US Labor Market Balances Inflation Fight Amid Slowing Job Gains
October 6, 2023
The Battle Against Inflation: Fed’s Strategy and Job Market Trends
The U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly nonfarm payrolls data offer critical insights into the Federal Reserve’s persistent fight against inflation. These eagerly anticipated statistics highlight the central bank’s attempts to maintain just the right level of unemployment, thus preventing a potentially disastrous “wage-price spiral” without excessively cooling down the labor market. The Fed often finds itself juggling contradictory responsibilities: price stability and full employment, which entails relentless readjusting.
Ominous Forecasts: Stalling Employment Growth
Economists foresee an addition of merely 160K jobs to the U.S. economy in September—a considerable downturn from August’s estimation of 187K and a sharp drop from September 2022’s actual figures, which stood at an impressive 269k,. Diane Swonk, the chief economist at KPMG U.S., expects this declining job growth trend to persist. Describing the Federal Reserve’s efforts to contain inflation as akin to a complex relay race with varying sector-specific employment growth rates, Swonk anticipates even lower numbers for August due to recent labor strikes’ impact.
Serving Up Stats: Dwindling Job Openings And Layoffs
Emerging details from ADP’s job report reveal that private employers managed only 89K new hires in September—falling considerably short of the projected 150K and marking a significant dip from August, when 180K jobs were created. However, there were reasons for optimism as well: vacancies rocketed from 8.920M in July up to 9.610M in August—a surge mainly attributed to business services sectors by Glassdoor analyst Daniel Zhao. Simultaneously there was encouraging news on another front—they were 47,457 job cuts announced in September, which represents a sizeable decrease from the 75,151 reported cutbacks in August according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Analysts’ Outlook: Proceed With Caution
Justin Purohit, an analyst at Seeking Alpha, has forecasted that job additions could align with or even slightly surpass overall predictions. However, he flagged the potential for heightened volatility throughout Q4, given work stoppages disrupting economic activity. Offering a separate yet similarly cautious perspective, another analyst Damir Tokic predicts steady if slower job creation. He voiced concern that an overreliance on new jobs coming predominantly from non-cyclical sectors like health and education may pose longer-term risks for both the economy at large and the stock market.