September Jobs Report - Hurricane-proof
By Ben Leubsdorf - Wall Street Journal- October 6, 2017
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in September, a level not seen since early 2001, because more Americans found jobs even as the labor force expanded.
That’s based on a survey of households, which diverged last month from the separate survey of businesses used to generate the monthly payrolls figure. The jobless rate has hovered below 4.5% for the past six months and remains below the level that Federal Reserve officials consider normal in the long run. Their median longer-run projection in September was 4.6%. The Labor Department said the hurricanes didn’t appear to affect the unemployment rate for last month. The Labor Department said the hurricanes didn’t appear to affect the unemployment rate for last month.
For the first time since September 2010, U.S. nonfarm employers shed jobs last month. But that could reflect hurricane-related disruptions more than an actual change in underlying labor-market conditions. More broadly, employers have added an average of 148,000 jobs per month so far in 2017, which is down from last year’s average monthly pace of 187,000, but still solid.
Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers were $26.55 in September, jumping 0.45% from the prior month and rising 2.9% over the past year. The pop could reflect, in part, low-wage workers dropping out of the sample because they weren’t working due to the hurricanes. Wage growth has firmed since earlier in the expansion, but pay raises remain modest compared with historical levels.
A broad measure of unemployment and underemployment known as the U-6, which includes people stuck in part-time jobs and others, was 8.3% in September. That was down from 8.6% a month earlier and 9.7% a year earlier.
Consumer Confidence Highest in 13 Years!
By Sarah Chaney - Wall Street Journal - October 13, 2017
A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment rose swiftly in the first half of October to its highest level since 2004, a robust sign for household spending this fall. The University of Michigan Friday said its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment was 101.1 in October, up from 95.1 in September. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a preliminary reading of 95.3 in October.
The rise in sentiment was propelled by strong gains in consumers’ view of current and future economic conditions.
“Confidence continues to be supported by the soaring stock market and conditions in the labor market which, looking through the disruption caused by the hurricanes in September, still look very strong,” said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, in a note to clients. The index, which jumped following last year’s presidential election, was up 15.9% in October from a year earlier.
An index tracking current economic conditions climbed to 116.4 in October from 111.7 in September. An index tracking expectations about the future was up to 91.3 in October from September’s 84.4.
Other measures of consumer confidence remain high. Confidence among American consumers fell only slightly in September after two major hurricanes struck the U.S., the Conference Board said in September.
Stronger consumer sentiment has translated into increased spending in some pockets of the economy, though recent hurricane activity continues to cloud the underlying economic picture. Spending at U.S. retailers rebounded strongly last month, boosted by surging car sales and higher gasoline prices in the wake of several devastating hurricanes, the Commerce Department said Friday.
BETTER DAYS ARE ON THE WAY