Real Time Economics: Oil Hits New Highs | The Economy’s Goldilocks Moment | Is Anyone Still Looking for a Job?

This is the web version of the WSJ’s daily economic newsletter. You can sign up for daily delivery here. Good morning! Today we look at rising oil prices, low unemployment and inflation, a kind of Nafta minimum wage, robots milking cows, trouble in emerging markets, and the declining number of Americans who aren’t in the labor force but want a job. OIL CLIMBS Oil futures hit new 3 1/2-year highs Monday, with the U.S. benchmark hovering around $70 a barrel. Fundamentals (including strong global demand, OPEC supply reductions and Venezuela outages) have been pushing prices up but the latest bump is largely due to uncertainty: Will President Donald Trump renew waivers of U.S. sanctions on Iran? If they expire Saturday, markets worry Iran’s output would fall, Biman Mukherji reports. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, entered Monday’s trading having gained in 15 of the past 20 trading days. Brent Continue reading "Real Time Economics: Oil Hits New Highs | The Economy’s Goldilocks Moment | Is Anyone Still Looking for a Job?"

The April Jobs Report in 12 Charts

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in April, hitting the lowest level since December 2000, as employers picked up the pace of hiring by adding 164,000 jobs. Wider measures of unemployment also declined last month, including the broadest rate of underemployment that includes those so discouraged that they have stopped looking for work and part-time workers who want full-time work. That broad rate reached the lowest level since 2001. Wage growth slowed from last month, both weekly and hourly. Because inflation has also been picking up, real wage growth is close to disappearing. The pace at which the economy has been adding jobs, though slower than in 2015, has accelerated somewhat this year. The share of Americans in the labor market declined slightly last month, as did the share of Americans with jobs. Even among workers ages 25 to 54, participation in the labor market fell slightly last Continue reading "The April Jobs Report in 12 Charts"

5 Things to Watch in the April Jobs Report

The Labor Department releases its monthly snapshot of the nation’s labor market Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect it to show employers created 195,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate fell to 4% for the first time since December 2000. Here are five things to look for in the report. 1. Low unemployment. The jobless rate has been stuck at 4.1% since October, a 17-year low. That’s below the range of 4.3% to 4.7% that the Federal Reserve thinks will be the economy’s long-run average. The Fed forecasts unemployment will fall a bit further—to 3.8% by year end—as employers continue to hire and the pool of available workers dwindles. 2. Job growth. Hiring slowed in March: The 103,000 jobs added were the fewest of any month since September and among the weakest in recent years. That may have been a temporary setback. Indeed, hiring Continue reading "5 Things to Watch in the April Jobs Report"

5 Things to Watch in the April Jobs Report

The Labor Department releases its monthly snapshot of the nation’s labor market Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect it to show employers created 195,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate fell to 4% for the first time since December 2000. Here are five things to look for in the report. 1. Low unemployment. The jobless rate has been stuck at 4.1% since October, a 17-year low. That’s below the range of 4.3% to 4.7% that the Federal Reserve thinks will be the economy’s long-run average. The Fed forecasts unemployment will fall a bit further—to 3.8% by year end—as employers continue to hire and the pool of available workers dwindles. 2. Job growth. Hiring slowed in March: The 103,000 jobs added were the fewest of any month since September and among the weakest in recent years. That may have been a temporary setback. Indeed, hiring Continue reading "5 Things to Watch in the April Jobs Report"

How Does a Tight Labor Market Drive Up Prices You Pay? Just Visit Your Local Hair Salon

Step into a Sport Clips Inc. franchise and you can expect to see hairdressers washing, cutting and styling hair. Behind these daily hair-salon operations, a key economic theory is playing out: the Phillips curve. Multiple franchise owners are jacking up or plan to raise wages to attract scarce hairdressing talent and are increasing haircut prices to compensate for it. This fits the classic Phillips curve model, which predicts wages and inflation will rise in response to a tight labor market. In theory, it should be happening to the overall U.S. economy, but it hasn’t. Economists say powerful factors such as an aging population, technology, sluggish productivity growth and overseas competition could be restraining the relationship between the unemployment rate and inflation. When the relationship is functioning, here’s how it works:

Real Time Economics: Trade Tensions Escalate (Again) | China’s Economy Advances | Employers Turn to Teens

This is the web version of the WSJ’s daily economic newsletter. You can sign up for daily delivery here. In today’s issue, U.S.-China trade tensions rise, China’s economy outperforms expectations, America’s housing shortage extends beyond the coasts, Trump taps two for the Fed, employers turn to teens, U.S. consumers take a first-quarter breather, and the U.K. unemployment rate falls to the lowest level in more than 40 years. TRUMP TARGETS CHINA (AGAIN) The Trump administration is readying another salvo against China’s trade practices. In the latest warning shot, the U.S. is examining ways to retaliate against Beijing’s restrictions on U.S. providers of cloud computing and other high-tech services, Bob Davis reports. The U.S. trade representative has yet to decide whether to go ahead with the complaint, which would be in addition to recent moves to ratchet up pressure on China. Already, the White House has Continue reading "Real Time Economics: Trade Tensions Escalate (Again) | China’s Economy Advances | Employers Turn to Teens"

The March Jobs Report in 12 Charts

U.S. hiring slowed in March  while the unemployment rate held at a 17-year low, hinting that a tight labor market is making it more difficult for some businesses to find workers. Payrolls rose 103,000, a sharp slowdown from the prior month’s gain. The rate at which the economy adds jobs has been trending lower for several years. After returning to precrisis lows last year, broader measures of unemployment have been mostly flat so far this year. Hourly and weekly wages ticked up this month. Weekly wages rose at the quickest pace since 2011 in March, although hourly wages rose at a slightly slower pace than January. The share of the population working and in the labor force was mostly flat last month. Among workers ages 25 to 54, when participation in the labor force is less influenced by education and retirement, participation and employment rates have been climbing in recent years, Continue reading "The March Jobs Report in 12 Charts"

March Jobs Report – The Numbers

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
JOBS 103,000 Employers added 103,000 jobs in March, compared with a revised 326,000 in February and below the 178,000 new jobs economists expected. Payroll growth in February and January was revised down by 50,000 on net, meaning monthly job gains have averaged a still-robust 202,000 over the past few months. Last month’s job creation was concentrated in the manufacturing, health care and mining industries, while retail employment dropped slightly. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE  4.1% The jobless rate was 4.1% in March for the sixth consecutive month, holding at the lowest level since 2000. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to tick slightly lower to 4.0% for the month. WAGES 2.7% Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose to $26.82 in March from the previous month. The figure is 2.7% above the hourly wages workers saw in March last year, which is broadly in line with the moderate pace of wage gains so far this year. LABOR-FORCE Continue reading "March Jobs Report – The Numbers"

Real Time Economics: Trump Escalates on Trade | China Promises Counterattack | U.S. Jobs Report

This is the web version of the WSJ’s daily economic newsletter. You can sign up for daily delivery here. In today’s issue, President Trump goes bigger on trade threats, China vows another response, markets wobble, and let’s not forget that it’s jobs Friday—the U.S. employment report for March is out at 8:30 a.m. ET. TRUMP THREATENS CHINA WITH MORE TARIFFS President Donald Trump said he was considering imposing tariffs on an additional $100 billion in imports from China, further raising trade tensions between the world’s biggest economies. The White House has now has threatened tariffs that would cover about 30% of Chinese imports to the U.S. The  pledge of new sanctions and potential retaliation amplified fears of a full-scale trade war among investors, farmers and businesses with ties to the China trade, Bob Davis reports. Mr. Trump blamed China’s alleged violations of U.S. intellectual property laws and “unfair retaliation” to earlier Continue reading "Real Time Economics: Trump Escalates on Trade | China Promises Counterattack | U.S. Jobs Report"

5 Things to Watch in the March Jobs Report

The Labor Department releases its broadest look at the U.S. job market for March on Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect employers added 178,000 jobs during the month and see the unemployment rate ticking down to 4.0%. Here are five things to watch in the report. 1.  A fresh low Economists project the jobless rate will fall to 4% for the first time since 2000. (They expected it to happen in February, too, but the rate held at 4.1% for the fifth straight month.) An unemployment rate of 4% or less is extremely rare in the past 70 years of modern record-keeping. It has only occurred in the immediate aftermath of World War II, again when young men were being drafted into wars in Korea and Vietnam, and briefly at the end of the 1990s tech boom. The question, if the rate falls, Continue reading "5 Things to Watch in the March Jobs Report"

Real Time Economics: U.S.-China Showdown | Jobs Day Preview | Tech Backlash

This is the web version of the WSJ’s daily economic newsletter. You can sign up for daily delivery here. In today’s issue, the U.S. and China’s warning shots on trade set up months of negotiations, the U.S. trade deficit is expected to widen, unemployment is poised to hit a 17-year low, lower- and middle-income families are abandoning prosperous cities, and Washington targets tech companies. NOW THE HARD PART Get ready for more market volatility. The Trump administration’s tariff tit-for-tat with Beijing sets up a high-stakes standoff between the world’s two largest economies. Over the next half year or so, the combatants will seek to negotiate a new normal, Josh Zumbrun writes. While the actions threatened so far may stop short of a full-blown trade war, they have ignited a lobbying battle engulfing much of American industry, and a market shakeout as investors pull out of companies who trade in the Continue reading "Real Time Economics: U.S.-China Showdown | Jobs Day Preview | Tech Backlash"

Why Pay in Idaho Is Rising at the Fastest Rate in the Nation

Workers in Idaho are leading the nation in earnings growth, thanks in part to a buoyant job market and pockets of labor shortages that are putting upward pressure on wages. In 2017, Idaho workers boasted a 5.3% increase in earnings—mostly comprised of annual wages and salaries—compared with the 2016 calendar year, according to the Commerce Department. This well outpaced the 3.1% growth for the U.S. as a whole. Earnings are rising across many Mountain and Western states, including Washington, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada, which are also experiencing fast job growth. “The more jobs that are going to get created…the more money is earned. They have to go together,” said Paul Turek, economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department. Industries in Idaho experiencing swift job growth are seeing strong increases in earnings. Take, for instance, the durable goods manufacturing sector, which led earnings growth in Idaho Continue reading "Why Pay in Idaho Is Rising at the Fastest Rate in the Nation"

Is America Running Out of Unemployed People to Fill Jobs?

For every job opening in America, there’s now barely more than one unemployed person available to take it. The number of job openings in the U.S. has touched another record high while the number of Americans readily available to fill those roles trends lower, according to Labor Department data released Friday. It’s a sign the labor market is continuing to tighten–and that employers will need to attract those who aren’t actively looking for work if they intend to keep hiring. And so far this year, they have kept hiring, adding more than half a million people to payrolls. The latest Labor Department data showed job openings rose in January to a seasonally adjusted 6.3 million, the highest level on record back to 2000. But the number of openings has been at or near record levels since July 2015. What’s changed is the number of unemployed people, which is Continue reading "Is America Running Out of Unemployed People to Fill Jobs?"

Real Time Economics: Tariff Talks With Allies This Week | GOP Discusses Trimming White House Trade Authority | Black-White Labor Gap Closes

This is the web version of the WSJ’s daily economic newsletter. You can sign up for daily delivery here In today’s issue, the U.S., European Union and Japan will resume trade talks this week, GOP lawmakers openly discuss limiting the president’s trade power, the tariffs are already helping out Granite City, despite new barriers the U.S. will remain dependent on other nations to make aluminum, and the black-white labor-force participation rate gap has all but closed. TRADE PARTNERS TRY TO SIDESTEP TARIFFS The U.S., European Union and Japan will pick up talks this week on steel and aluminum tariffs, with the American allies seeking exemptions and the Trump administration appearing intent on holding the line, Emre Peker and William Mauldin report. “The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the U.S. very badly on trade, are complaining about the tariffs on steel & aluminum. Continue reading "Real Time Economics: Tariff Talks With Allies This Week | GOP Discusses Trimming White House Trade Authority | Black-White Labor Gap Closes"

The February Jobs Report in 13 Charts

U.S. employers hired workers at the strongest pace in a year and a half in February, adding 313,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate held at a 17-year low of 4.1% Despite a strong month of job growth in February, over the past year the number of jobs has grown about 1.6%, a pace that has been slowing in recent years. The main unemployment rate, and alternate measures of unemployment, were all unchanged last month. The alternate measures are calculated by including marginally attached and discouraged workers who have given up hunting for work, as well as part-time workers who want full-time employment. Hourly wage growth was down slightly last month, but weekly wage growth rose. The pace of wage growth has yet to break out above 3%, while the inflation rate has been running slightly above 2%, The share of Americans who are employed climbed to 60.4% Continue reading "The February Jobs Report in 13 Charts"

February Jobs Report – The Numbers

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Jobs 313,000 Employers added 313,000 jobs in February, up from 200,000 in January. Last month’s job creation was the largest since the middle of 2016 and was led, in part, by 61,000 jobs added in the construction industry, the largest such increase since the beginning of the recession in 2007. A government hiring spree also helped drive February’s job creation, with 26,000 jobs added, many of which at the local level. The newly released figure is significantly above the average 182,000 jobs created per month in 2017. Overall, the pace of hiring had gradually slowed each year since 2014, consistent with a tighter labor market in the later stages of an economic expansion. Unemployment rate 4.1% The jobless rate held at 4.1% for the fifth consecutive month in February, the lowest level since 2000. Analysts had been projecting a decline to 4.0%, given recent historically low Continue reading "February Jobs Report – The Numbers"

5 Things to Watch in the February Jobs Report

The Labor Department releases its February accounting of the U.S. labor market Friday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect employers added 205,000 jobs during the month and see the unemployment rate ticking down to 4.0%. Here are five thing to watch in the report. 1. A new low If the unemployment rate falls from the 4.1% level where it has held since October, it would be the first time joblessness was at or below 4% since December 2000. To put that in perspective, Amazon was known then as an online bookseller. But while the headline unemployment rate is trending near a two-decade low, a broader measure that includes those too frustrated to look for work and those stuck in part-time jobs remains somewhat elevated compared with past economic expansions. That rate, known as the U-6, has edged up in recent months and suggests there is Continue reading "5 Things to Watch in the February Jobs Report"

Automation Isn’t Killing Jobs, Study Says, But May Be Keeping Income in Check

A new study rebuts the notion that automation is eliminating jobs broadly ​in the economy, but does find technological advancement ​doesn’t reward workers much with added income. Over the previous five decades, automation hasn’t reduced the number of jobs available in 18 advanced economies, including the U.S.–in fact, it helped increase total employment, finds a new paper by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s David Autor and Utrecht University’s Anna Salomons and released Thursday by the Brookings Institution. But the economists’ paper also found that automation, and the productivity enhancements that it drives, has resulted in laborers taking home a smaller slice of an expanding economic pie. The study found that in industries where automation stoked large productivity improvements, the number of jobs in those sectors fell, or at best held steady over a nearly 50-year period. Those fields included textile production, chemical processing and auto manufacturing. But the Continue reading "Automation Isn’t Killing Jobs, Study Says, But May Be Keeping Income in Check"