Connect with us

Economy

US economy defies omicron and adds 467,000 jobs in January – Rocky Mountain Outlook

Published

 on


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a surprising burst of hiring, America’s employers added a robust 467,000 jobs last month, a sign of the economy’s resilience in the face of a wave of omicron infections.

The government’s report Friday also drastically revised up its estimate of job gains for November and December by a combined 709,000. It also said the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.9% to a still-low 4%, mainly because more people began looking for work and not all of them found jobs right away.

The strong hiring growth for January, which defied expectations for only a slight gain, demonstrated the eagerness of many employers to hire even as the pandemic raged. Businesses appear to have regarded the omicron wave as having, at most, a temporary impact on the economy and remain confident about their longer-term prospects.

“Employers have assumed that omicron would be painful but short term, so they haven’t changed their hiring plans,” said Mathieu Stevenson, the CEO of Snagajob, a job listings site focused on hourly workers. “Demand from employers is as strong as ever.”

January’s hiring gain and sharp upward revisions to previous months mean that the United States has 1.1 million more jobs than government data had indicated only a month ago. The solid hiring, along with steady wage gains, are boosting consumer spending, which has collided with snarled supply chains to accelerate inflation to a four-decade high.

Adjusted for price increases, Americans’ paychecks on average don’t go as far as they did a year ago, even though many workers have received raises. Many households, especially lower-income families, are struggling to afford necessities like gas, food, rent and child care.

Those trends will give the Federal Reserve more leeway to raise interest rates, perhaps even faster than it had planned, to cool inflation. The Fed has indicated that it will begin raising rates in March, and it could do so again at its next meeting in May. Faster rate hikes could reduce borrowing and spending and possibly weaken the economy.

Stocks initially fell on the expectation that the Fed will tighten credit more quickly, before share prices recovered in early afternoon. But the yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped nearly one-tenth of a percentage point, to 1.91%, a sign that investors anticipate higher borrowing costs.

Across the economy, most industries hired workers last month, including retailers, which added more than 61,000 jobs, and restaurants and hotels, which gained 131,000. Shipping and warehousing firms added 54,000. Many companies in those industries likely held onto some of the workers they had hired over the winter holidays, economists said, rather than laying them all off.

Omicron did leave some fingerprints on the report: The percentage of Americans who were working from home rose to more than 15%, up from 11% in December. And the number of people out sick last month soared to 3.6 million, up from fewer than 2 million in the previous January and about triple the pre-pandemic level. This forced many companies, from restaurants to retailers to manufacturers, to reduce their hours or even close because of staff shortages.

Among the workers who were out sick was Perla Hernandez, whose entire family of eight contracted COVID last month. Hernandez and her husband and 20-year old daughter all missed work, a major blow to the family’s finances.

Hernandez, 42, who lives in the San Jose, California, area, missed six days from her job as a Burger King cook and janitor. Because she has no paid sick leave, the paycheck she receives every two weeks amounted to just $230.

About one-fifth of U.S. workers receive no sick pay, and the proportion is far higher among lower-paid service workers. Only 33% of workers who are at the bottom 10% of the pay scale receive paid sick leave, compared with 95% of employees in the top 10%.

“Thank God that we already had paid the rent for January,” she said through an interpreter. “We had to go to a food bank.”

Hernandez said she earns $15.45 an hour, after having received a 45-cent raise six months ago. But she and her colleagues, including managers, have been working especially long hours because the restaurant has had difficulty hiring.

Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the employment website Glassdoor, said the healthy hiring — not only for January but also for November and December — is a sign that last month’s gains weren’t merely a blip.

“This is an actual trend, and job growth was faster than we realized,” Zhao said.

A greater proportion of Americans are also now working or looking for work, the report showed, a trend that makes it easier for companies to find workers. It suggests that concerns about long-term labor shortages may have been overblown, at least in some industries.

“There are workers out there — it’s just taking time to integrate them back into the labor force,” Zhao said.

Grady Cope, the CEO of Reata Engineering and Machine Works, said nine of his 43 staffers were out sick last month — the most he can remember in nearly 30 years of running the company.

But Cope’s company, which makes parts for airplane and medical device manufacturers, also has the biggest order backlog it’s ever had. He wants to add at least eight employees, including machinists, assemblers and engineers. Last month, he raised pay 18%, far more than the usual 3%-4% increases. His company is based near Denver, where rents and other costs are rising fast.

“People have to have wages so they can support themselves and raise families,” he said.

Still, Cope has been increasing his own prices to offset his workers’ higher pay. The competition for workers, he said, is the toughest he’s ever seen. In October, four of his workers quit. Only one gave notice.

“That’s never happened in 28 years,” he said.

The overall outlook for the job market remains bright, with openings near a record high, the pace of layoffs down and the unemployment rate having already reached a healthy level. The nation gained more jobs last year, adjusted for the size of the workforce, than in any year since 1978. Much of that improvement represented a rebound from record job losses in 2020 that were driven by the pandemic recession.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press








Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

Key Indicator Shows China’s Economy Set For Further Slump – Forbes

Published

 on


Just when you thought China might be back on track, a key economic indicators suggests the opposite is coming down the pike.

Recently the price of iron-ore slumped, indicating that demand for this key ingredient in steel making is slipping as well. Recently one metric ton of the or would fetch $116, down more than 25% from almost $160 in early March, according to data from TradingEconomics. That’s quite a tumble.

As the largest maker of steel, China is also by far the largest buyer of iron-ore, and so when prices are slipping it strongly suggests that China isn’t buying as much iron-ore as it normally does. In 2020, the communist country produced 57% of all steel or around 1.1 billion tons, according to World Steel Association data. No other country comes close.

Typically when China’s steel production falls then its economy stalls. We saw this back in mid 2015 when its output of the metal dropped for the first time in more than three decades. The resulting fallout came in August when the Chinese stock market took a tumble and shook other securities markets around the globe.

The question now is what will happen next in China. Likely there’ll be further softness in the economy. If the the price of iron-ore remains soft or even falls further then its a clear sign that China isn’t planning on its usual output of steel.

That matters because steel has long been the lifeblood of that country’s economy. Teh huge real estate construction that has happened over the past two decades required steel for building skyscrapers, factories and dwellings across the massive Asian country. Steel has also been needed as feedstock for the country’s huge manufacturing industry which produces key components for automobiles across the globe.

What’s shocking here is that while China is in midst of undoing some of its recent COVID-19-related lockdowns that brought vast swathes of the communist country to an economic standstill. If those locked-down cities were now getting back to work, then why aren’t we seeing signs of an industrial resurgence?

So far, that’s not clear. If things were getting back to any form of normal then we should see demand for iron-ore creep up and along with it the prices of the mineral should rally. Investors in Chinese stocks or even those listed in Hong Kong should remain cautious until we see evidence of a real recovery.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

China's Economy Improves in June From Lockdown-Induced Slump – BNN

Published

 on


(Bloomberg) — China’s economy showed some improvement in June as Covid restrictions were gradually eased, although the recovery remains muted. 

That’s the outlook based on Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for this month. The overall gauge returned to the neutral level after deteriorating for two straight months.

Economic activity picked up in June after financial hub Shanghai lifted its lockdown, allowing businesses to restart and most residents to leave their homes. That can be seen in a rebound in small business confidence, which started growing again after contracting for two months. 

A survey of more than 500 smaller firms showed that “demand and production recovered strongly among manufacturing,” and export-oriented smaller firms outperformed, according to Hunter Chan and Ding Shuang, economists at Standard Chartered Plc. 

However, “the manufacturing recovery was more significant than services,” they said. Contact-intensive industries such as retail and catering continued to be a drag, while real estate, transport and information technology reported an acceleration in activity and construction jumped. 

Rising activity isn’t translating into higher demand for some building materials yet. More steel plants have been idled and inventory levels at major Chinese steel mills have climbed 10.7% in mid-June from earlier in the month, and are about 82% higher than the start of this year. Stocks of steel rebar, which is used in construction, rose slightly in June. 

Beijing has pledged to boost policy measures to support growth, with President Xi Jinping saying last week China would strive to meet its goals for the year. Stocks were up for a fourth week on optimism of stimulus and as lockdowns ended, with foreign inflows rising. 

However, the housing sector continued to be a drag on the economy. Property sales declined in the first three weeks of June in the top four cities in China, even though sales in Shanghai last week had mostly recovered to the level before the lockdown. 

An official index that tracks apartment and home sales has now declined for 11 straight months — a record since China created a private property market in the 1990s. The slump likely continued into June, with weekly sales in the top 50 cities contracting from the level last year.  

Read more: China’s Property Slump Is a Bigger Threat Than Its Lockdowns

The car market is making a gradually recovery after the lockdowns. Based on sales in the first two weeks of this month, more cars were sold in June than the same period in 2021. Sales fell in the past three months as Covid restrictions caused car plants and dealerships to shut and also prevented people across the country from leaving their homes to go shopping. 

Total retail sales also dropped in that period, with the economies of Beijing and Shanghai the worst hit.

The recovery in the services industry will likely take longer than for goods. Consumers are still unwilling or unable to go out as much as before since China’s strict Covid Zero policy means they face being quarantined for weeks if they’ve been in the same location as a positive case. 

The restrictions and factory closures of the past months have also curbed the incomes of many businesses and workers, even if they weren’t locked down. 

Read more: Even Without a Lockdown, Beijing’s Economy Struggled in May

The export sector likely supported demand in June, as companies ramped up shipments that had been delayed and ports worked to clear the backlog of containers. Although South Korean exports in the first 20 days of the month fell for the first time in more than a year, that was largely because of fewer working days this year than last. 

The daily average value of Korean shipments rose 11% in the period from the same time in 2021. Exports have been a strong driver for China’s economy and the strong growth continues to defy predictions that they would slow markedly or start to fall. 

Read more: Metals Haven’t Crashed This Hard Since the Great Recession

The outlook for those shipments in the rest of this year depends on whether rising concerns about a global recession are correct or not. The price of copper had its steepest weekly loss in a year last week as global recession fears mounted, damping the outlook for demand and battering commodities from oil to metals. The metal used in wires and cables extended its weekly loss to 7%, with prices hitting the lowest level since February last year following disappointing US business activity data that included an abrupt cooling in manufacturing. 

Early Indicators

Bloomberg Economics generates the overall activity reading by aggregating a three-month weighted average of the monthly changes of eight indicators, which are based on business surveys or market prices.

  • Major onshore stocks – CSI 300 index of A-share stocks listed in Shanghai or Shenzhen (through market close on 25th of the month).
  • Total floor area of home sales in China’s four Tier-1 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen).
  • Inventory of steel rebar, used for reinforcing in construction (in 10,000 metric tons). Falling inventory is a sign of rising demand.
  • Copper prices – Spot price for refined copper in Shanghai market (yuan/metric ton).
  • South Korean exports – South Korean exports in the first 20 days of each month (year-on-year change).
  • Factory inflation tracker – Bloomberg Economics-created tracker for Chinese producer prices (year-on-year change).
  • Small and medium-sized business confidence – Survey of companies conducted by Standard Chartered.
  • Passenger car sales – Monthly result calculated from the weekly average sales data released by the China Passenger Car Association.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

BIS warns economies are approaching 'tipping point' where high inflation becomes entrenched – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


People shop at a Walmart Supercentre in Toronto on March 13, 2020.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

Many economies are approaching a tipping point where high inflation becomes normal while economic growth slows sharply, the Bank for International Settlements warned in its annual report published Sunday.

Countries around the world are facing a dangerous cocktail of high inflation, slowing economic growth and heightened financial vulnerabilities tied to high debt levels and rising interest rates, said the BIS, which acts as a bank for the world’s central banks.

This may quickly turn into a period of stagflation resembling the high-inflation and low-growth era of 1970s and early 1980s, the organization said. It argued that economic policy makers around the world need to move rapidly to halt inflation, even if that means causing significant economic hardship.

“We may be reaching a tipping point, beyond which an inflationary psychology spreads and becomes entrenched. This would mean a major paradigm shift,” the BIS said.

Liberals fail to act with urgency before a long hot summer of inflation

It might be time to admit we just don’t know that much about inflation

Central banks around the world have stepped up the pace of interest rate increases in recent months to try to tame inflation. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced the largest interest rate hike since 1994. The Bank of Canada has increased its benchmark rate at three consecutive rate decisions, and hinted that it is considering a supersized 0.75 percentage point rate increase in July. That would be three times the size of a normal rate hike.

Interest rate increases lower demand in the economy, which can help bring down the pace of consumer price growth. But higher interest rates can also push the economy into a recession, as steeper borrowing costs curtail consumer spending and business investment, and push up unemployment.

“The overriding near-term challenge is to prevent the global economy from shifting from a low- to a high-inflation regime. In doing so, policy makers will need to limit the costs to the economy as far as possible and to safeguard financial stability. Some pain, however, will be inevitable,” the BIS said.

Getting inflation under control won’t be easy, the organization warned. The recent commodity price shock tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to multiple inflationary pressures that have been building over the past year. This resembles the oil price shocks in the 1970s that pushed the United States, Canada and other countries into a period of high inflation, high unemployment and low economic growth known as stagflation.

The situation today, however, could be even more dangerous than in earlier periods of stagflation because of the amount of debt – particularly housing market debt – that has built up over more than a decade of ultra-low interest rates, the BIS warned. It called the current combination of soaring inflation and elevated financial vulnerabilities “historically unprecedented.”

“Unlike in the past, stagflation today would occur alongside heightened financial vulnerabilities, including stretched asset prices and high debt levels, which could magnify any growth slowdown,” it said.

As they push interest rates higher, central banks are trying to engineer a soft landing – a situation where inflation comes down without a sharp slowdown in economic activity or significant rise in unemployment. Top central bankers, including Fed chair Jerome Powell and Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, have said in recent weeks they believe a soft landing is possible, although they acknowledge that it is getting more difficult.

The BIS poured cold water on the probability of a soft landing in its report. BIS economists looked at monetary policy tightening cycles in 35 countries between 1985 and 2018, and concluded that about half of them resulted in a soft landing – that is, did not end in a recession.

However, further analysis showed that recessions were more likely if rate hikes followed a period of ultralow borrowing costs and a build-up of financial vulnerabilities. That is the situation Canada and many other advanced economies are in today.

“A hard landing may not be foreordained,” Columbia University professor Adam Tooze wrote in a newsletter commenting on the BIS report. “But what the BIS is telling us, is that central bankers have never attempted to stop an inflation as rapid as the one we have seen in the first half of 2022, with the level of debt build-up we have seen since the early 2000s.”

The BIS is not alone in its grim prognosis. Earlier this month, the World Bank cut its 2022 global growth forecast to 2.9 per cent from a 4.1-per-cent forecast in January, and said that “the danger of stagflation is considerable today.”

Much of the BIS report focused on the changing dynamics of inflation, which is surging across large parts of the globe for the first time in decades. The annual rate of inflation hit a 39-year-high of 7.7 per cent in May in Canada, the highest since 1983. It averaged 9.2 per cent in April across countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The BIS noted that once economies shift into periods of high inflation, consumer price increases become self-reinforcing. Businesses and consumers start paying more attention to rising prices and start behaving differently, respectively setting higher prices and demanding higher wages to protect their margins and purchasing power.

“Whether inflation becomes entrenched or not ultimately depends on whether wage-price spirals will develop. The risk should not be underestimated, owing to the inherent dynamics of transitions from low- to high-inflation regimes,” the BIS said.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending