The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Employment]


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 161,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in health care, professional and business services, and financial activities.

There's not much here that looks interesting at first blush; it's a "muddle along" number.

For an October this number is tepid on the unadjusted numbers.  Usually October is fairly strong as it begins the hiring for the "season" of this holiday we have every year, but I don't see evidence of that in this figure. 

But...... there's no real deterioration here, in the data that really matters; employment:population is steady, and still on the "slowly improving" trend.  The key word here: slowly.

This many years and with this much "extraordinary" policy, however, we shouldn't be here.  The evidence is that this "extraordinary" policy is harmful rather than helpful, and what's worse is that it has enabled terrible decisions that are radically uneconomic but help a very tiny number of people at everyone else's expense.

That's economically dangerous because such acts usually blow up in your face later.  When business basically gets dragged into this sort of thing because "everyone's doing it" and you follow along lest "your" company get left behind by the analysts and other Wall Street mooks you're setting up for a crash when the rug gets pulled out from under you as the impact isn't just yours, it's everyone's.

Internals showed that hours were stable at 34.4 and hourly earnings ticked up.  There's a problem brewing here in the labor market but nobody's paying attention to it, and it's coming in cost-push inflation.  Of course we'll hear that 'nobody could have seen that coming' a year or two from now..... when it finally has to be addressed, and it will.

The participation rate internals are continuing something I've been seeing for a while; men are neither losing or gaining, but women are on the modest plus side.  Sexism?  Maybe, but the trend is not strong.

Where it is a strong trend is in the "education" area.  This has been going on for a while, and it's bad news.  If you're a high school dropout, you're fooked.  But if you have a college degree you're not gaining much, while those who are simply high school graduates are, on-balance, gaining more in the employment area.  This is very, very bad news as it speaks to two problems I've often noted over the last few years: Quality of the jobs available and the "value" (or rather, lack thereof) that you received in exchange for that $50,000+ in student loan debt.  This trend continues, as it has now for several years, in that what you really get in exchange for taking on college debt, outside of a handful of professions, is bent over the table.

Here it comes.

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