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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...

Retail sales disappoint in March

Falling auto sales played a role

Not much joy in the retail sector in March.

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

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

Ups and downs

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

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

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

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

February sees a slight increase in job openings

Hires and separations showed little change

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

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

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

Hires

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

Separations

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

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

Net employment change

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

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

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

The complete report may be found on the BLS website.

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

March job creation comes up short

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

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

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

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

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

Gainers and losers 

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

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

Who's working

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

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

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

Job cuts rise, jobless claims fall

The retail sector was March's biggest job cutter

The flurry of pink slips intensified a bit in March.

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

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

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

A healing energy sector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jobless claims

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

 

 

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

March job growth stronger than February's

Last month's gains were broad-based

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

A slowdown in the services growth rate

Fifteen industries reported expansion in March

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

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

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

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

Industry by industry

Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth:

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

The three industries reporting contraction in March were:

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

 

 

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

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

We have some tips for snagging a job

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

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

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

Rough going for retailers

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

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

A strong 2016

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

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

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

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

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

What to do

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

Seventeen of 18 industries reported expansion

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

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

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

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

A closer look

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

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

Industry performance

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

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

No industry reported contraction in March from February.

 

 

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

Personal income and spending on the rise in February

Consumers tucked more away in their savings accounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

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

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

Initial jobless claims were lower last week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

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

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

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

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

 

 

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

Leading economic indicators on a roll

February's gain was the sixth in a row

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

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

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

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

The ten components of the LEI include:

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

Job openings edge higher January

Hiring was also up a bit

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

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

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

Hires

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

Separations

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

Net employment change

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

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

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

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

Retail sales inch upward in February

Sales were generally soft across the board

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

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

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

The full report is available on the Commerce Department website.

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

February brings solid employment gain

Construction and manufacturing were among the winners

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

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

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

Construction, manufacturing employment on the rise

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

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

Who's working and who's not

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

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

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

The full report is available on the DOL website.

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

Job cuts down sharply in February

First-time jobless claims were on the rise last week

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

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

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

Heavy hits in retail

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

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

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

Firing and hiring

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

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

Jobless claims

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

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

Services sector continues to show strength

Initial jobless claims are at their lowest level since 1973

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

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

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

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

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

Industry performance

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

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

The two industries reporting contraction in February were:

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

Jobless claims

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

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

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

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

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

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

Economy's manufacturing growth picks up steam in February

Seventeen of 18 industries reported expansion

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

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

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

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

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

Industry performance

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

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

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

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

Another month of gains in personal income and spending

For all of 2016, outlays outpaced incomes

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

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

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

More money

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

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

The 2016 tally

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

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

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

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

Fourth quarter economic growth continues its tepid pace

2016's GDP was down sharply from the preceding year

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

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

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

Not much change

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

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

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

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

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

Retailers see better sales numbers for 2017

Jobless claims decline in early February

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

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

Consumers in the driver's seat

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

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

“Lawmakers should take note,” Shay warned, “and stand firm against any policies, rules or regulations that would increase the cost of everyday goods for American consumers.”

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz agrees that prospects for consumer spending are good, pointing out that more jobs and more income will result in more spending.

But he cautions that regardless of sentiment, “the pace of wage growth and job creation dictate spending. Our forecast represents a baseline for the year, but potential fiscal policy changes could impact consumers and the economy.”

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), we have word that first-time applications for state jobless benefits were down by 12,000 in the week ending February 4 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000.

The four-week moving average came in at was 244,250 -- a drop of 3,750 from the previous week, and the lowest level since November 3, 1973, when it was 244,000.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

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

Steady as she goes for job openings in December

The past year saw a net employment gain of 2.4 million

Not much change during December in the number of jobs available for the taking.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 5.5 million job openings on the last business day of December -- about the same as in November.

Hires and separations also showed little change at 5.3 million and 5.0 million, respectively.

Job openings

The 5.5 million job openings in December translates to a rate of 3.6%, with little change in the private sector and a drop of 75,000 for government. Openings increased in other services (+50,000) and federal government (+13,000), but fell in state and local government, excluding education (-85,000). The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

Hires

The hires rate was 3.6%, with little change in the private sector and down for government. Hires dipped in state and local government, excluding education (-33,000), and in mining and logging (-7,000). The number of hires was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. Separations totaled 5.0 million in December -- little changed from November -- for a rate of 3.4%. There was little change in the number of separations for the private sector, while government posted a loss of 37,000. Declines were registered in state and local government (-28,000), with the number of total separations little changed in all four regions.

Net employment change

Over the 12 months ending in December, hires totaled 62.5 million and separations totaled 60.1 million. That works out to a net employment gain of 2.4 million. The totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Not much change during December in the number of jobs available for the taking.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there were 5.5 million job...

Growth slows in services sector

Still, there's been expansion for 85 straight months

The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to grow last month, albeit at a slower rate than in December.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the non-manufacturing index (NMI) registered 56.5% -- down 0.1% from December.

It's now been 85 months that the NMI has been above 50, the line separating expansion from contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index dropped 0.6% to 60%, reflecting the 90th consecutive month of growth. The New Orders Index came in at 58.6%, down 2.1% from December.

The Employment Index, on the other hand, rose 2.0% to 54.7%, and the Prices Index shot up 2.9% to 59%, indicating ten consecutive months of increases and a speed-up from December.

Industry performance

The 12 non-manufacturing industries that reported growth in January are:

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

The following five industries reported contraction last month:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  2. Educational Services;
  3. Transportation & Warehousing;
  4. Information; and
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.
The services, or non-manufacturing, sector of the economy continued to grow last month, albeit at a slower rate than in December.According to the lates...

Gains in retail fuel January job creation

The unemployment rate ticked higher again

Job creation in January ramped up to its highest level since last September.

Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show employers added 227,000 nonfarm payroll positions even as the unemployment rate inched up to 4.8%.

Where the jobs are

The increase in employment came in retail trade (+46,000), construction (+36,000), financial activities (+32,000), and restaurants and bars (+30,000).

Other major industries, including mining and logging, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

In and out of work

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians (3.7%) increased in January, while the jobless rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (15.0%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.7%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed -- those out of work for 27 weeks or more -- was essentially unchanged at 1.9 million and accounted for 24.4% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 244,000.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents last month to $26.00 -- half the increase seen in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Job creation in January ramped up to its highest level since last September.Figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL) show employers added 227,...

Another month of manufacturing sector growth

Twelve of 18 industries reported growth last month

January was another good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy and the economy in general, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

In the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, the Purchasing Management Index (PMI) registered 56% last month, up 1.5% from December and the fifth straight month above 50 -- the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

January also marked the 92nd consecutive month of growth in the overall economy.

The New Orders Index came in at 60.4%, up 0.1% from December; the Production Index added 2.0% to register 61.4%; and the Employment Index shot up 3.3% to 56.1%.

Raw materials inventories registered 48.5% -- up 1.5% -- and the Prices Index added 3.5% to 69%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 11th consecutive month.

The PMI, New Orders, and Production were all at their highest levels since November 2014.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 12 reported growth in January:

  1. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  2. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  3. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  4. Paper Products;
  5. Chemical Products;
  6. Transportation Equipment;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  10. Primary Metals;
  11. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  12. Computer & Electronic Products.

The five industries reporting contraction in January were:

  1. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  2. Wood Products;
  3. Furniture & Related Products;
  4. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and
  5. Printing & Related Support Activities.
January was another good month for the manufacturing sector of the economy and the economy in general, according to the Institute for Supply Management (IS...

New year brings surge in job cuts

The number of terminations is the largest since last April

U.S. employers welcomed 2017 with a wave of corporate downsizing.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that the nation's bosses plan to cut their payrolls by 45,934 in January -- up 37% from December and the highest tally since last April when 64,141 workers were let go.

Pinks slips from retailers led the way

January's top four job cut announcements occurred in the retail sector, with Macy’s reporting plans to close 68 stores and fire 10,000 workers.

“Overall, it was a solid holiday shopping season,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger, “but several retailers, including Macy’s, were unable to capitalize on stronger consumer confidence and spending.”

In all, retailers announced 22,491 planned cutbacks last month, accounting for 49% of all job cuts recorded during the month. The January total is virtually unchanged from the same month a year ago.

An energy sector rebound?

Meanwhile, the energy sector, which cut 20,103 jobs in January 2016, reported just 1,853 planned terminations to kick off 2017.

“Oil prices were already starting to rebound in the last half of 2016,” Challenger pointed out, adding that “with an administration that is expected to be very friendly to the oil, gas, and mining industries, many are forecasting a swift and sustained turnaround for these firms in 2017. The fact that January job cuts in the sector were 91 % lower than a year ago, certainly appears to support that outlook.”

Heavy workforce reductions were seen a year ago in the computer industry, where employers announced plans to shed 11,003 payroll positions. This year, however, job-cut plans announced by these firms totaled 2,211 -- an 80% decline.

“Job cuts will not be the leading story in the tech industry this year,” noted Challenger. “It is more likely to be labor shortages, particularly if the new administration continues to tighten the boarders to immigrants, many of whom come to America to work at leading tech companies.”

Jobless claims

The final week of last month saw a sizable decline in the number of initial jobless claims.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time filings for state unemployment benefits totaled 246,000 in the week ending January 28 -- down 14,000 from the previous week's revised level. At the same time, DOL reports the previous week's level was revised up by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, seen by some economists as a more accurate barometer of the labor market because of its relative lack of volatility, rose by 2,250 to 248,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

U.S. employers welcomed 2017 with a wave of corporate downsizing.Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christ...

A surge of new jobs in January

Medium sized firms were in the forefront

After creating a disappointing 151,000 private sector jobs in December, the U.S. economy stepped it up a notch last month.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, nearly a quarter million new jobs -- 246,000 -- were created last month.

"The U.S. labor market is hitting on all cylinders and we saw small and midsized businesses perform exceptionally well," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.

Indeed, the report -- produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody's Analytics -- shows medium-sided businesses led the way, adding 102,000 new payroll positions.

Large business contributed 83,000 jobs, followed by small firms at 61,000.

Employment at services-providing companies increased by 201,000, while goods-producing firms hired another 46,000 workers.

Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi calls the report a “strong start” for 2017, adding that even the energy sector -- with 6,000 new jobs -- is adding to payrolls again.

After creating a disappointing 151,000 private sector jobs in December, the U.S. economy stepped it up a notch last month.According to the ADP National...

U.S. economic growth slows in 2016

A tightening of consumer purse strings is a factor

There was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.

The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.6% in 2016 after growing 2.6% the year before.

The deceleration in growth reflected a downturn in private inventory investment, a slowdown in consumer spending (PCE), a downturn in nonresidential fixed investment, and decelerations in residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending.

Those were offset by a slowdown in imports and speedups in federal government spending and exports.

Fourth quarter results

GDP in 2016's fourth quarter grew at a 1.9% annual clip following a third-quarter surge of 3.5%. It's worth keeping in mind that a "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released in late February. That second estimate may affect the 2016 GDP figure as well.

The slowdown in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected a downturn in exports, an acceleration in imports, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending, all of which were partly offset by an upturn in residential fixed investment, an acceleration in private inventory investment, an upturn in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

The PCE price index increased 2.2% in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.3%.

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

There was a considerable slowdown in the growth of the nation's economy last year.The Commerce Department reports real gross domestic product (GDP) inc...

Retail sales post December gain

Strong auto sales were a big factor

A sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.

The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $469.1 billion last month -- up 0.6% from November.

Ups and downs

The increase of 2.4% in auto sales led the December advance, followed by gas station (+2.0%), non-store retailers (+1.3%), and furniture and home furnishing stores (+0.5).

Sales fell at miscellaneous store retailers (-1.0%), restaurants and bars (-0.8%), department stores (-0.6%), and general merchandise stores (-0.5%) Sales at clothing & clothing accessories stores were unchanged. For all of 2016, sales were up up 3.3% from the year before.

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

A sizable advance in auto sales helped push overall retail sales higher in December.The Commerce Depart reports sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $46...

Unemployment rate edges higher in December

Job creation during the month came in below expectations

The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the Briefing.com consensus estimate of 175,000.

According to figures released by the Labor Department (DOL), health care (+43,000) and social assistance (+20,000) accounted for a good chunk of last months employment gains. Advances were also seen in employment at food services and drinking places(+30,000), transportation and warehousing (+15,000) and financial activities (+13,000).

Other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, information and government, registered little or no change in December.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.4%), adult women (4.3%), teenagers (14.7%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (7.8%, Asians (2.6%), and Hispanics (5.9%) were fairly steady last month.

The labor force participation rate showed little change at 62.7% and unchanged for ll of 2016. The employment-population ratio was 59.7% for the third straight month in December and has registered little net change for the year as a whole.

Hours and wages

The average workweek was unchanged last month at 34.3 hours. But it edged up 0.1 hour in manufacturing to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees went up a dime in December to $26.00, after falling 2 cents a month earlier.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

 

 

The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7% in December from November's 4.6% as the economy created 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs -- well short of the...

Another month of growth for the services sector

A dozen industries reported expansion in December

The non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management's report on business, the non-manufacturing index registered 57.2% in December, the same as November.

Fifty percent is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index inched down 0.3% to 61.4%, but still was a reflection of growth for the 89th consecutive month. The New Orders Index rose 4.6% to 61.6%, while the Employment Index registered 53.8%, a loss of 4.4% from November.

The Prices Index was up 0.7% to 57.0%, indicating prices increased in December for the ninth consecutive month at a slightly faster rate.

How they did

The following 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in December:

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

Three industries reported contraction:

  1. Public Administration;
  2. Wholesale Trade; and
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

 

 

The non-manufacturing, or service-providing, sector of the economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month in December.According to the latest Non-Manufact...

ADP reports modest job gains for December

The initial jobless claims streak continued last week

The economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

The report, produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, shows the bulk of the new payroll positions were created by medium-sized business (+71,000) followed by large firms (+63,000) and small companies (+18,000).

“Job growth remains strong but is slowing,” noted Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “The gap between employment growth in the service economy and losses on the goods side persists. Smaller companies are struggling to maintain payrolls while large companies are expanding at a healthy pace.”

The goods-producing sector actually lost jobs in December – 16,000 of them led by manufacturing with a loss of 9,000 payroll positions.

The services-providing added 169,000 jobs, thanks to areas including trade/transportation/utilities (+82,000), education/health services (+29,000), health care/social assistance (+26,000) and professional/business services (+24,000).

"As we exit 2016, it's interesting to note that the private sector generated an average of 174,000 jobs per month, down from 209,000 in 2015," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "And while job gains in December were slightly below our monthly average, the U.S. labor market has experienced unprecedented seven years of growth that has brought us to near full employment. As we enter 2017, the tightening labor market will likely slow the growth."

Jobless claims

The number of initial jobless claims filed last week remained below the 300,000 level for a 96th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1970.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports there were 235,000 initial applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 31 -- down 28,000 from the previous week.

The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at was 256,750 -- a drop of 5,750 from the previous week.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

 

 

Photo (c) Stuart Miles - FotoliaThe economy cranked out another 153,000 private sector jobs last month, according to the ADP National Employment Repo...

Job cuts shoot higher in December

Terminations during of all of 2016 came in on the low side

U.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

While that's up 25% from the previous month, it was well below the 43,910 job cuts averaged monthly throughout the year.

For all of 2016, employers announced they were removing 526,915 workers from their payrolls -- 12% fewer than in 2015 and below the 539,581 annual job cuts averaged since 2010.

Where the cuts came

The heaviest job cuts last year were in the energy sector, where 107,714 people found themselves out of work. Cuts also were up in the computer industry, which trimmed payrolls by 66,821 positions.

Rounding out the top five job-cutting industries of the year were retail (59,324), industrial goods (33,435), and financial (22,015).

“Last year appeared to be an adjustment year for many big tech firms,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Long-time hardware makers, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, are undergoing multi-year transformations that will ultimately shift their business away from hardware toward services. Others, including Microsoft, Dell and Intel, are shifting toward mobile while, at the same time, attempting to become more agile.”

Challenger also noted that it's hard to say how the tech sector will do under the incoming Trump administration. “Many rely on offshoring as well as the employment of foreign talent immigrating to the U.S.,” he pointed out, adding that “both of those business practices are likely to come under threat in the coming year. However, the new administration’s pro-business policies may ultimately favor these firms and many others. Only time will tell.” 

 

 

U.S.-based employers whacked away at their workforces in December -- announcing plans to cut 33,627 jobs, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger,...

Manufacturing expands in December

New orders, production and employment were on the rise

The overall economy, including activity in the manufacturing sector, expanded in December, according to the nation’s supply executives.

The Institute for Supply Management's Purchasing Management Index (PMI) rose 1.5% from November to register 54.7% last month.

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

According to the report, the New Orders Index jumped 7.2% to 60.2%, the Production Index came in at 60.3%, up 4.3% from November, and the Employment Index inched up 0.8% to 53.1%.

Inventories of raw materials dipped 2.0% to 47.0%, while the Prices Index shot up 11.0% to 65.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 10th consecutive month.

The December readings for the PMI, New Orders, Production, and Employment Indexes were the highest of the year, while the overall economy expanded for the 91st consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth in December:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Primary Metals;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  6. Paper Products;
  7. Machinery;
  8. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Fabricated Metal Products;
  11. and Chemical Products.

Six industries reported contraction:

  1. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  2. Furniture & Related Products;
  3. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  4. Textile Mills;
  5. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  6. Transportation Equipment.
The overall economy, including activity in the manufacturing sector, expanded in December, according to the nation’s supply executives.The Institute fo...

Jobless claims hit 6-month high

Personal income and spending barely moved last month

A flurry of layoffs in the week ending December 17 pushed initial applications for state unemployment benefits to their highest level in six months.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports a seasonally-adjusted total of 275,000 people filed first-time jobless claims -- up 21,000 from the week before.

Even with that increase, claims have remained below the 300,000 level for 94 weeks in a row, the longest streak in more than 45 years.

The four-week moving average, seen by economists as a more accurate barometer of the labor market for its lack of volatility, rose 6,000 from the previous week to 263,750.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Personal income and spending

When it comes to personal income and spending, November was a somewhat stodgy month.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), incomes were up just $1.6 billion -- less than 0.1%, with disposable personal income (DPI), what's left after your taxes are taken out, falling less than 0.1% or $1.3 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, inched up 0.2% or $24.0 billion.

The November increase in personal income came from advances in personal interest income and rental income. Wages and salaries actually fell.

Spending for services accounted for most of the gain in the increase in real PCE.

Personal saving totaled $780.9 billion last month, and the personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income, was down 0.2% from October, to 5.5%.

The full report is available on the BEA website.

A flurry of layoffs in the week ending December 17 pushed initial applications for state unemployment benefits to thei...

Survey finds more bosses will be giving bonuses this year

That little something extra can take many forms

Here's something to put a little ho-ho-ho in your holiday: A new survey from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds an improved economy and corporate profits will work their way down to the employee level.

In other words -- BONUSES.

The survey of roughly 100 human resources execs in November found 66% indicating that their companies will be awarding some type of year-end bonus/gift. That's 16% more than those who said the same last year.

And while 30% said there will be no year-end award of any type, that's down 14% from 2015.

“The economy has been steadily improving since the Great Recession ended in 2010. This last year was no exception,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “As it continues to improve, employers will have to rely increasingly on bonuses and other perks to hold onto valuable employees.”

There are bonuses and bonuses

Challenger points out that most workers don't enjoy the type of five- and six-figure bonuses lavished upon Wall Street bankers. “For the vast majority of workers, three and sometimes four figures are likely to be the standard,” he said, adding, “Some may not even get a cash award, but instead receive a gift card, gift basket or some other type of material object. Our survey shows that the structure of the bonus or gift varies widely.”

According to the survey, 15% of employers provide a non-monetary gift to all employees, such as a gift basket or extra vacation day. Another 11% plan to give employees a small monetary award of $100 or less.

At the same time, about 40% give larger monetary awards that vary year-to-year and worker-to-worker. These can be based on the overall performance of the company, the performance of the individual, or some combination of the two.

Why the increase?

A major factor fueling year-end bonuses is the fact that after-tax corporate profits steadily increased throughout the year, after falling to a 17-quarter low to close out 2015.

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show third-quarter profits of nearly $1.7 trillion -- were up 5.2% from the same period a year ago.

With profits on the rise, about 18% of survey respondents said their companies were upping the amount of year-end bonuses. Still, most employers (73%) plan to keep bonus levels unchanged from last year.

“Despite the lack of six-figure Wall Street-like bonuses,” Challenger said, “most employees still appreciate the year-end bonus. Mostly, they want to know that their hard work is recognized and appreciated.” 

Here's something to put a little ho-ho-ho in your holiday: A new survey from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds an improved econom...

Tepid retail sales in November

Auto sales were something of a drag last month

Retailers hoping that October's increase in retail sales was a harbinger for November have got to be disappointed.

The Commerce Department reports last month saw sales inch up a tiny 0.1% to $465.5 billion following the revised advance of 0.6% in October.

Still, sales in November were up 3.8% on a year-over-year basis.

Advancers and decliners

There were no real standouts when it came to sales gains during the month. Bar and grill establishments took the honors with a sales increase of 0.8%. Other gainers included furniture & home furnishing stores (+0.7%) and food & beverage stores (+0.4).

Among the month's losers were sporting goods, hobby, and book & music stores with a 1.0% sales decline, miscellaneous store retailers (-0.8%), and auto & other motor vehicle dealers (-0.5%).

Excluding the volatile auto sector, sales were up 0.2%

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

Retailers hoping that October's increase in retail sales was a harbinger for November have got to be disappointed.The Commerce Department reports last...

A retail hiring bust in November

Hiring in the sector was at a six-year low

November was not -- to put it gently -- a good month for hiring by the retail sector.

An analysis of employment data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says employment in the sector was down 9.3% from a year ago, growing by just 371,500 jobs last month. That's the lowest November employment increase since 2010.

October was equally anemic with the addition of 150,300 retail positions, 23% lower than in October, 2015.

All told, retail job gains for October and November were down 14% from the same period the previous year, totaling 521,800.

The toll of online shopping

“As more and more shoppers move online, there is less need for extra workers in the brick and mortar stores,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “Even on Black Friday, once notorious for early morning mob scenes at department stores, a growing number of Americans are staying home and finding great deals on the internet.”

In fact, Adobe Digital Insights reports online orders on Black Friday shot up nearly 22% -- to roughly $3.3 billion in sales.

Seasonal hiring may be in retail, but it is picking up elsewhere. That's particularly true for transportation and warehousing, where 96,200 workers were added in October and November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ain't over 'til it's over

“Holiday job seekers should not stop looking for opportunities, even though it is December,” Challenger noted. “They must cast a wider net to include employers outside of the retail sector. However, even retailers continue to add throughout the holidays as high turnover in the industry requires nearly-constant recruiting activities.”

Last December, retailers added 134,500 workers.

November was not -- to put it gently -- a good month for hiring by the retail sector.An analysis of employment data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gr...

Job market holds steady in October

The year-over-year gain in employment was about 2.5 million

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Openings were up in health care and social assistance, but down in professional and business services, federal government, and mining and logging. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions of the country.

Hires

There wasn't much change in the number of hires in October -- 5.1 million -- about the same as the month before for a hires rate of 3.5%.

The number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, with hires down by 26,000 in state and local government education and little change in all other industries. The number of hires also was little changed in all four regions.

Separations

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

There were 4.9 million total separations in October, comprised of 3.0 million quits, 1.5 million layoffs and discharges other separations that was little changed from September.

Net employment change

Over the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 62.6 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, for a net employment gain of 2.5 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Jobless claims

A big drop last week in the number of initial jobless claims.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports there were 258,000 first-time applications for state unemployment benefits filed in the week ending December 3, down 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 92 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average inched up 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average to 252,500.

The latter measurement is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market due to its lack of volatility.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million on the last business day of October, according to the Bureau...

A pick-up in the economy's non-manufacturing sector

November's growth rate was a bit stronger than October's

The non-manufacturing sector of the economy rebounded in November after a slight cooling-off the month before.

The latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report On Business put the non-manufacturing index (NMI) at 57.2% last month -- 2.4% higher than in October.

This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector for the 82nd consecutive month and at a faster rate than in October. It's also a 12-month high and the highest reading since the 58.3 registered in October of 2015.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 61.7% -- 4% higher than October, reflecting growth for the 88th consecutive month and a faster rate in November.

The New Orders Index dipped 0.7% to 57%, and the Prices Index decreased 0.3% from October to 56.3%. Still, prices rose in November for the eighth consecutive month, but at a slightly slower rate.

The Employment Index increased 5.1% to 58.2%.

Individual industry performance

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in November were:

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

The two industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and
  2. Public Administration.
The non-manufacturing sector of the economy rebounded in November after a slight cooling-off the month before.The latest Non-Manufacturing Institute fo...

Unemployment rate drops to 9-year low

Job creation picked up steam in November

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in November, it's lowest level in nine years, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL). At the same time, 178,000 jobs were created with major gains in professional and business services and in health care.

The 0.3% decline in the unemployment rate came as the number of unemployed persons declined by 387,000 -- to 7.4 million.

On and off the job

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rate for adult men fell to 4.3% last month, while the rates for adult women (4.2%), teenagers (15.2%), Whites (4.2%), Blacks (8.1%), Asians (3.0%), and Hispanics (5.7%) showed little or no change.

The civilian labor force participation rate was little-changed in November at 62.7% as the employment-population ratio held at 59.7%. Both have been fairly steady in recent months.

Employment gains and losses

Employment in professional and business services rose by 63,000 in November, with accounting and bookkeeping services adding 18,000 jobs. Health care employment rose by 28,000 in November and construction had 19,000 hires.

Other major industries -- mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government -- saw little change in their workforce size over the month.

Dollars and cents

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell 3 cents to $25.89 following an increase of 11 cents in October. Over the year, earnings are up 2.5%.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged up 2 cents to $21.73.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in November, it's lowest level in nine years, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL). A...

Job cuts fall to lowest level of the year in November

Terminations in the retail sector led the way

U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut their payrolls by 26,936 workers in November, putting the pace of downsizing at the lowest level of the year.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas says that puts job cuts 12% lower than they were in October and down 13% from the same month a year ago.

Last month’s total was the lowest of the year, falling below the previous low of 30,157, recorded in May. It was slightly higher than last December’s 23,622 job cuts, which was the lowest monthly total since June, 2000, when employers announced just 17,241 planned layoffs.

So far this year, employers have cut 493,288 jobs, a year-over-year decline of 5.5%.

Retail sector loses big

The heaviest job cutting came in the retail sector -- of which there are 4,850 announced terminations, most due to the bankruptcy of American Apparel, which could affect nearly 3,500 workers.

Those losses are more than offset, though, by the surge in holiday hiring. Challenger tracked 317,000 retail hiring announcements in September.

“These represent just a small fraction of the jobs being created, since most retailers, including the thousands of small, independent stores across the country, do not formally announce hiring intentions,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger.

Overall, retail job cuts are down 12% from a year ago with employers planning to cut 57,969 workers from their payrolls. Even with the decline, year-to-date retail job cuts rank third among all industries, behind computer and energy.

“Barring an unlikely December surge in downsizing, the year-end job cut total should remain well below the 598,510 layoffs announced last year,” Challenger said. “Even if the new administration creates some uncertainty among corporate forecasters, most employers are in a strong enough position to take a wait-and-see approach when planning for next year.” 

U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut their payrolls by 26,936 workers in November, putting the pace of downsizing at the lowest level of the year....

Personal income and spending post gains in October

First-time jobless claims last week were on the rise as well

Consumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in October, spent part of it, and saved the rest.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports personal income increased $98.6 billion, or 0.6%, while disposable personal income -- what's left after taxes are paid -- also increased 0.6%, or $86.5 billion.

October's increase in personal income was due in large part to gains in employee compensation and personal interest income.

Spending and saving

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the value of goods and services, increased $38.1 billion, or 0.3%. That advance reflects increases in spending for durable and nondurable goods, which were mostly offset by a decrease in spending for services.

Personal outlays, which is the sum of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose $40.4 billion.

The PCE price index, a measure of inflation, increased 0.2%. When the volatile food and energy categories are excluded, what's known as the core PCE price index was up 0.1%.

Personal savings totaled $860.2 billion in October, while the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 6.0%, a gain of 0.3% from September.

The complete report is available on the BEA website

Jobless claims

Ninety-one weeks and counting.

That's how long the number of initial jobless claim filings have been below the 300,000 mark -- the longest streak since 1970.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that in the week ending November 26, there were a seasonally adjusted 268,000 first-time applications for state unemployment -- 17,000 more than during the previous week.

The four-week moving average, considered by economists to be a better gauge of the labor market because of its lack of volatility, was up just 500 from the previous week to 251,500.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

 

 

Photo (c) laufer – FotoliaConsumers found themselves with more money in their pockets in October, spent part of it, and saved the rest.The Bureau...

Job creation rebounds in November

You can thank a surge in the services sector

More jobs in the goods-producing sector disappeared in November, but thanks to a big jump in the number of new positions in the services sector, it was a strong month for job creation.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 216,000 jobs from October to November.

Gainers and losers

Goods-producing firms took a huge hit during the month, losing 11,000 jobs. Manufacturing was the biggest contributor ( -10,000 jobs), along with Natural resources and mining (-4,000). Construction, however, added 2,000 payroll positions.

Those losses, though, were offset by creation of 228,000 jobs by service-providing companies. The gains were led by trade/transportation/utilities (+69,000), professional/business services (+68,000), and administrative/support services (+47,000). The information industry lost 10,000 workers.

"Businesses hired aggressively in November and there is little evidence that the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election dampened hiring,” said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. “In addition, because of the tightening labor market, retailers may be accelerating seasonal hiring to secure an adequate workforce to meet holiday demand, although total expected seasonal hiring may be no higher than last year's."

Large businesses were the biggest job creators, adding 90,000 new payroll positions -- most of them (76,000) by companies with more than 1,000 employees. That was closely followed by medium-sized businesses, which added 89,000 workers and small businesses with 37,000 hires.

"This growth was seen in primarily consumer-driven industries like retail and leisure and hospitality -- across all company sizes,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. “Overall, consumers are feeling confident and are driving the strong performance we currently see in the job market."

The report, produced in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, is derived from ADP's actual payroll data and measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

More jobs in the goods-producing sector disappeared in November, but thanks to a big jump in the number of new positions in the services sector, it was a s...

Improved economic performance for the third quarter

An uptick in consumer spending was a big factor

The government's second look at how the economy was doing in the third quarter is encouraging.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.2% in the July-to-September period.

That's somewhat better than the rate of 2.9% reported in the “advance” estimate -- and a lot better than the 1.4% we saw in the second quarter of the year.

And it marks the first time the GDP growth rate has been above 3% since the third quarter of 2014.

Even with the increase, analysts say the general picture of economic growth remains the same. The advance was due to stronger consumption expenditures -- consumer spending -- than previously estimated.

The second estimate acceleration reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in exports, a pickup in federal government spending, and smaller decreases in state and local government spending and residential fixed investment.

An inflation measure tied to GDP -- the PCE price index -- was up 1.4%, compared with the previous 2.0% increase. When the volatile food and energy categories are removed, the gain is 1.7% versus an increase of 1.8%.

The increase in GDP gave a nice boost to corporate profits, which rose $133.8 billion in the third quarter, after falling $12.5 billion in the second.

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

The government's second look at how the economy was doing in the third quarter is encouraging.According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic...

Seasonal jobs are still available

We have some tips to aid you in your job search

With Black Friday just a week away, you might think it's too late to look for a seasonal job. However, Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C;) says you'd be wrong.

While it's true that most retailers have completed their hiring of temporary workers, you shouldn't throw in the towel, just yet.

“It is never too late to find holiday jobs,” said CG&G; chief executive officer John A. Challenger. “There is a lot of churn in the sectors that typically hire seasonal workers and because employers are often hiring a lot workers in a short amount of time, there is a strong chance that many of those new workers will not pan out.”

The hiring continues

In its September forecast, the global outplacement firm predicted holiday hiring will remain flat from a year ago. Should that be on the money, about 740,000 seasonal workers will be added to retail payrolls in the final three months of the year.

The bulk of this hiring typically occurs in late October and early November, and is usually reflected in the government's December employment report.

“That being said, we continue to see hiring in late November and into early December,” said Challenger. “On average, retail employment has grown by an average of 145,000 over the last five years. It is important to remember that these figures don’t include seasonal job gains outside of the retail sector. Job seekers can also be looking for holiday jobs in hotels, restaurants, catering companies, and warehouse and shipping facilities.”

The primary reason to not give up on the holiday job search is that the sectors that have the strongest need for seasonal workers are also those that typically see the highest turnover.

A 2014 report from the Hay Group, a management consulting firm, indicated that the turnover rate in the retail industry averaged 66% for part-time hourly sales associates.

Last year in the hospitality industry -- another major employer of seasonal workers -- the turnover rate averaged 72%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“These high turnover rates, which are likely to be even higher among seasonal workers, mean that job seekers pursuing holiday employment should not hesitate to return to employers where they previously failed to get a job offer. The situation can change overnight,” said Challenger.

What to do

Challenger offers the following tips for holiday job-seekers:

  • Visit employers in person. It is tempting to conduct a job search from behind the computer screen. However, many retailers will not post their seasonal jobs online -- particularly smaller mom and pop stores.
  • Return to previous attempts. Don’t hesitate to go back to employers where you might have failed to get a job. Staffing needs may have changed or they may have lost one or more seasonal workers.
  • Think outside the (big) box. Retailers undoubtedly have the strongest need for seasonal workers, but don’t overlook entertainment venues, restaurants, caterers, and other businesses that are busy during the holidays. And, since more shoppers buy online, shipping companies like UPS and FedEx have enormous demand for seasonal workers.
  • Be flexible. The most challenging jobs to fill are those with overnight or early morning positions dedicated to receiving new shipments and restocking floors. If you're willing to work any hours thrown your way you'll have a leg up on the competition.
  • Start with places you shop/visit. If you're a frequent customer at a particular store or restaurant, start your job search there. Even if you don't have a “relationship” with the manager or staff, they are likely to recognize you as a regular, which may give you an advantage.
With Black Friday just a week away, you might think it's too late to look for a seasonal job. However, Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C;) says you'd be w...

Gas station traffic paces October advance in retail sales

In fact, the increase was fairly broad-based

Retailers enjoyed a good October following an even better September.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales last month were up 0.8%, or $465.9 billion, and were 4.3% above the same month a year earlier.

In addition, the government revised it's September estimate to show a gain of 1.0% instead of the 0.6% advance initially reported.

Winners and losers

Most businesses saw sales increases last month, including gas stations (+2.2%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (+1.3%), motor vehicle & parts dealers (+1.1%), and grocery stores (+0.7%).

Sales declines were suffered by furniture & home furnishing stores (-0.9%), department stores (-0.7%), and restaurants & bars (-0.7%).

Analysts at Briefing.com say the strong report indicates consumers are willing to spend more freely on discretionary items and that both the October and September numbers should help bolster fourth quarter GDP forecasts.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retailers enjoyed a good October following an even better September. The Commerce Department reports retail sales last month were up 0.8%, or $465.9 bil...

October retail hiring down from a year ago

However, other industries are adding workers

Ahhh...the best laid plans and all that.

Even though many major retailers said they planned on expanding their workforces this Christmas shopping season, October employment gains have plunged 21% from a year ago to 154,600.

An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that's the fewest job gains to kick off the holiday hiring season since 2012.

This year’s decline follows two consecutive years of record job gains in October. BLS data shows that retail employment grew by 194,800 in 2015, a record number of October job gains for the sector.

Not a harbinger

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger points out, however, that record October job gains in 2015 did not lead to record retail hiring throughout the holiday season. In fact, overall holiday hiring declined.

“The shrinking number of jobs added during the holiday season does not necessarily mean that the retail industry is shrinking," said Challenger. “As of October, there were 15,994,000 Americans employed in this sector. That is up from 15,759,000 a year ago and represents the highest October employment level ever recorded by the BLS.”

What's going on

A few trends could be contributing to the fall off in holiday hiring. Challenger said stronger hiring throughout the year and advances in retail technology may mean that stores do not have to hire as many extra workers during the busy holiday shopping season. In addition, he said, “increased online shopping could be shifting the holiday job gains away from retailers toward warehousing, fulfillment, and transportation operations.”

In fact, holiday hiring plans announced by the likes of Amazon.com, UPS, and FedEx have grown significantly over the last five years, according to Challenger. Meanwhile, hiring announcements from retailers have remained relatively flat or declined.

Ahhh...the best laid plans and all that.Even though many major retailers said they planned on expanding their workforces this Christmas shopping season...

Hiring slows in September amid static job opening situation

Net hiring over the past year is higher

Even though there was little change in the number of job openings during September, there were fewer people added to payrolls than in August.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the number of people who found work dipped to 5.1 million, while the number of job openings was fairly steady at 5.5 million.

With a hires rate of 3.5%, the number of hires was little changed for total private and for government, fell in arts, entertainment, and recreation, and showed little change in all other industries. Hiring was down in the Northeast region and steady in all other regions.

Separations

Total separations, or turnover, includes quits, layoffs & discharges, and other separations.

September saw 4.9 million total separations, about the same as August, for a rate of 3.4%. The total was essentially unchanged for private and for government, but increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities. Separations decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-55,000), and the total number was little changed in all four regions.

The number of quits was little changed in September (3.1 million), and the quits rate was 2.1%. The number of quits was little changed for total private, and increased for government. The number of quits was little changed in all four regions.

Layoffs and discharges totaled 1.5 million in September, down 218,000 from August, with a rare dip to 1.0%. The number of layoffs and discharges decreased for total private and for government, and was down in the South.

The other separations category was little changed for total nonfarm, total private, government, and in all four regions.

Net change

For the year ending in September, hires totaled 62.7 million and separations totaled 60.1 million, for a net employment gain of 2.6 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The complete report is available on the BLS website.

Even though there was little change in the number of job openings during September, there were fewer people added to payrolls than in August.The Labor...

Job growth slows in October

The goods-producing sector actually suffered a decline

Due partly to the loss of jobs in the goods-producing sector, the economy produced fewer private payroll positions in October than it did the month before.

According to the October ADP National Employment Report, which is produced by the ADP Research Institute and Moody's Analytics, just 147,000 new jobs were created last month -- 7,000 fewer than in September.

"Job growth remains strong although the pace of growth appears to be slowing,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “Behind the slowdown is businesses' difficulty filling open positions. However, there is some weakness in construction, education and mining."

Large businesses lead the way

In contrast to previous months, large businesses -- those employing more than 500 workers -- created the most jobs in October -- 64,000. Medium sized firms (50-499 employees) reported 48,000 hires and small businesses (1-49 positions) hired 34,000 workers.

The goods-producing sector lost 18,000 jobs, mostly in construction (-15,000), mining (-2,000), and manufacturing (-1000).

The service-providing category did the heavy lifting, creating 165,000 payroll positions. Those came in professional/business services (+69,000), financial activities (+18,000), trade/transportation/utilities (+17,000), and information (+3,000).

Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute, says job growth appears to be shifting from small to large companies due to the lessening impact the global economic environment had on large companies earlier in the year. "This is also true,” he added, “because large companies often have the resources to attract workers with better pay and benefit packages."

Due partly to the loss of jobs in the goods-producing sector, the economy produced fewer private payroll positions in October than it did the month before....

Manufacturing sector picks up steam in October

Ten of 18 industries reported growth last month

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy grew in October at a rate that was slightly faster than the preceding month, as the overall economy grew for the 89th consecutive month.

The latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on business shows the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose 0.4% last month to register 51.9%.

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

The New Orders Index slipped 3.0%, but still came in at 52.1%, while the Production Index registered 54.6% -- up 1.8% from September.

The Employment Index jumped 3.2% to 52.9% and inventories of raw materials dipped 2% to 47.5%. Meanwhile, the Prices Index registered 54.5%, an increase of 1.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the eighth consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 reported growth in October:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  3. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  4. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  5. Computer & Electronic Products;
  6. Furniture & Related Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  9. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  10. Chemical Products.

Eight industries reported contraction in October:

  1. Wood Products; Apparel,
  2. Leather & Allied Products;
  3. Primary Metals;
  4. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  5. Transportation Equipment;
  6. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  7. Fabricated Metal Products; and
  8. Machinery.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector of the economy grew in October at a rate that was slightly faster than the preceding month, as the overall ec...

September's consumer spending increase outpaces incomes gain

Durable goods accounted for the bulk of spending

Consumers enjoyed an increase of $46.7 billion, or 0.3%, in personal income in September.

The Commerce Department reports disposable personal income (DPI), what's left after the government takes its cut, rose $37.0 billion.

Last month's rise was due mainly to increases in compensation of employees and nonfarm proprietors’ income.

Spending on the increase

At the same time personal consumption expenditures (PCE), also called consumer spending, jumped 0.5% or $61.0 billion. The advance was largely the result of an increase in spending for durable goods -- things like cars, refrigerators, and computers.

The PCE price index, a measure of inflation, was up 0.2%, with the “core Rate,” which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, inching up 0.1%.

Personal saving totaled $797.8 billion last month – down $9.8 billion from August, although the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of DPI -- remained at 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers enjoyed an increase of $46.7 billion, or 0.3%, in personal income in September.The Commerce Department reports disposable personal income (DP...

Economic growth gets a bump in the third quarter

Consumer spending helped power the increase in GDP

The economy stepped it up in the third quarter of the year, according to the government's "advance" look at how things are going.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annual rate of 2.9% in the July-September period after growing just 1.4% in the second quarter.

It's important to note that the information used to calculate economic performance is incomplete and/or subject to further revision. An updated estimate will be released in late November.

Growth factors

The third quarter increase in real GDP reflects contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE) -- consumer spending -- exports, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment. Those were partly offset by declines in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration from the second quarter came from an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in exports, a smaller decrease in state and local government spending, and a turnaround in federal government spending. They were partly offset by a smaller increase in PCE, and a larger increase in imports.

Not much to cheer about

Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza isn't impressed. She points out that even with the 2.9% growth rate for the third quarter, "with such minimal growth across the first six months of the year, the average pace of activity for the year thus far remains a disappointing 1.7%."  

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The economy stepped it up in the third quarter of the year, according to the government's "advance" look at how things are going.According to the Comme...

Conference Board forecasts continued moderate economic growth

First-time jobless claims shot higher last week

The latest economic forecast from The Conference Board suggests continued moderate growth into 2017.

The Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) inched up 0.2% in September following a decline of the same magnitude the month before.

The increase “suggests that the economy should continue expanding at a moderate pace through early 2017.” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board.

Housing permits, unemployment insurance claims, and the interest rate spread were the main components lifting the index in September.

Overall, Ozyildirim pointed out, “the strengths among the leading indicators are outweighing modest weaknesses in stock prices and the average workweek.”

How it works

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

The ten components of the LEI include:

  1. Average weekly hours for manufacturing
  2. Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance
  3. Manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and materials
  4. Institute for Supply Management Index of New Orders
  5. Manufacturers' new orders and nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders
  6. Building permits for new private housing units
  7. Stock prices of 500 common stocks
  8. Leading Credit Index
  9. Interest rate spread and 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds
  10. Average consumer expectations for business conditions

Jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that initial jobless claims surged by 13,000 in the week ending October 15 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000.

Even with that increase, the claims level has been below 300,000 for the 85th consecutive week, the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly headcount's volatility and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, came in at 251,750 -- up 2,250 from the previous week.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The latest economic forecast from The Conference Board suggests continued moderate growth into 2017.The Board's Lead...

Job creation slips as unemployment rate inches upward

There were fewer new jobs than analysts expected

September turned out to be something of a disappointment in terms of job creation.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employers added 156,000 private payroll positions last month after creating 167,000 jobs in August. The consensus forecast for September from Briefing.com was for 176,000 new jobs.

In addition, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.0% from the August reading of 4.9%. That translates to 7.9 million people who are out of work, a figure that has shown little movement over the past year.

A "so-so September jobs report," is the way Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza characterizes the latest employment news, adding that, "U.S. employment has noticeably lost -- not gained -- momentum since the December liftoff," which saw creation of around 250,000 jobs.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the jobless rate for Hispanics rose to 6.4% in September, while the rates for adult men (4.7%), adult women (4.4%), teenagers (15.8%), Whites (4.4%), Blacks (8.3%), and Asians (3.9%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) was virtually unchanged at 2.0 million, accounting for about a quarter of the unemployed.

Both the labor force participation rate (62.9%) and the employment-population ratio (59.8%) were little-changed.

Where the jobs are

Professional & business services and health care were the job-creation leaders in September, adding 67,000 and 33,000 workers, respectively.

More jobs were also seen in food services and drinking places (+30,000) and retail trade.

Mining employment was unchanged in September along with construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose last month by six cents -- to $25.79, and over the year are up 2.6%.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

September turned out to be something of a disappointment in terms of job creation.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports employers added 156,000 private...

Announced job cuts surge in September

The education sector led the increase

Employers across the U.S. announced plans to cut their workforces by 44,324 payroll positions in September -- up a whopping 38% from August.

Figures released by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas show that despite the spike in terminations, cuts were down 25% from September 2015.

So far this year, employers have announced a total of 435,612 planned job cuts, 12% fewer than for the first nine months of the previous year.

“Heavy job cutting in the energy sector defined the first half of the year,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger. “But, each quarter has seen the number of overall job cuts decline, as this sector stabilized and the economy continued to improve.”

Heavy education cuts

The education sector took the heaviest hit last month, as job cuts shot up 363% to 8,671. The bulk of the firings came from the collapse of for-profit college ITT Technical Institute, which led to 8,000 job losses.

The computer industry lost another 4,152 job cuts during the month, bringing the annual job-cut total for the sector to 59,719 -- second only to the energy sector, which has announced 98,733 terminations to date.

The retail sector, which announced 7,296 job cuts in September, ranks third in year-to-date job cuts with 51,939 through three quarters. However, those losses will be more than offset by seasonal hiring that has already seen nearly 230,000 new hires.

“It is not unusual to see a decreased job-cut activity in the third quarter, as many employers postpone major workforce decisions during the summer months,” Challenger noted, adding, “We could see a resurgence in cuts to close out the year. The fourth quarter is typically when companies make strategic moves to prepare for the coming year.”

Employers across the U.S. announced plans to cut their workforces by 44,324 payroll positions in September -- up a whopping 38% from August.Figures rel...

New jobs increase in September -- but at a slower pace

A tightening labor market gets the blame

Private sector employment eased a bit in September.

According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, the economy created 154,000 jobs from August to September.

There were 177,000 new jobs the month before.

"Job gains in September eased a bit when compared to the past 12-month average," said ADP Research Institute Vice President Ahu Yildirmaz. "We also observed softening this month in trade/transportation/utilities, possibly due to a continued tightening U.S. labor market and lackluster consumer spending."

Job creators

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 34,000 jobs in September, employment at companies with 50-499 employees rose by 56,000 jobs, and large companies -- those with 500 or more employees – hired 64,000 new workers.

Companies with 500-999 employees increased their payrolls by 8,000 and companies with more than 1,000 employees added 56,000 workers.

Employment at goods-producing firms was up by 3,000 jobs in September, following a loss of 9,000 in August. Within that sector, employment in the construction industry rose by 1,000 jobs, while manufacturing jobs were down 6,000.

Companies that provide services added 151,000 jobs in September, with professional/business services contributing 45,000. Employment in trade/transportation/utilities increased by 15,000 and financial activities hired another 11,000 workers.

"The current record of consecutive monthly job gains continued in September,” said Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. “With job openings at all-time highs and layoffs near all-time lows, the job market remains in full-swing. Job growth has moderated in recent months, but only because the economy is finally returning to full-employment."

Private sector employment eased a bit in September.According to the ADP National Employment Report, produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with...

Personal incomes rise in August, spending barely budges

The personal savings rate held steady

Consumers saw their incomes rise in August and held on to most of it.

The Commerce Department reports personal incomes edged up $39.3 billion, or 0.2%, last month, with disposable income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes -- also up 0.2%, or $31.9 billion.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), on the other hand, rose just $6.2 billion -- less than 0.1%.

The increase in personal income in August primarily reflected pay raises, personal income receipts on assets, and government social benefits.

Personal outlays -- the total of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- rose $6.1 billion.

Personal saving rose $12.9 billion -- from July -- to $807.6 billion, with the the personal saving rate and personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income holding steady at 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Consumers saw their incomes rise in August and held on to most of it.The Commerce Department reports personal incomes edged up $39.3 billion, or 0.2%,...

A little more oomph for the U.S. economy

Initial jobless claims inched higher last week

The third and final look at how the nation's economy was doing in the second quarter is a bit brighter than the earlier estimates.

According to the Commerce Department, real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- grew at an annual rate of 1.4%.

An earlier look at how the economy was performing put expansion at an annual rate of 1.1%. This latest estimate is based on more complete source data than was available at that time.

Still, the general picture of economic growth remains the same, with the most notable change being an increase in nonresidential fixed investment; the previous estimate had it declining.

Corporate profits, meanwhile, fell $12.5 billion in the April-June period after surging $66.0 billion in the first quarter.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits edged upward last week, but remained well below the 300,000 level for the 82nd consecutive week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial benefit applications were up by 3,000 in the week ending September 24 to a seasonally adjusted total of 254,000. As it released the latest numbers, the government revised last week's tally down by 1,000.

The four-week moving average, considered by many economists to give a more accurate assessment of the labor market, came in at 256,000, a decline of 2,250 from the previous week.

The full report is found on the DOL website.

The third and final look at how the nation's economy was doing in the second quarter is a bit brighter than the earlier estim...

Retail sales dip in August

First-time jobless claims inched higher

Retail sales dipped in August -- the first decline in five months.

According to the Commerce Department, sales were off 0.3% last month at $456.3 billion. As it released the report for last month, the government revised its July figures to show a sales gain of 0.1%. The previous months sales had been reported as showing virtually no change.

On a year-over-year basis, sales in August were up 1.9%.

The biggest positive influences came from food services & drinking places (+0.9%) and clothing & clothing accessories stores (+0.7%). Sales declines were posted by miscellaneous store retailers (-2.4%), sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-1.4%), building material, garden equipment & supplies dealers (-1.4%), and gas stations (-0.8%)

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

 

Initial jobless claims

A small uptick last week in initial jobless claims.

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled 260,000 in the week ending September 10 -- an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level.

It's now 80 weeks in a row that the claims level has stayed below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1970.

The four-week moving average, considered a better gauge of the labor market due to its relative lack of volatility, dipped by 500 to 260,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Retail sales dipped in August -- the first decline in five months.According to the Commerce Department, sales were off 0.3...

Holiday retail hiring projected to show little change this year

Other sectors of the economy may take up the slack

Employment experts aren't expecting much in the way of hiring in the retail sector for this year's Christmas shopping season.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts hiring by retailers will show little change from last year when seasonal employment in the sector increased by 738,800 during the final three months of the year. That was down 1.4% from 2014, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That doesn't mean nobody's hiring though.

“While seasonal retail jobs remain flat or shrink, there has been a marked increase in seasonal job gains in other sectors,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The sector with the biggest increase in holiday hiring in recent years has been transportation and warehousing, as more and more holiday shopping is done online.”

Transportation and warehousing hiring

Target has already announced plans to add 70,000 retail workers -- about the same as a year ago. But, it also said it'll be adding 7,500 people in its distribution facilities, which ship online orders and send products to stores.

Last year, transportation and warehousing employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 200,500 workers in November and December. A decade ago, the seasonal job gains measured just 42,400.

FedEx and UPS hired 150,000 extra holiday workers last year, and both are expected to add the same number this season.

Distribution and call center operator Radial reportedly plans to increase its global payrolls by 20,000 for the upcoming holiday season

Even more hiring

“Seasonal hiring is not limited to retail or retail-related industries,” said Challenger. "More and more Americans are giving friends and families experiences instead of material items. The increase in this type of gift-giving means that there are more seasonal employment opportunities at theaters, restaurants, amusement parks, and other entertainment venues.”

Last week, Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, announced that it will be hiring 300 seasonal workers for its annual holiday attraction, which features two million pounds of ice sculptures.

Employment experts aren't expecting much in the way of hiring in the retail sector for this year's Christmas shopping season.Outplacement consultancy C...

A growth slowdown in the economy's services sector

Eleven of 18 industries reported expansion

Even though the pace slowed, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 79th consecutive month.

According to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the NMI registered 51.4% last month, down 4.1% from July.

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

The New Orders Index dropped 8.9%, to 51.4%; the Employment Index registered 50.7%, off 0.7%; and the Prices Index slipped 0.1% to 51.8%, indicating that prices increased in August for the fifth consecutive month.

How they performed

The 11 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in August were:

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

The seven industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Mining;
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  4. Transportation & Warehousing;
  5. Wholesale Trade;
  6. Retail Trade; and
  7. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.
Even though the pace slowed, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 79th consecutive month.According to the latest No...

August jobs creation falls below expectations

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%

The economy created a disappointing 151,000 jobs in August, short of the 180,000 projected by economists at Briefing.com and well below the 275,000 reported in July.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the number of people out of work last month was 7.8 million, a number that has shown little movement over the past week.

Who's on the job and who's not

The unemployment rates for adult men and women (both 4.5%), teenagers (15.7%), Whites (4.4%) Blacks (8.1%), Asians (4.2%), and Hispanics (5.6%) showed little change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) held steady at 2.0 million, accounting for 26.1% of the unemployed.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7%, were unchanged last month.

Where the jobs are

Employment in food services and drinking places was up by 34,000, with the industry adding 312,000 jobs so far this year. Social assistance hired 22,000 people over the month, with most of them (+17,000) in individual and family services.

Professional and technical services added 20,000 jobs in August, while financial activities employment picked up 15,000 workers and health care employment rose by 14,000 jobs.

On the negative side, employment in mining fell by 4,000 positions and the industry has lost 223,000 jobs since peaking in September 2014. Other industries -- including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, temporary help services, and government -- showed little change over the month.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 3 cents -- to $25.73. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.4%.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The economy created a disappointing 151,000 jobs in August, short of the 180,000 projected by economists at Briefing.com and well below the 275,000 reporte...

Personal income and spending continue their rise in July

Consumers were also able to fatten their savings accounts

Following increases the previous month, both personal income and spending were higher in July.

Incomes jumped 0.4%, or $71.6 billion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after Uncle Sam takes his cut -- up $60.1 billion, or 0.4%.

The increase in personal income last month came largely from advances in wages and salaries and personal current transfer receipts.

Spending and saving head higher

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, rose 0.3% or $42.0 billion, reflecting increases in spending for new cars and services that were partially offset by a dip in spending for nondurable goods.

Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.1% in July.

Personal saving totaled $794.7 billion in July, pushing the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- up 0.3% from June to 5.7%.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

Following increases the previous month, both personal income and spending were higher in July.Incomes jumped 0.4%, or $71.6 billion, according to the B...

Second quarter economic growth remains sluggish

Corporate profits took a hit

The U.S. economy continued to plod along in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department's second look at real gross domestic product -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- put expansion at an annual rate of 1.1%. While that's down 0.1% from the “advance” estimate released last month, it is a bit of an improvement from the first-quarter growth rate of 0.8%.

This latest economic snapshot is based on more complete source data than were available earlier, the general picture of growth remains the same.

The changes

What growth there was came from contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), or consumer spending, and exports. These were partly offset by drops in private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- increased

The PCE price index increased 2.0%, compared with an increase of 0.3% in the first three months of the year. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index was up 1.8%, versus an of 2.1% in the previous quarter.

Corporate profits

Profits from current production plunged $24.1 billion in the second quarter, after rising $66.0 billion in the first quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations rose $7.2 billion in the second quarter, while profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations fell $58.2 billion.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The U.S. economy continued to plod along in the second quarter.The Commerce Department's second look at real gross domestic product -- the value of the...

July a banner month for teen job-seekers

Nearly a half million young adults found work last month

The kids are on the job.

An analysis of government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds the number of teenagers finding summer jobs this year is up 15.4%, or 1.3 million, between May and July -- the highest level since 2013.

The summer total was helped by heavier-than-usual teen employment gains in July.

A total of 492,000 teens found jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), up 33% from a year ago and 25% higher than the 392,900 July job gains averaged over the previous ten years.

Strongest teen employment in years

Total employment among 16- to 19-year-olds stands at 6,040,000, the highest number of employed teens since August 2008, when 6,142,000 were working.

“This year saw the strongest teen employment market since 2013, when 1,355,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 19 found jobs,” said Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger. “We may be seeing a turnaround in the teen job market as more and more cities approach full employment.”

Challenger pointed out that when the unemployment rate drops down into the 3-to-4% range, older and more experienced workers who might have been settling for employment in retail and food service are able to move into higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. This, he said, leaves opportunities for younger job seekers, adding that “the biggest challenge may be attracting teen job seekers.”

Teen employment has been declining since the 1970s. At its peak, in July 1978, more than 10 million teenagers were employed. Much of the decline appears to be by choice, as growing numbers participate in summer sports and education programs, volunteer, travel, or work in jobs that fall below the standard employment measures.

Employment enticements

“Employers may have to entice teens back into the traditional workforce with higher pay, more challenging work or, perhaps, the promise of tuition assistance,” suggested Challenger. Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Walmart are among the dozens of major food and retail businesses that offer scholarship applications for team members.

However, even with the promise of tuition assistance, it may be an uphill battle. According to unpublished, non-seasonally adjusted data from the BLS, of the 9.5 million 16- to 19-year-olds not in the labor force last month, more than 8.5 million, or roughly 90%, indicated that they don't want a job.

The kids are on the job.An analysis of government data by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds the number of teenagers finding summer j...

Employment on the rise in July

The gains came in the non-manufacturing sector

Although July was a better month for employment than June, the pace of new job creation continues at a less than robust pace.

According to the July ADP National Employment Report, private sector employment increased by 179,000 jobs from June to July -- 3,000 more jobs than were created in June.

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

"This month's employment number falls short of the 12-month average primarily because of slowing in small business hiring," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "As the labor market continues to tighten, small businesses may increasingly face challenges when it comes to offering wages that can compete with larger businesses."

Strength in services

Service-providing employment added 185,000 jobs last month, with professional/business services contributing 59,000. Trade/transportation/utilities increased by 27,000 jobs and financial activities added 11,000.

Goods-producing employment lost 6,000 jobs in July, following June losses of 28,000, with the construction industry down 6,000. Manufacturing rebounded, gaining 4,000 jobs after losing 15,000 a month earlier.

Payrolls for businesses with 49 or fewer employees increased by 61,000 jobs in July, while employment at companies with 50-499 employees rose by 68,000. Large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- hired 50,000 new workers; firms with 500-999 employees added 16,000, and companies with more than 1,000 employees put another 33,000 people on the payroll.

"This month's employment number falls short of the 12-month average primarily because of slowing in small business hiring," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "As the labor market continues to tighten, small businesses may increasingly face challenges when it comes to offering wages that can compete with larger businesses."

Although July was a better month for employment than June, the pace of new job creation continues at a less than robust pace.According to the July ADP ...

A fifth straight month of manufacturing growth

New orders and production expanded, while employment and inventories contracted

Another month of expansion -- the fifth in a row -- for the manufacturing sector of the economy.

At the same time, according to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Report On Business, the overall economy grew for the 86th consecutive month.

The July Purchasing Manager's Index registered 52.6% last month – down 0.6% from June. A reading above 50% indicates growth, while anything below that mark suggests contraction.

The Orders Index dipped 0.1% to 56.9%, while the Production Index rose 0.7% to 55.4%. On the negative side, the Employment Index came in at 49.4%, down 1.9%. Inventories of raw materials, while rising 1.0%, registered 49.5%.

The index charting prices fell 5.5% to 55%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the fifth consecutive month.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, the following 11 reported growth in July:

  1. Textile Mills;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  4. Wood Products;
  5. Furniture & Related Products;
  6. Chemical Products;
  7. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  8. Fabricated Metal Products;
  9. Nonmetallic Mineral Products;
  10. Petroleum & Coal Products; and
  11. Computer & Electronic Products.

The following seven industries reported contraction during the month:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  4. Machinery;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Transportation Equipment; and
  7. Paper Products.
Another month of expansion -- the fifth in a row -- for the manufacturing sector of the economy.At the same time, according to the Institute for Supply...

Retail sales post third consecutive monthly advance

However, the May increase was revised downward

Increases in nearly every category pushed retail sales up 0.6% in June to $457.0 billion -- the third straight monthly increase -- and 2.7% above the same month a year ago.

At the same time, though, the Census Bureau revised its May figures to show an advance of 0.2% instead of the 0.5% initially reported.

Sales at building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers led last months advance, rising 3.9%. Also on the increase were sales at gas stations (+1.2%), nonstore retailers (+1.1%), and miscellaneous store retailers (+0.9%). Sales at auto and parts dealers inched up 0.1%.

Sales fell at clothing & clothing accessories stores (-1.0%) and restaurants (-0.3%)

The complete June retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

Increases in nearly every category pushed retail sales up 0.6% in June to $457.0 billion -- the third straight monthly increase -- and 2.7% above the same ...

Unemployment ticks higher in June

However, it was the strongest month for hiring since last October

The nation's jobless rate rose 0.2% in June to 4.9%, as another 347,000 people found themselves out of work, according to figures released by the Department of Labor (DOL).

At the same time, the economy created another 287,000 jobs last month, mostly in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, and financial activities.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (4.5%) and Whites (4.4%) rose in June. The rates for adult men (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), Blacks (8.6%), Asians (3.5%), and Hispanics (5.8%) showed little or no change.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.7%, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.6%, showed little change during the month.

The number of people out of work less than five weeks increased by 211,000 in June, following a decrease during the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) changed little in June at 2 million and accounted for 25.8% of the unemployed.

Job gains and losses

The biggest contributor to the increase in employment was leisure and hospitality (+59,000 jobs), followed by health care and social assistance (+58,000) and financial activities (+16,000).

Employment in mining continued to trend down in June (-6,000), with other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and government showing little or no change in June.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up two cents in June to $25.61, following a six-cent increase in May. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6%.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The nation's jobless rate rose 0.2% in June to 4.9%, as another 347,000 people found themselves out of work, according to figures released by the Departmen...

ADP: U.S. job creation continues to slow

Average monthly job output has slowed this year

Another 172,000 people found work in the private sector during June, according to the ADP National Employment Report. However, that's down by about 1,000 from the May tally.

Small businesses continued to supply the bulk of the new positions as payrolls at firms with 49 or fewer employees increased by 95,000 -- a jump 0f 11,000 from May. Employment at companies with 50-499 employees increased by 52,000 jobs, compared with May's 60,000. The number of jobs at large companies -- those with 500 or more employees -- increased by 2,000 from the month before to 25,000. Companies with 500-999 employees added 21,000 and those with more than 1,000 employees hired 4,000 workers in June.

"Since the start of 2016, average monthly job creation has slightly dropped," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Lackluster global growth, low commodity prices, and an unfavorable exchange rate continue to weigh on U.S. companies, especially larger companies."

Goods and services empoyment

The goods-producing sector lost jobs -- 36,000 of them -- in June following a decline of 5,000 in May. Within that category, 5,000 construction industry jobs disappeared and there were 21,000 fewer people employed in manufacturing.

Employment in the service-providing category rose by 208,000 jobs last month on top of the May increase of 173,000. Professional/business services contributed 51,000 jobs, trade/transportation/utilities grew by 55,000, and financial activities added 2,000.

Despite the decline from May, Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi believes job growth revived last month from its spring slump. “Job growth remains healthy,” he said, “except in the energy and trade-sensitive manufacturing sectors. Large multinationals are struggling a bit, and Brexit won't help, but small- and mid-sized companies continue to add strongly to payrolls."

The ADP National Employment Report is produced by the payroll firm in collaboration with Moody's Analytics.

Another 172,000 people found work in the private sector during June, according to the ADP National Employment Report. However, that's down by about 1,000 f...

Job cuts on the rise in June

Still, terminations remain below the 12-month average

Pink slips were in the wind during June as employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 38,536 jobs.

While that's up 28% from May, when firings fell to a five-month low in June, it's still well below the 12-month average of 53,049 monthly job cuts. And according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks job cuts, it indicates a positive employment environment.

“Job cut announcements were up last month, but they increased from the lowest total of the year to the second lowest of the year,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The June total is 26% lower than the monthly job cuts averaged over the past year and 14% below the same month a year earlier.

A slowing pace

While the total of 313,754 planned job cuts so far this year is up 9% from the first six months of 2015, the pace of job cutting has slowed significantly since the beginning of the year. Job cuts in the second quarter were down 27% from the first quarter and 10% lower than the second quarter of 2015.

“It is not unusual to see a slowdown in job cuts during the summer months,” said Challenger. “Other factors are definitely contributing to the decline, the biggest one being the precipitous drop off in job cuts attributed to low oil prices.”

Firms in the energy and industrial goods sectors blamed oil prices for 50,053 announced job cuts in the first quarter. In the second quarter, oil-related job cuts were down 48%. In the energy sector alone, job cuts declined 42% in the second quarter.

More of the same

Challenger said we may continue to see low job cut totals throughout the remainder of 2016, as employers take a wait-and-see stance on workforce levels.

“Several uncertainties, including national elections, the recent Brexit, and global security and economic issues are giving employers pause when it comes to workforce decisions," he noted, adding “We are seeing it in layoff numbers, as well as the job creation numbers, which have been lackluster in recent months.”

Not every sector is holding off on job cuts. Terminations in the computer industry increased in the second quarter and total 39,589 through the first half of the year -- more than triple the number announced by these firms in the first six months of 2015.

Initial claims

Another big drop in the number of initial jobless claims last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports the seasonally adjusted total of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits initial claims was 254,000 in the week ending July 2, down 16,000 from the previous week, when the level was revised upward by 2,000.

Initial claims have now been below 300,000 for 70 weeks in a row, the longest stretch since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which many economists believe better reflects the labor market because it lacks volatility, was down 2,500 from a week earlier to 264,750.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

Pink slips were in the wind during June as employers announced plans to cut payrolls by 38,536 jobs.While that's up...

Another solid month for the economy's services sector

Fifteen industries reported growth

Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of economy picked up steam in June.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the sector was up 3.6% from May to a reading of 56.5%, representing continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. It also marked the 77th consecutive month of expansion.

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

The New Orders Index registered 59.9%, 5.7% points higher than the reading of 54.2% in May. The Employment Index grew 3% in June after contracting in May to 52.7%. The Prices Index dipped 0.1% from May to 55.5%, the third consecutive price increase.

Industry by industry

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

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

The three industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Educational Services;
  2. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and
  3. Other Services.
Growth in the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of economy picked up steam in June.According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the sec...

The economy's manufacturing sector continues to grow

New orders were up, while prices were down

The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy grew in June for the fourth time in as many months.

According to the Institute for Supply Management, the Purchasing Manager's Index was up 1.9% from the May reading to 53.2%. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

At the same time, the overall economy grew for the 85th consecutive month

The nuts and bolts

The New Orders Index came in at 57%, up 1.3% from May; the Production Index grew by 2.1% to 54.7%; and the Employment Index went from 49.2% in May to 50.4%.

The Prices Index, on the other hand, fell 3% to 60.5%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the fourth consecutive month.

Industry breakout

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 13 reported growth in the following order:

  1. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  4. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products;
  5. Fabricated Metal Products;
  6. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  7. Paper Products;
  8. Miscellaneous Manufacturing;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Chemical Products;
  11. Primary Metals;
  12. Machinery; and
  13. Nonmetallic Mineral Products.

Three industries reported contraction in June:

  1. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  2. Transportation Equipment; and
  3. Plastics & Rubber Products.
The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy grew in June for the fourth time in as many months.According to the Institute for Supply Management, the P...

Consumer spending rises in May, outpacing income gains

Jobless claims were on the rise last week

Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.

The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased by $53.5 billion, or 0.4%. Personal income, by the way, also rose -- $37.1 billion, or 0.2% -- and disposable personal income (DPI), what you have left after the government gets its cut, was up by $33.9 billion, or 0.2%.

Compensation, spending, and saving

Most of the income increase came from a rise of $14.7 billion in wages and salaries, well below $40.4 billion advance in April. Private wages and salaries were up $11.8 billion, while government wages and salaries inched up $2.9 billion.

Personal outlays, which is made up of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose just $57.0 billion in May, after a surge of $144.6 billion in April.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $730.6 billion last month, pushing the personal saving rate down 0.1% to 5.3%.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.


After falling sharply in the preceding week, first time applications for state unemployment benefits jumped a bit in the week ending June 25.

Jobless claims

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless applications rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000.

It's now 69 consecutive weeks that the initial claims level has been below 300,000 -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market as it lacks the weekly tally's volatility, was unchanged from the previous week at 266,750.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.

Consumers loosened up their purse strings a bit last month.The Commerce Department reports personal consumption expendi...

First quarter economic growth revised higher

Still, it's a slowdown from the previous three months

The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.

The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going in the first quarter and determined that real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production -- expanded at an annual rate of 1.1%.

That's somewhat better than the 0.8% rate in the second estimate, but slower than the 1.4% rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

The increase in the first quarter comes from contributions from consumer spending, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and exports. Those were offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were lower.

The slowdown in real GDP from the fourth quarter reflected a deceleration in consumer spending, a larger drop in nonresidential fixed investment, and a downturn in federal government spending that were partly offset by advances in state and local government spending and exports and an acceleration in residential fixed investment.

GDP inflation

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 0.2% in the first quarter, half the increase seen in the fourth.

The core rate, which excludes the volatile food and energy categories, was up 1.4%, versus a 1.0% increase in the final quarter of last year.

Corporate profits

Profits from current production rose by $34.7 billion in the first quarter, after declining $159.6 billion in the fourth.

Taxes on corporate income increased $4.4 billion in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $32.2 billion in the fourth.

The complete report is available on the Commerce Department website.

The third time was the charm when it comes to growth in the economy.The Commerce Department has taken its third and final look at how things were going...

Retail sales up again in May

It's the second gain in a row

Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.

The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month totaling $455.6 billion. That's a gain of 2.4% from the same month a year ago.

May's month-over-month advance was led by sales at gas stations (+2.1%), nonstore retailers and sporting goods (+1.3%), hobby, book, & music stores (+1.3%), and food services and drinking places (+0.8%). On a year-over-year basis, sales soared at nonstore retailers (+12.2) and health & personal care stores (+8.3).

Last month's losers include building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, with a sales decline of 1.8% from April, and miscellaneous store retailers, where sales were down 1.2%.

The complete May retail sales report is available on the Census Bureau website.

Consumers continued to spend in May, sending retail sales up for a second consecutive month.The Census Bureau reports sales were up 0.5% last month tot...

Job openings hold steady in April, as new hires edged lower

Initial jobless claims remained below 300,00 last week

There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job openings was fairly steady during the month at 5.8 million. At the same time, the number of hires edged down to 5.1 million while separations were little changed at 5.0 million.

Job openings

The job openings rate was 3.9% as the number of openings showed little change for total private and for government. Large increases occurred in wholesale trade (+65,000), transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+58,000), durable goods manufacturing (+46,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (+41,000). Openings in the professional and business services sector were down by 274,000. The number of job openings was little changed in all four regions.

Hires

With a hires rate of 3.5%, the number of hires for total private and for government edged down 31,000. Hires were little changed in all industries in April and decreased in the Midwest region.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The category is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in April was 3.5%. The number of total separations was little changed for total private and for government, and all industries experienced little change in total separations over the month.

Net change in employment

Over the 12 months ending in April, hires totaled 62.4 million and separations totaled 59.7 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.7 million. These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The full report is available on the BLS website

Initial claims

Separately, the  Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time jobless claims came in below 300,000 last week for the 66th consecutive week -- the longest streak since 1973.

In the week ending June 4, initial applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 264,000, down from the previous week's revised level of 268,000.

The four-week moving average, seen as a more active gauge of the labor market because it's not as volatile as the weekly compilation, fell 7,500 from the previous week's revised total -- to 269,500.

The complete report may be found on the DOL website.

There wasn't a lot of change in the labor market during April.The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of jo...

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...

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)...

Retail sales post solid gain in April

The advance was the strongest in a year

Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.

According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March and are 3.0% ahead of the same time a year ago. At the same time, the government revised its March report to show a sales drop of 0.3% rather than the 0.4% initially reported.

Eleven of 13 categories posted gains, with most of the strength coming in sales by auto and other motor vehicle dealers, which surged 3.5% followed by gas stations (+2.2%), nonstore retailers (+2.1%), and grocery stores (+1.1%).

The only category to post a decline was building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, whose sales dipped 1.0%

Sales at general merchandise stores were flat.

The complete April retail sales report is available on the Commerce Department website.

Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March a...

Job openings slip in February as hiring increases

The number of workers who left jobs was on the rise

The number of jobs up for grabs inched lower during February.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job openings at the end of the month, compared with 5.5 million the month before.

Hires, meanwhile, were up to 5.4 million from 5.0 million in January, and separations rose by 200,000 -- to 5.1 million.

Job openings

The job openings rate February was about the same as a month earlier -- 3.7%. Openings rose in educational services (+48,000) and federal government (+19,000), but fell in health care and social assistance (-147,000), finance and insurance (-54,000), and mining and logging (-8,000). The number of job openings was lower down in the Midwest region.

Hires

The addition of 297,000 hires in February was the highest level since November 2006, putting the hires rate at 3.8%. Hires increased for total private (+278,000) and were little changed for government.

Retail trade added 102,000 positions followed by accommodation and food services (+78,000), educational services (+44,000), and state and local government -- excluding education (+25,000). Hires declined in mining and logging (-9,000). Hires increased in the South.

Separations

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in February was 3.5% with little change for total private and government.

Separations were up in accommodation and food services (+98,000), while arts, entertainment, and recreation edged lower (-31,000). The number of total separations was little changed over the month in all regions.

Employment net change

Over the 12 months ending in February, hires totaled 62.1 million and separations totaled 59.4 million, for a net employment gain of 2.7 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

The number of jobs up for grabs inched lower during February.Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job o...

Employment growth stumbles in April

The jobless rate held steady at 5.0%

Job growth in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven months during April.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment rose by just 160,000 last month, with the unemployment rate holding at 5.0%. In addition, the government revised the job gains in March and February downward by 7,000 and 12,000 respectively.

The slowdown in job growth came as the labor force participation rate fell to 62.8% and the employment-population ratio dropped to 59.7%. On the bright side, average hourly earnings rose by eight cents to $25.53, following an increase of six cents in March. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

Gainers and losers

Professional and business services added 65,000 jobs in April, followed by health care employment (+44,000) and financial activities (+20,000).

Mining employment declined again in April (-7,000) and, since reaching a peak in September 2014, has decreased by 191,000, with more than three-quarters of the loss in mining support activities.

There was little or no change in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics rose to 6.1%, while the rates for adult men (4.6%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (8.8%) and Asians (3.8%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) declined by 150,000 to 2.1 million, accounting for 25.7% of the unemployed.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

Job growth in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven months during April.According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment ros...

The economy's services sector continues to expand

Thirteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth

The services sector of the economy expanded for the 75th consecutive month in April.

The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI), which is used to track the sector, registered 55.7% -- an increase of 1.2% from March. A reading above 50% indicates expansion; below 50% suggests contraction.

Within the NMI, the New Orders Index rose 3.2% to 59.9%, the Employment Index was up 2.7% to 53% and the Prices Index jumped 4.3% to 53.4%, the first increase in three months.

Industry performance

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in April were:

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

The four industries reporting contraction in April were:

  1. Other Services;
  2. Mining;
  3. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  4. Educational Services.
The services sector of the economy expanded for the 75th consecutive month in April.The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Inde...

Job cuts top 65,000 in April

The energy sector is leading the advance

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.

According to the figures from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C), that's an increase of 35% over March and 5.8% higher than the total for April 2015.

In the first four months of this year, planned job cuts -- at 250,061 -- are up 24%from the same period in 2015 and the highest January-April total since 2009.

“We continue to see large scale layoffs in the energy sector, where low oil prices are driving down profits,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of CG&C. “However, we are also seeing heavy downsizing activity in other areas, such as computers and retail, where changing consumer trends are creating a lot of volatility.”

Energy and computer sectors hit hard

Another 19,759 jobs disappeared in the energy sector in April, bringing the year-to-date total to 72,660, up 26% from first four months of 2015.

Computer firms cut 16,923 positions -- the highest total among all industries. Approximately 12,000 of those were from chipmaker Intel, which is shifting away from the traditional desktop and laptop market and toward the mobile market. To date, computer firms have announced 33,925 job cuts, a whopping 262% above a year earlier.

“For all intents and purposes, the economy remains strong,” Challenger noted. “The nation’s payrolls have experienced 66 consecutive months of net job gains, a trend that is likely to continue with the new report out Friday.”

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose last week for a second straight week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 17,000 in the week ending April 30, to a seasonally adjusted 274,000. Still this was the 61st consecutive week of claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly headcount and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 2,000 -- to 258,000.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.According to the figures from outpla...

Manufacturing grows for the second straight month

The overall economy expanded for the 83rd consecutive month

The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 50.8%, down 1.0% from March. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

The two months of growth followed five consecutive months of contraction.

A closer look at the PMI shows the New Orders Index was down 2.5%, the Production Index dipped 1.1%, and inventories of raw materials were off 1.5%. The Employment Index, meanwhile, was up 1.1%, and the Prices Index surged 7.5%.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth last month:

  1. Wood Products;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Fabricated Metal Products;
  7. Chemical Products;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  11. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The four industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Transportation Equipment;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and
  4. Furniture & Related Products.
The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely. According to the Institute for Supply Manageme...

Economy creeps along in early 2016

Growth has slowed considerably

The economy was sputtering in the first three months of the year, slowing even further from the anemic performance in the final quarter of 2015.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy -- increased at an annual rate of 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016. GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.4% the previous three months.

This first-quarter “advance estimate” is based on sources that are incomplete or subject to further revision.

The first quarter growth rate was the result of contributions from consumer spending, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Those were partly offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, exports, and federal government spending. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- increased.

The slowdown in the rate of GDP growth came from a larger decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, a deceleration in consumer spending, a downturn in federal government spending, a rise in imports, and larger decreases in private inventory investment and in exports. Those declines were partly offset by an rise in state and local government spending and an acceleration in residential fixed investment.

GDP inflation and savings

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 0.3% in the January-March period, down 0.1% from the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” measure of GDP inflation was up 1.4%, versus a 1.0% advance in the prior three months.

Personal saving, which is disposable personal income less personal spending -- was $712.3 billion in the first quarter, compared with $678.3 billion in the fourth. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 5.2%, a gain of 0.2% from the final three months of last year.

The full report is available on the BEA website.

Jobless claims

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits were on the rise last week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 9,000 in the week ending April 23 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 -- from 247,000 to 248,000.

This marks 60 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, fell 4,750 to 256,000 -- the lowest level since December 8, 1973.

The complete jobless claims report is found on the DOL website.

The economy was sputtering in the first three months of the year, slowing even further from the anemic performance in th...

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, ...

The non-manufacturing economy continues to perk along

A dozen services industries reported expansion in March

Things are sailing along nicely in the non-manufacturing sector of the economy, with growth continuing in March for the 74th consecutive month.

The Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business shows the services sector grew 1.1% last month to 54.5%, representing a slightly faster rate of expansion. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion, while below that suggests contraction

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index was up 2%, for the 80th consecutive month of growth; the New Orders Index gained 1.2%, and the the Employment Index inched up 0.6% after falling in February.

The Prices Index was up 3.6% to 49.1%, indicating prices dipped in March for the fifth time in the last seven months.

Industry performance

The 12 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in March are:

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

The two industries reporting contraction in March are:

  1. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and
  2. Transportation & Warehousing.
Things are sailing along nicely in the non-manufacturing sector of the economy, with growth continuing in March for the 74th consecutive month.The Non-...

Finally -- the manufacturing economy is growing again

March showed the first expansion in the sector in six months

It's been a long time coming, but the manufacturing sector of the economy is growing again.

According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report On Business, the March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was up 2.3% from February -- to 51.8%. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while under 50 suggests contraction.

The March increase was the first since August 2015. The overall economy, meanwhile, expanded for the 82nd consecutive month.

Within the sector, The New Orders Index posted a gain of 6.8%, production was up 2.5%, and the Prices Index soared 13%, indicating higher raw materials prices for the first time since October 2014.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 12 reported growth in March:

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

The industries reporting contraction in March were:

  1. Apparel, Leather & Allied Products;
  2. Textile Mills;
  3. Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components;
  4. Transportation Equipment; and
  5. Petroleum & Coal Products.
It's been a long time coming, but the manufacturing sector of the economy is growing again.According to the latest Manufacturing Institute for Supply M...

Pace of job-cutting falls in March

Much of the increase in cuts was in energy and retail

The number of people who found they no longer had their jobs fell in March from the mark set the month before.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that U.S.-based employers announced plans to trim payrolls by 48,207 in March -- the second month in a row that job cuts have declined. The March pace was 21.7% lower than the 61,599 terminations in February and the lowest monthly total since December.

“Job cuts have slowed since surging in the first two months of the year, but the pace is still well above that of 2015,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

First-quarter surge in cuts

Even with the decline, the March figure was up 31.7% from the same month a year ago, making it the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase.

Through the first three months of this year, employers have announced 184,920 job cuts, up 31.8% from the 140,241 cuts tracked the first quarter months of 2015, and 75.9% more than in the final quarter of 2015.

Twenty-seven percent of the first-quarter job cuts can be directly tied to falling oil prices, slightly higher than a year ago. While there were fewer oil-related job cuts a year ago, they represented a larger portion of total job cuts, accounting for 34% of first-quarter termination announcements.

It's not just the energy sector that is seeing heavier job cuts, though. The retail sector has also tallied significant gains in job cuts. To date, it has recorded the second highest number of job cuts, with 31,832 -- up 41% from the first three months of 2015.

Meanwhile, the 17,002 job cuts in the computer sector are 148% higher than a year ago.

“What these sectors share in common is that they are all going through transformational changes,” said Challenger. “We, as a nation, and really as a global community, are changing the way we produce and consume energy. We are also changing the way we buy goods and services. Technology is in a constant state of change, and, currently, we are shifting away from computing at our desks to computing on our phones and tablets."

But, while jobs are being lost in some areas, Challenger points out that they are being created in others, including renewable energy, online retailing, and mobile computing.

Initial jobless claims

From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that first-time applications for state unemployment benefits rose for a fourth consecutive week.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, initial claims rose 11,000 in the week ending March 26 to 276,000, but have remained below 300,000 for 56 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average inched up 3,500 to 263,250. Because it lacks the volatility of the weekly headcount, the moving average is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market.

The complete report is available on the (DOL) website.

The number of people who found they no longer had their jobs fell in March from the mark set the month before.Outpl...

Economy adds another 200k private sector jobs in March

As usual, it was smaller companies that contributed the most

March was another good month for job creation, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 ...

January job creation comes up short

The unemployment rate dipped slightly

Another 151,000 people found work in January, well below the pace of December in which 262,000 jobs were created. That December figure, by the way, was revised down by 30,000 from the initial estimate. Economists at Briefing.com had projected the creation of 188,000 jobs.

In its report, the Department of Labor (DOL) also said the unemployment rate inched down 0.1% to 4.9%.

Job gains occurred in several industries, including retail trade (+58,000), food services and drinking places (+47,000), health care (+37,000), and manufacturing (+29,000). Employment declined in private educational services (-29,000), transportation and warehousing (-20,000), and mining (-7,000).

The number of people out of work was little changed at 7.8 million. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.1 million and 0.8%, respectively.

Who's working and who's not

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5%) and whites (4.3%) declined in January. The jobless rates for adult women (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), blacks (8.8%), Asians (3.7%), and Hispanics (5.9%) showed little change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in January, at 2.1 million, and has shown little movement since June. They account for 26.9% of the unemployed.

After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the civilian labor force and total employment, as measured by the household survey, were little changed in January. The labor force participation rate, at 62.7%, was little changed.

The employment-population ratio at 59.6% changed little over the month, but was up by 0.3% since October.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 12 cents last month to $25.39. Over the year, average hourly earnings have gone 2.5%. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 6 cents to $21.33.

The complete report is available on the DOL website.

Jobless claims

Speaking of jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports initial applications for state unemployment benefits were up 8,000 in the week ending January 30, to a seasonally adjusted initial total of 285,000. That's the highest level in two weeks. The previous week's total was revised down by 1,000 to 277,000.

The four-week moving average, which strips out the volatility of the weekly number and is considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, rose by 2,000 to 284,750.

The full report may be found on the BLS website.

Another 151,000 people found work in January, well below the pace of December in which 262,000 jobs were created. That December figure, by the way, was rev...

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...

Growth in the economy's services sector tapers off

Still, there has been expansion for the last six years

We've seen growth for six years in a row for the non-manufacturing sector of the economy.

The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Non-Manufacturing Report On Business put out the nation's supply executive and purchasing managers say the Non-manufacturing Index (NMI) registered 53.5% in January, down 2.3% from December. That's the lowest level in two years, but the 72nd consecutive month of growth.

The New Orders Index was down 2.4% to 56.5%, the Employment Index came in at 52.1% -- a dip if 4.2%, and the Prices Index was off 4.6% for a reading of 46.4%, indicating prices fell in January for the third time in the last five months.

Despite the deceleration in the growth rate, the majority of supply executives and purchasing managers surveyed were positive about business conditions. However, there is a concern regarding global conditions, stock market volatility, and the effect on commercial and consumer confidence.

While service sector activity was still expanding, Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist, Lindsey Piegza said it's important to remember that there's a lag in service activity, typically trailing the trends in the manufacturing sector by three to six months. "Now, as we turn the corner into the new year," she said, "the weakness evident throughout the economy at year-end has become increasingly evident in the service sector as well."

Industry performance

The 10 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in January -- listed in order -- were:

  1. Finance & Insurance;
  2. Real Estate, Rental & Leasing;
  3. Utilities;
  4. Retail Trade;
  5. Information;
  6. Construction;
  7. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
  8. Health Care & Social Assistance;
  9. Management of Companies & Support Services; and
  10. Public Administration.

The eight industries reporting contraction in January -- in order -- were:

  1. Mining;
  2. Educational Services;
  3. Wholesale Trade;
  4. Other Services;
  5. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
  6. Accommodation & Food Services;
  7. Transportation & Warehousing; and
  8. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services.
We've seen growth for six years in a row for the non-manufacturing sector of the economy. The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Non-Manufactu...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 ...

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 ...

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...

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...

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...

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 ...

Economy turns in sub-par performance

Corporate profits took a hit too

The final look at the economy for the third quarter was generally dissatisfying.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports the "third"estimate of 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 2.0% after growing 2.1% in the “second” estimate and 3.9% in the second quarter.

All told, that's just shy of the average growth rate of 2.1% for the preceding 12 quarters.

More of the same

With the third estimate for the the July – September quarter, the general picture of economic growth showed little change.

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

The slowdown was due to a downturn in private inventory investment and decelerations in exports, in PCE, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports.

Inflation and profits

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.3% in the third quarter, down 0.2% from the second. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” rate of GDP inflation was up 1.3%, compared with an increase of 1.2%.

Corporate profits did not fare well in the third quarter, plunging $33.0 billion following a $70.4 billion in the second three months of the year. Consequently, taxes on corporate income fell $6.9 billion after surging $31.3 billion in the second quarter.

The complete report is available on the BEA website.

The final look at the economy for the third quarter was generally dissatisfying.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports the "third"estimate of re...

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...

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....

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...

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...

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....

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 ...

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...