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U.S. Employment Report Keeps on Keeping On

The U.S. employment picture continues to be a study in patience ... and ennervation. The trend is still one of marginal gains offset by occasional backslides. Hang in there, unhealthy folks!

Businessman meh news dayWatching the job market of late has been a lot like watching paint dry: There’s not really much to see and it just sort of creeps along. As I’ve mentioned in other recent blogs following the monthly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics around the first Friday of each month, it looks increasingly like we’ve lapsed back into what I like to call “slow growth mode.”

 

Once again, new jobs created are around 150,000 for September 2016; 156,000 to be more precise. There was little growth outside these four industry sectors: Professional and business services (+67,000 for September), health care (+33,000), food services and drinking places (+30,000) and retail trade employment (+22,000).

 

Together those four accounted for 152,000 of the 156,000 jobs added for the month!

 

Looking at Some Growth Trends

 

There are two interesting but somewhat contradictory long term trends emerging from the numbers. First, as the average hourly earnings chart shows, wage growth has largely trended upward since 2012.

 

It’s been in a narrow band, however, that stretches from just over 1.5 percent (October 2012) to no more than 2.68 percent (July 2016). This is the kind of trend that the Fed likes to see, because it shows an improving earnings picture for workers in general, and provides some rationale for raising interest rates to keep inflation from kicking in.

 

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