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A Dozen Mid-March Economic Nuggets

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Article source: ConstructConnect

Further big improvements in America’s labor market statistics at the beginning of this year – with net new jobs creation climbing by almost half a million (+473,000) and the unemployment rate falling to a tight 4.7% − have convinced many analysts that the Federal Reserve will be acting quite aggressively in 2017 to hike interest rates. Where before there was an expectation that the federal funds rate would be lifted two or three times through December, by 25 basis points on each occasion (with 100 basis points equaling 1.00%), the consensus now is for an upward adjustment more frequently, either three or four times.

The Fed is probably hoping to attain, in easy-to-absorb stages over this year and next, a key policy-setting rate close to 3.00%. Nor are stock markets viewing such a prospect with anything like the same amount of dread as in the not so distant past. Share prices have been on a roll that has taken them to all-time highs.

Canada’s most recent employment report had a bottom line figure that wasn’t particularly outstanding (i.e., net new jobs of +15,000 in February), but included in the detail was an impressive increase in full-time staffing (+105,000), with most of the gain (+84,000) coming among what are termed ‘core-aged’ women (i.e., females 25-to-54 years of age).
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Ten Mid-May Economic Nuggets

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Article source: ConstructConnect

The U.S. and Canadian economies appear to have entered a ‘blah’ stretch. In April, U.S. total employment rose by 160,000 jobs, a tepid figure compared with the previous two months (i.e., +208,000 in March and +233,000 in February). The unemployment rate, though, stayed the same as in March, at a tight 5.0%.

The latest U.S. initial jobless claims figure shot up to 294,000 for the week ending May 7. Only four weeks prior, it had been as low as 248,000. The most recent 294,000 number does extend the streak of beating 300,000 for more than a year. If that’s ever been done before, it was way back in the early 1970s. But 294,000 is now cutting it close. It doesn’t permit much wiggle room. The foreheads of some economists are beginning to show worry lines.

Canada’s jobs pool shrank by 3,000 in April, although again the unemployment rate stayed on a par with the month before, at 7.1%. Total employment in Canada is presently +0.8% year over year, which is less than half the U.S. rate of increase, +1.9%. Specifically for the construction sector, on-site employment in the U.S., at +4.1% year over year, is significantly outpacing Canada’s +1.4%.

Against this backdrop, there are the following additional ‘nuggets’ to be gleaned from the latest government agency and private sector data releases. The ‘soil’ is rich and the ‘crop’ abundant.

(1) Where are the jobs of the future? With an aging population, on account of the post-World War II baby boom generation moving half-way and further down the hall of life, providing expanded and personalized health care is becoming more critical. Consider the following percentage changes. While the year-over-year increase in total employment in the U.S. economy in April was +1.8%, the jobs climb at hospitals was +4.0%; at assisted living facilities for the elderly, +4.1%; and in home health care, +6.1%.

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