from April and is also the highest it’s been in 17 months.

A look to the future

According to the Department of Labor’s report, nearly 5.5 million people lost their jobs in May. However, the majority of the decline was seen in the Northeast, where the population tends to be higher than in other areas. Additionally, job openings dropped in areas like arts and entertainment, media, and public relations.

However, because of the incredibly low unemployment rate, companies are hiring new employees to try and keep up with the demands of the surging economy.

The rising quit rate shows employees’ general confidence in acquiring new jobs with higher wages. According to MarketWatch, this could lead companies to raise wages faster in hopes of holding onto their best employees -- and attracting new ones.

While this trend appears to be heading in the right direction for the general public, it could raise some eyebrows at the Federal Reserve, which is keeping a close eye on inflation.

“The rise in the job quits rate points to wage growth accelerating to three percent by the end of the year,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

In May, Americans quit their jobs at the fastest rate in almost two decades. According to MarketWatch, the shift shows a growing confidence in the economy,...
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Unemployment rate rises to 4 percent in June

The Labor Department reports more people looked for jobs last month

More people found jobs last month, but even more were looking for one, so the nation's unemployment rate rose to 4 percent, from 3.8 percent in May. The economy added 213,000 jobs.

There was an increase in the number of jobs created in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care, while retail trade lost jobs.

Black unemployment, which fell to a record low in May, rose in June to 6.5 percent.

"Incorporating revisions for April and May, which increased nonfarm payroll employment by 37,000, monthly job gains have averaged 211,000 over the past 3 months," said William Wiatrowski, Acting Commissioner Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The overall unemployment rate rose because more people were looking for jobs last month. Economists see it as an encouraging sign because it suggests people who had stopped looking for a job are trying to reenter the labor force.

More than 2 million reentered the workforce

The number of people who re-entered the workforce increased to 2,184,000 last month, an increase from 1,933,000 in May.

The number of unemployed Americans increased in June by nearly 500,000, to 6.6 million. That's down from 7 million in June 2017.

Job creation might have been greater if employers had been able to find qualified applicants. In a June survey by the ManpowerGroup, employers complained of a talent shortage, especially in the area of skilled tradesmen. In particular, employers said skilled workers -- such as electricians, welders, and mechanics -- are hard to find. They also said many positions as salesmen and drivers are going unfilled.

Despite what appears to be a tightening labor market, average hourly earnings increased by only 6 cents, from $22.52 in April to $22.58. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents to $26.98.

On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings have increased by 72 cents, or 2.7 percent.

Job growth continues at the fastest rate in the professional and business services sector, which added 50,000 positions in June and has grown by 521,000 so far in 2018. Manufacturing added 36,000 jobs, mostly at factories making durable goods.

Retailers, meanwhile, eliminated 22,000 jobs in June, largely offsetting the 25,000 they added in May.

More people found jobs last month, but even more were looking for one, so the nation's unemployment rate rose to 4 percent, from 3.8 percent in May. The ec...
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The economy produced 223,000 new jobs during May

Black unemployment dropped to a record low last month

The nation's economy produced 223,000 new jobs in May, as the unemployment rate among African Americans fell to the lowest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking that number in 1972.

The overall unemployment rate dipped to 3.8 percent. Broken down demographically, the jobless rates for adult men was 3.5 percent; among African Americans it was 5.9 percent, and among Asians it was 2.1 percent. All were improvements from the previous month.

The jobless rates for adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), whites (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent), were little changed from April.

Retail remains strong

Some of the biggest job gains came in retail, which added 31,000 jobs. Retail stores have added 125,000 new jobs so far in 2018.

People also found work in the health care sector during the month. Employment grew by 29,000, in line with expectations. Health care has been adding about the same number of jobs over the last several months.

Employment in construction continued its upward trend, adding 25,000 jobs last month. The construction industry has added 286,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

There were also strong gains in professional and technical services, as well as transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing. Factories added 18,000 jobs in May, with plants producing big-ticket durable goods accounting for the lion's share of the increase.

Earnings rise

Workers earned a little more for their efforts, in line with forecasts. In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents, to $26.92. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent.

Government economists revised March's job creation to 155,000, an increase from 135,000. April, however, was revised downward from 164,000 to 159,000. The economy has produced an average of 179,000 new jobs per month over the last three months.

The nation's economy produced 223,000 new jobs in May, as the unemployment rate among African Americans fell to the lowest level since the Bureau of Labor...
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Unemployment drops to 3.9 percent in April

A tightening labor market hasn’t boosted wages all that much

The U.S. economy added 164,000 non-farm jobs in April, enough to lower the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000.

The unemployment rate among African Americans dropped to 6.6 percent, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it in 1972.

The number of people who lost jobs, or completed temporary jobs, declined by 188,000.

At first glance, it would appear that the labor market is tightening and giving workers a little more leverage with their employers. However, that has failed to translate into higher wages, at least in a meaningful way.

Average hourly earnings for all employees rose a modest four cents to $26.84. Year-over-year, wages were up 67 cents, or 2.6 percent.

Where the jobs are

The creation of 164,000 new jobs was a smaller-than-expected number, but it was larger than March's revised estimate of 135,000 new jobs. Most of last month's job gains came in professional and business services, manufacturing, healthcare, and mining.

Professional and business services added 54,000 jobs in April. Over the last 12 months, that sector has expanded by 518,000 jobs.

Manufacturing added 24,000 jobs last month, with most of the additions coming at factories producing durable goods. Manufacturing jobs have expanded by 245,000 in the last 12 months.

Healthcare continues to hire more people, adding 24,000 jobs last month and 305,000 over the last year.

Other major industries -- including construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government -- saw little change from March.

Some still left out

The improvement in the job market didn't help everyone, however. The number of people classified as long-term unemployed – out of work for 27 weeks or longer – remained essentially unchanged at 1.3 million. They account for 20 percent of people out of work.

The number of people with part-time jobs, but who preferred full-time jobs, totaled 5 million, about the same as the previous month.

The labor force participation rate – a measure of the adult population that was working – was 62.8 percent. That's just slightly below the 68-year average of 63 percent.

The U.S. economy added 164,000 non-farm jobs in April, enough to lower the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000.The unemployment rat...
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The economy produced fewer jobs in March

However, the unemployment rate remains at 4.1 percent

The nation's economy added fewer jobs than expected last month, but workers enjoyed a modest boost in wages.

In its monthly report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 103,000 new non-farm jobs in March, well short of estimates. However, February's robust growth of more than 300,000 jobs was revised higher.

The nation's unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, and the labor force participation rate remained little changed at 62.9 percent.

Among demographic groups, the unemployment rates for adult men and adult women were the same -- 3.7 percent. Among ethnic groups, Asians have the lowest jobless rate, at 3.1 percent, followed by whites, at 3.6 percent. The unemployment rate among Hispanics was 5.1 percent and 6.9 percent among African Americans.

Sectors that added jobs

It was a little easier to find jobs last month in the manufacturing, healthcare, and mining industries. However, it was not a good month for workers in construction and retail. Both sectors lost employees.

After adding 65,000 workers in February, construction jobs fell by 15,000 in March. It was much the same story for retail, which added 47,000 jobs in February but gave back 4,000 of them last month.

It was easier to find a job in healthcare and manufacturing last month. Both sectors added 22,000 jobs. Over the last 12 months, U.S. manufacturers have added 232,000 jobs.

The mining industry added 9,000 jobs in March, with most of them in mining support jobs and oil and gas exploration.

Employees earned a little more money last month, but it wasn’t enough to set off inflation fears at the Federal Reserve. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.82. Over the last 12 months, wages are up 71 cents, or 2.7 percent.

The nation's economy added fewer jobs than expected last month, but workers enjoyed a modest boost in wages.In its monthly report, the Bureau of Labor...
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Job growth surges in February but incomes stay flat

One economist calls it a bizarre set of numbers

If you were looking for a job last month, chances are you found one.

The Labor Department reports the U.S. economy added 313,000 non-farm jobs in February, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1 percent.

The economy added jobs in construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities, and mining.

However, fewer workers got raises last month. The report shows wages rose just .01 percent. Economist Joel Naroff, of Naroff Economic Advisors, calls it a "bizarre" set of numbers, noting that job growth was through the roof while wages went nowhere.

"The increases (in jobs) were not just in unskilled sectors, so it is hard to understand why businesses have been saying they cannot find qualified workers," Naroff told ConsumerAffairs. "The rise in average hours worked was surprising given the large number of new workers. That implies a huge increase in total hours worked, which would indicate growth was also robust."

Report full of surprises

Naroff says the report is full of surprises. For example, he wonders why retailers suddenly added 50,000 new workers. And those 61,000 new construction workers, he says, could disappear in March if weather remains nasty.

"Let’s just say this was a really amazing report but before we get too carried away, let’s see what happens in March," Naroff said. "I am glad to see all the jobs added, but I am cautious about whether anything close to this level gain is at all supportable."

Among demographic groups, the jobless rate for African Americans fell to 6.9 percent but remained fairly steady for all other groups. The number of long-term unemployed -- those out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million. The labor force participation rate, while still very low, rose 0.3 percent last month.

After the gains in construction and retail, sectors posting the biggest job additions were professional and business services -- up 50,000 -- and manufacturing, which added 31,000 jobs.

If you were looking for a job last month, chances are you found one.The Labor Department reports the U.S. economy added 313,000 non-farm jobs in Februa...
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Retailers gearing up for the holiday shopping season

Not all seasonal hiring will be in stores

The retail industry may be closing stores and consolidating, but those looking for a seasonal job opportunity will have lots of options thanks to fierce competition among bigger store chains.

Global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts a high demand for seasonal employees as retailers prepare for the holidays.

“The competition among major big-box retailers will incentivize consumers to spend more this holiday season. These stores will need to add staff in order to meet demand,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger.

Target has already announced it's hiring 100,000 seasonal workers for the holidays -- up by more than 22,000 from last year. The retailer also indicated it will be lowering prices in all stores in response to Amazon and Walmart’s price-slashing practices.

Since 2012, holiday hiring announcements have averaged 604,000 per year, according to Challenger tracking, with some of it by non-retailers, such as FedEx and UPS.

Seasonal retail employment increased by 641,000 during the final three months of last year, the lowest number since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with job gains down 9.6% from 2008.

Changing times

In fact, BLS data show retail-related transportation and warehousing employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 246,700 workers in the final quarter of the year, up 8% from the final three months of 2015. In 2007, the seasonal job gains for this sector measured just 24,300.

“As holiday shopping habits turn virtual, retailers are responding by hiring more warehouse and transport workers,” said Challenger. “While retail hiring has fallen over the last couple years, major announcements indicate workers will still be needed for customer-facing positions, as retailers attempt to give consumers an experience they cannot receive online.”

In addition to Target’s announcement, Michaels has announced it will add 15,000 holiday workers, and 1-800-Flowers will increase its staff by 8,000 workers for the holidays.

Challenger's tracking shows retailers have announced over 6,000 store closures and 67,000 job cuts in the first eight months of the year. Despite these numbers, many retailers projected the highest number of hiring announcements for any industry, with over 248,000.

Most of those hiring announcements came early in the year, as retailers like Walmart and Dollar General expanded. The Home Depot announced plans to hire 80,000 workers for the summer season in March. Meanwhile, Amazon has been steadily boosting employment rolls after a January announcement of over 100,000 hires in the next 18 months.

The bulk of holiday hiring announcements occur in September. In fact, between 2011 and 2016, September hiring announcements have averaged over 415,000.

The retail industry may be closing stores and consolidating, but those looking for a seasonal job opportunity will have lots of options thanks to fierce co...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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....
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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%,...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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)...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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, ...
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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-...
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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...
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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...
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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.

Produced by ADP in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, the report says private sector employment increased by 200,000 jobs from February to March, with small to medium-sized companies carrying most of the weight.

"The job market continues on its amazing streak,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The March job gain of 200,000 is consistent with average monthly job growth of the past more than four years. The only industry reducing payrolls is energy as has been the case for over a year. All indications are that the job machine will remain in high gear."

Job creators

Businesses with 49 or fewer employees saw their payrolls increase by 86,000 in last month, while employment at companies with 50-499 employees increased by 75,000 jobs.

Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- created just 39,000 jobs, about half the number they cranked out in February which is about half of February's 77,000. Companies with 500-999 employees added 20,000 jobs, and firms with over 1,000 employees fell from 63,000 jobs added in February to 18,000 this month.

Nearly all the new jobs -- 191,000 -- were in the service-providing sector. Professional/business services contributed 28,000, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 42,000, and financial activities added 14,000 jobs.

Employment in goods-producing industries rose by just 9,000 jobs in March, with the construction industry adding 17,000 jobs and manufacturing hiring 3,000 new workers.

March was another good month for job creation, according to the ADP National Employment Report.Produced by ADP in collaboration with Moody's Analytics,...
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2016 -- a banner year for teen summer employment?

Teen employment is at an all-time high

If you're a teen who wants a job this summer, 2016 may be your year.

According to the Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&E) annual teen summer job outlook, teenagers seeking summer employment should continue to have more and more opportunities.

“The economy is the strongest it’s been since the recovery began in 2010,” said CG&E chief executive officer John A. Challenger. “The only area that is suffering right now is the energy sector, which was not a fertile sector for teen job seekers, to begin with.”

While the job market may be more welcoming to teenagers, recent trends suggest that may not necessarily translate into increased summer job gains. Last year, 1,160,000 16- to-19-year-olds found employment from May through July, down 11% from the 1,297,000 finding summer jobs in 2014.

That was the third consecutive year in which teen summer job gains declined from the previous year. However, even as summer job gains decline, overall teen employment is still on the rise. And, despite the decline in summer job gains last year, teen employment reached a July peak of 5,696,000, the highest total since 2008.

Teen job-seekers

The numbers suggest that more teenagers are finding employment at other times of the year. “After all, we are approaching full employment,” said Challenger. “Many metropolitan areas are already struggling with labor shortages. This environment opens doors for teen job seekers, as those who may have relegated to retail and restaurant jobs are moving up, which leaves a void that can be filled by teens.”

The percentage of teenagers participating in the labor force has been declining since the 1970s. Currently, only about one-third of teens participate in the labor force (meaning they are working or actively seeking employment).

However, Challenger says this does not mean that teenagers have gotten lazier over the last two decades. “They are simply engaged in more activities that fall under the radar of standard employment measures,” he said. “Many are volunteering. More are participating in summer education programs or in summer sports leagues. Others are in unpaid internships. Many simply may be doing odd jobs, such as baby sitting or lawn mowing.”

Much of this, he believes, is in pursuit of college admissions goals and broader career goals beyond college. “As colleges become more competitive, teens are trying to find activities that stand out on applications,” Challenger concluded, adding, “In this environment, typical summer jobs have fallen out of favor,” he added.

If you're a teen who wants a job this summer, 2016 may be your year.According to the Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&E) annual teen summer job outlook...
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Initial jobless claims creep higher

Continued improvement in the labor market is a strong possibility

Fifty-five in a row.

That's how many weeks the new jobless claims total has been under the 300,000 mark.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is reporting first-time applications for state benefits rose by 6,000 in the week ending March 19 to seasonally adjusted 265,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 6,000 from 265,000 to 259,000.

Even with that slight increase, the string of weeks at the sub-300,000 level is the longest since 1973.

Bankrate.com Senior Economic Analyst and Washington Bureau Chief Mark Hamrick says that's significant. “This tells us that the job market is continuing to steadily improve,” he told ConsumerAffairs.

The DOL is scheduled to release it's March employment report in the coming week. “Unless we get a shocker of a report -- which we don’t expect,” Hamrick says, “that should tell us employers are adding sufficient jobs not only to absorb growth in the population, but to also reduce some of the considerable remaining slack in the job market, even with the jobless rate remaining at 4.9%.”

The four-week moving average, which is not as volatile as the weekly tally and, therefore considered a more accurate picture of the labor market, was 259,750 -- up 250 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Fifty-five in a row.That's how many weeks the new jobless claims total has been under the 300,000 mark.The Department of Labor (DOL) is reporting f...
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Leading indicators suggest continued modest economic growth

The Leading Economic Index posted its first gain in three months

Although it's not roaring back, the U.S. economy appears poised to continue expanding in the early part of this year.

The Conference Board reports its Leading Economic Index (LEI) inched up 0.1% last month following declines of 0.2% and 0.3% in January and December, respectively.

While there was a slight increase in February, Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board notes that housing permits, stock prices, consumer expectations, and new orders remain sources of weakness. Still, he adds, “The outlook remains positive with little chance of a downturn in the near-term.”

The LEI 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.

LEI 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
  • Institute for Supply Management 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
Although it's not roaring back, the U.S. economy appears poised to continue expanding in the early part of this year.The Conference Board reports its L...
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Job openings on the rise in January

Initial jobless claims at a milestone

There were 5.5 million job openings in January, a gain of 260,000 from the month before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Hires, on the other hand, fell 5.0 million while separations inched down to 4.9 million. Within separations, the quits rate was 2.0%, and the layoffs and discharges rate was 1.2%.

For 2015 as a whole, the annual number of hires and quits increased, while the annual number of layoffs and discharges edged up. The annual number of other separations was essentially unchanged.

Job openings

The January job openings rate was 3.7%, with openings increasing in wholesale trade and construction, but falling in educational services and state and local government education. Openings increased in the Midwest over the month.

Hires

The hires rate was 3.5%, with the number of hires decreased for total private and government. The decline was widespread and included health care and social assistance, educational services, transportation, warehousing, utilities, and state and local government. Hires dipped in professional and business services, accommodation and food services, state and local government, -- excluding education -- and federal government. Hires fell 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 January was 3.4%, falling for total private (-199,000) and government. Separations rose in information but fell in accommodation and food services and in state and local government, excluding education. Regionally, the number of total separations fell in the South.

Net change in employment

Over the 12 months ending in January 2016, hires totaled 61.7 million and separations totaled 59.0 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 may be found on the BLS website

Jobless claims

A milestone for jobless claims was reached in March.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the number of people filing first-time applications for state jobless benefits rose by 7,000 in the week ending March 12 to a seasonally adjusted total of 265,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

The initial claims level has now been below 300,000 for 54 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly headcount and considered a more accurate barometer of the labor market, was up by 750 to 268,000.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

There were 5.5 million job openings in January, a gain of 260,000 from the month before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).Hires, on th...
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The U.S. job machine keeps cranking

More than 240,000 people found work in February

Another 242,000 jobs were created in February, led by employment gains in health care and social assistance and retail trade. At the same time, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), the jobless rate held steady at 4.9%.

Not all the news was good though, as average hourly earnings fell by three cents to $25.35, following an increase of 12 cents in January. Over the last 12 months, hourly earnings have risen by 2.2%.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.2 million in February, accounting for 27.7% of the unemployed.

Where the jobs are

Health care and social assistance employment increased by 57,000 last month. Also adding jobs were retail trade (+55,000), food services and drinking places (+40,000), private educational services (+28,000), and construction (+19,000). Mining, on the other hand, lost 19,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries -- manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and business services, and government -- showed little change.

Who's working

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (15.6%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (8.8%), Asians (3.8%), and Hispanics (5.4%) showed little or no change in February.

The employment-population ratio edged up to 59.8%, while the labor force participation rate edged up to 62.9 percent. Both measures have increased by 0.5% since September.

In February, 1.8 million people were marginally attached to the labor force -- down by 356,000 from a year earlier. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Another 242,000 jobs were created in February, led by employment gains in health care and social assistance and retail trade. At the same time, according t...
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More growth in the services sector

Only three industries reported contraction in February

The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to chug along in February.

In their latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business, the nation’s purchasing and supply executives say the sector grew for the 73rd consecutive month.

Specifically, the Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) registered 53.4% -- down 0.1% from the January reading, representing continued growth, but at a slightly slower rate. A reading above 50 indicates expansion; below 50 means contraction.

A closer look at the report shows the Business Activity Index jumped 3.9% to 57.8%, reflecting growth at a faster rate for the 79th consecutive month. The New Orders Index dipped 1.0%, while the Employment fell 2.4%, contracting after 23 consecutive months of growth. It's the first time the this index has contracted since February 2014.

Industry performance

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in February -- listed in order -- were:

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

The three industries reporting contraction in February were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and
  3. Retail Trade.

Jobless claims

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 6,000 in the week ending February 27 to seasonally adjusted total of 278,000. The government says there were no special factors affecting claims level.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and seen by some economists as a more accurate picture of the labor market, came in at 270,250, a decline of 1,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to chug along in February.In their latest Non-Manufacturing...
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Job cuts decline in February

The energy sector bore the brunt of the terminations

The pace of job-cutting posted a decline last month after kicking off the new year with a surge to a six-month high.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports US-based employers announced 61,599 terminations in February -- down 18% from the month before but up 22 % from a year earlier.

And, as was the case in 2015, the energy sector has seen the heaviest job cutting in the opening months of the year. There were another 25,051 job cuts in February, bringing the year-to-date total to 45,154. Most are blamed on low oil prices.

The year-to-date tally represents a 24% surge from 2015, when employers canned 36,532 workers in the opening two months of the year.

Low oil prices not good for everyone

“Low oil prices continue to take a toll on workers in the energy and industrial goods sectors,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Since January of 2015, these two sectors alone have seen workforce reductions in excess of 200,000, the majority of which were attributed to oil prices. The major concern is that the job losses in cities and towns that rely heavily on oil production will begin to drag down other parts of the local economy,” .

Challenger notes that there has not been a precipitous rise in unemployment in the many cities that were benefiting from the recent oil boom, suggesting that the job losses are contained to the energy sector, for the moment.

Several energy-centric metropolitan areas have seen unemployment rates increase, but most are still enjoying rates that are below the national average. The latest available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate in Houston rose from 4.0% in December 2014 to 4.6% in December 2015.

In Midland, Texas, the unemployment rate increased by more than one percentage point in 2015, but remains at an enviable 3.3%. As of December, Bismarck, North Dakota -- another city that benefited significantly from the oil boom -- still has an unemployment rate of 2.7%, which is actually lower than the rate of 3.1% recorded in December 2014.

Tech turmoil

In addition to energy, another area experiencing increased job cuts is the technology sector. Announced firings by computer firms this year total 16,006 -- up a whopping 143% from the 6,582 job cuts recorded in the first two months of last year.

“There will always be heavy churn in the tech sector,” said Challenger. “It is an area that embodies change, trial and error, and constant reinvention. There is more start-up activity in the sector, but that also means there are more failures. Even among the more established firms in the industry, we see workforce volatility, as they branch into new products or services, some of which may or may not succeed.”   

The pace of job-cutting posted a decline last month after kicking off the new year with a surge to a six-month high.Outplacement consultancy Challenger...
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ADP: Additions to February payrolls top 200k

Large businesses showed “surprisingly strong” job gains

Another strong month for private sector employment gains.

The ADP National Employment Report says payrolls rose by 214,000 from January to February with service-providing companies providing most of the strength.

Employment in that sector rose by 208,000 jobs in February, as professional/business services contributed 59,000 jobs. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 20,000, and financial activities added just 8,000 new jobs -- the least since last August.

Goods-producing employment rose by 5,000 jobs in February, just over a quarter of January's upwardly revised 19,000. There were 27,000 new jobs in the construction industry, slightly above January's upwardly revised 26,000, while manufacturing lost 9,000 jobs -- the second largest drop in five years.

Small business on the move

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 76,000 jobs last month, while employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 62,000 jobs. Employment at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- came in at 76,000, a big jump from January's 44,000. Companies with 500-999 employees added 14,000 jobs, while companies with over 1,000 employees gained 62,000 jobs.

"Large businesses showed surprisingly strong job gains in February, despite the continuation of economic trends that negatively impact big companies like turmoil in international markets and a strengthening dollar," said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute. "The gains were mostly driven by the service sector which accounted for almost all the jobs added by large businesses."

A trend for higher wages?

Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza notes the labor market has been rapidly improving towards full-employment with more than 60 consecutive months of positive job creation, but that wage growth has been "stubbornly low."

She says with back-to-back months of above-trend growth in salaries, the February jobs report from the Labor Department, due out this Friday, "will confirm if the upward momentum in wages is a sustainable trend or simply a temporary phenomenon."

Another strong month for private sector employment gains.The ADP National Employment Report says payrolls rose by 214,000 from January to February with...
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The economy's manufacturing sector contracts again

It's the fifth month in a row for no growth

More contraction in the manufacturing sector of the economy in February.

The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing report on business put the February purchasing managers index (PMI) at 49.5%, an increase of 1.3% from January.

A reading below 50 means contraction in the sector, making February the fifth consecutive month that manufacturing has failed to expand. The overall economy meanwhile has grown for 81 straight months.

Inside the number

The ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee also reports the New Orders Index was unchanged last month at 51.5%, the Production Index rose 2.6%, as did the Employment Index.

Inventories of raw materials posted a gain of 1.5% and the Prices Index registered was up 5%, indicating lower raw materials prices for the 16th consecutive month.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, nine reported growth in February in the following order:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Furniture & Related Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  6. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  7. Chemical Products;
  8. Primary Metals; and
  9. Paper Products.

The seven industries reporting contraction in February -- in order -- are:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  3. Computer & Electronic Products;
  4. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products; and
  7. Fabricated Metal Products.
More contraction in the manufacturing sector of the economy in February.The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing report on busine...
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Retailers see higher than average sales in 2016

Increased income and more job opportunities are credited

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is bullish on 2016.

The trade group is projecting retail industry sales -- excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants -- will grow 3.1%, higher than the 10-year average of 2.7%. The NRF also says it expects non-store sales to grow between 6 and 9% this year.

“Wage stagnation is easing, jobs are being created and consumer confidence remains steady, so despite the headwinds our economy faces from international developments -- particularly in China -- we think 2016 will be favorable for growth in the retail industry,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “All of the experts agree that the consumer is in the driver’s seat and steering our economic recovery. The best thing the government can do is stay out of the way, stop proposing rules and regulations that create hurdles toward greater capital investment and focus on policies that help retailers provide increased income and job stability for their employees.”

Report highlights

  • Economic growth should be more of the same and uneven. It is likely to be in the range of 1.9 to 2.4% in 2016.
  • Employment gains of approximately 190,000 on an average monthly basis are expected. While that pace is down from 2015, it is consistent with the labor market growing near its underlying trend. By year end, unemployment should drop to 4.6%.
  • Prospects for consumer spending are straightforward -- more jobs equals more income, which equals more spending. However, spending will come largely from the growth in jobs and not as much from increased wages.

“The economy had a bumpy ride in 2015 with fits and starts along the way,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Despite the volatility, the economy continued to reduce unemployment, raise wages and actually increase real GDP by 2.4 percent.”

Kleinhenz says lower gas prices are creating more discretionary income to save, pay down debt, spend on travel, eat out, and use personal services. “Retailers have benefited as well,” he concluded, “and continue to find ways to compete and succeed in a very cost-conscious environment.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is bullish on 2016.The trade group is projecting retail industry sales -- excluding automobiles, gas stations, and...
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Improving local job markets have fewer folks relocating for employment

Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the economy has reached a 'turning point'

The number of job-seekers packing up the truck for greener pastures is on the decline.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the latest data on relocation rates show that -- on average -- 11% of those finding employment each quarter in 2015 moved for a new position. That's down significantly from a four-quarter average of 13% in 2014 and 2013.

Relocation reached a post-recession high in the second half of 2014, as 15% of job seekers pulled up stakes for new opportunities during the final two quarters of the year.

The new data is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 1,000 people completing the job search.

“It is typical to see these small windows of relocation surges,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “They tend to occur at the beginning of recessions and then again as the economy moves from recovery to expansion.”

A turning point

Challenger said last year definitely marked a turning point in the recovery. “We finally regained all of the jobs lost as a result of the 2008-2009 recession and, by the end of the year, the national unemployment rate fell to 5.0%. Even with the struggles in the oil industry, the number of metropolitan areas throughout the country with unemployment rates below the national average continued to grow."

The relocation rate in the last half of 2014 was the highest since the first half of 2009, when an average of 16.3% of job seekers moved in the immediate wake of the recession.

Relocation activity plunged after the first half of 2009 as home values continued to decline, which made it virtually impossible to sell an existing home without taking a significant loss. But, Challenger noted, “The housing market improved in enough places by the second half of 2014 to, once again, make relocation a job search consideration."

“However,” he continued, “the window in which relocation is the best option typically closes quickly, since moving involves so much cost and risk -- even in the strongest economy.”

What to do

Challenger advises those relocating for a new position to make professional and social networking a top priority.

“Join local professional associations related to your occupation or industry,” he said. “Volunteer for charitable and service organizations. And, do not overlook your new neighbors. Getting to know people in your new area will not only make the transition easier, but these are the people who will help you if your new employment situation does not work out.”

Initial claims

Elsewhere on the jobs front, the Department of Labor (DOL) reports that the number of people lining up to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time fell by 16,000 in the week ending February 6 to a seasonally adjusted total of 269,000.The previous week's claims level was unchanged.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 281,250 -- down 3,500 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The number of job-seekers packing up the truck for greener pastures is on the decline.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the la...
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Job openings on the rise in December

2015 saw a net employment gain

Job openings rose to 5.6 million in December, according to new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for an openings rate of 3.8%.

The number of openings for private payrolls was up, but was little changed for government. Openings increased in construction (+69,000), nondurable goods manufacturing (+60,000) and durable goods manufacturing (+26,000). In the regions, job openings increased in the West.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in December for total nonfarm and total private, and edged up for government. The largest changes in openings over the year came in health care and social assistance (+172,000) and finance and insurance (+99,000). The number of job openings increased  over the year in the Northeast, Midwest, and West.

Hires

There were 5.4 million hires in December -- little changed from November, but up 5.0 million from December 2007, the first month of the recession. The hires rate for the month was 3.7%. There was little change in the number of hires for total private and government, with what gains there were coming in professional and business services.

Over the 12 months ending in December, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm and total private and edged up for government. At the industry level, hires increased in accommodation and food services (+93,000); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+43,000); and federal government (+11,000). Hires edged down in construction. The number of hires was little changed in all four regions over the year.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, with total separations referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee, while layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations include separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 5.1 million total separations in December, roughly the same as November, for a total separations rate of 3.5%. There was little change in the number of total separations for total private and government. In December, total separations edged up in accommodation and food services and in state and local government. The number of total separations was little changed in all four regions.

Quits

There were 3.1 million quits in December for a rate of 2.1%, with the number of quits coming in higher than in December 2007 (2.8 million). The number of quits rose for total private and government over the month. Quits rose in state and local government (+20,000) but fell in nondurable goods manufacturing (-25,000). Quits increased in the South over the month.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in December for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Quits increased over the year in several industries with the largest changes occurring in professional and business services (+102,000), accommodation and food services (+68,000), and retail trade (+58,000). In the regions, quits rose in the South and Midwest.

Layoffs and discharges

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges -- little changed from November, for a rate of 1.1%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month for total private and unchanged for government, and showed little change in all four regions.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) decreased over the 12 months ending in December for total nonfarm and total private and edged up for government. Layoffs and discharges rose in mining and logging (+7,000) and fell in construction (-129,000) and retail trade
(-64,000). The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in all four regions over the year.

Other

In December, there were 411,000 other separations for total nonfarm, little changed from November. Over the month, the number of other separations was little changed for total private at 343,000 and for government at 68,000.

Over the 12 months ending in December, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) fell for total nonfarm and total private and was little changed for government. Other separations increased over the year in federal government (+7,000). Other separations decreased in the South region over the year.

Net change in employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net employment change results from 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.

Conversely, 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 December 2015, hires totaled 61.4 million and separations totaled 58.8 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.6 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 5.6 million in December, according to new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for an openings rate of 3.8%.The number of ...
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Job cuts surge in January

Energy and retail absorbed the brunt

The new year started with a bang as U.S employers announced a January increase in job cuts that's 218% above the 15-year low recorded a month earlier.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports employers reported 75,114 planned job cuts to kick off 2016 -- 42% higher than the same month a year ago.

Last month represents the highest monthly tally since July 2015, when cuts reached 105,696, and the largest January total since the first month of 2009.

Heavy cuts in retail

Even though holiday sales to close out 2015 were relatively strong, retailers led all other industries in January job cuts, announcing plans to eliminate 22,246 payroll positions -- the highest retail total since January 2009, when 53,968 people were sacked.

The cuts were dominated by Walmart, which announced plans to close 269 stores worldwide, which is expected to affect 16,000 workers. Macys is also planning to close stores in 2016, a move that will hit 4,820 employees.

“Retail job cuts came on the heels of a relatively strong holiday sales, which increased by nearly 8.0 percent,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “However, a growing portion of the sales gains are occurring online. At Macy’s, for example, November and December sales at its brick-and-mortar stores fell by about 5.0 percent, while orders through its online entities were up 25 percent from a year earlier, according to reports.”

Energy hard-hit

In addition to increased retail job cuts, January also saw the return of heavy terminations in the energy sector, where firms announced plans to reduce headcounts by 20,246 -- up from 1,682 in December.

The January total for the energy sector was higher since the decline in oil prices began in late 2014. The previous high was January 2015, when 20,193 jobs in the sector were eliminated.

Since oil prices began their decline, Halliburton has announced 22,000 job cuts through multiple job-cut announcements. Schlumberger has also reported multiple reductions since late 2014, with total job cuts exceeding 30,000. Baker Hughes has also announced multiple cuts, totaling 16,000.

“The pace of downsizing in the energy sector ebbed in the second half of 2015, but the latest activity, which included more cuts from Halliburton and Schlumberger, is evidence the industry is far from concluding its cost-cutting initiatives,” said Challenger. “With oil prices expected to stay low for the foreseeable future, the potential for continued layoffs remains elevated.”

The new year started with a bang as U.S employers announced a January increase in job cuts that's 218% above the 15-year low recorded a month earlier.O...
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ADP: January produces in excess of 200,000 jobs

Most were in small and medium-sized businesses

Another big jump in private sector employment.

The January ADP National Employment Report says the economy cranked out 205,000 jobs from December to January.

According to the report, which is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, the bulk of the new positions (82,000) came from medium-sized businesses, those with 50-499 employees. That was closely followed by small companies, those with under 50 workers (79,000).

Employment at large concerns -- those with 500 or more employees -- came in at 44,000, while firms with 500-999 added 15,000 jobs, and companies with over 1,000 workers gained 30,000 jobs.

"One of the main reasons for lower overall employment gains in January was the drop off in jobs added at the largest companies compared to December,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute. “These businesses are more sensitive to current economic conditions than small and mid-sized companies. Over the past year, businesses with less than 500 employees have created nearly 80% of new jobs."

Jobs by sector

Goods-producing employment rose by 13,000 jobs last month, down sharply from December's upwardly revised 30,000. Within that sector. the construction industry added 21,000 jobs, which was roughly in line with the average monthly jobs gained last year. Manufacturing, meanwhile, neither added nor lost jobs.

Employment by service-providing firms rose by 192,000 jobs in January, compared with 237,000 in December. Professional/business services contributed 44,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 35,000, and financial activities added 19,000 positions -- the most since March 2006.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, noted that, "Job growth remains strong despite the turmoil in the global economy and financial markets. Manufacturers and energy companies are reducing payrolls, but job gains across all other industries remain robust. The U.S. economy remains on track to return to full employment by mid-year."

Another big jump in private sector employment.The January ADP National Employment Report says the economy cranked out 205,000 jobs from December to Jan...
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Another contraction for the manufacturing sector of the economy

The rate of contraction, however, slowed a bit

Even as the overall economy grew for the 80th consecutive month, economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in January for the fourth month in a row.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the January purchasing management index (PMI) was up 0.2% to 48.2% when compared to the seasonally adjusted December reading of 48%.

The New Orders Index jumped 2.7% to 51.5%, the Production Index moved up 0.3% to 50.0%, while the Employment Index dropped 2.1% to 45.9%.

Inventories of raw materials held steady at 43.5% and the Prices Index remained at 33.5%, indicating lower raw materials prices for the 15th consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, eight are reporting growth in January in the following order:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  5. Furniture & Related Products;
  6. Computer & Electronic Products;
  7. Machinery; and
  8. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components.

The 10 industries reporting contraction in January -- listed in order -- are:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  3. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  4. Paper Products;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  7. Fabricated Metal Products;
  8. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  9. Primary Metals; and
  10. Chemical Products.
Even as the overall economy grew for the 80th consecutive month, economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in January for the fourth month i...
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Consumers earn more, spend less in December

That helped push personal savings higher

Consumers found themselves with more money in their pockets as the holiday shopping season got underway -- and tucked a good chunk of it away.

The Commerce Department reports personal income rose $42.5 billion, or 0.3% in December, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- personal income less personal current taxes -- increased $37.8 billion or 0.3%. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) dipped $0.7 billion, or less than 0.1%.

In November, personal income was up 0.3%, DPI rose 0.2 percent, and PCE increased by 0.5%, according to revised estimates.

Compensation

Wages and salaries rose $13.1 billion in December, after surging $37.9 billion a month earlier. Within that category, private wages and salaries were up $10.3 billion, and government wages and salaries inched up $2.8 billion.

Supplements to wages and salaries advanced $4.8 billion.

Personal spending and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- increased $2.0 billion in December after surging $62.1 billion in November.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $753.5 billion in December, up $35.7 billion from the month before. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 5.5%, versus with 5.3% in November.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers found themselves with more money in their pockets as the holiday shopping season got underway -- and tucked a good chunk of it away.The Comme...
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Job growth to hold steady in 2016, CareerBuilder says

The forecast also reveals five employment trends to watch

Looking for a job this year?

According to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast, 36% of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016 -- the same as 2015. Additionally, nearly half of employers (47%) plan to hire temporary or contract workers.

The forecast says workers can also expect to see higher starting salaries, more teens in internships, more women and minorities in leadership, and more opportunities to move from low-skill to high-skill jobs, among other trends.

“On average, the U.S. has added 200,000 jobs each month over the last two years, and we expect 2016 to produce similar results, if not better,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “The market is also showing signs of broader wage pressure. While employers have been more willing to pay a premium for high-skill labor, they now have to pay more competitive wages for entry-level positions. Workers are gaining leverage.”

Full-time, permanent hiring

While more than a third of employers are increasing full-time, permanent headcount, 45% anticipate no change. One in ten plan to decrease staff levels, while 9% aren't sure.

Comparing industries, financial services (46%), information technology (44%), and health care (43%) are expected to outperform the national average for employers adding full-time staff. Manufacturing (37%) is expected to reflect the national average.

Temporary and contract hiring

Employers are also optimistic about temporary employment. Forty-seven percent reported they will add temporary or contract workers in 2016, compared with 46% percent last year. Of these employers, 58% plan to transition some temporary or contract workers into permanent roles in 2016.

Hot areas for hiring

Of the employers who plan to increase the number of full-time employees in the new year, the top areas they’ll be recruiting for include:

  • Customer Service – 32%
  • Information Technology – 29%
  • Sales – 27%
  • Production – 24%
  • Administrative – 20%
  • Marketing – 18%
  • Business Development – 16%
  • Human Resources – 16 percent
  • Accounting/Finance – 15 percent
  • Engineering – 13 percent

Small business hiring

Small business managers are feeling better about their financial prospects in 2016 and are looking to expand their staff.

Of businesses with 50 or fewer employees, 27% plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, versus 20% last year.

Of those with 250 or fewer employees, 33% plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, up 4% from last year.

Among larger companies with more than 500 employees, 42% plan to add full-time, permanent employees, on par with last year (43%).

Hiring by region

At 42%, the West has the highest percentage of employers expecting to add full-time, permanent headcount, followed by the South (36%), Midwest (34%), and Northeast (30%).

However, the West also houses the highest percentage of employers expecting to decrease staff, at 12% with 10% in both the Northeast and Midwest and 9% in the South.

Five trends to watch in the new year

Looking at key trends that will help shape the employment landscape in 2016, several are tied to higher competition for talent, innovation in sourcing, developing high-skill workers, and a push for more diversity in leadership.

  1. Opening New Doors for Low-Skill Workers – Many employers are concerned with a growing skills gap (63%) and report extended vacancies within their organizations (48%).Thirty-three percent of employers plan to hire low-skill workers and invest in training them for high-skill jobs in 2016.
  2. Hiring younger interns – To encourage the next generation to pursue STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and other in-demand areas, employers are building relationships with students at an early age. One quarter plan to hire high school students as interns over the next 12 months.
  3. Increasing wages at all levels – To retain and attract top performers, 83% of employers plan to increase compensation for existing employees – on par with 82% last year. Sixty-six percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees, versus 64% last year.
  4. Reaching beyond U.S. borders – Employers will continue to look at talent pools outside the U.S. to help fill labor deficits. Nineteen percent say they will hire workers with H-1B visas in 2016, which will let them employ temporarily foreign-born workers for specialized occupations.
  5. Diversifying management – Companies are expanding demographics in their company leadership. Fifty-five percent of employers plan to hire or promote more women for management roles, and 53% plan to do the same for diverse workers. Forty-seven percent of employers plan to promote workers under the age of 30 into management roles.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from Nov. 4 to Dec. 1, 2015, and included a representative sample of 2,338 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries.

Looking for a job this year? According to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast, 36% of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016 -- t...
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Leading Economic Index slips in December

Still, moderate economic growth is forecast for the near term

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted a decline in December for the first time in three months.

The dip of 0.2% follows increases of 0.5% in both November and October.

Despite the decline, which was led by a drop in housing permits and weak new orders in manufacturing,” Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board says the index “continues to suggest moderate growth in the near-term despite the economy losing some momentum at the end of 2015. While the LEI’s growth rate has been on the decline,” he continued, “it’s too early to interpret this as a substantial rise in the risk of recession.”

The LEI is essentially a composite average of several individual leading economic components. It 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 ten components of The Conference Board 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
The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted a decline in December for the first time in three months.The dip of 0.2% follows increases o...
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Initial jobless claims surge to six-month high

A better year for tech workers

More people than expected found themselves standing in the unemployment line last week.

Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show a seasonally adjusted 293,000 workers filed first-time applications for state jobless benefits in the week ending January 16 -- up 10,000 from the previous week's downwardly revised total.

That's the highest level since the first week of July. Analysts at Briefing.com had been calling for a decline in filings to 280,000.

The DOL says there were no special factors affecting the total.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered by some economists to be a more accurate gauge of the labor market, rose 6,500 to 285,000. The previous week's average was revised down by 250 -- from 278,750 to 278,500.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Tech sector job cuts

In other labor news, this past year was a bit better than 2014 for workers in the technology sector.

A new analysis of data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that job cuts announced in 2015 by tech sector employers fell sharply from the previous year.

The technology sector, which encompasses computer, electronic, and telecommunications firms, announced 79,315 planned job cuts in last year. That's down 21% from a 2014 total of 100,757, which was the highest total since 2009.

While that was good for the overall tech sector, workers at computer firms weren't so fortunate. Officials there increased terminations by 5.0% -- from 59,528 in 2014 to 62,191 in 2015. Much of that came from a third-quarter surge that saw more than 47,000 announced cuts from several notable firms, including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Intel, and Unisys.

Overall, the tech sector was responsible for 13% of the 598,510 total job cuts announced in 2015.

“We could see more of this in 2016, which could lead to increased turnover in the industry,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Jobs may shift from company to another, while others are lost. Overall, employment in the industry should continue to grow. So much so, that the biggest problem will be finding skilled workers.”

More people than expected found themselves standing in the unemployment line last week.Figures released by the Depar...
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Retail sales dip in December

Lack of strong earnings growth is blamed

December was something of a disappointment for the retail sector of the economy.

Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales totaled just $448.1 billion last month, down 0.1% from November but up 2.2% from the same month a year earlier.

For all of 2015, sales rose just 2.1%

Stifel Financial Chief Economist Lindsey M. Piegza notes that consumer spending momentum has clearly slowed even though we're paying less for gasoline at the pump.

"While low gasoline prices have helped provide a floor to spending, it is clearly not enough to markedly improve retail consumption," she pointed out. "The missing component remains heightened growth in earnings and confidence that today's spending will be easily financed by tomorrow's rise in pay. Modest employment opportunities and minimal income gains will continue to restrict spending in the new year."

The complete December retail sales report is avail;able on the commerce Department website.

Retail holiday sales

In a related development, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says holiday sales last year were up 3% to $626.1 billion. NRF had been expecting total growth -- including online sales -- of 3.7%.

“Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. He noted that weather, inventory challenges, advances in consumer technology, and the deep discounts that started earlier in the season and carried into January presented stiff headwinds. However, he added that, “despite these factors, the industry rallied, consumers responded and sales still grew at a healthy rate, which is a huge testament to the resilience, knowledge and expertise of our retail leadership.”

December was something of a disappointment for the retail sector of the economy.Figures released by the Commerce Department show sales totaled just $44...
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Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles recalled

The power steering hose retention clamp may have been installed incorrectly

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 60,107 model year 2015 Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles manufactured January 1, 2015, to May 11, 2015.

During assembly, the power steering hose retention clamp may have been installed at an incorrect location, resulting in the detachment of the low pressure return hose.

If the power steering fluid return hose detaches, it would leak fluid and increase the risk of a fire.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the return power steering hose clamp, repositioning the clamp as necessary, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is R68.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 60,107 model year 2015 Jeep Compass and Patriot vehicles manufactured January 1, 2015, to May 11, 2015. During a...
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Employment surges in December

Professional and business services, construction, and health care led the charge

The nation's job creation machinery was running in high gear last month.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 292,000 in December, with the gains coming in several industries, including professional and business services, construction, health care, and food services and drinking places.

At the same time, though, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0%.

As it released its December report, the DOL revised its payroll employment figures for October to show a gain of 307,000 jobs from 298,000 to 307,000. The change for November was revised from +211,000 to +252,000.

With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 50,000 higher than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 284,000 per month.

Who was hiring and who was not

The professional and business services category was December's big winner with the addition of 73,000 jobs. Also adding to payroll positions were construction (+45,000), health care (+39,000), food services and drinking places (+37,000), and transportation and warehousing (+23,000).

Payroll employment growth totaled 2.7 million last year, compared to 3.1 million in 2014.

Employment in mining continued to decline last month (-8,000). Manufacturing employment was little-changed, as were wholesale trade, retail trade, financial activities, and government.

Total employment

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for blacks dipped to 8.3%, while the rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (16.1%), whites (4.5%), Asians (4.0%), and Hispanics (6.3%) showed little or no change. 

The number of people out of work in December was 7.9 million, essentially the same as the month before, with the jobless rate at 5.0% for the third month in a row. Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.6% and 800,000, respectively.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.1 million in December and accounted for 26.3% of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed has shown little movement since June, but was down by 687,000 over the year.

The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.6%, has shown little movement in recent months. In December, the employment-population ratio, at 59.5%, changed little.

The average work week for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in December, and average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was down a penny to $25.24, following an increase of 5 cents in November.

Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5% percent.

The complete December employment report is on the DOL website.

The nation's job creation machinery was running in high gear last month.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports total nonfarm payroll employment rose by ...
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Another decline in services sector growth

Despite the December slowdown, expansion is continuing

Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy continued in December for the 71st month in a row, just not at the pace we saw a month earlier.

In the latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business, the nation’s purchasing and supply executives say the Non-manufacturing Index (NMI) registered 55.3% last month, down 0.6% from November.

A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding; below 50 suggests contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index was up 0.5% to 58.7%, reflecting growth for the 77th consecutive month at a slightly faster rate.

The New Orders Index rose 0.7% from November, to 58.2%, the Employment Index came in at 55.7%, up 0.7%, and indicates growth for the 22nd consecutive month.

The Prices Index, on the other hand, fell 0.6% to 49.7%, the third decline in the last four months.

Even with the NMI posting the weakest reading since April 2014, Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza points out that service activity, "remains the silver lining" in the U.S. economy.

She adds that with back to back months of depleted momentum from a recent peak of 60.3 in July, "any further decline in activity could undermine the notion of sustained growth in the service sector."

Expansion and contraction

The 11 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in December -- listed in order -- were:

  1. Accommodation & Food Services;
  2. Management of Companies & Support Services;
  3. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  4. Information;
  5. Retail Trade;
  6. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  7. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  8. Finance & Insurance;
  9. Construction;
  10. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  11. Utilities.

The five industries reporting contraction in December were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Educational Services;
  3. Wholesale Trade;
  4. Public Administration; and
  5. Transportation & Warehousing.

Jobless claims

The number of people applying for state unemployment benefits fell last week, according to the Department of Labor (DOL).

Officials say there 277,000 initial filings in the week ending January 2, , down 10,000 from the previous week's total, when 20,000 applications were filed.

The DOL says there were no special factors affecting the total.

The four-week moving average, which is seen as a better gauge of the labor market because it lacks the volatility found in the weekly tally, dipped by 1,250 to 275,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website

Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy continued in December for the 71st month in a row, just not at ...
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Job creation explodes in December

It was the best month for private sector payroll expansion in a year

If December is any indication of what is to come, 2016 should be a good year for new jobs.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, the U.S. economy cranked out 257,000 private sector jobs from November to December -- the best monthly showing since December 2014.

The report, produced by ADP 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.

"2015 had a strong close with December showing the largest job gains of the year," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Overall, the average monthly employment growth was just under 200,000 for the year in contrast to almost 240,000 jobs per month in 2014. Weakness in the energy and manufacturing sectors was mostly responsible for the drop off."

The producers

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 95,000 jobs in December, up 23,000 from November's 72,000. Employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by about 10% from the previous month to 65,000 jobs.

Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- came in at 97,000, 17,000 more than in November. Those firms with 500-999 added 39,000 jobs, and the biggies -- companies with over 1,000 employees -- added another 58,000 jobs.

Employment in the goods-producing sector rose by 23,000 jobs in December, after losing 2,000 positions the previous month. The construction industry added 24,000 jobs, up a touch from the previous month, while manufacturing stayed in positive territory for the second straight month -- adding 2,000 jobs.

Service-providing employment shot up by 234,000 jobs in December, up 21,000 jobs from November. Professional/business services contributed 66,000 jobs, the largest increase of the year in the sector. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 38,000, off a bit from the previous month, and there were 13,000 new jobs in financial activities.

"Strong job growth shows no signs of abating,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. “The only industry shedding jobs is energy. If this pace of job growth is sustained -- which seems likely -- the economy will be back to full employment by mid-year. This is a significant achievement, given that the last time the economy was at full employment was nearly a decade ago."

The government's employment tally for the final month of 2015 is scheduled for release on Friday.

If December is any indication of what is to come, 2016 should be a good year for new jobs.According to the ADP National Employment Report, the U.S. eco...
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Manufacturing economy contracts -- again

The overall economy, however, continued to expand

December was a down month for the manufacturing sector of the economy -- the second in a row, even as the overall economy grew for the 79th consecutive month.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports that the December purchasing manager's index (PMI) registered 48.2%, down 0.4% from November, while the New Orders Index rose 0.3% to 49.2% and the Production Index registered 49.8% -- a gain of 0.6% from the previous month.

The Employment Index, meanwhile, fell 3.2% and the Prices Index dipped 2.0%, indicating lower raw materials prices for the 14th consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index jumped 3.5% and the Imports Index dropped 3.5%.

As was the case in November, 10 out of 18 manufacturing industries reported contraction in December, with declines in employment and raw materials inventories accounting for the overall softness in December.

Ups and downs

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, six are reporting growth in December in the following order:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Chemical Products; and
  6. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The 10 industries reporting contraction in December -- listed in order -- were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  3. Machinery;
  4. Primary Metals;
  5. Fabricated Metal Products;
  6. Transportation Equipment;
  7. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  8. Computer & Electronic Products;
  9. Wood Products; and
  10. Nonmetallic Mineral Products.
December was a down month for the manufacturing sector of the economy -- the second in a row, even as the overall economy grew for the 79th consecutive mon...
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Personal incomes and spending rise in November

But the savings rate moved lower

Just in time for the Christmas shopping season, consumers' paychecks got a little fatter.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports that personal income rose $44.4 billion, or 0.3% in November. Disposable personal income (DPI), what you have left after paying your taxes, was up $34.5 billion, or 0.3% last month, and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) also rose 0.3%, or $40.1 billion.

Personal income increased $66.9 billion (0.4%) the month before, while DPI was up $54.0 billion (0.4%) and PCE inched ahead $3.8 billion, or less than 0.1%.

Compensation

Wages and salaries jumped $37.1 billion in November, nearly $10 billion more than the month before. Of that, private wages and salaries increased $34.4 billion, including $11.6 billion (at an annual rate) in bonuses for United Auto Workers employees associated with the ratification of their contract. Government wages and salaries rose $2.8 billion in November, compared with a $1.5 billion advance in October.

Supplements to wages and salaries increased $6.3 billion in November, compared with an increase of $6.5 billion in October.

Personal spending and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- surged $44.0 billion in November, a better than six-fold increase from October's $7.5 billion. PCE jumped $40.1 billion, compared with an October increase of $3.8 billion.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $747.6 billion in November, down nearly $10.0 billion from October. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 5.5%, down 0.1% from the rate a month earlier.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Just in time for the Christmas shopping season, consumers' paychecks got a little fatter.The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) re...
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CG&C: Job cuts should slow in 2016 as hiring and pay accelerate

A “lot of churn” is seen in the labor force

“Wait till next year!”

That's not just the perennial cry of Chicago Cubs fans. A leading outplacement consultancy has also taken it up when it comes to the labor market in 2016.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas says while 2015 job cuts are expected to hit a six-year high, the pace of downsizing should slow in the year ahead as hiring and wages continue to make gains.

Although year-end tabulations are still a few weeks away, U.S.-based employers announced 574,888 planned job cuts through November – 19% more than the 2014 year-end total of 483,171. At the current pace, this year is on track to be the biggest job cut year since 2009, when 1,272,030 jobs were eliminated.

The oil patch took the heaviest hits

Looking for somewhere to point the finger? Try the dramatic decline in oil prices, which prompted companies involved in exploration and extraction to make significant adjustments to workforce levels.

All told, falling oil prices were blamed for 102,738 job cuts through November, or nearly one in every five job cuts announced in 2015.

Heavy downsizing was also seen in the public sector, where military cutbacks claimed 57,000 troops and civilian personnel.

“Cuts related to oil prices were heaviest in the first half of year, dropping by more than 50% in the second half,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “With oil prices expected to remain low for the foreseeable future,” he added, “we could continue to see the industry workforce shrink in 2016, though probably not at the rate we saw in the first part of 2015.”

Challenger says a decline in oil cuts is expected to result in an overall slowdown in downsizing activity in 2016. “Job cuts may not reach the previous post-recession low, achieved in 2014, when year-end cuts fell to 483,171,” he pointed out, noting that “even if job cuts don’t fall to post-recession lows, increased hiring and wages are expected to offset the losses.”

A slowdown in job growth

The nation’s non-farm payrolls grew by an average of 210,000 jobs per month through November, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average in 2014 was 260,000 new jobs per month.

Part of the slowdown, Challenger said, “may have been related to a weakened energy sector, which was one of the strong growth areas in 2013 and 2014. However, another contributor to the slower job gains this year may have been a shrinking supply of available talent.”

A churning labor force

“There is a lot of churn in the labor force right now,” said Challenger. “We have retirees leaving the workforce; we will continue to see layoffs, even in a strong economy; and, each month upwards of 2.7 million Americans quit their jobs. So, when casual observers look at that net job gain of around 200,000 new workers each month, they can easily miss all of this other activity that suggests a very frenetic employment picture where there are still a lot of separations alongside a lot of hiring,” he added.

Challenger expects this heavy churn to continue in 2016, with around 10,000 baby boomers hitting retirement age each day. But he says, that doesn’t mean they are going to leave the labor force. “Recent improvements in the stock market might mean that more can leave the workforce if they want, but many will continue to work out of desire,”he said. “However, many will change jobs, others will cut back hours, and some may leave the workforce for a while and come back. In any case, baby boomers alone will be a significant contributor to labor force churn.”

Job prospects

Challenger says this churn, whether it’s related Baby Boomers or companies shifting strategies, creates opportunities, but that doesn't mean finding a job will be easy in 2016. Employers are still being selective and the hiring process is taking longer, as a result,” he said. “Job seekers should not expect to send out a bunch of resumes and job offers will simply come pouring in.

They will still be required to do the hard leg work. Cold calling, networking, meeting with people on a daily basis, and all of the other activities necessary to uncover the hidden job market and find the best opportunities.

“Wait till next year!”That's not just the perennial cry of Chicago Cubs fans. A leading outplacement consultancy has also taken it up when it comes to ...
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Jobless benefit claims reverse course

The Conference Board forecasts moderate economic growth

After rising for two weeks in a row, first-time applications for state unemployment benefits have posted a decline.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were down 11,000 in the week ending December 12, to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. The previous week's level of 282,000 was unrevised.

Officials say there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims.

The four-week moving average, which strips out the volatility of the weekly report and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 270,500, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's unrevised average.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Economic outlook

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose in November for a second consecutive month.

The forecaster of economic performance for the next 3-6 months was up 0.4%, following a 0.6% increase in October. It was flat in September.

“The U.S. LEI registered another increase in November, with building permits, the interest rate spread, and stock prices driving the improvement,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “Although the six-month growth rate of the LEI has moderated, the economic outlook for the final quarter of the year and into the new year remains positive.”

The LEI, essentially a composite of several individual 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

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, non-defense 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 rising for two weeks in a row, first-time applications for state unemployment benefits have posted a decline.T...
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ISM forecasts continued economic growth in 2016

Weekly jobless claims came in higher

The nation’s purchasing and supply management executives appear bullish in their outlook for the U.S. economy in the year ahead.

The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Semiannual Economic Forecast calls for a continuation of the economic recovery that began in mid-2009.

The manufacturing sector expects its revenues to increase in 16 manufacturing industries, with capital spending up 1.0% and employment expanding buy 0.2%

The non-manufacturing sector predicts that 15 of its industries will see higher revenue, with capital expenditures rising 7.5% and employment growth of 1.7%.

Manufacturing

Sixty-three percent of survey respondents expect a 4.1% net increase in overall revenues for 2016, compared with a rise of 1.4% this year. The 16 manufacturing industries expecting revenue improvement in 2016 over 2015 -- listed in order -- are:

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

Non-manufacturing

Sixty percent of supply management executives in the non-manufacturing sector see a 3.2% net increase in overall revenues in the year ahead versus a 2.7% increase for 2015 over 2014 revenues. The 15 non-manufacturing industries expecting revenue improvement in 2016 over 2015 -- listed in order -- are:

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

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were up for a second straight week.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), initial jobless claims rose 13,000 in the week ending December 5, to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The previous week's total was unrevised.

The four-week moving average was 270,750 -- still close to a 15-year low -- an increase of 1,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 269,250.

The latter category, because it is less volatile than the weekly tally, is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.  

The nation’s purchasing and supply management executives appear bullish in their outlook for the U.S. economy in the year ahead....
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Little change in October in labor turnover

Openings dipped slightly, while separations inched higher

The Labor situation didn't change a whole lot from September to October.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job openings totaled 5.4 million during the month, compared with 5.5 million in September. Separations came in at 4.9 million versus 4.8 million a month earlier.

Job openings

The job openings rate was 3.6%, with the number of openings falling in professional and business services (-137,000) and in the West region (-132,000).

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in October for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Openings rose over the year in health care and social assistance (+225,000), retail trade (+141,000), state and local government (+51,000), and federal government (+15,000).

Job openings decreased over the year in finance and insurance (-55,000) and mining and logging (-17,000). The number of job openings increased over the year in three out of the four regions -- Northeast, South, and Midwest -- and was little changed in the West.

Hires

The number of hires was 5.1 million in October; there were 5.0 million in September. The hires rate was 3.6%. There was little change in the number of hires for total private and government in October and for number of hires in all industries. Hires increased in the West region over the month.

Over the 12 months ending in October, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm and total private, and increased for government. At the industry level, hires increased in state and local government (+33,000). The number of hires was little changed in all four regions over the year.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs, and discharges, among other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.

Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

The total separations rate was 3.4%, with little change in the number of total separations in private industry, while it rose slightly for government. The number of total separations was essentially unchanged in all four regions.

Quits

There were 2.8 million quits in October, up 100,000 from September. The number of quits has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 14 months, and the quits rate was unchanged in October, measuring 1.9% for the seventh consecutive month.

The number of quits was little changed for total private industry and rose for government over the month. Quits rose in state and local government (+19,000) and nondurable goods manufacturing (+17,000), but fell in durable goods manufacturing (-15,000). Quits were little changed in all four regions over the month.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in October for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Quits increased over the year in accommodation and food services (+58,000) and nondurable goods manufacturing (+26,000). In the regions, quits rose most in the Midwest.

Layoffs and discharges

There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in October, the same as September. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.2%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month for total private and edged up for government. Layoffs and discharges were little changed in all four regions.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in October for total nonfarm and total private, and rose for government. The number of layoffs and discharges rose over the year in state and local government (+30,000) and mining and logging (+6,000). The number of layoffs and discharges fell over the year in professional and business services (-88,000) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-28,000). Layoffs and discharges fell in the Midwest over the year.

Other separations

In October, there were 414,000 other separations for total nonfarm, compared with 387,000 in September. Over the month, the number of other separations was little changed for total private at 338,000 and for government at 76,000.

Over the 12 months ending in October, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations increased over the year in finance and insurance (+22,000), information (+7,000), and federal government (+6,000). The number of other separations decreased over the year in wholesale trade (-19,000). Other separations were little changed in all four regions over the year.

Net change in employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net employment change results from 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 October 2015, hires totaled 61.0 million and separations totaled 58.3 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 BLS website.

The Labor situation didn't change a whole lot from September to October.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job openings totaled 5.4 m...
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Jobless rate holds steady as the economy adds 211,000 jobs

Construction and health care added workers while mining and information lost them

The economy cranked out 211,000 new jobs last month, but that didn't help the unemployment rate, which remained at 5.0% for a second straight month. Over the last 12 months, the jobless rate and the number of people out of work are down by 0.8% and 1.1 million, respectively.

According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction, professional and technical services, and health added jobs, while mining and information saw them disappear.

As it released the November report, BLS revised the October report to show the addition of 145,000 jobs -- 8,000 more than initially reported. October was changed also -- from 271,000 additions to 298,000.

With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 35,000 more than previously reported. Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 218,000 per month.

The demographics

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.6%), teenagers (15.7%), whites (4.3%), blacks (9.4%), Asians (3.9%), and Hispanics (6.4%) showed little or no change last month.

The number of people who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or more was little changed at 2.1 million in November and has shown little movement since June. They accounted for 25.7% of the unemployed last month.

The civilian labor force participation rate inched higher (62.5% versus 62.4% in October), while the employment-population ratio was unchanged at 59.3% and has shown little movement since October 2014.

Where the jobs are

November's job growth occurred in construction (+46,000), professional and technical services (+28,000), health care (+24,000), food services and drinking places (+32,000), and retail trade (+31,000).

Employment in mining  (-11,000) and information (-12,000) continued to decline in November. Other major industries -- including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government -- were little-changed over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by four cents -- to $25.25, following a nine cent gain in October. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.3%.

The full November employment report is available on the BLS website

The economy cranked out 211,000 new jobs last month, but that didn't help the unemployment rate, which remained at 5.0% for a second straight month. Over t...
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Non-manufacturing sector continues its growth

However, the rate in November was a bit slower than in the previous month

Another month of growth for the economy's non-manufacturing sector, although the pace was not as robust as we saw the month before.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) says in its latest Non-Manufacturing Report On Business that the non-manufacturing index (NMI) registered 55.9% in November, down 3.2% from the October reading. Still, It was the 77th consecutive month of growth by the sector.

A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding; below 50 suggests contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index was down 4.8% to 58.2%, but still reflects growth for the 76th consecutive month. The New Orders Index came in at 57.5, down 4.5%. The Employment Index, however, was down 4.2% to 55%, but still grew for the 21st consecutive month.

Industry performance

The 12 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in November -- listed in order -- were:

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

The six industries reporting contraction in November -- in order -- were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  3. Wholesale Trade;
  4. Utilities;
  5. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; and
  6. Other Services.

Jobless claims

There was an uptick in initial jobless claims during the holiday-shortened week ending November 28.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), a seasonally adjusted 269,000 people filed applications for the first time for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level. Officials say there were no special factors affecting the tally.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly accounting and considered a better barometer of the labor market, was down 1,750 from the week before to 269,250, the lowest level in nearly 15 years.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Another month of growth for the economy's non-manufacturing sector, although the pace was not as robust as we saw the month before....
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Job cut total drops to lowest level in more than a year

But this could still be the worst year since '09

Finally -- a break.

Planned job cuts in November fell to their lowest level in 14 months following a four-month stretch that saw more than a quarter of a million payroll positions disappear.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that corporate America announced workforce reductions totaling 30,953 in November -- down 39% from October and 14% from November 2014, when 35,940 job cuts were reported.

The November figure represents the smallest job-cut month since September 2014 when 30,477 terminations were announced, and comes on the heels of a four-month period during which 256,263 job cuts were recorded.

So far this year, employers have handed out 574,888 pink slips, 28% more than the 450,531 through November 2014. Job cuts for the year are on pace to be the heaviest since 2009, when 1,272,030 workers were canned.

“The fourth quarter tends to experience heavier cuts, as employers make year-end adjustments to workforce levels in order achieve earnings goals,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The November decline could be the quiet before a December storm or it could signal a lower-than-expected downsizing to close out the year. If recent history is any indication, it could be the latter, as December job cuts have been lower than the annual average since the end of the recession.”

The oil patch takes a breather

While oil-related job cuts have dominated the headlines this year, they accounted for just 1,355 last month, the fewest since June.

Industrial goods ranked as the top job-cutting industry in November, with firms in the sector announcing 7,398 planned firings -- up 109% from October. Industrial goods firms have announced 54,845 job cuts so far this year, putting them fourth behind energy, government, and retail.

In 2008, employers announced 166,348 job cuts in December, the second highest job-cut month of that year. However, beginning in 2009, December job cuts have averaged just 35,784.

Challenger points out that overall, the U.S. economy is fairly strong. “The increase in job cuts this year is due to a handful of industries. In fact, of the 28 sectors we track, more than half have experienced a year-over-year decline in job cuts. “Unfortunately,” he concludes, “five sectors have seen job cuts more than double. Job cuts in the energy sector have increased a staggering 708% from a year ago.”

Finally -- a break. Planned job cuts in November fell to their lowest level in 14 months following a four-month stretch that saw more than a quarter of ...
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A slowdown in manufacturing

The contraction is the first in three years

For the first time in 36 months, economic activity in the manufacturing sector has contracted, even as the overall economy grew for the 78th consecutive month.

According to the Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the November Purchasing Management Index (PMI) came in at 48.6%, down 1.5% from October and the first contraction since November 2012.

A reading above 50% indicates an expansion of the manufacturing economy; anything below that suggests contraction.

The report also shows the New Orders Index fell 4% last month to 48.9%. The Production Index registered 49.2%, 3.7%s below the previous month. The Employment Index, on the other hand, rose 3.7% to 51.3%.

The weaker-than-expected report “indicates that the tepid global economy, coupled with the strong dollar making American-made goods more expensive, is taking a toll here at home,” Bankrate.com Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick told ConsumerAffairs.

“Fortunately, the U.S. economy hasn't relied on manufacturing to do the 'heavy lifting' on growth for many years,” he noted, adding the fact that the employment component actually expanded “helps to soften the blow of word of the contraction overall since we're ultimately most concerned about the plight of the job market.”

Sector performance

Ten out of 18 manufacturing industries reported contraction in November, with lower new orders, production, and raw materials inventories accounting for the overall softness in November.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, five reported growth in the following order:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and
  5. Transportation Equipment.

The 10 industries reporting contraction in November -- listed in order -- were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  3. Machinery;
  4. Primary Metals;
  5. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  6. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  7. Computer & Electronic Products;
  8. Furniture & Related Products;
  9. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  10. Chemical Products.
For the first time in 36 months, economic activity in the manufacturing sector has contracted, even as the overall economy grew for the 78th consecutive mo...
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Personal income, spending inch higher in October

Jobless claims plunged last week

Your paycheck may have been a little fatter last month -- not a lot, but fatter nonetheless.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal income rose 0.4%, or $68.1 billion in October, with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what you have left after taxes -- up $56.8 billion, or 0.4%.

At the same time, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inched $15.2 billion, or 0.1%, higher.

Incomes

Wages and salaries shot up by $45.0 billion, compared with an increase of just $2.5 billion a month earlier. Private wages and salaries rose $43.0 billion, and government compensation was up $2.0 billion. Supplements to wages and salaries increased $6.5 billion.

Personal outlays and saving

Personal outlays, which includes PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, jumped $17.8 billion in October -- up $10.5 billion from September.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $761.9 billion in October, versus $722.9 billion in September. That pushed the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- up 0.3% from September to 5.6%.

The complete report may be found on the BEA website.

Jobless claims

Something to be grateful for heading into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend: initial jobless claims were down sharply last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits were down by 12,000 in the week ending November 21 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, which lacks the volatility of the weekly headcount and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was unchanged from the week before at 271,000 -- close to a 15-year low.

The full jobless claims report is available on the DOL website.

Your paycheck may have been a little fatter last month -- not a lot, but fatter nonetheless.According to the Bureau of Economic...
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Consumer confidence takes it on the chin

Job market jitters get the blame

After posting a modest decline in October, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index posted a substantial decline this month, dropping to 90.4 from 99.1 in October.

At the same time, the Present Situation Index fell from 114.6 to 108.1, and the Expectations Index plunged more than 10 points -- from 88.7 to 78.6.

“The decline was mainly due to a less favorable view of the job market,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Heading into 2016, consumers are cautious about the labor market and expect little change in business conditions.”

The view from the consumer

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was less positive in November. Those saying business conditions are “good” slipped from 26.8% to 24.4%. However, those who said conditions are “bad” also decreased -- from 18.3% to 16.9%.

Consumers were less upbeat about the current state of the job market. Those who believe jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 22.7 percent to 19.9 percent, while those who think jobs are “hard to get” increased to 26.2% from 24.6%.

Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook dropped sharply in November. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased from 18.1% to 14.8%, while those who said business conditions will worsen edged up to 11.0% from 10.4%.

The outlook for the labor market was also more pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead fell from 14.4% to 11.6%, while those expecting there will be fewer jobs increased from 16.6% to 18.7%.

The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase dipped from 18.1% to 17.2%, while the proportion expecting a decline rose from 10.5% to 11.8%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen around what consumers buy and watch. The cut-off date for the preliminary results was November 12.

After posting a modest decline in October, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index posted a substantial decline this month, dropping to 90.4 from ...
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Economic growth still limping along

But it's not as bad as first indicated

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has taken a second look at how the economy was doing during the summer. And while things are a little better than they were in the “advance” report issued a month ago, there's a long way to go.

According to the BEA, 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 2.1% in the third quarter of 2015.

While an improvement over the 1.5% growth rate reported earlier, it's a far cry from the 3.9% surge in the second quarter.

This latest estimate is based on more complete source data than what was available for the "advance" estimate issued last month. The new data shows the decrease in private inventory investment was smaller than previously estimated. A third and “final” estimate will be released in December.

Ups and downs

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, residential fixed investment, and exports that were partly offset by a negative contributions from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP from the second quarter to the third quarter came from a downturn in private inventory investments and decelerations in exports, PCE, nonresidential fixed investments, in-state and local government spending, and in-residential fixed investments that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.3% in the third quarter – up 0.2% from the second. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core rate” of GDP inflation was 1.3%; it was 1.2% in the second three months of the year.

The complete GDP report is available on the BEA website.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has taken a second look at how the economy was doing during the summer. And while things are a ...
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Initial jobless claims down moderately

Analysts say substantial job creation should continue

The unemployment line was a little shorter last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits dropped by 5,000 in the week ending November 14 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. The previous week's level was unrevised.

Economists at Briefing.com say this level suggests that nonfarm payrolls will likely show an increase in the neighborhood of 200,000 when the November employment report comes out next week.

The four-week moving average, which is not as volatile as the weekly calculation and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 270,750 from the unrevised reading the week before.

The complete report is available on the DOL website

The unemployment line was a little shorter last week.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time applications for state unemployment benefits drop...
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Jobless claims hold steady

Job openings were little-changed in September

The number of workers filing for first-time state unemployment benefits is holding its own.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 276,000 initial jobless claims on a seasonally adjusted basis in the week ending November 7 -- the same as the previous week.

On the other hand, there was upward movement in the four-week moving average.

That category, which is less volatile then the weekly tally and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up by 5,000 from the previous week to 267,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Job openings and labor turnover

In a separate report, DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the number of job openings was little changed on the last business day of September at 5.5 million. There was also little change in hires and separations.

Job openings

The job openings rate for the month was 3.7%, while the number of job openings was little changed for total private and government positions.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm and total private and was little changed for government.

Job openings rose over the year for several industries with the largest increases occurring in professional and business services (+311,000), health care and social assistance (+191,000), and retail trade (+184,000). Vacancies decreased over the year in mining and logging (-16,000).

The number of openings was little changed for the month in all four regions, but increased over the year: South (+283,000), West (+259,000), Midwest (+208,000), and Northeast (+102,000).

Hires

The number of hires was 5.0 million in September -- little changed from August, with the hires rate at s 3.5%. The number of hires was little changed for total private and government in September.

There was little change in the number of hires in all industries and regions over the month, while over the 12 months ending in September, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government.

At the industry level, hires decreased in educational services (-74,000), finance and insurance (-43,000), and mining and logging (-13,000).

There was little change in the number of hires in all four regions over the year.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer.

Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 4.8 million total separations in September, little changed from August. The total separations rate was 3.4%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and government. In September, total separations were little changed in all industries and regions.

Quits

There were 2.7 million quits in September, about the same as in August. The number of quits has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 13 months after increasing steadily since the end of the recession. The quits rate was unchanged in September at 1.9% for the sixth consecutive month.

The number of quits was little changed for total private and government over the month. Quits were little changed in all industries and regions over the month. The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm and total private but decreased for government (-31,000).

Quits increased over the year in accommodation and food services (+66,000) and durable goods manufacturing (+22,000). Quits decreased over the year in state and local government (-31,000) and finance and insurance (-24,000). Quits were little changed in all four regions.

Layoffs and discharges

There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in September, little changed from August. The rate held steady at 1.2%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month for total private and government, and were little changed in all four regions. Seasonally adjusted estimates of layoffs and discharges are not available for individual industries.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges rose over the year in other services (+54,000). Layoffs and discharges decreased over the year in educational services (-17,000) and federal government (-7,000). Layoffs and discharges were little changed in all four regions over the year.

Other separations

In September, there were 387,000 other separations for total nonfarm, little changed from August. Over the month, the number of other separations was little changed for total private at 315,000 and increased for government to 72,000. Seasonally adjusted estimates of other separations are not available for individual industries or regions.

Over the 12 months ending in September, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations increased over the year in federal government (+4,000). The number of other separations decreased in finance and insurance (-15,000) and in information (-5,000). Other separations were little changed in all four regions over the year.

Net change in employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle. Net employment change results from 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.

Conversely, 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 September 2015, hires totaled 60.9 million and separations totaled 58.2 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.

The number of workers filing for first-time state unemployment benefits is holding its own.The Department of Labor (...
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Jobs, jobs and more jobs

Hiring rises, unemployment rate falls in October

The pace of job creation shot higher last month, as the unemployment rate edged lower.

Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show the economy cranked out 271,000 non-farm payroll positions in October. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, edged down 0.1% to 5.0%.

The explosion in job creation came after two months of tepid results: September with 137,000 and August at 153,000.

The October job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, food services & drinking places, and construction.

On the job

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (15.9%), whites (4.4%), blacks (9.2%), Asians (3.5%), and Hispanics (6.3%) showed little or no change last month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 2.1 million and has shown little change since June. They accounted for 26.8% of the unemployed in October.

The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.4% after dipping 0.2% in September. The employment-population ratio, at 59.3%, also changed little last month and has -- in fact -- shown little movement over the past year.

Who's hiring

Employment in professional and business services increased by 78,000 in October, with gains occurring in administrative and support services (+46,000), computer systems design and related services (+10,000), and architectural and engineering services (+8,000).

Health care added 45,000 jobs in October, while employment in retail trade rose by 44,000. Food services and drinking places added 42,000 jobs last month and has picked up 368,000 positions over the year.

On the other hand, employment in mining continued to trend down in October (-5,000), with the industry losing 109,000 jobs since reaching a recent employment peak last December.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little or no change.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose by 9 cents -- to $25.20, after adding just a penny in September. Over the year, hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

The complete October employment report is available on the DOL website.

The pace of job creation shot higher last month, as the unemployment rate edged lower.Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show the econom...
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U.S. job cuts taper off in October

The oil patch continues to take the brunt of the terminations

The nation's employers announced that they were cutting fewer jobs in October than they did during the previous month.

According to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 50,504 workers were let go during last month, with more than a quarter of them in oil-related jobs, which were at a six-month high.

The October job cut total was down 14% from the 58,877 cuts announced a month earlier and down 1.3% from this time a year ago, when 51,183 terminations were recorded.

A tough year

Employers have now announced 543,935 job cuts so far this year, up 31% from the 414,591 cuts announced by this point in 2014. In fact, the year-to-date total is 13% higher than the 2014 year-end total (483,171).

Nearly one in five job losses this year have been the result of low oil prices. In October, prices were blamed for 13,671 job cuts -- 27% of all cuts announced during the month. That's the highest oil-related job-cut total since April, when 20,675 job cuts were attributed to oil.

Overall, oil prices are responsible for 101,383 job cuts in 2015. Several companies have experienced multiple workforce reductions throughout the year. For example, Chevron announced a second round of cuts in last month, while Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes have each reported at least two separate downsizings in 2015. 

Due to the resurgence in oil-related job cuts, the energy sector saw the highest number of planned firings last month – 17,344, more than triple the second-ranked retail sector, which announced 5,153 job cuts in October.

Not surprisingly, the energy sector is the top job-cutting industry for the year, having announced a total of 90,052 job cuts to date. That is up 766% from a year ago, when employers in this sector announced just 10,402 job cuts through October.

Reductions elsewhere

Energy is not the only sector to see a significant increase in job cuts this year. Large-scale cutbacks in the military earlier in the year propelled the government sector to the second spot in the year-to-date job cut rankings. The 69,105 reductions tracked through October is 226% higher than the 21,200 announced by these employers in 2014.

The retail sector has the third highest year-to-date job-cut total -- 64,983 as of last month, up 67% from 38,948 in 2014 to 64,983, as of last month.

“Despite the surge in job cuts across several sectors, it is hardly time to panic,”said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “While falling oil prices are impacting the bottom lines of companies in the energy and industrial goods sectors, they are helping many other employers, such as those in transportation and plastics manufacturing.

“And, while job cuts are up in the retail and computer sectors,” he added, “these are not necessarily an indication of an economy in decline. Both industries are in a state of flux due to changing consumer and business trends. Many of the cuts we have seen this year in both industries have been the result of companies’ inability to keep up with changes versus an overall decline in demand.”

Challenger also noted that we are heading into what has historically been a period of heavy job cutting, even in the strongest economy. “The fourth quarter is when many companies make adjustments to operations and payrolls in order to hit year-end earnings goals," he said. "We could see an increase in layoffs, but we are just as likely to see an increase in hiring, as companies find themselves shorthanded and unable to meet demand.”

Jobless claims

In a separate report, The Department of Labor (DOL) reports a sizable increase in the number of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

Initial jobless claims were up by 16,000 in the week ending October 31, to a seasonally adjusted 276,000. The DOL says there were no special factors affecting the weekly tally.

The four-week moving average, which is not as volatile as the weekly readout and considered a better indicator of the labor market, rose 3,500 from the previous week -- to 262,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's employers announced that they were cutting fewer jobs in October than they did during the previous month.Acc...
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Services sector growth expands

Fourteen industries reported improvement

There was a pickup in the pace of growth in the non-manufacturing -- or services -- sector of the economy last month.

The Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, produced by the nation’s purchasing and supply executives, says that the non-manufacturing index (NMI) was up 2.2% in October to 59.1%. That represents expansion for the 69th consecutive month. The NMI was down 2.1% in September.

The report also shows that the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index came in at 63%, a rise of 2.8% and the 75th straight month of growth at a faster rate. The New Orders Index jumped 5.3% to 62%, and the Employment Index edged up 0.9% from September to 59.2%.

Sector showing

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in October -- listed in order -- are:

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

The only industry reporting contraction in October was Mining.

There was a pickup in the pace of growth in the non-manufacturing -- or services -- sector of the economy last month.The Manufacturing Institute for Su...
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Pace of job creation slips in October

Goods-producing employment had its best month since January

Employment in the private sector rose in October, but the pace of job creation was down a bit from September.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, the economy cranked out 182,000 jobs. There were 200,000 new jobs the month before.

Despite the decline in job creation from September, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi says job growth is not slowing meaningfully in contrast with the recent slowdown in the government's data. “The economy is creating close to 200,000 jobs per month,” he noted, adding that, “job gains are broad based with energy and manufacturing alone subtracting from the top line. Small businesses, in particular, are contributing to the labor market's solid performance."

Where the jobs are

As is often the case, job creation by small businesses -- those with 49 or fewer employees -- led the way, adding 90,000 jobs in October, nearly double the revised September gain of 47,000. Firms with 50-499 employees increased by 63,000 jobs, up 50% from the previous month.

Employment at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – was up by 29,000 jobs in October after adding 101,000 the previous month, companies with 500-999 workers added 7,000 jobs. and those with more than 1,000 employees gained 22,000 jobs, after adding 100,000 in September.

Goods-producing employment jumped by 24,000 jobs in October -- the sector's best month since January of this year. Construction added 35,000 jobs, roughly matching September's gain, while manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs in October after shrinking by 17,000 a month earlier.

Employment in the services sector rose by 158,000 jobs with professional/business services contributed 13,000 new hires. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 35,000, and there were 9,000 new jobs added in financial activities - the fewest for that industry in the last six months.

"Firm size contributions to October employment gains returned to the same pattern we had been seeing for some time prior to September as small businesses rebounded to account for almost half the jobs added," said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Large companies continue to be negatively impacted by trends such as low oil prices and the strong dollar driving weaker exports. On the other hand, small businesses can benefit from these same trends."

Employment in the private sector rose in October, but the pace of job creation was down a bit from September. According to the ADP National Employment Rep...
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Manufacturing expansion continues

Most sectors, however report contraction

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy expanded in October for the 34th month in a row, with the overall economy growing for the 77th consecutive month.

The latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business shows the October Purchasing Management Index (PMI) came in at 50.1%, down 0.1% from the month before.

The Production Index rose 1.1% from September to 52.9%, while the Employment Index slumped 2.9% to 47.6%.

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

Sector performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, seven reported growth last month in the following order:

  • Printing & Related Support Activities;
  • Furniture & Related Products;
  • Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  • Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  • Chemical Products;
  • Paper Products; and
  • Fabricated Metal Products.

The nine industries reporting contraction in October -- listed in order – were:

  • Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  • Primary Metals;
  • Petroleum & Coal Products;
  • Plastics & Rubber Products;
  • Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  • Machinery;
  • Transportation Equipment;
  • Wood Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.
The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy expanded in October for the 34th month in a row, with the overall economy growing for the 77th consecutive mo...
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Personal income and spending inch higher

Consumers also tucked more away for a rainy day

Not a lot of movement in September in personal income or spending.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income increased $18.6 billion -- or 0.1% -- in September. Disposable personal income (DPI), which is after-tax income was also up 0.1% or $19.2 billion.

On the spending side, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) edged up just 0.1% or $15.6 billion.

Money coming in

Wages and salaries fell by $3.7 billion in September, after shooting up $36.0 billion the month before. Within that, private wages and salaries were down $7.0 billion, while government wages and salaries increased $3.3 billion. Supplements to wages and salaries rose $3.3 billion.

Spending and saving

Personal outlays, which is made up of PCE -- personal interest payments and personal current transfer payments -- rose $13.7 billion last month, compared with an increase of $42.3 billion in August.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- totaled $642.8 billion in September, compared with $637.3 billion the month before. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 4.8%; it was 4.7% in August.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Not a lot of movement in September in personal income or spending. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income ros...
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Rate of economic growth slows dramatically

Weekly jobless claims inch higher

Growth in the U.S. economy slowed significantly during the third quarter following a robust increase in the previous three months.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis 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 1.5% in the July – September quarter of 2015. Real GDP shot up 3.9% in the second quarter.

It should be noted that this is an “advance” and that the source data will be revised two more times as more information becomes available. The "second" estimate is due out on November 24.

Positives and negatives

The increase in real GDP is a reflection of positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, and residential fixed investment. Those were partly offset by a decline in private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The slowdown in the rate of growth came from, in addition to the previously-mentioned downturn in private inventory, decelerations in exports, nonresidential fixed investment, PCE, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports.

Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was $636.7 billion in the third quarter, compared with $617.5 billion in the second. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 4.7% in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 4.6% in the second.

The complete GDP report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were up a tad last week.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), initial jobless claims rose 1,000 in the week ending October 24 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000. The previous week's total was unrevised, and DOL says there were no special factors affecting the latest week's initial claims.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly accounting and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 259,250 -- down of 4,000 from the previous week and the lowest level for this average since December 15, 1973.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.  

Growth in the U.S. economy slowed significantly during the third quarter following a robust increase in the previous three months. The Bureau of Economic ...
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Leading economic indicators dip in September

Initial jobless claims edge higher

The Conference Board reports that after showing no change in both August in July, its Leading Economic Index (LEI) fell 0.2% in September -- the first decline since last February.

While that might raise questions among some economists about the future growth of the economy, Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board remains fairly upbeat.

“Despite September’s decline, the U.S. LEI still suggests economic expansion will continue, although at a moderate pace,” he said, explaining, “The recent weakness in stock markets, the manufacturing sector and housing permits was offset by gains in financial indicators, and to a lesser extent improvements in consumer expectations and initial claims for unemployment insurance. The U.S. economy is on track for moderate growth of about 2.5% in the coming quarters, despite the mixed global economic landscape.”

The LEI is essentially a composite of several 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 they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of the Leading Economic Index 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

In a separate report, the Labor Department (DOL) says first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 in the week ending October 17 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 -- from 255,000 to 256,000.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly calculation and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was down 2,000 to 263,250 -- the lowest level since December 15, 1973 when it was 256,750.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The Conference Board reports that after showing no change in both August in July, its Leading Economic Index (LEI) fell 0.2% in September -- the first decl...
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Hiring outlook may be improving in the fourth quarter

Careerbuilder survey looks better than most recent employment numbers

When the government reported September's employment numbers earlier this month, it was a disappointment to economists and the stock market.

There were fewer jobs created than expected, and August's more robust numbers were revised downward. But maybe it's not as gloomy as it seems.

A new survey from the employment website Careerbuilder.com predicts full-time, permanent hiring in the fourth quarter will be the strongest since 2006. Seasonal hiring could outpace last year’s projections by a healthy margin.

According to the survey, 34% of U.S. employers plan to hire full-time, permanent staff in the fourth quarter. About the same percentage plan to add seasonal staff.

When the survey honed in on retailers, more than half – 53% – said they plan to take on seasonal help for the holidays, up from 43% last year. All in all, the survey casts the employment picture in a bullish light.

Healthy labor market

“Our study is reflecting a durability in the U.S. economy and labor market,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Employer confidence is widespread and the strongest we’ve seen since 2006. Hiring will continue on an upward trajectory for both permanent and seasonal positions, with pay expected to improve over last year as companies keep pace with minimum wage hikes and compete more aggressively for elusive talent.”

According to Careerbuilder, 39% of employers added full-time, permanent employees in the third quarter, up from 34% in the same period in 2014 and 28% in 2013. Ten percent of businesses reduced their workforce, about the same as last year, while 49% made no change to staff levels.

For the future, 35% plan to add full-time, permanent employees in the current quarter, up from 29% in 2014 and 25% in 2013. Ten percent expect to reduce staff, on par with 9% last year. About 52% anticipate no change.

Bump in seasonal hiring

Because of the holidays, the fourth quarter is often marked by an increase in seasonal hiring and this year should be no exception. About 33% of employers said they expect to hire seasonal workers in the fourth quarter, up from 26% last year. Fifty-seven percent expect to transition some seasonal staff into full-time, permanent roles, up from 42% last year.

If you end up taking a seasonal job, not only do you have improved chances of turning it into a permanent position, you will likely earn more money. The survey shows 37% of employers say they will increase pay for their seasonal staff, up ten percentage points over last year.

Seventy-two percent of seasonal employers will pay $10 or more per hour while 19% will pay $16 or more.

Customer service in demand

Most of the seasonal hiring – 46% – will be for positions in customer services. There will also be demand for help in administrative support, inventory management, hosting/greeting, and shipping/delivery.

Your best chance of landing a job in the fourth quarter will be if you live in the south. The Midwest reported the largest year-over-year gain with 34% of employers planning to add full-time, permanent staff, up ten percentage points over last year.

When the government reported September's employment numbers earlier this month, it was a disappointment to economists and the stock market.There were f...
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Non-manufacturing activity slows in September

Thirteen industry sectors continued to expand

September saw economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grow again for the 68th consecutive month, albeit at a slower pace than in August.

The latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business shows the non-manufacturing index (NMI) registered 56.9% in September -- down 2.1% from the August reading of 59 percent.

The Prices Index dipped 2.4% from the August reading to 48.4%, indicating prices fell in September for the first time since February of this year.

While the rate of growth cooled during September, and the trend of lower costs and little pricing power continues, Anthony Nieves, CPSM, C.P.M., CFPM, chair of the Institute for ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, says the purchasing and supply executives who were surveyed, “continue to remain positive about current business conditions.”

Industry performance

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth last month -- listed in order -- were:

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

The four industries reporting contraction in September were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  3. Retail Trade; and
  4. Other Services.
September saw economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grow again for the 68th consecutive month, albeit at a slower pace than in August. The lat...
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A hiring slowdown in September

Health care was a big gainer

The economy created fewer than 200,000 jobs in September for a second consecutive month as the unemployment rate held steady at a 7-year low of 5.1%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports total non-farm payroll employment rose by 142,000 last month, with job gains occurring in health care and professional & business services, while mining employment fell.

Who's hiring

In addition to health care, which added 34,000 jobs, employment grew in professional and business (+31,000), retail trade (+24,000), food services and drinking places (+21,000), and information (12,000).

Employment in mining declined again in September (-10,000), with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Since reaching a peak last December, mining employment has declined by 102,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation & warehousing, financial activities, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

Who's working

The number of people out of work (7.9 million) changed little as the unemployment rate held at 5.1%. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed are by 0.8% points and one million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.6%), teenagers (16.3%), whites (4.4%), blacks (9.2%), Asians (3.6%), and Hispanics (6.4%) showed little or no change in September. 

The civilian labor force participation rate dipped to 62.4% in September; it had been at 62.6% for the previous three months. The employment-population ratio edged down to 59.2% in September, after showing little movement for the first eight months of the year.

In your pocket

The average work week for all employees on private non-farm payrolls declined by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours last month. Average hourly earnings fell a penny to $25.09 following a gain of nine cents in August.

So far this year, hourly earnings are up 2.2%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and non-supervisory employees were unchanged at $21.08 in September.

The complete September employment report is available on the Labor Department website

The economy created fewer than 200,000 jobs in September for a second consecutive month as the unemployment rate held steady at a 7-year low of 5.1% The B...
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Manufacturing expands in September -- but the rate slows

Initial jobless claims were on the rise last week

The rate of expansion in activity of the manufacturing sector slowed again in September, although it did grow for the 33rd month in a row, while the overall economy grew for the 76th consecutive month.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the September Purchasing Management Index (PMI) registered 50.2%, a 0.9% decline from August. A PMI reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates it is generally declining.

Within the PMI, the New Orders Index registered 50.1%, down 1.6% from August and the Production Index dipped 1.8% to 51.8%. The Employment Index came in at 50.5%, a loss of 0.7%.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, seven are reporting growth in September in the following order:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Furniture & Related Products;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  6. Paper Products; and
  7. Nonmetallic Mineral Products.

The 11 industries reporting contraction in September -- listed in order -- are:

  1. Primary Metals;
  2. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  3. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  4. Wood Products;
  5. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  6. Machinery;
  7. Computer & Electronic Products;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  10. Transportation Equipment; and
  11. Chemical Products.

Jobless claims

There was a big jump in the number of workers filing for first-time state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that initial jobless claims shot up by 10,000 in the week ending September 26 to a seasonally adjusted total of 277,000. The DOL says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims.

Even with the increase in first-time applications, the four-week moving average was 270,750, down 1,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average smooths out the volatility of the weekly report and is seen as a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The rate of expansion of activity in the manufacturing sector slowed again in September, although it did grow for the 33rd month in a row while the overal...
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Gone: Employers cut nearly 60K jobs in September

More than half were at Hewlett-Packard

September was another big month for job-cutting.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that U.S.-based employers eliminated 58,877 last month -- up 43% from August. That makes September the third-largest month of the year for terminations behind July (105,696) and April (61,582) -- and 93% above the 30,477 planned firings a year earlier.

Tough quarter

In the just-completed third quarter, 205,759 job cuts were announced, making it the largest job-cut quarter since the third quarter of 2009 (240,233). It also was 40% higher than the previous quarter’s 181,213 job cuts, and 75% higher than the third quarter of last year, when 117,374 jobs were eliminated.

So far this year, employers have announced 493,431 planned job cuts, 36% more than the 363,408 cuts tracked from January through September a year ago. In fact, the year-to-date total is 2.0% higher than all of 2014 when 483,171 jobs disappeared.

“Job cuts have already surpassed last year’s total,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, “and are on track to end the year as the highest annual total since 2009, when nearly 1.3 million layoffs were announced at the tail-end of the recession.”

Computer industry hit hard

While job cuts over the first two quarters were dominated by oil-related industries, recent downsizing activity has been concentrated in the public sector and the computer industry.

The computer industry saw the heaviest job cuts in September, as perpetually struggling Hewlett-Packard announced plans to reduce its workforce by as many as 30,000. In all, the industry saw 32,500 job cuts during the month. That is the highest one-month total for this industry since IBM announced 60,000 job cuts in 1993.

To date, computer firms have announced 58,874 job cuts, just shy of the 59,528 computer-industry jobs cuts in all of 2014.

For the year, the biggest job cutting sector is energy, which has announced 72,708 job cuts since January 1. Most of the energy cuts occurred in the first half of year, with just 12,208 job cuts recorded in the latest quarter.

September was another big month for job-cutting. Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports by U.S.-based employers announced plans to ...
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September sees 200,000 jobs added, says ADP

Large businesses carried the load this month

Another good month for job creation.

The ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the payroll procession company in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, reports private sector employment increased by 200,000 jobs from August to September.

The report, derived from ADP's actual payroll data, shows companies with over 1,000 employees added 109,000 jobs, accounting for over half the total jobs added for the month. Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 37,000 jobs, while employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 56,000 jobs. However, companies with 500-999 employees lost 3,000 jobs.

"The U.S. job machine continues to produce jobs at a strong and consistent pace,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. “Despite job losses in the energy and manufacturing industries, the economy is creating close to 200,000 jobs per month. At this pace full employment is fast approaching."

Goods and services employment

Employment at goods-producing companies rose by 12,000 jobs in September, down about 3,000 from the previous month. The construction industry added 35,000 jobs -- almost double the 18,000 gained in August. Meanwhile, manufacturing dropped into negative territory losing 15,000 jobs in September, the worst showing since December 2010.

Service-providing employment rose by 188,000 jobs in September, up by 16,000 from August. Professional/business services contributed 29,000 jobs in September, roughly the same as in August. Trade/transportation/utilities grew by 39,000 jobs, while financial activities added 15,000 workers.

"The largest companies appear to be starting to overcome the impacts of weak global demand and the high dollar,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, VP and head of the ADP Research Institute, “while the smallest companies may have pulled back as concerns about the resiliency of the U.S. economy grew and consumer confidence softened."

Another good month for job creation. The ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the payroll procession company in collaboration with Moody'...
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Another increase in personal incomes and spending

But consumers weren't tucking away as much for emergencies

Personal incomes rose in August, building on July's increase, as did personal consumption expenditures (PCE) or consumer spending.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, income was up 0.3%, or $52.5 billion, and disposable personal income (DPI) -- also known as after-tax income -- increased $47.1 billion, or 0.4%. PCE was up $54.9 billion, or 0.4%.

Compensation

The increase in wages and salaries weakened in August, rising just $35.6 billion, compared with an advance of $43.8 billion the month before. Private wages and salaries were up $31.5 billion, while government wages and salaries rose $4.1 billion.

Personal outlays and personal saving

PCE, personal interest payments and personal current transfer payments increased $55.2 billion in August, after rising $46.0 billion in July.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $615.6 billion in August, compared with $623.6 billion in July. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 4.6% versus 4.7% a month earlier.

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

Personal incomes rose in August, building on July's increase, as did personal consumption expenditures (PCE) or consumer spending. According to the Bureau...
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Springtime economy grew at a healthy clip

More consumer spending was a big factor

The final numbers for economic growth during the second quarter are in -- and things were looking pretty good.

The Commerce Department 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 3.9%.

By way of comparison, real GDP increased a paltry 0.6% in the first three months of the year.

These new numbers are based on more complete source data than were available for the "second" estimate, in which the increase in real GDP was put at 3.7%. With this “third” and final look at the April – June quarter, personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and nonresidential fixed investment increased more than previously estimated.

Contributors

The acceleration in real GDP came from an upturn in exports, an acceleration in PCE, a deceleration in imports, a turnaround in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Those were partly offset by decelerations in private inventory investment and in federal government spending.

Real gross domestic income (GDI) -- the value of the costs incurred and the incomes earned in the production of goods and services in the nation’s economy -- rose 0.7% after increasing 0.4% in the first quarter.

GDP inflation and corporate profits

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.5% in the second quarter, in contrast to a decline 1.6% in the first quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” rate of GDP inflation jumped 1.2% after edging up just 0.2% in the preceding quarter.

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment (IVA) and capital consumption adjustment (CCAdj)) shot up $70.4 billion in the second quarter; they fell $123.0 billion in the first.

The complete GDP report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The final numbers for economic growth during the second quarter are in -- and things were looking pretty good. The Commerce Department reports real gross ...
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Survey finds growing employer support for minimum wage hike

How much is enough?

A strong majority of employers support an increase in the minimum wage, according to a new survey by CareerBuilder.

Sixty-four percent of employers responding to the survey say they think the minimum wage should be increased in their state -- up 2% who said so last year.

“Americans’ wages have been stuck in a slow-growth pattern since the recession,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “As big name brands take measures to increase pay for minimum wage workers and the market overall grows more competitive for skilled labor, employers are going to start feeling more wage pressure when trying to attract and retain employees at all levels within the organization.”

The national online survey, conducted on behalf by Harris Poll between May 14 and June 3, 2015, included a representative sample of 2,321 full-time hiring and human resource managers and 3,039 full-time workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

What is fair?

Twenty-six percent of employers said they plan to hire minimum wage workers this year. Just 6% of all employers believe the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is fair. Sixty-one percent said a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, versus 54% who said that last year. Eleven percent said a fair minimum wage is $15 or more per hour, compared with 7% last year.

Is it enough?

Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 65% said they couldn’t make ends meet; another 49% said they had to work more than one job to make ends meet.

But it’s not just minimum wage workers who are struggling. Nineteen percent of workers at all salary levels claimed they were unable to make ends meet during the past year. Sixty-five percent of all workers say they’re in debt and, while most say it’s manageable, it should be noted that 16% of workers ages 25-34 still live with their parents. Eighteen percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year and 28% don’t set aside any savings each month.

A strong majority of employers supports an increase in the minimum wage, according to a new survey by CareerBuilder http://www.careerbuilder.com/?sc_cmp2=j...
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Leading Economic Index inches upward in August

Moderate growth is expected to continue

After showing no movement in July and an 0.6% gain in June, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted a tiny increase in August,

According to Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board, the 0.1% advance “suggests economic growth will remain moderate into the New Year, with little reason to expect growth to pick up substantially.

“Average working hours and new orders in manufacturing have been weak,”, he noted, “pointing to more slow growth in the industrial sector. However, employment, personal income and manufacturing and trade sales have all been rising, helping to offset the weakness in industrial production in recent months.”

The LEI is essentially a composite of several 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 they smooth out some of the volatility of individual components.

The ten components of 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
After showing no movement in July and an 0.6% gain in June, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) posted a tiny increase in August, Accordin...
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Retail sales inch higher in August

The tiny advance was the second in a row

It wasn't much, but retail sales were up in August, building on July's advance.

According to the Census Bureau, sales were up 0.2% from the prior month to $447.7 billion, and up 2.2% from the same time last year. The figures take into account seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not price changes.

At the same time, the government revised its figures to show July's sales were up 0.7% instead of the 0.6% reported a month ago.

Strengths and weaknesses

The August increase was powered by increases at auto and parts dealers, restaurants, and grocery stores -- all of which showed gains of 0.7% -- and health and personal care stores (+0.8%). Those gains were offset by sales declines at gas stations (-1.8%), building material and garden equipment supplies dealers (-1.8%), and furniture and home furnishing stores (-0.9%).

Core sales -- which exclude motor vehicle dealers, gas stations, and building material and supply dealers -- were up 0.5% last month.

The complete August retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

It wasn't much, but retail sales were up in August, building on July's advance. According to the Census Bureau, sales were up 0.2% from the prior month to...
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Increase in weekly jobless claims slows

Some analysts say its a sign of approaching “full employment”

Fewer people signed up for first-time unemployment benefits last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 275,000 initial claims in the week ending September 5 -- down 6,000 from the week before. In addition, the previous week's total was revised down by 1,000.

The initial claims level has remained below 300,000 for 27 consecutive weeks, leading economists at Briefing.com to say that this supports “the idea that the labor market is encroaching on full employment.”

DOL says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly tally and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, rose 500 from the previous week's level -- to 275,750.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Fewer people signed up for first-time unemployment benefits last week. The Labor Department reports there were 275,000 initial claims in the week ending S...
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Job openings on the rise in July

Both hires and separations were lower

The last business day of July saw the number of job openings at a series high of 5.8 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

At the same time, the number of hires and separations edged down to 5.0 million and 4.7 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was 1.9% for a fourth straight month and the layoffs and discharges rate declined to 1.1%.

Job openings

Job openings increased to a new series high of 5.8 million in July, eclipsing the previous high of 5.4 million in May. The series began in December 2000.

The job openings rate for July rose to 3.9% after measuring 3.6% in the prior 3 months. The number of job openings rose in July for total private and was little changed for government. Several industries experienced a rise in openings in July including professional and business services (+122,000), accommodation and food services (+82,000), retail trade (+77,000), and nondurable goods manufacturing (+27,000).

In the regions, the number of openings rose in the Northeast (+154,000) and South (+141,000).

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in July for total nonfarm and total private.

The number of job openings for government was little changed.

Job openings rose over the year for many industries with the largest increases occurring in professional and business services (+452,000), health care and social assistance (+174,000), accommodation and food services (+141,000), and retail trade (+136,000).

Job openings decreased over the year in mining and logging (-8,000). The number of job openings increased over the year in all four regions.

Hires

The number of hires edged down to 5.0 million in July from 5.2 million in June. The hires rate was 3.5%. The number of hires edged down for total private and was little changed for government in July. There was little change in the number of hires in all industries and regions over the month.

Over the 12 months ending in July, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm and total private, and rose for government. At the industry level, hires increased in accommodation and food services (+113,000) and in federal government (+13,000), but fell in construction (-109,000) and in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-37,000). The number of hires was little changed in in all four regions.

Separations

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

Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 4.7 million total separations in July, versus 4.9 million in June. The separations rate was 3.3%. The number of total separations edged down for total private and was little changed for government. Total separations decreased in July in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-38,000) and in the West region (-184,000), but was little changed in the other industries and regions over the month.

There were 2.7 million quits in July, little changed from June. Although the number of quits has been increasing overall since the end of the recession, the number has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 11 months. The quits rate was 1.9% in July for the fourth month in a row. The number of quits was little changed for total private and unchanged for government over the month. Quits fell in professional and business services (-57,000) and in the West region (-107,000), and was little changed in the other industries and regions in July.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in July for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Over the year, quits increased in accommodation and food services (+101,000), state and local government (+27,000), and educational services (+23,000). Quits decreased over the year in finance and insurance (-25,000) and in nondurable goods manufacturing

(-18,000). In the regions, quits increased in the South (+168,000) and Northeast (+67,000), but fell in the West (-85,000). 

There were 1.6 million layoffs and discharges in July, edging down from June. The layoffs and discharges rate fell to 1.1%. The number of layoffs and discharges edged down over the month for total private and was little changed for government. The number was little changed in all four regions.

Seasonally adjusted estimates of layoffs and discharges are not available for individual industries. The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) edged down over the 12 months ending in July for total nonfarm and total private, and was little changed for government. The number of layoffs and discharges rose over the year in mining and logging (+8,000) and in federal government (+5,000), but fell in construction (-90,000) and educational services (-23,000). The number of layoffs and discharges fell over the year in the Northeast region (-138,000) and was little changed in the other regions.

In July, there were 413,000 other separations for total nonfarm, up slightly from June. Over the month, the number of other separations was little changed for total private at 341,000 and increased for government to 72,000. Seasonally adjusted estimates of other separations are not available for individual industries or regions.

Over the 12 months ending in July, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total nonfarm (+64,000) and for government (+12,000), and edged up for total private (+52,000).

Other separations increased over the year in several industries, with the largest changes occurring in

construction (+17,000), health care and social assistance (+16,000), and accommodation and food services (+15,000).

Other separations decreased over the year in nondurable goods manufacturing (-10,000). In the regions, other separations increased in the Midwest (+33,000) and was little changed in the other regions.

The full report is available on the BLS website.

The last business day of July saw the number of job openings at a series high of 5.8 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the sa...
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Jobless rate falls in August

The economy continued to crank out jobs

The nation's unemployment rate edged down 0.2% in August to 5.1% -- the lowest level since April of 2008.

The decline came as the economy created 173,000 non-farm payroll positions, thanks in large measure to gains in health care and social assistance and in financial activities.

At the same time it released its August report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised it's figures for job creation in June from +231,000 to +245,000, and in July from +215,000 to +245,000. With these revisions, job gains over the last three months have averaged 221,000 per month.

With the decline in the jobless rate, the number of unemployed persons edged down to 8.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.0 percentage point and 1.5 million, respectively.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites fell to 4.4% in August. The rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.7%), teenagers (16.9%), blacks (9.5%), Asians (3.5%), and Hispanics (6.6%) showed little change in August.

The number of people out of work for less than five weeks decreased by 393,000 to 2.1 million in August. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) held at 2.2 million in August and accounted for 27.7 % of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed workers is down by 779,000.

The civilian labor force participation rate in August was 62.6% for the third straight month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4%, was roughly unchanged in August and has shown little movement so far this year.

Hiring and firing

Health care and social assistance added 56,000 jobs in August, with health care employment up by 41,000 over the month. Employment rose by 16,000 in social assistance, which includes child day care services and services for the elderly and disabled. Financial activities employment increased by 19,000, employment in professional and business services rose by 33,000.

Manufacturing employment fell by 17,000 in August, with job losses occurring in fabricated metal products and food manufacturing (-7,000 each). Employment in mining was down by 9,000, with losses concentrated in support activities for mining (-7,000). Since reaching a peak in December 2014, mining employment has plunged by 90,000.

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

Employee earnings

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose by eight cents in August -- to $25.09, following a six-cent gain in July. So far this year, hourly earnings are up 2.2%.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and non-supervisory employees increased by a nickel, to $21.07.

The complete August employment report is available on the Labor Department website.

The nation's unemployment rate edged down 0.2% in August to 5.1% -- the lowest level since April of 2008. The decline came as the economy created 173,000...
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The services sector continues to barrel along

Growth slowed, but optimism remains

The non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy continued to grow in August, although not as robustly as it did the month before.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), which represents the nation’s purchasing and supply executives say the sector registered 59% last month after coming in at 60.3% in July. Still, this marked the 67th consecutive month of growth.

A reading above 50% indicates expansion; below that -- contraction.

The report also shows the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index dipped from 64.9% to 63.9% percent, the New Orders Index slipped to 63.4% from 63.8%, the Employment Index was dropped from 59.6% to 56%, and the Prices Index fell 2.9% from the July reading of 53.7% to 50.8%, indicating prices rose in August for the sixth consecutive month.

Overall, business execs continue to be optimistic about business conditions and the economy.

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in August -- listed in order -- are:

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

The only industry reporting contraction in August was Mining.

The non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy continued to grow in August, although not as robustly as it did the month before. The Institute ...
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Monthly job cuts plunge in August

But the number of terminations is up sharply from a year ago

After surging to a four-year high in July on massive cuts in military staffing, monthly job cuts plunged by more than 60% last month.

According to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. employers announced plans to reduce their payrolls by 41,186 workers -- a decline of 61% from the 105,696 terminations a month earlier. The July figure was the highest since September 2011, when monthly job cuts reached 115,730.

Even with the decline, the August total is 2.9 % more than the same month last year, when 40,010 workers were let go. This marks the seventh month this year that the job-cut total was higher than the comparable month from 2014.

So far this year, employers have announced 434,554 job cuts -- up 31% from the first eight months of 2014. With monthly totals averaging 54,319, 2015 job cuts are on track to exceed 650,000 for the year, which would be the highest year-end tally since 2009 (1,272,030).

Retailing bears the brunt

The retail sector saw the heaviest job cutting in August, with 9,601 planned firings. Most of those were related to bankruptcy of the A&P east coast supermarket chain, which is closing more than 100 stores and terminating a reported 8,500 workers by Thanksgiving.

The retail sector has announced 57,363 job cuts so far this year, a 90% surge over the 30,109 job cuts announced by this point in 2014.

“Overall, retail is relatively healthy, but we have seen some big layoffs this year, particularly from long-time players that simply have not been able to keep up with changing consumer trends,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “These retailers somehow manage to survive, but only through multiple bankruptcies, such as A&P. Earlier this year RadioShack announced 5,400 job cuts,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The industrial goods sector saw the second heaviest downsizing activity in August, announcing 7,949 job cuts. That is the largest number for this sector since March, when 9,163 pink slips were handed out.

The oil patch factor

About 22% of the industrial goods cuts were related to the recent drop in oil prices. In all, 3,808 job cuts were attributed to oil prices last month, which is actually down 57% from July.

Since the beginning of the year, oil prices have been blamed for 82,268 job losses, mostly in the energy sector, but also among industrial goods manufacturers that supply equipment and materials for oil exploration and extraction.

“The stream of job cuts related to oil prices appears to be ebbing,” Challenger noted. “The majority of these cuts came in the first four months of 2015, when we saw more than 68,000 layoffs related to oil. Since May, fewer than 14,000 job cuts have been attributed to oil prices.”

Jobless claims

A big jump last week in first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial jobless claims jumped by 12,000 in the week ending August 29 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

DOL says there were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The four-week moving average totaled 275,500 -- up 3,250 from the previous week. This tally is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it strips out the volatility found in the weekly report.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Monthly job cuts plunged by more than 60 percent in August After surging to a four-year high in July on massive cuts in military staffing, monthly job cu...
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Growth in manufacturing sector slows in August

Export growth is a concern

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in August for the 32nd consecutive month -- but at a slower rate than in July.

The latest Institute For Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing report on business shows the August Purchasing Management Index (PMI) registered 51.1% last month -- a drop of 1.6% from July

The New Orders Index registered 51.7%, down 4.8% from July, while the Production Index was down 2.4% to 53.6%. In addition, the Employment Index was down 1.5%, putting it at 51.2%

Comments from supply executives reflect a mix of modest to strong growth, according to Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, “depending upon the specific industry, the positive impact of lower raw materials prices, but also a continuing concern over export growth."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 have reported growth last month in the following order:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  5. Chemical Products;
  6. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  7. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Plastics & Rubber Products; and
  10. Machinery.

The six industries reporting contraction in August -- listed in order -- were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Primary Metals;
  3. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  4. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  5. Computer & Electronic Products; and
  6. Transportation Equipment.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in August for the 32nd consecutive month -- but at a slower rate than in July. The latest Institute...
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ADP: August job creation below 200,000

Small businesses supplied the power

The nation's economy failed to create more than 200,000 jobs for the second straight month in August.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment rose by 190,000 jobs from July to August.

"The job growth numbers for August improved slightly from July," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. "The employment gains for the month are in line with the year to date average."

The report, produced by ADP in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, is derived from ADP's actual payroll data, and measures the change in total non-farm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Who's hiring

Businesses with 49 or fewer employees added 85,000 payroll positions last month, an increase of over one-third from July. Employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 66,000 jobs -- 5,000 more than the previous month. Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – added just 40,000 jobs -- 13,000 fewer than in July, while companies with 500-999 added 5,000 jobs and firms with more than 1,000 had 34,000 new hires.

Jobs in the goods-producing sector shot up by 17,000 -- more than double the July's gain of 7,000. Within that sector, the construction industry added 17,000 jobs and manufacturing hired 7,000 people.

Service-providing employment rose by 173,000 jobs in August, as professional/business services added 29,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 28,000, and 13,000 people four work in financial activities.

"Recent global financial market turmoil has not slowed the U.S. job market, at least not yet,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Job growth remains strong and broad-based, except in the energy industry, which continues to shed jobs. Large companies also remain more cautious in their hiring than smaller ones."

he nation's economy failed to create more than 200,000 jobs for the second straight month in August. According to the ADP National Employment Report, priv...
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Personal incomes and spending move higher in July

The savings rate posted a gain as well

American consumers were earning, spending, and saving more money in July.

Figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show personal income rose $67.1 billion, or 0.4% for a fourth straight month, disposable personal income (DPI) -- personal income less personal current taxes -- increased by 0.5%, or $61.5 billion, and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) advanced $37.4 billion, or 0.3 % for the second month in a row.

Wages and salaries increased $35.8 billion in July, following a $14.3 billion gain in June. Private wages and salaries were up $32.7 billion, more than triple the previous month's advance, while government wages and salaries were up $3.1 billion, compared with an increase of $3.3 billion in June.

Personal outlays and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments – were slightly above June's $36.5 billion at $37.7 billion.

Personal saving, which is DPI less personal outlays, was $651.1 billion in July, up $23.8 billion from June. That pushed the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- to 4.9% in July from 4.7% in June.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

American consumers were earning, spending and saving more money in July. Figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show personal income rose $67...
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Nation's economy showing strength

Jobless claims on the decline

The government has taken a second look at how the economy was doing in the April – June period, and it appears we're in better shape than we thought.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product -- 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 – rose at an annual rate of 3.7% in the second quarter.

Growth contributors

The “advance estimate” of a 2.3% growth rate was based on less data than was available for this latest reading. The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter reflected an upturn in exports, an acceleration Personal consumption spending (PCE), a deceleration in imports, an upturn in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. These were partly offset by decelerations in private inventory investment, in federal government spending, and in residential fixed investment.

GDP inflation

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.5% in the second quarter, in contrast to a decline of 1.6% in the first quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” rate of GDP inflation increased 1.2%, compared with a rise of 0.2% in the previous quarter.

Real gross domestic purchases -- purchases by U.S. residents of goods and services wherever produced -- increased 3.4% in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.5% in the first.

Corporate profits

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital consumption adjustment) increased $47.5 billion in the second quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $123.0 billion in the first.

The complete GDP report is avaliable on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

Separately, the Department of Labor (DOL) reports first time applications for state jobless benefits fell by 6,000 in the week ending August 22 to a seasonally 271,000. Officials say there were no special factors affecting the claims level.

The four-week moving average, which is considered a more accurate barometer of the labor market as it strips out the volatility found in the weekly report, came to 272,500 -- up 1,000 from the previous week.

Analysts at Briefing.com say this leads them to believe that the August employment report will show more than 200,000 jobs were created during the month.

The full report can be found on the DOL website.

The government has taken a second look at how the economy was doing in the April – June period, and it appears we're in better shape than we thought. Acco...
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Leading Economic Index posts first decline in 5 months

A drop in housing permits was among the culprits

After posting 4 months of strong gains, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) moved lower in July.

The decline of 0.2% followed advances of 0.6% in June, May, and April.

“Despite a sharp drop in housing permits, the U.S. LEI is still pointing to moderate economic growth through the remainder of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “Current conditions, measured by the coincident economic index, have been rising moderately but steadily, driven by rising employment and income, and even industrial production has improved in recent months.”

The leading index is essentially a composite average of several individual leading indicators. It 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 10 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, non-defense 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

Initial claims

The Department of Labor (DOL) states that initial applications for jobless benefits rose by 4,000 in the week ending August 15 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000.

The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 to 273,000. DOL says there were no special factors affecting this week's claims level.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out the volatility found in the weekly compilation was up 5,500 to 271,500, still near the low point for several decades.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

After posting 4 months of strong gains, The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) moved lower in July. The decline of 0.2% followed advances of ...
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Retail sales resume climb after 1-month pause

Initial jobless applications were up again

Helped by an increase in auto and parts sales, overall retail sales posted a modest gain in July.

Figures released by the Census Bureau, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, show sales were up 0.6% last month to $446.5. At the same time, the June decline of 0.3% was revised to show sales were actually flat for the month. Sales were up 1.2% in May.

On a year-over-year basis, sales jumped 2.4%.

Major factors in the July increase were sales by auto and parts dealers (+1.4%), sporting goods, hobby and book & music stores (+0.9%) and furniture & home furnishing stores (+0.8%). Gas station sales inched up 0.4% after surging 1.8% a month earlier.

On the losing side were electronics & appliance stores (-1.2%) and department stores (-0.8%). Grocery store sales were flat.

Core sales, which strip out 3 volatile categories -- auto and auto parts dealers, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and gas stations -- were up 0.3%.

Stiffel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey M. Piegza notes that while the July increase is a welcome step in the right direction and offers reassurance the consumer isn’t dead, it "does little to suggest the US consumer 'is back.'”

The complete retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Initial claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week for a third straight week.

The Labor Department (DOL reports seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 274,000 in the week ending August 8 -- an increase of 5,000 from the previous week's level, which was revised down by 1,000.

The government says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims.

The 4-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market because it lacks the volatility of the weekly tally, fell 1,750 from the previous week's revised average to 266,250, its lowest level since April 15, 2000.

The full jobless claims report may be found on the DOL website.

Helped by an increase in auto and parts sales, overall retail sales posted a modest gain in July. Figures released by the Census Bureau, adjusted for seas...
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Fewer job openings in June

The rate of those leaving jobs held steady

The number of job openings on the last business day of June was down a little -- 5.2 million versus 5.4 million the month before.

The bureau of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports the number of hires and separations was little changed at 5.2 million and 4.9 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate remained at 1.9% for a third straight month, and the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 1.3%.

Job openings

Even with the slight decline, the job openings rate for June was 3.6% for the third month in a row. The number of job openings was little changed for total private and government. Job openings decreased in nondurable goods manufacturing and were little changed in all four regions.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in June for total nonfarm and total private. The number of job openings for government was little changed.

Job openings rose over the year for several industries with the largest increases occurring in professional and business services and in health care and social assistance.

Job openings declined over the year in mining and logging and in finance and insurance. The number of openings rose over the year in the South and Midwest regions.

Hires

The number of hires was 5.2 million in June, up 200,000 from May, for a hires rate of 3.7%. The number of hires was little changed for total private and government in June. There was little change in the number of hires in all industries and regions over the month.

Over the 12 months ending in June, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total nonfarm, total private, and government. At the industry level, there was more hiring in construction, other services, and state and local government.

Among the industries, the number of hires fell over the year in mining and logging. The number of hires increased in the Midwest.

Separations

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

Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee, and therefore the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations

due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 4.9 million total separations in June, about the same as in May. The separations rate was 3.5%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and government, but increased in construction. There was little change in all regions over the month.

There were 2.7 million quits in June, about the same as in May. The quits rate in June was unchanged at 1.9%. The number of quits was little changed for total private and government over the month, and little changed in all industries and in all 4 regions.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in June for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Quits increased in durable goods manufacturing and in state and local government. The number of quits increased in the Northeast and West regions.

There were 1.8 million layoffs and discharges in June, up 100,00 from May. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.3%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month for total private and government, and in all 4 regions. Seasonally adjusted estimates of layoffs and discharges are not available for individual industries.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in June for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges

increased over the year in construction and educational services but decreased in health care and social assistance. There was little change in layoffs and discharges over the year in all 4 regions.

In June, there were 392,000 other separations for total nonfarm, about the same as in May. Over the month, the number of other separations was up, 10,000 for total private at 334,000 and down 10,000 for government to 57,000. Seasonally adjusted estimates of other separations are not available for individual industries or regions.

Over the 12 months ending in June, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations increased in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services. Other separations decreased in wholesale trade. The number of other separations was little changed in all 4 regions.

The full report is available on the BLS website.

The number of job openings on the last business day of June down a little in June 5.2 million versus 5.4 million the month before. The bureau of Bureau o...
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Solid job growth in July

Unemployment among teens posted a big drop

More people -- 215,000 -- found work in July, even as the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job gains occurred in retail trade, health care, professional and technical services, and financial activities.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers declined to 16.2% last month compared with 18.1% in June, while the rates for adult men (4.8%), adult women (4.9%), whites (4.6%), blacks (9.1%), Asians (4.0%) and Hispanics (6.8%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed -- those jobless for 27 weeks or more -- was little changed at 2.2 million. These people accounted for 26.9% of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 986,000.

The civilian labor force participation rate held steady at 62.6% in July, after declining by 0.3% in June. The employment-population ratio, at 59.3%, was also unchanged and has shown little movement so far this year.

Who's hiring

Employment in retail trade increased by 36,000 last month and is up by 322,000 over the year. In July, motor vehicle and parts dealers added 13,000 jobs, and employment continued to trend up in general merchandise stores (+6,000).

Also adding jobs were health care (+28,000), professional and technical services (+ 27,000), financial activities (+17,000) and manufacturing (+15,000).

Among the losers were mining employment , with a drop of 5,000 jobs in July. Since a recent high in December 2014, employment in the industry has fallen by 78,000. Construction, wholesale trade, information and government showed little change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents to $24.99. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees was up 3 cents to $21.01.

The full report is available on the BLS website.

More people -- 215,000 -- found work in July, even as the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job ga...
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U.S. workforce takes heaviest hit since 2011

Employers cut more than 105,000 last month

Employers cut jobs in July at a clip not seen in nearly four years.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says 105,696 workers were dropped from their companies' payrolls last month, topping 100,000 for the first time since September 2011.

The July tally is 136% greater than the 44,842 job cuts recorded in June, and 125% higher than the same month a year ago.

So far this year, 393,368 jobs have been lost - 34% more than during the first 7 months of 2014. It's the highest 7-month total since 2009, when 978,048 job cuts were announced amid the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Military cuts a major factor

More than half of the July job cuts were the result of massive troop and civilian workforce reductions announced by the U.S. Army. Those cutbacks will eliminate 57,000 from government payrolls over the next two years.

“When the military makes cuts, they tend to be deep,”said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In fact, the last time we saw more than 100,000 job cuts in September of 2011, it was 50,000 cuts by the U.S. Army that dominated the total. With wars in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down and pressure to cut government spending, the military has been vulnerable to reductions.”

Indeed, some of the biggest job cuts announced in recent years have come from the military and other government agencies. In addition to the 50,000 cuts announced by the Army in 2011, the Air Force announced plans in 2005 to reduce its headcount by 40,000. Between 2002 and 2010, the U.S. Postal Service announced 3 separate job cuts that affected a total of 90,000 workers.

Other cuts contribute

While the government sector saw the heaviest cuts last month due to military reductions, the technology sector announced several major workforce reductions. Microsoft shuttered the recently acquired Nokia division, which resulted in 7,800 job losses.

Electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer Qualcomm announced plans to fire 4,500 workers. Chipmaker Intel also announced workforce reductions totaling 3,180 during the month.

Together, computer and electronics firms announced 18,891 job cuts in July. Computers firms have now announced 25,542 job cuts this year, which is 47% lower than the 48,361 cuts announced by these employers by this point last year.

Jobless claims

From the government, word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week for the second week running.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial jobless claims totaled 27,000 in the week ending August 1, up 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

Officials say there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly calculation and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, fell 6,500 to 268,250.

The complete jobless claims report may be found on the DOL website.

Employers cut jobs in July at a clip not seen in nearly four years. Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says 105,696 workers were droppe...
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Another solid month for the services sector of the economy

July marked the 66th consecutive month of growth

Activity in the non-manufacturing, or services sector, of the economy grew in July for the 66th month in a row.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reports the sector registered 60.3% last month – up 4.3% from June.

The report, issued by Anthony Nieves, CPSM, C.P.M., CFPM, chair of the (ISM) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, also showed the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index rose 3.4% to 64.9%, reflecting growth for the 72nd consecutive month at a faster rate.

The New Orders Index, meanwhile, jumped 6.6% to 63.8%, and the Employment Index grew for the 17th consecutive month, coming in at 59.6%. Prices increased in July for the fifth consecutive month. Pushing the Prices Index up 0.7% from June to a reading of 53.7%.

Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July. They were -- in order:

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

The two industries reporting contraction in July were:

  1. Mining; and
  2. Other Services.
Activity in the non-manufacturing, or services sector, of the economy grew in July for the 66th month in a row. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM)...
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Job creation continues in July, but at a slower pace

ADP says the number of new jobs fell below the 200,000 mark

While private sector employment continued to grow last month, the rate increase was slower than in the two previous months. According to the ADP National Employment Report, 85,000 jobs were created from June to July.

The report, produced by ADP in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, is derived from ADP's actual payroll data and measures the change in total non-farm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

"Job growth is strong, but it has moderated since the beginning of the year,” said Moody's Analytics Chief economist Mark Zandi. “Layoffs in the energy industry and weaker job gains in manufacturing are behind the slowdown. Nonetheless, even at this slower pace of growth, the labor market is fast approaching full employment."

Who's hiring

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees rose by 59,000, half of the June number, while employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 62,000 -- down 16,000 from the previous month.

Employment at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- increased sharply from June, with the creation of 64,000 -- up 30,000 from June. Companies with 500-999 added 17,000 jobs, and firms over 1,000 employees put 47,000 people to work.

The goods-producing sector added 8,000 jobs in July, down 5,000 from June. There were 15,000 new jobs in the construction industry, 2,000 fewer than were added in June. Meanwhile, manufacturing added just 2,000 jobs in July, after gaining 9,000 in June.

There were 178,000 new jobs in the service-providing sector last month, compared with 216,000 in June. Professional/business services contributed 42,000 new positions, trade transportation/utilities grew by 25,000, and there were 10,000 hires in financial activities.

"July employment growth was slower than June, but is still in line with what we have seen since the first of the year," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. "Notably, large businesses with more than 500 employees had their strongest job gains since last December and were almost double the June number."

While private sector employment continued to grow last month, the rate increase was slower than in the two previous months. According to the ADP National E...
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Personal incomes, spending on the rise in June

Consumers also tucked away more money in their savings accounts

Both personal incomes and spending rose in June, adding to the gains they registered a month earlier.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal income increased $68.1 billion, or 0.4% with disposable personal income (DPI) -- personal income less personal current taxes -- up $60.6 billion, or 0.5%.

In May, personal income was up a revised 0.4%, DPI increased by a revised 0.4%. and PCE increased $90.8 billion, or 0.7 percent, based on revised estimates.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), meanwhile, edged up $25.9 billion or 0.2%, compared with a revised gain of 0.7% a month earlier.

Wages and salaries rose $18.3 billion after a surge of $32.0 billion in May. Private wages and salaries were up $16.0 billion, while government wages and salaries increased $2.3 billion; little changed from the month before.

Personal outlays and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- rose $30.5 billion in June, about one-third of the $95.4 billion advance in May.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $646.3 billion in June, about $30 billion more than in May. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 4.8% in June, up 0.2% from May.

The complete income and spending report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Manufacturing economy

Growth in new orders, production and employment kept the manufacturing sector of the economy perking along in July, although at a slower pace than the month before.

The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business shows economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in July for the 31st consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 74th month in a row.

The July PMI registered 52.7% -- down 0.8% from the June reading.53.5 percent. New orders were up 0.5%, while production jumped 2%. Employment, on the other hand, fell 2.8%, “reflecting growing employment levels from June but at a slower rate,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

Sector performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 11 reported growth in July:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Paper Products;
  3. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  4. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  5. Furniture & Related Products;
  6. Fabricated Metal Products;
  7. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  8. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  9. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  10. Transportation Equipment; and
  11. Miscellaneous Manufacturing.

The five industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Wood Products;
  2. Primary Metals;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  4. Chemical Products; and
  5. Machinery.
Both personal incomes and spending rose in June, adding to the gains they registered a month earlier. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports personal inc...
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Economic growth snaps back

Jobless claims moved a bit higher last week

Everything you heard about economic growth during the first three months of the year -- forget it.

As it issued the “advance” estimate of second quarter real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S., adjusted for price changes, the Commerce Department revised its final figure for the first quarter. Instead of declining by 0.2%, GDP actually expanded 0.6%. Not a lot, but better than a decline.

Now for the current stuff: The government reports that the GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.3% in the April-June quarter. Keep in mind, though, that this estimate is based on source data that is incomplete or subject to further revision.

The stronger second-quarter showing comes from growth in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) or consumer spending, exports, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. Those gains were partly offset by declines in federal government spending, private inventory investment, and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

GDP inflation and spending

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, edged lower from 1.6% in the first quarter to 1.4% in the second three months of the year. Stripping out the volatile food and energy categories, the “core” price index for gross domestic purchases shot up 1.1% after inching ahead 0.2% in the first quarter.

PCE jumped 2.9% in the second quarter, versus an an increase of 1.8% in the first. Spending on durable goods, such as cars, computers, and major appliances, rose 7.3%, compared with a minuscule gain of of 2.0% in the previous quarter. Spending on nondurable goods was up 3.6%; it rose just 0.7% from January through March. Services spending increased 2.1%, the same increase as in the first quarter.

The complete GDP report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Initial claims

After falling to a 42-year low a week ago, first-time applications for state unemployment benefits have moved higher.

According to the Labor Department (DOL), initial jobless claims were up by 12,000 in the week ending July 25 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. Analysts at Briefing.com had expected the total to come in a bit higher -- 272,000.

The 4-week moving average, which smooths out the volatility found in the weekly tabulation, was 274,750, down 3,750 from the previous week -- a level economists say suggest a labor market that is close to full employment.

The complete jobless claims report may be found on the DOL website.

Everything you heard about economic growth during the first 3 months of the year -- forget it. As it issued the “advance” estimate of second quarter real ...
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Initial jobless claims fall to 42-year low

Leading economic indicators posted their third advance in a row

Fewer people, it would appear, lost their jobs last week.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports first time applications for state jobless benefits fell by 26,000 in the week ending July 18 to seasonally adjusted total of 255,000. That's the lowest level for initial claims since November 24, 1973, when it was 233,000.

DOL says there were no special factors affecting the claims level. Economists at Briefing.com., who were expecting the claims level to drop to 279,000, say the fact that there were no special factors leads them to believe that the drop will be temporary and that the level will soon be back in the 275,000 – 290,000 range.

The 4-week moving average, considered a better gauge of the labor market that the volatile initial claims, fell by 4,000 to 278,500.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Leading economic indicators

From The Conference Board, word that its Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose for a third straight month, increasing by 0.6% on top of gains of 0.8% in May and 0.6% in April.

The upward trend in the LEI, said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director, Business Cycles and Growth Research, at The Conference Board, “seems to be gaining more momentum with another large increase in June pointing to continued strength in the economic outlook for the remainder of the year. Housing permits and the interest rate spread drove the latest gain in the LEI, while labor market indicators such as average workweek and initial claims remained unchanged.”

The 10 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

Fewer people, it would appear, lost their jobs last week. The Labor Department (DOL) reports first time applications for state jobless benefits fell by 26...
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Retail sales slip in June

The decline is the first in three months

Retail sales fell in June after rising for 2 consecutive months

Figures released by the Census Bureau show sales, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, totaled $442.0 billion. While that's down 0.3% from May, it's up 1.4% from the same time a year ago.

Major declines were seen in furniture and home furnishing stores (-1.6%), clothing and clothing accessories stores (-1.5%) and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.3%). Sales at auto and auto parts dealers were down 1.1%.

Gainers included electronics & appliance stores (+1.0%), gas stations (+0.8) and general merchandise stores (+0.7%).

Core sales, which strip out 3 volatile categories -- auto and auto parts dealers, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and gas stations -- were down 0.1%.

The complete retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales fell in June after rising for 2 consecutive months Figures released by the Census Bureau show sales, adjusted for seasonal variation and holi...
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Initial jobless claims shoot upward

It’s the highest total since early this year

More workers were standing in line to file first-time applications for state jobless benefits last week than at any time since February.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial unemployment claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 297,000 in the week ending July 4, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week.

While the government says there were no special factors affecting the claims level, the Independence Day holiday did fall within the week.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly figure and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, rose 4,500 -- to 279,500.


The complete report is available on the DOL website.

More workers were standing in line to file first-time applications for state jobless benefits last week than at any time since February. The Labor Departm...
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A plateau in job openings

There wasn't much change between April and May

The number of job openings held fairly steady during May.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 5.4 million on the last business day of May -- the highest since the series began in December 2000, and the same as the month before.

Job openings

The job openings rate for May was 3.6%, with the number of openings little changed for total private and government. Job openings increased in nondurable goods manufacturing and in state and local government. Job openings were little changed in all 4 regions.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) rose over the 12 months ending in May for total nonfarm, total private and government. Industries that saw the largest increases were retail trade, professional and business services, and health care and social assistance. Job openings decreased over the year in mining and logging and in arts, entertainment, and recreation.

The number of job openings increased over the year in the South, Midwest, and West regions.

Hires

The number of hires was 5.0 million, the same as April, with the hires rate at 3.5%. The number of hires was little changed for total private and government in May, with little change in the number of hires in all industries and regions over the month.

Over the 12 months ending in May, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. At the industry level, hires increased in federal government. Among the industries, the number of hires fell over the year in mining and logging.

The number of hires was little changed over the year in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. Total separations is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 4.7 million total separations in May, about the same as in April. The separations rate was 3.3%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and government, and in all industries and regions over the month.

There were 2.7 million quits in May, unchanged from April. The quits rate in May was 1.9%. The number of quits was little changed for total private and government over the month.

The number of quits was little changed in all industries and in all four regions in May. The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in May for total nonfarm and total private, and was little changed for government. Over the year, quits increased in health care and social assistance and in accommodation and food services.

The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

There were 1.7 million layoffs and discharges in May, about the same as in April. The layoffs and discharges rate was 1.2%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little changed over the month for total private and government, and in all four regions. Seasonally adjusted estimates of layoffs and discharges are not available for individual industries.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the 12 months ending in May for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges increased over the year in federal government, but decreased in real estate and rental and leasing.

There was little change in layoffs and discharges over the year in all four regions.

In May, there were 391,000 other separations for total nonfarm -- about the same as in April. Over the month, the number of other separations was little changed for total private at 324,000 and for government at 67,000. Seasonally adjusted estimates of other separations are not available for individual industries or regions.

Over the 12 months ending in May, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Other separations increased in federal government, but decreased in accommodation and food services and in state and local government.

The number of other separations was little changed in all four regions.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

The number of job openings held fairly steady during May. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 5.4 million on the la...
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Want a promotion at work? Shape up!

A new survey says you may be the reason it isn't happening

What kind of employee are you? Slacker? Tardy? Slovenly? A freak?

Or, do you come in early and leave late, hit every deadline and are loved by your clients?

Your answers may explain while you languish in your cubicle, while those around you are movin' on up.

A national survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder found that provocative clothing, a disheveled appearance and unprofessional haircut are just a few of the things that cause employers to think twice before promoting workers. Behaviors such as exhibiting a negative attitude, consistently arriving late or gossiping can also work against them.

Attitudes toward appearance

When asked which aspects of a worker’s physical appearance would make them less likely to promote that person, employers were most out of favor with provocative attire (44%) and wrinkled clothes or shabby appearance (43%). Other answers include:

  • Piercings outside of traditional ear piercings: 3%
  • Attire that is too casual for the workplace: 27%
  • Visible tattoos: 27%
  • An unprofessional or ostentatious haircut: 25%
  • Unprofessional or ostentatious facial hair: 24%
  • Bad breath: 23%
  • Heavy perfume or cologne: 21%
  • Too much makeup: 15%

Behavioral blockades

Employers said certain behaviors hurt an employee’s chances for promotion, with poor attitudes and consistent tardiness taking the top spot. Among them:

  • Having a negative or pessimistic attitude: 62%
  • Regularly showing up to work late: 62%
  • Using vulgar language: 51%
  • Regularly leaving work early: 49%
  • Taking too many sick days: 49%
  • Gossiping: 44%
  • Spending office time on personal social media accounts: 39%
  • Neglecting to clean up after himself/herself: 36%
  • Always initiating non-work-related conversations with co-workers: 27%
  • Taking personal calls at work: 24%
  • Taking smoke breaks: 19%

“In addition to on-the-job accomplishments, employers also take attitude, behavior and appearance into consideration when deciding who deserves to move up in the ranks,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “While your work performance may be strong, if you’re not presenting yourself in a professional manner, it may be preventing your superiors from taking you seriously.”

What kind of employee are you? Slacker? Tardy? Slovenly? A freak? Or, do you come in early and leave late, hit every deadline and loved by your clients? ...
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Economy's services sector shows continued growth

It's the 65th straight month of expansion

It wasn't by much, but economic activity in the non-manufacturing, or services sector, of the economy posted its 65th consecutive month of growth in June.

According to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, the Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) registered 56% last month, up 0.3% from May.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index rose 2.0% to 61.5%, reflecting growth for the 71st consecutive month at a faster rate. The New Orders Index was up 0.4%, while the Employment Index fell 2.6%. Still the reading of 52.7% indicates growth for the 16th consecutive month. The Prices Index was down 2.9% to 53%, indicating prices increased in June for the fourth consecutive month.

Committee Chairman Anthony Nieves says the majority of respondents’ comments are “positive about business conditions and the economy.”

Gainers and losers

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in June -- listed in order -- were:

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

The three industries reporting contraction in June were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Other Services; and
  3. Construction.

It wasn't by much, but economic activity in the non-manufacturing, or services sector, of the economy posted its 65th consecutive month of growth in June. ...
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The new jobs were there in June, but not as many as in May

Initial jobless claims are on the rise

Led by gains in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, the economy created another 223,000 jobs during June. At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped 0.2% -- to 5.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While it was the third straight monthly increase in nonfarm payroll employment, June failed to measure up to the 254,000 jobs created in May.

Demographic breakout

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.8%), adult women (4.8%), and blacks (9.5%) edged lower last month in June, while the rates for teenagers (18.1%), whites (4.6%), Asians 3.8%), and Hispanics (6.6%) showed little change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) dropped by 381,000 to 2.1 million in June. They account for 25.8% of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 955,000.

The labor force participation rate declined by 0.3% -- to 62.6% in June, the lowest since October 1977. The employment-population ratio, at 59.3%, was essentially unchanged and has shown little movement thus far this year.

Who's hiring

The gain in nonfarm payroll employment was led by professional and business services (+ 64,000), health care (+40,000), retail trade (+33,000) and financial activities (+20,000).

Employment in mining fell by 4,000, while construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls were unchanged at $24.95. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0%.

The complete report is available on the BLS website

Initial claims

The number of workers filing initial applications for state unemployment benefits moved higher last week.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports first-time claims were up by 10,000 in the week ending June 27 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000. Officials say there were no special factors affecting the claims level.

The 4-week moving average, which lacks the volatility of the weekly tally, and is considered a more accurate barometer of the labor market, was 274,750, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week, and remains near its 15-year low.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Led by gains in professional and business services, health care, retail trade, the economy created another 223,000 jobs during June. At the same time, the ...
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Manufacturing on the move again

New orders, production, employment and inventories grew in June

The manufacturing sector of the economy continues to barrel along.

According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in June for the 30th consecutive month, with the overall economy growing for the 73rd month in a row.

"The June PMI registered 53.5%, an increase of 0.7% percentage point over the May reading,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. The New Orders Index registered 56%, up 0.2%, the Production Index registered 54%, a dip of 0.5%, and the Employment Index registered 55.5% -- a gain of 3.8% over May.

Meanwhile, inventories of raw materials rose 1.5% to 53%, and the Prices Index was unchanged at 49.5%, indicating lower raw materials prices for the eighth consecutive month.

Sector breakdown

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 are reporting growth in June in the following order:

  1. Furniture & Related Products;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  4. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  5. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  6. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  7. Transportation Equipment;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Chemical Products;
  10. Paper Products; and
  11. Computer & Electronic Products.

The four industries reporting contraction in June are:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Primary Metals;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products; and
  4. Machinery.

The manufacturing sector of the economy continues to barrel along. According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On B...
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Job cuts surge in June

The midyear total is the highest in 5 years

Employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 44,842 workers during June, an increase of about 10% from May. The cut total is 43% higher than June 2014, marking the fifth year-over-year increase in job cuts in the first six months of 2015.

At the same time, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports heavier-than-expected downsizing throughout the first half of 2015 has pushed the midyear total to its highest level since 2010.

Overall, employers have announced 287,672 job cuts during the first half of the year -- up 17% from the 2014, when the 6-month total of 246,034. The midyear total is the highest since 297,677 job cuts were recorded in the first half of 2010.

Pace of cuts holds steady

The pace of job cutting was virtually unchanged between the first and second quarter of year. The 147,458 job cuts announced between April and the end of June was just 5.0% more than the 140,214 planned layoffs in the first 3 months of 2015. The second-quarter total was up 18% from a year earlier.

The first-half surge was due largely to the decline in oil prices that rippled through the energy and industrial goods sectors. All told, the drop in oil prices was blamed for 69,582 job cuts in the first half of 2015, second only to the 86,978 job cuts attributed to “restructuring.”

The energy sector has taken the heaviest hit, cutting its workforce by 60,500 between January and June. Nearly 95% of those were due to the drop in oil prices. At this point last year, the energy sector had announced just 3,908 job cuts.

Retail takes its lumps

Energy is not the only area experiencing increased job cuts. The retail sector ranks second in job cuts for the year, with 45,230 planned layoffs to date -- up 68% from a year ago.

“Retailers should be enjoying the benefits of falling oil prices, as consumers have the money they are saving at the gas pump to spend elsewhere,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “However, it appears that consumers were hording that cash, at least through the first half of the year. The most recent data suggests that consumers are finally starting to loosen up the purse strings.”

Even if consumers start spending consistently, retailers are always vulnerable to changing consumer trends, technology and operational factors. Retail was the leading job cutting sector in June with 17,947 job cuts. Most of those were related to the closure of all Canadian stores by Minnesota-based Target.

“Not all retail cuts are due to frugal consumers,” said Challenger. “In Target’s case, the retail chain simply made significant missteps when entering Canada 2 years ago and never gained traction among Canadian shoppers. The store closures, which resulted in 17,000 job cuts for the American-based employer, was among the first decisions by new CEO Brian Cornell, who is determined to revitalize the store here in America.”

Better days ahead

Challenger thinks job cuts in retail will start to decline in the second half of the year as consumers begin to spend more. “We have already started to see a decline in oil-related job cuts as prices have begun to stabilize. Over the past two months, oil prices were blamed for just 1,297 job cuts. In contrast, oil prices caused 20,675 job cuts in April.

“Overall, we expect the pace of downsizing to slow in the final six months of 2015. The factors that were contributing to increased cuts in the first half of the year appear to subsiding,” he concluded.

Employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 44,842 workers during June, an increase of about 10% from May. The cut total is 43% higher than June 2014, ...
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Another month -- the third in a row -- of 200k+ job creation

Once again, small businesses took the lead

For the third time in as many months, the U.S. economy has created more than 200,000 private sector jobs.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, there were 237,000 new jobs in June on top of the 203,000 created in May.

The report, which is produced by ADP 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.

"The U.S. job machine remains in high gear,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The current robust pace of job growth is double that needed to absorb the growth in the working age population. The only blemish in the job market is the loss of jobs in the energy sector. Most encouraging is the healthy rate of job growth among the nation's smallest companies."

Who's hiring

As in the past, businesses with 49 or fewer employees created the most new jobs last month -- 120,000, the same as May. Employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 86,000 jobs, versus 63,000 the previous month. Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – added 32,000 jobs in June, companies with 500-999 employees gained 27,000 jobs, and firms with over 1,000 employees added 5,000 jobs.

The service-providing sector was far and away the biggest job creator, adding 225,000 jobs. Within that category, professional/business services contributed 61,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 50,000, and financial activities added 12,000 positions.

Goods-producing employment rose by 12,000 jobs, the construction industry added 19,000, and manufacturing grew by 7,000 jobs in June, after losing 2,000 in May.

“June job numbers came in at their highest level since December 2014," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. "Small businesses continue to lead the way adding over half of the total jobs this month."

For the third time in as many months, the U.S. economy has created more than 200,000 private sector jobs. According to the ADP National Employment Report,...
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Personal income and spending post gains in May

The savings rate, however, took a hit

U.S. consumers saw their incomes rise in May -- and they ran right out and spent the money.

Figures released by the Commerce Department show personal income rose 0.5%, or $79.0 billion, last month, with disposable personal income (DPI) also up 0.5% or $65.5 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) jumped 0.9%, or $105.9 billion.

Wages and salaries were up $37.1 billion in May, compared with an increase of $21.6 billion the previous month, with private wages and salaries increasing $34.8 billion, and government wages and salaries up $2.4 billion.

Personal outlays and saving

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- shot up $106.9 billion in May, compared with an increase of $9.5 billion in April

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $685.5 billion in May, compared with $726.9 billion in April. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of DPI -- was 5.1% in May, compared with 5.4% in April.

The complete income and spending report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Initial jobless claims

The number of workers applying for first-time unemployment benefits inched higher last week.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports initial applications for jobless claims rose by 3,000 in the week ending June 20 to a seasonally adjusted was 271,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 to 268,000.

DOL says no special factors affected the initial claims

The 4-week moving average, which economists consider a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 273,750 -- a drop of 3,250 from the previous week's average, which was revised up by 250. 

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

U.S. consumers saw their incomes rise in May -- and they ran right out and spent the money. Figures released by the Commerce Department show personal inco...
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A shrinking economy

The nation's gross domestic product is moving in the wrong direction

The national economy, as measured by real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S., adjusted for price changes -- declined at an annual rate of 0.2% in the first quarter, according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Real GDP grew at a 2.2% annual rate in the final 3 months of 2014.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "second" estimate issued last month.

In the “second” estimate, the decrease in real GDP was 0.7%. but this latest estimate is based on more complete data. With the third estimate, exports decreased less than previously estimated, and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and imports increased more.

The decline in real GDP primarily reflected decreases in exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by contributions from PCE, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

GDP inflation and spending

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, fell 1.6% in the first 3 months of the year. It was down 0.1% in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases was up 0.1%, compared with an increase of 0.7% in the previous quarter.

PCE increased was up 2.1% in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 4.4% in the fourth. Durable goods spending increased 1.3%, versus an advance of 6.2%, while spending for nondurable goods inched up 0.8% after rising 4.1%. Spending for services rose 2.7% versus 4.3%.

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

The national economy, as measured by real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S., adjusted for price chang...
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Job openings in April at highest level in 14 years

Both hires and separations were fairly stable

There were 5.4 million job openings at the end of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) -- the highest level since the series began in December 2000.

At the same time, number of hires was little-changed at 5.0 million and the number of separations was fairly steady at 4.9 million. Within separations, the quits rate was 1.9% and the layoffs and discharges rate was 1.3% -- both little different from the previous month.

Job openings

The number of job openings was essentially unchanged for government. At the industry level, job openings rose in health care and social assistance but fell in arts, entertainment and recreation. By region, job openings increased in the West.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in April for total nonfarm, total private and government. Job openings increased over the year for many industries with the largest changes occurring in professional and business services and in health care and social assistance. Job openings decreased over the year in mining and logging and in arts, entertainment, and recreation.

The number of job openings increased over the year in all 4 regions.

Hires

The number of hires was little changed for total private and government, with little change in the number of hires in all industries and regions over the month.

Over the 12 months ending in April, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) was little-changed for total nonfarm and total private, and increased for government. At the industry level, hires increased in accommodation and food services and in state and local government. The number of hires decreased over the year in mining and logging and in arts, entertainment, and recreation.

The number of hires was essentially unchanged over the year in all 4 regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee. Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs. Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer. Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, and disability, as well as transfers to other locations of the same firm.

There were 4.9 million total separations in April -- about the same as in March, for a separations rate of 3.5%. The number of total separations was little-changed for total private and government, and in all industries and regions over the month.

There were 2.7 million quits in April, little-changed from March, for a quits rate 1.9%. The number of quits was little-changed for total private and government over the month. The number of quits did not increase over the month for any industries, but fell in retail trade and in accommodation and food services. The number of quits was little-changed in all 4 regions.

The number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in April for total nonfarm, total private, and government. Over the year, quits increased in several industries with the largest rises occurring in durable goods manufacturing; finance and insurance; and health care and social assistance. The number of quits increased over the year in the South.

There were 1.8 million layoffs and discharges, about the same as in March -- a rate of 1.3%. The number of layoffs and discharges was little-changed over the month for total private and government, and in all 4 regions.

The number of layoffs and discharges (not seasonally adjusted) was little-changed over the 12 months ending in April for total nonfarm, total private, and government. The number of layoffs and discharges

increased over the year in mining and logging and in accommodation and food services, but decreased in health care and social assistance. There was little change in layoffs and discharges over the year in all 4 regions.

There were 395,000 other separations for total nonfarm, about the same as in March. Over the month, the number of other separations was little-changed for total private at 326,000 and for government at 69,000.

Over the 12 months ending in April, the number of other separations (not seasonally adjusted) was

little-changed for total nonfarm, total private, and government, and in all industries and regions.

The full report is available on the BLS website.

There were 5.4 million job openings at the end of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) -- the highest level since the series began in D...
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Employment and the jobless rate both moved higher in May

More good news: Those with jobs were earning more

May was a strong month for job creation.

According to the Labor Department (DOL), the economy cranked out 280,00 nonfarm payroll positions last month following a revised total of 221,000 new jobs in April.

At the same time, the unemplopyment rate edged up 0.1% to 5.5%. But even that was good news as people who had given up looking for work re-entered the job market -- a sign of growing optimism.

Nearly as important, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.3%, or 8 cents, in May to $24.96. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.3%.

Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey M. Piegza calls the May increase "a step in the right direction from the more pronounced weakness in March," but adds, "it remains a significant step in the wrong direction from the 324k pace at the end of last year. "

Who is and isn't working

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (5.0%), adult women (5.0%t), teenagers (17.9%, whites (4.7%), blacks (10.2%), Asians (4.1%) and Hispanics (6.7%) showed little or no change in May.

The civilian labor force rose by 397,000, but the labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.9%. Since April of last year, the participation rate has remained within a narrow range of 62.7% to 62.9%. The employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged in May at 59.4%.

The number of people unemployed for less than 5 weeks fell by 311,000 to 2.4 million last month, following an increase in April. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) held at 2.5 million in May and accounted for 28.6% of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 849,000.

Where the jobs are

Professional and business services added 63,000 jobs in last month and 671,000 jobs over the year. Employment also increased in computer systems design and related services (+10,000), temporary help services (+20,000), management and technical consulting services (+7,000) and in architectural and engineering services (+5,000).

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased in May (+57,000) as did arts, entertainment and recreation (+29,000), while there's been little net change over the past 3 months in hiring at food services and drinking places.

Also adding jobs were health (+47,000), retail trade (+31,000), construction (+17,000), transportation and warehousing (+13,000) and financial activities (+13,000).

On the other hand employment in mining fell for the fifth month in a row, with a decline of 17,000 in May, while job creation in manufacturing, wholesale trade, information and government showed little change over the month.

The complete report is avilable on the DOL website.

May was a strong month for job creation. According to the Labor Department (DOL), the economy cranked out 280,00 nonfarm payroll positions last month foll...
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Expansion in the economy's services sector slows

Things are still perking along, though

While economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in May for the 64th consecutive month, the rate of expansion was slower.

According to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) latest Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) registered 55.7% last month down 2.1% from the April reading of 57.8%.

“Overall there has been a slight slowing in the rate of growth for the non-manufacturing sector,” noted Anthony Nieves chair of the (ISM) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. But he adds that respondents’ comments are “mostly positive about business conditions and indicate economic growth will continue.”

Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey M. Piegza was not quite as upbeat.

"Service activity had been holding relatively steady throughout the first half of the year, but now appears to be joining the general trend of recent economic data with waning top line activity,” she said, adding,"While far from alarming, service activity appears to have taken a large step in the wrong direction amid sluggish household spending and declining confidence in a near-term surge in overall economic activity."

Industry performance

The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in May -- listed in order -- are:

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

The only industry reporting contraction in May was mining.

While economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in May for the 64th consecutive month, the rate of expansion was slower. According to the In...
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A big drop in the number of planned job cuts

Analysts credit a stabilization in oil prices

The number of planned job cuts announced by U.S.-based firms plunged in May, falling by 33% -- to 41,034 after hitting a 3-year high in April.

The latest tally by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas follows the 61,582 planned job cuts announced the previous month -- the highest monthly total since May 2012.

The May total is down 23% from a year ago, when 52,961 planned job cuts were announced in May.

So far this year, employers have announced 242,830 terminations -- 13% more than in the first 5 months of 2014.

Oil prices stabilize

Job cut announcements related to falling oil prices appear to be ebbing. Last month, just over 1,000 planned cuts were attributed to the drop in oil, while April saw 20,675.

“Oil prices are starting to stabilize,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Exploration and extraction companies responded quickly to the drop in prices, but they are likely to be careful about cutting too deeply, as they will need workers on hand when demand inevitably increases. Unless, there is another severe drop in the price of oil, we probably will not see another surge in oil-related job cuts this year.”

A hit for the financial sector

In May, the heaviest downsizing occurred in the financial sector, where announced job cuts will affect 5,539 workers. The bulk of these cuts came from JP Morgan Chase, which announced that the number of tellers working in its branches will shrink by 5,000 over the next 18 months.

Overall, financial cuts total 14,853 in 2015, down 28% from the first 5 months of last year.

The government was the second leading job-cut sector in May at 5,539. Most of these came from the state of Massachusetts, which announced plans to trim its payroll by 4,500 workers in an effort to close a $1.8 billion budget gap.

“We could definitely see an upswing in state layoffs over the next few months, if more of these financially troubled state governments follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps,” said Challenger.

Jobless claims

The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell last week.

According to the Labor Department (DOL) initial jobless claims fell by 8,000 in the week ending May 30 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 -- to 284,000.

The government says there were no special factors affecting this week's initial claims

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly tally and is considered a better gauge of the labor market was 274,750 -- up 2,750, but still close to 15-year lows.

The complete report is available on the DOL website

Payroll to Population

Along those lines, Gallup reports the U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P) was up 0.6% in May to 44.5% -- the same as a year ago. It was the strongest month-to-month change for P2P so far this year.

Gallup's P2P metric tracks the percentage of the population aged 18 and older who are employed for at least 30 hours per week. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, who are unemployed or are out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the P2P metric.

After reaching a three year high in April, The number of planned job cuts announced by U.S.-based firms plunged in May, falling by 33% -- to 41,034 after...
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Job creation bounces back

Manufacturing -- not so much

After coming in below the closely-watched mark of 200,000 for 2 straight months, job creation appears to be back on track.

According to the May ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 201,000 jobs from April to May.

"The labor market moved back up to the 200,000 jobs added mark in May, a number which has been something of a bellwether for healthy employment growth," said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. "We hope that the May number is the beginning of an upward trend going into the summer months."

Where the jobs are

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 122,000 jobs in May, while employment among companies with 50-499 employees increased by 65,000 jobs.

Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- added 13,000 jobs in May, although firms with 500-999 employees lost 3,000 jobs. Companies with over 1,000 employees added 16,000 jobs.

Employment in goods-producing companies rose by 9,000 jobs in May, after adding just 1,000 in April. The construction industry had a good month in May adding 27,000 jobs. However, manufacturing lost 5,000 jobs in May in top of the 8,000 that disappeared in April.

Service-providing employment rose by 192,000 jobs in May, up 28,000 from April. Professional/business services contributed 28,000 jobs in May, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 56,000 and financial activities added 12,000 positions.

"Employment growth remains near the average of the past couple of years,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. “At the current pace of job growth the economy will be back to full employment by this time next year. The only blemishes are the decline in mining jobs due to the collapse in oil prices and the decline in manufacturing due to the strong dollar."

After coming in below the closely-watched mark of 200,000 for 2 straight months, job creation appears to be back on track. According to the May ADP Nation...
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Incomes rise, spending slips in April

The manufacturing economy continued to expand

The additional money consumers found in their pockets in April stayed there.