Is the Weak Jobs Report Foretelling a Recession?

In case you hadn’t heard on Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Report for the month of May was disappointing.  Economists who follow job growth in the U.S. economy were expecting 123,000 new jobs to be created.  The actual number, according to the BLS, was 38,000—the smallest gain since September of 2010.

What’s going on?  On a scale of 1 to Lehman, how worried should we be?  Is an 85,000 shortfall in job growth, in a single month, telling us that the U.S. economy is about to plunge into a deep recession? The short answer is no.

CA - 2016-6-3 - That Jobs Report

As it turns out, the investment markets largely shrugged off the surprising number—for a variety of reasons.  First of all, a strike affecting 35,000 Verizon employees was somehow factored into the data, so unless all the striking workers are never coming back to work, a real count would have put the job-adding number at around 73,000.  Second, the employment data comes with a huge asterisk: these are estimates with a margin of error of 100,000 jobs.  That means we won’t actually know how many jobs were created until sometime in the future. There are at least two revisions to be made in the future.

Third: despite the low job creation figure, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also told us that the unemployment rate is dropping, currently to 4.7%, the lowest rate since November 2007.  How can that be?  BLS statistics say that people are leaving the workforce at a faster rate than previously, but the economy has also been adding 180,000 to 200,000 jobs almost every month for the past five years.  Is it possible that it has finally given a job to most of the people who want one?

As evidence, the BLS has reported that hourly earnings by workers are up 3.2% for the first five months of 2016, which suggests that workers have a bit more pricing power than they did, say, last year.  That suggests that we are experiencing a tighter labor market, not one where jobs are falling off the table and many people are too discouraged to apply for a job.

Finally, the uncertainty over jobs has almost certainly delayed the rise in interest rates that had, before the report, been widely expected from the U.S. Federal Reserve Board in June or July.  You can expect the Fed to be more cautious about adding any costs to the economy until its economists can get a handle on what that odd job statistic means for the overall health of U.S. businesses.  That would give the economy a slight boost, and might lead to higher jobs growth figures in the future.

So how much did Friday’s employment news change the fundamental picture of economic growth or the prospects for stocks?

Not very much.

If you would like to review your current investment portfolio or discuss any other financial planning matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website at http://www.ydfs.com. We are a fee-only fiduciary financial planning firm that always puts your interests first.  If you are not a client yet, an initial consultation is complimentary and there is never any pressure or hidden sales pitch. We start with a specific assessment of your personal situation. There is no rush and no cookie-cutter approach. Each client is different, and so is your financial plan and investment objectives.

 

Sources:

Wall Street Stunned!

http://www.businessinsider.com/wall-street-on-may-2016-jobs-report-2016-6

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-jobs-report-may-2016-2016-6

http://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthasharf/2016/06/03/jobs-report-u-s-adds-just-38000-jobs-in-may-unemployment-rate-down-to-4-7/?linkId=25155735#22a015b216da

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/03/what-just-happened-with-jobs-in-america/?tid=sm_tw

http://www.ft.com/fastft/2016/06/03/us-markets-shake-off-grim-jobs-report/

The MoneyGeek thanks guest writer Bob Veres for his contribution to this post

 

 

The good side of bad markets

After the recent downturn in the U.S. and global stock markets, you can be pardoned if you wished that the markets were a bit tamer. Wouldn’t it be nice to get, say, a steady 4% return every year rather than all these ups and downs?

Be careful what you wish for. There are at least three reasons why you should hope the markets continue scaring investors half out of their wits.

1) The very fact that stock downturns scare people is one reason why stocks deliver a higher return than bonds. Economists call it the “risk premium;” which can be roughly translated as: people are not willing to pay as much for an investment that will periodically frighten them to death as they would pay for an investment that delivers a less exciting investment ride. Over their history, stocks have been a fairly consistent bargain relative to less volatile alternatives, which is another way of saying that they’ve delivered higher long-term returns than bonds and cash.

2) If you’re accumulating for retirement by putting money in the market every month or quarter, every downturn means that you can buy shares at a bargain price while many other investors are selling out at or near the bottom.   Over time, as the market recovers, this can give a little extra kick to your overall return.

3) Market downturns give an advantage to those who are willing to practice disciplined rebalancing among different asset classes. Basically, that means that when stocks go down, any new cash goes disproportionately into stocks to bring them back up to their former share of the overall portfolio. This, too, allows you to buy extra shares when the prices are low, and can also boost long-term returns.

There’s no question, the downward plunge on the stock market roller coaster is scary. It’s hard to maintain your discipline when the voice in the back of your brain is telling you to bail out on the bouncy trip before somebody gets hurt.

But unless this is the first time in history that the market goes down and stays down forever, we will ultimately look back on the decline and see a buying opportunity, rather than a great time to sell and jump to the sidelines. The patient, disciplined, long-term investor should see market volatility as one of your best friends and allies in your journey toward retirement prosperity.

If you would like to review your current investment portfolio or discuss any other financial planning matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website at http://www.ydfs.com. We are a fee-only fiduciary financial planning firm that always puts your interests first.  If you are not a client yet, an initial consultation is complimentary and there is never any pressure or hidden sales pitch.

The MoneyGeek thanks guest writer Bob Veres for his contribution to this post

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