USA job growth slows sharply in May; wage gains moderate

USA job growth slows sharply in May; wage gains moderate”

"In fact, it is almost assured that America will have achieved the longest economic expansion ever in July of 121 straight months of economic growth". The U.S. economy has added an average of 164,000 jobs per month so far this year, on track for the slowest pace of gains since 2010.

The Trump administration's trade disputes with Mexico and China, the biggest trade partners to the United States, remain a huge wildcard for investors of all stripes.

With a multi-front trade war stretching from China to Mexico, President Trump may have "upended" the USA economy, said Jim Tankersley at The New York Times. And last week, he threatened to impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports to the United States beginning Monday.

"We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the USA economic outlook, and as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion", Powell said during a speech in Chicago. That reading is wide of the 185,000 jobs that economists polled by Reuters were expecting, and well short of the roughly 100,000 jobs needed to absorb new entrants into the USA labour force. The government also revised hiring figures downward for March and April to show that 75,000 fewer jobs were created over the two months than initially expected. But the number was also above the 27,000 jobs estimated by the ADP National Employment Report. On the bright side, the USA unemployment rate was only at 3.6%.

Trader James MacGilvray, right, worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. "With only 75,000 new jobs in May, this is a major slowdown from 2017, 2018 and the first four months of 2019".

Keeper Security, a cybersecurity firm, said last month that it would expand its Chicago headquarters and add 130 jobs over the next six months to its roughly 160 current staff. Wages rose by an average of 3.1 percent compared with a year earlier.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% from the prior month, missing estimates.

The moderation in wage gains, if sustained could cast doubts on the Fed's optimism that inflation would return to the USA central bank's 2 per cent target.

Earlier this week, a key metric of U.S. manufacturing activity showed that while manufacturing continues to expand in general, it did so last month at the slowest pace in over two years.

The Atlanta Fed is forecasting gross domestic product rising at a 1.4 per cent annualised rate in the second quarter.

Fed policy makers have described the economy as solid, though recent remarks from Chairman Jerome Powell signaled openness to lower rates if needed. A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.1 per cent last month, the lowest since December 2000.

With employers continuing to complain of a dearth of available and qualified workers, the size of the labor force was unchanged.

Some of the weakness in hiring could be because of worker shortages, especially in the construction, transportation and manufacturing sectors. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 3,000 last month, after gaining 5,000 positions in April.

Manufacturing employment will be watched closely for signs of the impact of the tariffs on the economy. Factory output has weakened and sentiment dropped to a 31-month low in May, with manufacturers anxious mostly about trade. Leisure and hospitality sector payrolls increased by 26,000 jobs last month.

The department's report said employment continued to trend up in professional and business services and healthcare.

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