Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

USA wage growth jumps to its highest rate since 2009

JOBS BOOM: US Companies Add a Robust 227000 Jobs in October US job growth seen accelerating; strong annual wage gain expected
Russell Knight | 04 November, 2018, 23:02

The jobs numbers come on the heels of a report Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP, which revealed that 227,000 private sector jobs were added in October, up from 218,000 in September.

US job growth rebounded sharply in October and wages recorded their largest annual gain in 9-1/2 years, pointing to further labor market tightening that could encourage the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again in December.

"As long as job growth is steady, the jobless rate is low, and wages continue to edge higher, as long as we continue to keep climbing, that's the basic support that you need for the consumer", said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at Bank of Montreal in Toronto.

For a USA economic expansion now in its 10th year, hiring remains robust, growth has picked up and the outlook is a mostly bright one on the eve of congressional elections. Though economists have predicted that hiring will eventually slow as the pool of unemployed Americans dwindles, there's no sign of that happening yet.

"What's so impressive to me is there have been more jobs than workers every month since March of this year", said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. But better late than never, and stronger wage gains might be around the corner.

The labor market has been strong under President Trump, adding almost 4 million jobs since he took office, and consumer confidence reached almost a two-decade high in October. That's reason for the Federal Reserve to at least consider a pause in its plans to keep raising interest rates in a bid to prevent the economy from overheating. Education and health services saw the largest overall employment increase, with this industry adding 46,700 jobs last month.

The strong jobs creation last month defied expectations, even by Trump's top economist, Kevin Hassett, who said he had been bracing for a dip in hiring after Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida panhandle and Georgia.

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The Fed is not expected to raise rates at its meeting next Wednesday, but economists believe strong labor market data could see the U.S. central bank signal an increase in December. The average number of monthly job gains in the final two years of the Obama administration was 211,000, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Fed is not expected to raise rates at its policy meeting next week, but economists believe October's strong labor market data could see the USA central bank signal an increase in December. Construction companies added 30,000 positions.

Retail payrolls probably remained weak, weighed down by layoffs related to Steinhoff's Mattress Firm bankruptcy as well as some store closures by Sears Holdings Corp. Last year, it looked like the pace of job growth had started to slow, as a business cycle expansion now its ninth year began showing its age. Average hourly earnings meanwhile rose by five cents to $27.30.

Over the month, the labor force increased by 711,000 and the labor force participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 62.9 percent.

Still, the pay growth suggests the benefits of a healthy economy are rippling out to more people.

There is some concern that higher wages might fuel inflation if companies turn around and increase prices for consumers. Both hourly and weekly earnings are rising faster than inflation, which rose by 2.0 percent using the Personal Consumption Expenses (PCE)-the Federal Reserve's preferred measure, because it is so broad-in the most recent data from September.

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